Christmas 2013

I’m starting this late. I’d been waiting for my muse to strike only to realise that she’s on strike. If I don’t get on with it our Christmas letter could become an Easter postcard.

Jo and Ben celebrated their first wedding anniversary and their tenth year together. Jo is enjoying her role at Little Brown. Ben fretted he was going native at the BBC and is now with Ten Alps. They live the dream of an east end media couple life that only Zone 3’s Walthamstow village offers. Yum Yum continues to patrol their manor. Ben was the ring bearer at Soleine and Richard’s wedding in France. Jo and Ben seemed to have started a trend; they’ve been to about half-a-dozen weddings since there. Every now and then Jo and Ben talk of moving from their lovely two-up two-down into something larger. Life mimicking art

Kate and Pedro have celebrated their first year together. Miranda’s moving out of the flat signalled the end of an era. Pedro has started a new job with Reuters. Kate continues to like Hess despite their London office shrinking. They had a terrific time in almost-ready-for-tourists Indonesia. They’re planning a road trip along the American West Coast for 2014. If Heather and I are very good, they may even take us to see Lisbon properly. Elmo, Kate and Pedro in Richmond Park

Heather continues to teach communication skills to children on the autistic spectrum at Jigsaw. On good days she returns home walking on air from working with the children. There are still more good days than bad days; no thanks to the ever under stress NHS – full time work for part time pay. This year she’s been preparing and presenting workshops for parents – and despite her early misgivings – enjoyed it.

John (me) is more retired but less retiring. I posted my retirement notice on LinkedIn mid-year. I’m holding my weight at 85 Kg, down from nearly 100. I ceased my gym membership due to niggling injuries. Instead I’ve upped my treks with Elmo to almost ten miles a day, walking from nearly the Pagoda in Kew to Richmond Park in the morning and then locally in the afternoon. I’ve joined the local camera club and hope to exhibit next year. I deliver leaflets. I follow climate science. I’m an irregular blogger.Elmo didn't know he could jump

Lylia, my half-niece, and Chuck visited, bringing a dose of burlesque and industrial heavy metal with them. My half-sister, Beth, visited, sounding more like my mother every time we meet.Beth and Heather in Strawberry Hill House

Heather and I made it to Houston, to visit Barb and Terry. Now that they’ve settled on a farm in Pennsylvania with lots of cute animals I guess we’ll just have to visit again. Terry Young in his retirement camoflauge clothing.

Barb and Heather in San Antonio

As a present to myself for my 60th, Jo, Ben, Heather and I spent a week in Sicily. I’d seen Sicily Unpacked and fancied belting across the island in a Quattroporte. At €1,000 per day we took a step back to a Giulietta instead. We spent a couple of days in Palermo and then a few days touring near Noto from our spectacularly set, five course gourmet meal serving, agriturismo, Avola Antica. And, yes, despite having lived in Italy, I was that tourist, the one who trusts his satnav, drives into a medieval hill town and comes to grief. Vizzini was my drive of shame; rescued by the friendliest and most helpful people one could wish for. We also spent a long weekend in Paris, where Heather relived her Latin Quarter youth.

What would we recommend? Cirque du Soleil in the Albert Hall. The Book of Mormon. Beware of Mr Baker. The Audience. Wadjda. The CommitmentsPhilomena. Wot! No Fish? Chimerica. Nineteen Eighty-Four. Cicchetti restaurant trail.

We support local talent. Jo singing in Oh My GOSH. Cecil dancing at Sadler’s Wells. Kate blogging.

Avoid? Milton Jones. Reginald D Hunter. Wash your hair. Watch paint grow. See grass dry.

Our most unexpected pleasure was the beautiful summer evening we had in Buckingham Palace courtesy of Guide Dogs as posted here. That’s encouraged us to put together a table of ten local dog lovers for their gala dinner in December.

To all of you from all of us, a very happy holiday.

Elmo in the underbrush

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6 Responses to Christmas 2013

  1. Lovely post John. A very happy Christmas to you, Heather and family and all good wishes for 2014.

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  2. Rachel says:

    Merry Christmas to you and your family, John. I love the last photo of the dog. I miss having a dog.

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  3. ray94903 says:

    Happy holidays one and all. “They’re planning a road trip along the American West Coast for 2014” – I trust that you will be coming via San Francisco. We’d love to see you. Your room awaits!

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  4. Sandy Lane says:

    A very Merry Christmas John and Heather. Remember to get in touch when you plan your next sorte to Canada.

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  5. Liz Wallis-Long says:

    Happy Christmas Heather and John – maybe you’ll get as far as Australia one day – would be very pleased to see you both. Hope 2014 is full of wonderful things.

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  6. Pingback: Older Christmas letters, 1993 onwards | Gra Machree

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