Christmas 2015

Ho, ho, ho!

Is that the sight of 2015 disappearing rapidly in the rear view mirror? Oh, my goodness – I guess we’d better try to pull a bit of news together! It’s been a busy, busy year with lots of excitement including a bit of travel, a house sale and purchase, a milestone birthday, three weddings and a funeral.

As in previous years, we made a couple of pilgrimages to New England to visit Greg’s folks. We went in the spring for their 67th wedding anniversary which was highly enjoyable, at least for us. Greg’s folks may have had other perceptions! We had the anniversary meal in one of the “private” rooms at Kendal and were joined in the festivities by Greg’s two brothers and their wives. Unfortunately, the prime rib was somewhat underdone for Penny’s taste but that didn’t stop Greg from enjoying more than his fair share. And, the anniversary cake was delicious.

The late spring finally turned up a buyer for 23 Banbury Road, Byfield which we had put on the market the previous autumn. A sale agreed, it was time for a quick and increasingly frantic sprint round the countryside looking at potential alternatives. We anticipated that we might have to go into rented accommodation for a short period while we searched for a new home but, in the end, we found something we both liked. It satisfied none of the criteria we had set ourselves – closer to Nick & Lucy (and Annabelle), considerably smaller than Byfield with a smaller garden and little maintenance responsibilities. Fail, fail, fail and fail. We moved into our new home in August in the delightful village of Moreton Pinkney near Banbury and we are loving the house and the village – everyone is very friendly and welcoming. Framington House was built in about 1779 and was formerly one of three pubs in the village, The Dun Cow. Penny has already started ripping the place apart and no doubt she will be renovating and decorating around me for the next dozen years or so (whilst there is breath in my body – Penny!).

Having just moved, we set off again, back to New England for Greg’s mother’s 90th birthday. All his brothers and sisters and their respective better halves congregated for the festivities and we were able to spend some quality time at the family parcel on Lake George as well as visiting with Greg’s folks at Kendal. Again, the birthday meal was held in one of the private meeting rooms at Kendal and again the prime rib was underdone. Still, the birthday cake was delicious.

Home again just long enough to unpack a few boxes and we were off again, this time to China to help Adam and Ava celebrate their wedding which had taken place earlier in the year. We’d already had one wedding celebration when they visited the UK in June – a garden party with friends, relatives and acquaintances. The trip to China allowed us to enjoy two further wedding celebrations, one in Liuzhou (Ava’s home town) which was akin to a traditional Chinese wedding and another in Yangshuo (where they live) which was a more western affair. Both celebrations were delightful and we got to meet all of Ava’s lovely family. Ben and Donna joined us for the festivities and we had more fun than we deserve.

Wedding 1 - Byfield
Wedding 1 – Byfield

Wedding 2 - Liuzhou
Wedding 2 – Liuzhou

Wedding 3 - Yangshuo
Wedding 3 – Yangshuo

You’ll find some more photos here.

We didn’t suspect that when we said “good-bye” in September it would be the last time we would see Greg’s father – he died towards the end of October after a difficult struggle with pulmonary fibrosis. We knew the day would come when the disease would finally get the better of him but it was still an upsetting shock when the news arrived. He went out peacefully on his own terms with Greg’s mother and brother Sandy and his wife Pam at his bedside. He was a kind and generous man who somehow managed to share his love with his wife of 67 years, his six children and the gazillion grandchildren and great grandchildren who emerged over the years. Greg and Nick went out again in November (and were joined by Ben who flew in from LA) to spend Thanksgiving with “Grandma”. This was the first holiday without Greg’s dad and, sad as it was – his absence left a huge hole in the festivities – it was good to see that Greg’s mother is coping well with the loss of her lifetime partner.

Thanksgiving with Grandma
Thanksgiving with Grandma

Apart from ingesting two Thanksgiving dinners within three days, Greg also got to fulfil one of his life’s ambitions (although he didn’t know it at the time) – to enjoy a roasting in brother Steph’s newly renovated sauna hut and plunge into the ice-strewn Mascoma River. Had he known how thoroughly painful the plunge into the river would be it never would have taken place but, as Greg’s sister-in-law Hope said, that’s one of life’s crazy misadventures which we can put in our scrapbook of memories. Don’t need to do that again!

Ben and DonnaThe boys continue to thrive. Ben and Donna are still enjoying all that Los Angeles has to offer, Ben at Activision and Donna with Business Investor’s Daily including some recent video work and television appearances. We’re still waiting for the release of Scorpion-Wolf-Shark’s first album.

Nick, Lucy and AnnabelleNick, Lucy and Annabelle are similarly doing fine and are just about to move to a larger house just a mile or so from where they are currently. Annabelle reckons it’s OK because it’s close to her best friend Sophie and she gets to have her own playroom.

Adam and AvaAdam and Ava are working all the hours God sends but still enjoying life in Yangshuo. Adam runs his own bar, does web design and support in addition to the occasional architectural project as well as teaching English from time to time. Ava helps in the bar and also does some teaching. The great news is (fingers crossed) that grandchild number two is on its way – looks like we’ll have to make another trip to the People’s Republic sooner than we had anticipated.

Annabelle and PennyNow that Pen has a huge restoration/renovation project with Framington House, she barely has time to look after her business producing Sticky Walls for the various institutions and facilitators requesting them. Who would have thought that a scrap of fabric sprayed with repositionable glue would prove such an essential part of the consultants’ toolkit?

GregGreg is due to celebrate his 65th birthday just before Christmas. Now that he’s finally reached official retirement age he reckons he can finally kick back and watch some sports on the television. Pen wants to know what’s the difference?

Molly is still hanging in there and, if not exactly going strong, at least she’s still going. We had worried that the move might be somewhat confusing for her but she’s made the transition very successfully. She immediately found her spot in the sunshine on the lounge carpet and spends 95% of her time there blissfully sound asleep. The other 5% is spent pestering us for food.


And so, we wobble towards 2016 in reasonably fine form and in relatively good health. Do make a note of our new address and phone number and make plans to come and see us – just check that the building projects have all been completed beforehand.

Much love to you all.

Penny & Greg