The Waltons
The Waltons

Another year gone and our grandson Max is now over a year old! He is getting on very well, doing all the things he should be and although he isn't yet saying anything, he is clearly bilingual in English and Cantonese in his understanding of what is being said. He is a really happy contented baby, virtually always smiling and interested in everything going on around him. We've been happy to help out on at least one day a week and we are still OK changing nappies!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Max enjoying real food

Maria is now 10½ and in her last year at junior school. She is doing very well at school and is keeping up with her Tai Kwando and Dancing/Musical Theatre.

 

Both our kids moved house this year. As usual with house moves, there was much relief when they were both completed as in both cases, the new houses seemed to be just what they needed and we would have been really disappointed for them (and us) if either had fallen through.

 

Tessa, Joel and Maria moved in July to a house on the other side of their road, closer to the university end. They didn't want to move out of the road because it's a great community, but they did need to move into somewhere a bit bigger, if only to accommodate their bikes! They now have a side access and a big conservatory which is conveniently shaped to allow the biked to be stored alongside the kitchen and still have a family area beyond the kitchen. Joel was able do loads of decorating in the school holidays, so they have made fantastic progress on getting the house all sorted out.

 

Joe, Eugenie and Max moved out of Canary Wharf to Blackheath at the end of October. Blackheath is much more convenient for them as they now have Sandy and me much closer to hand to help out with Max. They haven't yet started on the redecoration but that should get under way in the New Year. 

 

We had a holiday in Ireland in May. We've never been there before but it exceeded all expectations. We started off in Rosslare and ended up in Galway, making stops on the way in Waterford, Cork, Killarney and Ennis. Rosslare to Galway is only 178 miles by the most direct route, but we followed the Wild Atlantic Way and managed to clock up nearly 2000 miles! The Irish were wonderfully hospitable and we had lots of excellent meals in the evenings. In the mornings, we were always able to find a good coffee stop. Pretty well everyone we met was horrified at the idea of Brexit, and the developments in the months since returned seem to have justified their concerns. It was a bit expensive thanks to the post Article 50 depreciation of the pound. 

 

We had expected to find a kind of mini-UK style place and were surprised to find it a lot more 'continental', like northwest France.

Continental Ireland

After 3 weeks touring on our own, we met up with Sandy's choir in Galway. Galway is a lovely little city with lots going on in it and around it. We parked the car in the hotel car park and enjoyed a week going off on organised tours, sometimes including a concert, sometimes not. We travelled out into Connemara on two trips, one of which involved passing Knock International airport - a huge airport built to service the millions of pilgrims from all over the world who travel to see a shrine in Knock. Connemara looked well worth going back to see.

 

There were a couple of occasions when we might (just might) have seen interesting marine life - like the dolphins who live in the Mouth of the Shannon. We took the ferry across the river and looked out for the dolphins which apparently more often than not swim playfully alongside the ferry as it crosses. They must go on their hols in May. On our return to home, we watched some wonderful programmes about a guy who spent his summer on the Connemara coast observing the dolphins and whales which we had missed.

Sandy looking out into the Mouth of the Shannon for dolphins

The end of the choir tour was nicely timed to enable us to head back to Reading in time for Tessa's 40th birthday celebrations. 

Tessa and Maria at Tessa's 40th

It has been a mixed year in the garden. Last year I was perhaps a bit over-enthusiastic with my pond clearing efforts and didn't leave enough vegetation for the frogs to deposit their spawn on, so no tadpoles this year. At the end of last year, I mentioned that the Kaibroc was a bit of a disappointment. When I ordered in February for this year, I gave it a miss, at which point, the plants exploded with little spears of delicious kaibroc and kept going for weeks!

 

Our holiday in May was not the best time to go from the garden point of view but Evarne from our walking group took in my tomato, courgette and pepper seedlings and they were all in good health when we returned. Unfortunately, rainfall was a bit below average over the month so our potato crop was a bit small, though still delicious and we also missed most of the rhubarb pickings. It took a while once we were back to get the veg patch all clear of weeds and growing again, but for the rest of the year, we have done pretty well with great results from carrots and parsnips.

 

The production of wine from the grapes we harvested in Couzou last year has been very successful. We opened a bottle on my birthday, having an alternative bottle on hand in case it wasn't worth drinking, but the doubters were confounded, it was great. We had another over Christmas and we have one more to drink when we have our family get together in early January.

 

We've been fairly regular visitors at the Tate galleries this year, making good use of our membership. The Hockney exhibition was the highlight of the year. There was also a great Pink Floyd exhibition at the V&A, to follow on from last year's 60's exhibition. The V&A have cottoned on to a lucrative line for baby boomer themed exhibitions!

 

Joe, Eugenie and Max have been out to Hong Kong for Christmas so we were invited to spend Christmas with Tessa, Joel and Maria. We has a lovely time. It was the first time for many years that Sandy hasn't had to do Christmas dinner, so a special treat for her. We do however have a New Year family gathering planned for when Joe, Eugenie and Max get back from Hong Kong, so it was only a temporary respite. Then it is back on our heads for 2018!