Christmas letters have been voted naff and intrusive - but who cares? It is time to compose a few paragraphs of news and make an effort to keep in touch with family and old friends. That is my reasoning so here goes:
As the cliché goes - it has been a year of two halves. With both halves seeming unreasonably short. 2004 sees a change in our life styles as neither Andrew nor Susan operate a full-time residence at home. Ahhhh.
The first half of the year was pre-occupied with Susan concentrating on her Final Year exams in Sheffield (yep - four years are up) and Andrew with his head down in the run up to his A Levels in June.
Both of them did very well - Susan's results were out first gaining a 1st Class Honours in her Mechanical Engineering course. In August Andrew came up trumps as expected with a set of high class A grades across his Further Maths, Chemistry and Physics. Time for them both to move on - but not before some serious partying was arranged and lots of holidays through the summer months.
June was Andrew's 18th Birthday and we laid on a large BBQ for his friends, some family and our friends - and the rest of the village. It was a lovely warm evening and with copious amounts of wine and other alcohol based products it all went with a real swing.
Susan had put in a series of Job Applications and was rewarded with an offer of a job with Network Rail - based in York. Andrew's college selection ended after several visits and interviews with a choice for Southampton - also on a four year Mechanical Engineering course. Not exactly a local college you note!
But holidays before then. Susan's graduation in Sheffield was on a lovely summer's day - the only real 'Parents Day' in the entire student curriculum. We made a week of it with a few days in the Peak District walking on the moors and limestone before the formalities in the city. Susan spent the entire summer out and about including visits to Wales, Scotland [two weeks in a remote glen restoring a small gillies house for the Mountain Bothies Assoc], SW Ireland [two weeks sailing with friends - and taking Andrew along], and back to Scotland [with us].
Andrew ran a similar schedule of socialising and getting out and about. At the end of September he packed his rucksacks and took the train down to Southampton. We have not heard much from him since - so he must be getting on OK! We did make a weekend visit (a long drive) to take down remaining belongings [the essentials of hi-fi - and some of Susan's old text books]. Andrew is due back for Christmas for three weeks before returning south for a second term.
Susan started work for Network Rail in September - with an initial three months induction and introduction to the Company. Covering the main line from Kings Cross to Berwick - and taking in Sheffield and Leeds - there is much travel up and down the lines. She is very much enjoying the new role and will be starting in a specific section after Christmas. She found a very nice (modern) flat in the centre of York - sharing with a girl of the same age [and not working in the same company].
So what of us two. Well it has all changed somewhat with the house now quiet. We delayed our main holiday until early September - missing the school holidays - at last! We took the tents to NW Scotland - just for a change you understand. Both Andrew and Susan came along for part of it [nothing better to do] and we were rewarded with some long sunny days. All a bit lucky really as the general summer weather was not good. And it was very quiet with few tourists - and it got dark early.
2004 marked 25 years since we were married - and so in November we took a week's holiday to celebrate the event. We opted to go down to Cornwall lodging in some comfortable hotels with top class food. We spent the days walking the cliffs - working up an appetite for the evening meal. We also took in a couple of the large gardens, and The Tate in St Ives (hmmm). It was relatively quiet at this time of the year - and got dark early of course. But this suited us and, as neither of us had been to Cornwall before, was an extremely pleasurable week. It is of course a long way from Northumberland and it will be a while before we would consider a return visit.
As to work we keep our heads down. I have been very busy all year with clients in Penrith, Birmingham and on Teesside. So a fair bit of driving - but I very much enjoy the work and continue to build database applications for my clients. This has not left much time for other interests - and now with Andrew away I have to find the time to cut the grass. So no progress on the Scotland web site this year (again). But some playing about with the camera and printer to print out some of the hundreds of pictures taken. Next year also looks like a busy start with work - so not much spare time for the house, garden and photography. Never mind - one day.
Angela is also fully occupied with her surgeries in Morpeth and Guidepost. As you may know, the Government is putting a new payment package in place for the Dental profession - so things are up in the air and we wait to see how they settle down. She continues to put effort into the garden - though as usual the promising start was disrupted - this year by the wet summer. She is slowly coming around to the possibilities created by the release from ferrying children around.
So, we are now putting the final arrangements in place for another Christmas. Hoping for a bit of time on the hill, with some crisp sunny weather for some nice pictures. And a bit of time with the Children.
Our best wishes go out to you all and your families - and trust that you too will have a most enjoyable time over the festive period.
Good luck to you in the New Year.
Simon and Angela - and of course Susan and Andrew.
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