A momentous year: our boys turned 21 and 16 respectively and Nigel and I celebrated 25 years together – milestones in their lives and ours. Putting together a slide show of photos for Lachlan’s 21st Birthday party took us on a journey into the past. How far we have all come? Where did the time go and how did my tiny 5lb premature baby get to be a tall, strong, beautiful young man? And we look at the Facebook pages of all our friends and their children and they too are young adults making their own ways in the world, taking on challenges that we couldn’t really imagine them ever getting to when they were tiny tots but proud that they have grown strong and independent.
We’ve had a couple of visitors this year from the UK. So nice to welcome friends and children of friends and show them round our place. Andrew Kyles and his friend Matthew spent a few days with us in winter on their trip around NZ. As well as meeting them it was lovely to catch up on news from home and chat again to Vanessa and Iain via Facebook. In October, we had a great week with Imy Farmer re-exploring the Waikato. I love seeing how all those children have grown up and become such wonderful adults. We don’t have much space but love having visitors so “come on down”!
The year started for me in Costa Rica and Nicaragua with a team of girls from school. What an amazing trip and it has left me with more places to explore and to take the rest of the family. We climbed volcanoes , made chocolate and ziplined through coffee plantations in Nicaragua and trekked through rainforest and worked in a local community in a very isolated part of Costa Rica.
Nigel and Aonghas went on a good old Kiwi road trip to South Island, visiting rellies and exploring the country. Lachlan spent the holidays working – life is hard isn’t it?
In March I walked 100km in 18 and a half hours with three teammates to raise funds for Oxfam. Oxfam Trailwalker is a huge challenge but very rewarding. Lachlan and Aonghas were my amazing support team (Nigel was away in Oz for work) and they provided me with food, massages and encouragement. I couldn’t have done it without them! And thanks to all of you who donated to the cause. Look out! because I have madly signed up for another one and my 54th birthday will be spent walking 100km in Whakatane. Begging emails and FB posts are on their way! I also managed to run my first (maybe my only) half marathon. I think I might pick and choose – I don’t really like running for running’s sake but do like a challenge and being out in beautiful countryside. The Kinloch marathon was along the mountain bike tracks by the side of lake Taupo so the views were stunning and it was a great day to be out there.
Nigel continues to work at the University of Waikato in the Waikato Centre for Elearning (WCEL) whilst I made a big change this year and left the classroom! I am now working for a company called Core Education on a Ministry of Education contract. I work with schools providing them with advice and support as they integrate digital technologies into their curricula. It is a huge change from being in a classroom but I am enjoying the challenge and the flexibility of working from home. The “Craft Beer” resurgence in NZ has meant that there is good bottled beer aplenty for us to sample. Now the boys are either not at home or old enough to leave on their own we have also rediscovered a night life and some good drinking holes in The Tron that we can almost call our locals!
I managed to fit in a fleeting trip to Spain in July, between jobs. I received a scholarship to study at the University of Salamanca for two weeks along with 9 other NZ teachers. Very complicated in the end due to changing jobs so didn’t manage to have any extra time to make it to the UK or France as I had hoped. Unfortunately, it was also the wrong time of year for anyone to dash across the Channel to meet me in Madrid. However, I hired a tiny little car and drove for 6 hours down the amazing motorway and bridges of Portugal to meet my friend Gail for a weekend in Lisbon. What an incredible city and so good to catch up with Gail.
Lachlan decided this year that working in a shop didn’t offer very exciting lifelong prospects and has enrolled at university. He is studying Philosophy, History and Political Science. Must be thinking of being the next politician who will change the world! He is living with a group of friends and learning how to cope with the challenge of people who don’t have the same standards of cleanliness that he has! Who would have known that the boy who’s bedroom carpet was only revealed once he left home would be frustrated at other people’s messiness!!??Aonghas started his very extended summer holidays back at the beginning of November when exam leave began and apart from three weeks of relatively concerted study time has pretty much spent his time playing DOTA or Minecraft – oh, apart from the times we can pry him away to load/unload the dishwasher, hang the washing out, do some gardening ….! Still a long way to go until February when the next school year starts. Oh, those summer days when we were young! He still plays hockey and as well as playing for school is also playing for a local Club team.
No longer a teacher, I have joined the realm of 4 weeks holiday a year + stats, so my Christmas holiday days are just the standard Christmas Day, Boxing Day, News Year’s Day. But the office is closed from 24th Dec to 5th Jan so I have to take leave then. I have also taken some annual leave to tag on to the end of that so we will have a couple of weeks away. Our destination this year is the southernmost tip of South Island. We’ve “done” the north of the North, the south of the North, the north of the South and now it is the turn of the south of the South! Aunty Chris is coming with us and we are looking forward to a road trip and a chance to explore more of this beautiful country. We still get out and about walking and biking but less than we would hope – weekends are still pretty much tied up with hockey and football matches!
Facebook seems to be our main way of keeping up with people and their news so keep on posting and we’ll keep on stalking. Otherwise, email makes communication quicker than “snailmail.”
Wishing you all our best wishes and lots of love and thoughts for the Christmas season and the New Year.
Anne, Nigel, Lachlan and Aonghas xxx (please note, I am now the shortest member of my family!!)