Christmas 2006

Of course the great thing about the passing of yet another year, is that Annie and I can visit all the National Trust gardens yet again and not remember having been there before. Now that’s value for money. In fact, earlier this year, Annie said something to me along the following lines “you know the great thing about you these days is that you’ve forgotten so much that we can…” and then said something about doing things over and over again, but yes, I have actually forgotten what she was on about, and that kind of spoils the anecdote, even if it does illustrate it rather well. Anyhow, Merry Christmas to all our readers and we hope… oh bum, I haven’t written the letter yet.

Something of an eventful year in many ways. The family is starting to fly the nest (must get that roof fixed) and its all a bit sort of, well, odd. Jamie has got himself a really nice flat in Wantage and is in his final year at Bible College in Oxford. He also works at Thorntons. Hmmm… Thorntons. Joe did really well with his A-levels and started at London University doing something clever called linguistics and Napali. You could argue “well someone’s got to” but I’m not so sure about that. Vicki also did really well with her A-levels (or whatever they are called) and got herself a place to do Fine Art at Reading Uni but is taking a year out. Good plan Vix. If you’re going to do Art, it may as well be Fine, and it may as well be next year. Gordon got his GCSEs and is now at Oxpens college in Oxford also doing something clever called multimedia. That’s colouring things in while listening to music I suppose. Robert is spending the year sitting under the stairs and grunting. Its his turn and at 15, he’s totally brilliant at it. Anna Jane has spent the last year growing taller than she was and will soon be a young lady (yeah, right). We had some cracking birthdays this year too – Jamie 21, Joe 18 and VicWik 18. The rest of us had birthdays too. Nice.

What of the olds? That’s Annie and me you know. Best thing this year was joining Cornucopia (check out the website). It’s an Appalachian folk team with dancers and musicians. Annie does Appalachian step clogging (although they actually use taps not clogs) and British clogging (and they use proper clogs for that “eee by ‘eck lass, thou’s makin’ a reet din with tha’ feet, tha nose”). I am in the band and play guitar, washboard, tenor banjo, bouzouki etc. Cornucopia are a great bunch of folk (pun intended) and we really enjoy it. Annie is finding the dancing somewhat difficult, but that’s because it is somewhat difficult. When the band doesn’t accompany the dancers, we do the odd concert and ceilidh. Annie still has her allotment. At least I assume she still has and that’s where all those funny shaped vegetables (no, not my parents) come from. Cool surprise or what – on my birthday I was taken to The Watermill Theatre to watch The Hot Mikado with very dear friends Bruce and Anne. That was one of the best treats ever! And I can probably go again next year as by then I won’t have seen it before (obscure joke).

Always some sad news… Izzie Gascoigne died this year and so did Roger Brearley. Both deaths were unexpected and a great shock. Very, very sad. Our cat William died too. Well he would have done, wouldn’t he? The people next door squashed him with their car. Grrrr. Happy news though – we now have an Alfred cat living with us. Delightful chap he is too. In fact, he’s just come back from the vets this very day. Not all of him has come back from the vets if you get my meaning. I mentioned to Annie that she ought to have brought home Alfred’s unmentionables so that I could hang them on the tree, and she told me to shut up. Apparently, she didn’t even ask the vet. Ha!

Over the summer the Hill Tribe headed north and spent a week in Scotland, near Oban. We hired a house and had a wonderful time. Very Scottish up there (no, really) and all very beautiful. On the way home our car broke. We had to scrap it and now have a car that won’t hold all 8 of us at once. So its not all bad news, hehe. Only kidding kids! And later in the year I took Jamie and Gordon sea fishing off Weymouth. Caught loads of fish (all this big) and we had loads of fun!

Anyhow, Merry Christmas to all our readers and we hope… oh bum. I’ve finished the letter.

Much love to all,

Howard, Annie and the tribe of many xxx