Christmas Newsletter 2005

6 Berne Avenue
Staffordshire ST5 2QJ 14th

December 2005

 To all our friends and family
It was a bit of shock returning at the end of November from 300C in Borneo to find it 300F at home – and still more to find that Christmas trees and lights were already on display; but despite the panic this engendered, we are happy that this festive time is the opportunity to try to renew our contact with family and friends, and to wish everyone a very happy Christmas.

Fortunately, we can report a happy year, but with reminders of our age with various celebrations and also the fact that our oldest granddaughter has just started University.

Pat laid on two splendid parties for our respective seventieth birthdays – one in the winter and one in the summer. It was lovely to see so many friends (and to have some of the family present at each); the local Hospice and Oxfam benefited considerably from their generosity. Then over Christmas last year we had a lovely family skiing party at our favourite hotel in Austria. It was grand to see the three generations skiing together and it brought back cheerful memories of our own hesitant start with the boys in Ottawa 35 years ago. Pat viewed the whole thing tentatively until she found that the accidents in the two previous years had not dented her courage or the ability to ski fast. The odd thing is skiing now that we always seem to be the oldest people around on the lifts and slopes, and in the restaurants.

Our three families seem to be prospering. Fiona, Paul and Rosalind's oldest, has gone to Bath to study mathematics and seems to be doing much else besides. Her sister Felicity, who is progressing at school, looks like she succumbing to her very practical love of horses and trying to do veterinary work. Sarah, Stephen and Conny's eldest, has moved over from a Realschule to the Gymnasium in Düsseldorf where she is prospering despite all the extra work, while Timmy, her brother, is now making his way through primary school as well as playing a lot of football. In Jakarta, James and Charlie, Michael and Nicola's two youngest sons are thriving in the English school and seem to be engaged in a lot of after school activities. William the oldest is making his way at Malvern – we watched his amusing performance as Sancho Panza in the school play – and we have put him on or off the plane home a couple of times.

Our own boys seem to acquire ever more responsibility in their respective jobs and our daughters-in-law seem to be doing a great job in keeping their families active and happy. The family downside is that we actually see so little of them all, although we have managed to see everyone a couple of times this year.

We ourselves have had some nice holidays, some in connection with work and some not. At various times we have found ourselves away in Hochgurgl, Ladir (CH), Munich, Bremen, Valencia, Manchester, Leeds, Madeira, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Buxton, Urbino, Llandudno, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta and Borneo. The last is very much in our minds since we were able to visit Mike's family in Indonesia first and then take a holiday in Sarawak and Sabah. The greatest impressions were proboscis monkeys on a mangrove beach, orang-utans in the jungle (as well as at a conservation park), staying at two lodges in the jungle with the opportunities for bird and wildlife watching (and picking up leeches), and, on a small island in the South China Sea, to see a turtle come ashore at night and watching her laying her eggs, which were then removed to be incubated in more safety in a hatchery; we also helped release newly hatched turtles into the sea.

The groups with whom we work in atmospheric chemistry still seem keen to employ us to organise them – we have produced a couple of major reports in the year as well as run a number of meetings in nice places. Sometimes it is a bit frantic completing tasks between travel but the opportunity to work with old friends and acquaintances is hard to relinquish.

We are still going to the opera whenever possible – two memorable occasions were a long weekend in Llandudno for the Welsh and a couple of days in Manchester for Opera North. It was fun actually to be a tourist in Manchester instead of just rushing in and out.

One other unexpected activity is an addiction to Su Doku. We were both determined not to start but then, just for interest, I wrote a programme to solve it; we needed examples to check it out and then we were stuck! The programme, although working, is not yet on our web site: (and may never be if I cannot master object‑oriented programming), but the site does give a glimpse of our other activities – and some of you too!

In thinking about you, we do hope that you have had a cheerful year too. In enjoying what we do, we are conscious that the foundation is our very good fortune in continuing to enjoy excellent health. We hope that this is also true for you too.

With very best wishes for the New Year.

Patricia and Peter