Christmas 2018

It’s alarming, as one ages, to realise how rapidly time flashes by – I was sure I had just put last year’s Christmas solicitations to bed when here it is again, time to inflict more pain and misery on family and friends!

It’s been another fine vintage of a year. We’ve had a few excursions, visited with friends and family, welcomed a new addition and endured a household invasion, completed a couple of projects, welcomed visitors who bravely ventured to the wilds of Moreton Pinkney and more! I don’t know why we should be so lucky but we’ll take it, thank you very much.

The big news of the year was the arrival of our first grandson, Max Gregory who was born in January. Unfortunately, he wasn’t due until April and on arrival weighed about as much as a bag of sugar! Not surprisingly it was a somewhat stressful time for Ben and Brex-Anna but the care he received was splendid and he is now a thriving, solid young boy, perfect in every way.

In April we visited Greg’s mother in New Hampshire and parlayed that trip into an expedition which enabled Greg to visit with all his siblings and for us to meet Max the Magnificent at long last. Greg’s mother continues to thrive in the Finishing School at 93. She has moved to a smaller apartment and, with Greg’s youngest sister Sarah popping in almost every day, she copes very well.

After a few days in Hanover we flew off to Los Angeles to visit with Ben, Brex-Anna and Max. Naturally, Max screamed when he met Greg for the first time but Penny’s influence was calmingly soothing as always.

After a week or so in LA, just about long enough for them to get fed up with us, we flew to Utah to visit with Greg’s elder sister Sallie and her family. Sister Susie flew in from Portland and we enjoyed a week of adventures and splendid sights in and around their lovely community in Park City. Back to Hanover for another few days and there was just time to catch a Red Sox baseball game at Fenway. A great way to end a great trip.

Back in the UK and we threw ourselves into the Anti-Brexit protests, marching with hundreds of thousands of other like-minded souls and attending rallies on a couple of occasions. It reminded me of those days all those years ago when many of us joined similar marches to protest similar stupidity. I have to confess to being not too optimistic about Brexit being anything other than the dog’s breakfast which every sensible and sane person has predicted, but I would love to be proved wrong.

We had barely put away our placards from the first March for a People’s Vote when we were subjected to our Chinese invasion. Adam, Ava and the wonderfully delightful Jessica came back to the UK and settled into the Guest Wing at the far end of the house. They have acclimatised well and it is an absolute joy to have a two and a half year old running about the house.

This summer in the UK was absolutely gorgeous – days and weeks of bright clear skies and wonderfully warm temperatures which enabled us to complete a couple of projects at the top of the garden. Firstly, Penny had this great idea of building a wall and pathways of logs in a lovely shaded area to encourage insects and all manner of creepy crawlies. It turned out magnificently and is a very pleasant spot to sit on a garden bench and sip the occasional glass of wine or three.

Then, when Adam returned from China we put his architectural skills to use and built a “playhouse” for the grandchildren. This is something I had always intended to do but, of course, never got round to. Adam designed a magnificent structure with two decks, a mezzanine sleeping loft, a slide and a long-drop swing which the girls adore. We’ll be putting it on Airbnb soon so look out for #1 Wood End when you book your visit.

At the end of November we made our second bi-annual trip to the States to spend Thanksgiving with Greg’s mother, brothers and youngest sister. Thanksgiving is always a wonderful time but the snow and minus 16 degree temperatures might make one think twice. Nick joined us from the UK and Ben, Brex-Anna and Max flew in from LA giving Greg’s mother the opportunity to meet her twelfth great-grandchild. Most everyone was very well behaved and we enjoyed a magnificent feast of staggering proportions – the turkey was the size of a small ox and there were eight pies for the twelve of us.

While Ben & Brex-Anna have a new baby to contend with and Adam & Ava have a new country to assimilate, Nick, Lucy and Annabelle have been a model of consistency. Nick is still doing magical digital stuff for a variety of folks, currently Boden, and after a year of “leisure” Lucy is about to jump back into the grind doing something with carbon credits which she has patiently explained to us six times yet we still don’t understand. Annabelle continues to excel at just about everything she does and loves being the “older cousin” for Jessica. Not surprisingly, Jessica simply adores her.

And so, 2018 finds us happy, contented and fatter than we should be and wish the same for all of you (apart from the “fat” bit obviously). We’d love to see you but get your bookings in as soon as possible – #1 Wood End is sure to book up quickly.

Much love to you all.