The year has passed and oh so quickly. Looking back it has been another year when it is the two offspring that have provided the highlights. Somehow 'children' does not seem appropriate any more.
In truth we have not seen much of Susan this year. She is now in her third year at Sheffield and spent virtually all her summer break either working in Sheffield or on holiday. Susan had completed her DoE Gold Award some time ago and applied to attend the presentation in Edinburgh (it being a lot nearer Newcastle - if not Sheffield) and this was scheduled just before Easter. I was invited to act as host to parents attending the presentation - a reward for the help we have given the students at Morpeth. So three of us drove up to Edinburgh for an afternoon at Holyrood Palace to meet HRH and see the awards presented. A very pleasant day out.
Susan submitted a resume about her achievement to the local paper who duly printed a few paragraphs (and picture) under the banner of Golden Girl. It was published shortly afterwards when she was home helping with the lambing - she got a fair bit of stick from the local farmers!
Susan's summer was spent working for steel manufacturers Avesta Polarit in Sheffield - most convenient as she could live in the house she rents for term time. After a bit of a slow start she got involved with the Projects Division on the steel plant and had ample opportunity to get her hands dirty (literally) on some very large machinery. She thoroughly enjoyed the placement and was rewarded with an offer of a Student Bursary with the firm for her remaining two years at college.
Susan also fitted in a couple of weeks holiday - a back packing trip around the Isle of Jura on the Scottish West Coast with her friends Jo (without an 'e') and Laurie. She was back again for the August Bank Holiday when she tackled the Cheviot Challenge walk again - this year taking one of her college friends, Andrew and Joe (with an 'e') with her.
Whilst Susan made her mark in the year Andrew was not to be outdone. Two front page pictures in the press - and a starring role (complete with words and sound effects) in a leading TV soap.
First appearance in the press was a front page article describing a project on planting heather seeds. The accompanying picture featured Andrew and his friend Joe (with an 'e') - together with a suspiciously well developed heather plant. The leg pulling about his visit to Heather Seeds in Wooler (a nice girl really!) went on for weeks.
Andrew also responded to a call from HRH (the wife of the partnership this time) to help in the carrying of The Baton on it's way to the Commonwealth Games in Manchester. He dutifully donned the (supplied) shirt and shorts uniform and proudly carried The Baton on a leg through Morpeth one afternoon. His invitation was nominated by Rothbury School - as a Pillar (yes, pillAR) of the Community.
This year has been Andrew's GCSE exam year and he came in with a full house of A and A* grades (slightly lower in the languages English, French and Latin). Three students in his year, including Andrew, gained National Top Five Marks in their Electronics Course - an achievement that put him back on the front page of the local press. A really good effort by teacher and students.
Andrew is now in sixth form and getting into the swing of study for Maths, Physics and Chemistry. He spent much of the summer putting together a database based web site for the school (www.kevi.net) - a project that has now gone live and one that I am impressed with (even envious of). He still spends many hours on the computers and Internet - and has channelled his efforts into some excellent web site designs and support for the systems at home. He also keeps up with his piano, violin with the school orchestra, and badminton / tennis.
Oh - and the TV soap? A group from school spent a day on the Newcastle Quayside acting as extras for a recording of Byker Grove. Andrew got himself appointed as 'Starter' for a street race and was seen (if you were quick) shouting "Good Luck" and sounding a horn at the start line. Successful film careers have started from less (haven't they?).
Nearing the end of the page and no mention of the parents. No matter, it will not take long. Angela had a busy summer working as she stood in for two colleagues who were off work due to illness. Happily they are both now back at work allowing Angela to rejig her commitments for next year. She has finished at the small surgery in Hadston (near Blyth) and now just started at a surgery in Guidepost (near Ashington). She still works at the practice in Morpeth and splits her time between the two.
As for me I continue working as a consultant developing custom database systems for clients. I managed to reduce the input a bit this year over the summer - so I have not been run off my feet quite so much and been able to put in a bit more time into the house and garden. One ambition has been to catch up with Andrew's web work - but I still have not found time for this.
We have, however, at long last got the www.BarberSASA.co.uk site up and running. This now hosts the Scotland pages that have been compiling since 1997 - notes and lots of pictures from our holidays in Scotland. It also holds other bits - including Susan's Kidland Estate project and the Christmas News Letters for this and previous years. I still have plenty more sections on Scotland to prepare (Kintail, Glen Coe, Arrochar Alps, Galloway - even Arran, Orkney, Inner and Outer Hebrides). I also wonder if I ought to start doing something on Northumberland - it being local - so I will keep adding sections through the long winter evenings (Well, there's nothing on the telly is there!).
Work on the house and garden have continued - with the replacement of the (leaky) sun-lounge roof, fitting of the last of the replacement windows and rebuilding of a stone wall in the garden. Susan has also found she has lost her bedroom - as it is now fitted out as the study with the computers. I am afraid she will have to make do with the guest room on future visits! The change around does give us lads the space we need to sit at the computers during weekends and evenings.
That just about rounds up the news for this year. Our Best Wishes for the festive season and New Year go out to you all. We look forward to hearing from you.
Andrew, Susan, Angela and Simon
Please note that the email addresses have changed to the new web address as given below - the old AOL address (firstname.lastname@example.org) is still available but is likely to be discontinued sometime next year. Email addresses for Susan and Andrew are forwarded direct to their own accounts - in Sheffield for Susan (or wherever she happens to be).
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