Christmas 2012

Patricia says: I’m in Copenhagen looking out of the window at the snow. It’s beautiful, but it also makes me nervous about it causing further delays to making Stroanfreggan habitable for us all at Christmas. But being all together at Christmas is in the future. What about the past year?
I’m enjoying being retired and now finally able to go into the Red Cross and work on New Times without bearing responsibility. I’ve been to art classes once a fortnight and am really enjoying exploring the techniques of watercolour painting. Then there has also been choir once a week and, continuing habits learned in Tasmania, I go to “Stram op” ie keep fit twice a week. That’s basically how my week looks in term time. Holidays have mostly been spent in Scotland to follow the progress on Stroanfreggan, but I’ve also made several very happy visits to help look after grandchildren; “retiring to be a granny” was a good decision!
Compass, the human rights manual, is finally printed. I’ve not actually seen a copy yet, but my colleague in Budapest says, “it is so big you could kill someone with it”. And now I am more resolved than ever to say “never again! Now it is definitely time I stopped working and so I am not tempted to say “yes” once more, I’ve given all my “professional” books away to a local teacher training college. My clearing up project has also extended to the clutter in the basement. It’s a great feeling to let go of all those things – mostly to charity shops.

The highlights of the year for me were Keith’s 65th birthday and Ruth and family moving into Gothic House. It is heartening to know they love living there and that we can always go to visit. Beccles is where I chose to spend my birthday; we sailed up the Waveney in the Black Dog ferry and had fish and chips at the Geldeston Locks Inn.

Keith:  Although I retired quite suddenly and without great planning in July, due in part to financial problems at work, it seems to take a long time for any noticeable change to occur, other than the absence of a pay check. In fact I seem to be as busy as ever, on interesting pieces of work that students and colleagues come up with and on chapters for various books. I have had to excavate some material from papers that I published over 30 years ago and even bits of my PhD thesis.
In August we went to Ireland for an old friend’s (Keith Payne) birthday down in the far SW. A great party and wonderful to see so many people from way back dancing the night away. Ireland was pretty lovely too and the seafood was fantastic.

The reconstruction work on Stroanfreggan has taken far more time, effort and money than we expected due to many different things and although it is now very close to complete we are still on tenterhooks as to whether it really will be habitable in two weeks time for Christmas with 14 of us. Then there is the ongoing ordeal over the rash of windfarm proposals in the area…

The aim for next year is to be more relaxed and spend long holidays with the family and visiting friends – we shall see. My colleagues at work are organizing a one day Symposium for me in January, where a number of old (and new) friends are invited to come and give a talk and have dinner together. The Bach choir has a performance on Mozart’s Requiem lined up for Easter, if we all survive this week, with performances of Bach Christmas Oratorio today and tomorrow and the Messiah (with a different choir) on Sunday. A great way to warm up for Christmas

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