Sarah sent Matthew up the loft to get the old laptop down, she started typing and a load of gobbledygook came out .She gave the computer back to Matthew and, of course, it instantly obeyed him and so she can start! Trouble is where to start after such a busy eventful year?
The first thing to say is that we have settled very happily into our new home in Dorset. We love the tranquillity, the beautiful scenery all around and rather than finding country life dull we have never been busier. It is frightening how quickly time races by. Grandson Toby was little more than a baby last Christmas. Now he has been at nursery for almost a year and has been promoted to the “big boys” group.
Tim chucked in his job with Hampshire County Council at the end of January and has been training all year whizzing around on trains between Reading and Paddington firstly observing, then under supervision and soon he will be going solo. Bekki, his wife, has had a tough year. First of all she had to cope with going back to work and leaving Toby at nursery where he seemed to catch every infection going. Then in March her mum, who was a really lovely lady, died from pancreatic cancer. We all miss her. The whole family are coming to stay with us with this Christmas, including Bekki’s dad. So it will be a full house. Toby is bound to amuse us all with his antics!
Lizzie’s hard work has been rewarded this year graduating with a distinction and winning several prizes along the way. We went up to Surrey for the ceremony and had a lovely couple of days with her. She still lives at Wisley but works for the National Trust travelling everyday to a garden in West Sussex. The garden, Woolbeding, is one of the newer NT gardens and also has connections with Sainsburys because it used to belong to Simon Sainsbury so there is money to spend and exciting new projects to embark upon.
Now onto the two oldies. Of course being us we are into a program of refurbishing the whole house. The biggest job has been completely gutting and refitting the kitchen and utility room. We left that to Magnet and they made a pretty good job of it. We had Anglian replace all the windows and doors shortly after we moved in and they came back in June to put a large porch on the front of the house. It’s very useful and looks good too. As usual Matthew is patiently working his way around all the other rooms redecorating.
In the village we have joined Gardening Club, Allotment Association and Art Club. Matthew is giving up Art Club because he has found more exciting things to do. He has volunteered to work at The Exchange in Sturminster, our local community centre, on alternate Thursdays at the reception counter and in the cafe. On the other Thursdays he is at Kingston Lacy, a National Trust property, as a volunteer gardener. We also go out regularly to musical events. The Exchange was voted "The Best Small Music Venue in the UK" in 2011! “Artsreach” is also very good - music and drama performed in village halls through out Dorset. On the jobs front I have found new customers to garden for. The main two are Shirley and Caroline because they have larger gardens. The newer properties here tend to have small gardens so less work there. Matthew’s job with “ Save Energy” dried up due to government policy and his latest enterprise, a family history research service "Wessex Roots", is yet to take off. He is still looking for a part-time job and has recently applied for the post of Clerk to Hazelbury Bryan Parish Council.
We’ve had three holidays this year. The first one in June on the Isle of Wight was a bit of a disaster – two days out of ten with reasonable weather and Matthew spent five days in hospital with appendicitis. Thankfully he is now fully recovered and is still complete with his appendix but we have sold the caravan . We just lost our enthusiasm. We then had a week in a cottage in Mevagissey. We had better weather and visited some places new to us. We ended the season going on a coach tour of Mid Wales. It was brilliant value for money and we saw a lot of Wales but we would have preferred a slightly more active holiday. So next year we are thinking of maybe doing something with the Ramblers Association.
Looking into the future my wish for next year is for reasonable weather – less rain and more sun. One can only hope! I also hope that you have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year.