Isaac William Gomes, more commonly known as Ziggy, was born on the 6th of March to Kate and Pedro. He’s alert and determined with a lovely smile for his grandparents. So he’ll do nicely. Heather and I usually spend a day a week with Kate and him. After her year of maternity leave we’ll have him on our own for a day a week.
Jo returned to work in September. At around the same time Ben started a new job, working nine days in every fortnight. So, we’re looking after Margot and Wilfred every second Friday. It’s tiring but rewarding all the same. Wilfie is so gentle with his sister. And Margie may be the happiest baby ever.
We’ve had fewer holidays this year with our grandparent duties. We intend to make up for this lack of holidays next year in at least New Zealand, Croatia and the Baltic.
- We had a couple of weeks in September in Portugal. We spent the first week with Kate, Pedro and Ziggy in Aljezur – joined by their Toronto friends, JJ Martyn and Mike. Heather and I then spent a week in delightful Porto, with a few local tours. Bacalhau à Brás is delicious. And a Fiat Cinquecento is great fun to drive, if a little impractical with luggage.
- We also spent a week in November celebrating my officially becoming old in one of our favourite cities, Florence. Somehow, I even allowed myself to be convinced by my charming wife that walking from the river Arno uphill to hilltop Fiesole for lunch would be a good idea. The lunch at the top was worth it.
We’ve had a few visitors:
- In April we had a very grown up grandson, Wilfred, spend a weekend with us. The Science Museum was a big hit.
- Noa Wollstein and her friend, Anya, spent a week with us in July. We were very impressed by their maturity and independence. Perhaps I was even a bit intimidated.
- My sister, Marianne and her husband, Bob and daughter, Emma, stayed in August touring London and Paris. It was great to see them and see them enjoy themselves.
- Our 12 year old great nephew, Bennet Kopp, came over for a week to improve his English. He now knows how to boss Elmo and Alexa about. It was terrific seeing Bjoern, Karen and Emma with him too. Most recommended visit from his stay – the Wimbledon Museum.
As we’ve been at home more this has unintentionally turned into a year of house renovation. Floors have been sanded, rooms painted, the olive tree has been repotted, Elmo has new couches to snooze upon, ceiling fans have been installed, taps and mattresses replaced. Fences, gates and brickwork have been repaired. Our insulation and draughtproofing has been upgraded. LED lights have been installed in most of the house. A dozen years after we ripped out the old carpet on the stairs and landing we finally got around to having new carpet laid. Perhaps most unnecessarily, we had our front path relaid using the same pattern as the original Victorian 125 year old pattern on our front step – the merger of old and new is fascinating. We have just the dining and living rooms to finish off.
Heather continues reading for Doorstep Library and madly knitting for her grandchildren.
We’ve had our disappointments. Our candidate lost in the May General Election by 45 votes. John had a bout of pneumonia. Heather has a black and blue backside from falling downstairs. As of this writing we both have foul colds. But we’re well. Our kids are well. Their partners and kids are well. And Elmo keeps us fit. So, on balance, we’re more than ok.
Much as last Christmas, we’ll spend this Christmas at home. A happy holiday to all,
Heather and John
- ps1 – We’ve kept all our Christmas letters since 1993. Heather found our very first round robin letter from 1987. We weren’t much older than Kate or Ben are now.
- ps2 – Our annual photo album is here.