Christmas 2006 News

I realised that it really was time to get on with this Christmas posting when the the flood of cards increased from one to two today. One was from the Adjei family in Ghana, with a couple of great CDs of Ghanaian music, which I’m listening to as I write – thank you Matthew, Mary and kids.

The facilities for webhosting keep getting better, which means you end up changing sites to keep up with improvements. The website we used last year was incredibly slow at uploading photos, but it is still there and has news of a trip Patricia and I made to Yucatan in January 2006 and also a trip to Slovenia in April to celebrate Gilly Shiner’s birthday. There’s also a couple from a trip to Iceland in July, but I got so frustrated with the moving the photos into it that I gave up. So for Alice and Mattthew’s wedding in May you have to go to a Yahoo site and then for the latest photos of Sam and Patricia’s birthday trip to Sardinia it’s over to a Picasa site.

Eventually I may try to rationalise all this, but meanwhile just enjoy the photos, like this one of us all sitting in a Zodiac at the foot of a huge cliff (Capo Caccia) in NW Sardinia where we have just been diving.

Patricia writes: If you have seen the film, “The life aquatic” then you will realise the significance of the red woolly hat. On this occasion, the Brander team were not hunting down monsters of the deep, but helping me celebrate my 60th birthday. We stayed for a week at the diving centre at Capo Galera, which I highly recommend for the perfect combination of exciting diving and relaxation. It was very special to have the family around me and to be with them for a few days. The crowning moment was sitting together waiting for it to turn midnight, high up on the cliff top at Capo Caccia and looking out over the sea sparkling in the moonlight.

What else should I add as a review of the year? I think the pictures tell most of it. I have spent much of my energy working for the Danish Red Cross on an integration project helping immigrant women into work. It’s been by turns a nightmare, frustrating and stressful – but finally successful. There have also been other, shorter projects, for example editing reports for AIDSnet and developing, and teaching on, a human rights and democracy course for asylum seekers together with my friend, Eva. I love working, but I am beginning to feel that I should begin to learn to say “no” to some offers and think about being a good granny. I also realise how much I miss all of “the children” and I would like to be able to be with them more. Working less would also give me more time to visit my father. Otherwise I have to snatch time during holidays and half terms to visit him and work on the film of his life we are making together.

This is “Keith and Patricia’s” news, but most of you reading this blog know us as a family, so here is a brief update about “the others”. As it already says, Matthew is a father. He also got distinction in his second Msc, this time one in Environmental management and he has a good job, which he started in September. Alice is being a Mum for a year. Luke (in Amsterdam) continues to work on his doctorate and flies all over the world for work and to see Lisa, who continues to bank in Hong Kong. Ruth won the award of “Young legal-aid barrister of the year”, which makes us very proud of her. Mike also works very hard and spent some time in America working on the splendid special effects for Oliver Stone’s World Trade Centre.

This has been my very first – nervous – try at blogging, and another attempt to out-grow my continuing technophobia. Who knows what other new challenges the New Year will bring? But whatever – I wish everyone a very healthy and happy New Year. My love to you all, Patricia

Our Christmas present to the family this year is going to be carbon credits, because we all travel too much for work and on holidays and it’s a way of acknowledging the costs. It seems ironic that a good proportion of my air travel this year was to meetings about climate change, so I got to visit Mexico, Hawaii, Slovenia, Sardinia and the north of Iceland for the first time.

I had been around the north of Iceland by sea and set foot in a number of small ports, but had never spent time ashore, so the opportunity of a meeting in Holar (population about 120, including one bishop, a cathedral, a library, a swimming pool and a university college) fitted perfectly with a short holiday with our friends Jon and Sigrun. They have a summer house at the mouth of Skagafjordur with spectacular views and some great hill-walking terrain. Geologically it is one of the oldest parts of Iceland ( I think 6 million years i.e. very young), but we also visited Lake Myvatn and the geothermal areas nearby, where there are active volcanos.

There was a crush of happy and sad events in May and June. My father’s 100th birthday, Alice and Matthew’s wedding in Dunkeld and then my father’s death and funeral. The funeral took place on a beautiful day and was a very special event both as a family gathering and also for the many friends who had done so much for him and meant so much to him. The nursing home where he stayed were wonderful too – he could not have had better care and warm good company. He knew he had a first great-grandchild on the way and would have chuckled that Sam carries his name.

So now we are getting ready for a different Christmas in Stroanfreggan. Doreen and Jackson have left Stroanpatrick, the Crumps are leaving Auchenstroan, but we will see them all and hear about the changes in their lives too.

Love to you all and look forward to seeing many of you in the New Year,


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