A quick blast through 2015

2015 has been an amazing year…DSC_0386~2~2

We became the proud owners of Typhon, our German Shepherd puppy.

We met up with Grandma and Grandad a lot this year, what with Tony (Dad) becoming increasingly ill throughout the year.  We’ve enjoyed rediscovering how much fun Yorkshire is.  And as dad has become more and more frail we’ve been able to spend more time just chatting and enjoying his company.

Jousting was our main goal for the year.  See some proper jousting.  We kept trying until we found an event that was not perfectly choreographed stunt-riders and actually involved some full-contact lance-on-shield action.  We found this at Kenilworth, where we spent a day watching knights beating seven shades out of each other while enjoying the company of Katy and Magnus, along with their kids Hamish and Angus.

kenilworth

As a family, we’ve discovered the joys of English folk music, spending a week immersed in the stuff down in Broadstairs.

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John joined the Freemasons, Terpsichore Lodge in Stamford.  A bit unusual as it’s a lodge that meets in the daytime.  And we’ve thoroughly enjoyed dressing up for the Ladies’ Nights we’ve attended.  He’s also been expanding his baking skills, branching out into more unusual breads and generally up-skilling with choux, genoese sponge, and all manner of other baking skills…  Hopefully, an interesting and exciting challenge awaits in 2016, not least attending Clandestine Cake Club meetings!

husband and wife

Jo’s been expanding her musical skills, re-learning the recorder and branching out into the pennywhistle.  She’s joined the Greenwood Quire, creating outfits for Tim and herself.  The finest costume moment came when we attended a medieval feast in Langtoft!  And my baking has left both of us more than a little in need of a New Year diet.

IMG_20150318_192421Francesca’s started her approach to GCSEs, finishing her mocks in November, and visiting four schools for potential A-level places.  She’s lost 1 boyfriend and gained another, played Oberon in the Shakespeare Schools’ Festival production of “A Midsummer NIght’s Dream”, and a wonderful supporting part in the school’s performance of “The Boyfriend” – a role that earned her the nickname “The Dragon”.  She’s continuing her violin lessons, branching out into playing the mandolin as the fingering is remarkably similar, and playing in the monthly folk sessions in The Hare and Hounds, Haconby.  Before the family went to Broadstairs, Cesca and Tim went up to Shetland for Fiddle Frenzy, a week-long chance to play music and catch up with old friends.  She’s become a young leader in the local Scout troop, the Drama Prefect and Head of her house at school.

boogie timTim’s well into his second year at the Deepings Academy, picking up school trips and generally feeling a lot better now he’s shifted from one house into another.  Next year will see him skiing and taking a maths trip.  He earned his Excel points at school, had a great day skiing at the Milton Keynes X-Scape.  He’s worked damn hard with his violin, performing “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” with 2/3 of Pennyless at the annual concert organised by the music teachers.  Fiddle Frenzy and Broadstairs flew past.  He’s leading sets at the pub sessions.  The teenage years struck in September, so far with no major ill effects.  Right now he’s leading his brothers, jamming in the yurt.

Ben has joined the Ness Group choir, leading the solo for “Once in Royal David’s City” at the church carol concert.  He’s represented his school in an athletics competition, winning 3 gold medals!  He’s had Cub camps, a school residential trip and has generally been keen to get involved in anything and everything.  He’s one of the founding members of “Oh, Folk!”, the group comprising himself,
Cesca, Tim, Nick Garner and a couple of other folks from church who perform at gunshot benthe choir services, the family services and wherever required.  He accompanied John, Ben playing guitar while his dad sang “The Sloth”.  He’s definitely Ben, as wonderful and irritating, and fantastic as ever.  At Kenilworth, Ben met up with the Royal Shakespeare Company’s makeup team…

matthewMatthew has decided that he knows enough of the ukulele and must move on to another instrument.  So when the new school year began in September, he switched to the cornet, an instrument that seems ideally suited to his loud.  He’s been singled out as being a whizz at maths, getting some extra challenge lessons after school.  He’s introduced the whole family to the Lord Mayor’s Show down in London, and has also had his Beavers sleepovers.  He’ll leave Beavers behind in 2015, graduating to Cubs with an armful of badges.  He’s shown some real skill in gardening, doing the lion’s share of the work creating the  new strawberry bed.

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Zach has gone from reception to Year 1, definitely growing up!  He’s still the leader of the boys when he turns his mind to it.  He has stubbornly refused to learn to ride his bike.  It’s definitely stubbornness, his teacher tells us he’s very clever, and we believe that!  He’s making excellent progress with his swimming lessons, the next step up will be into the big pool.  As Matthew decided he’d had enough of the Uke, so Zach started learning it with school, making as much progress as you imagine when you practice as much as a 5 year old does.  While Matthew was making the strawberry bed, Zach was ferrying bulbs, garlic, strawberry plants, and weeds to their appropriate destinations.  Garlic to Dad, bulbs to mum, strawberries to Matt and weeds to the chickens.

As a family, it’s been a fantastic year.  We’ve had amazing holidays here in the UK, done fabulous things in our hovel that have only brought us closer together.  Can’t say we’ve not had our share of shouting matches, but they’re part of the glue that holds the family together.  We’ve played Carcassonne by candlelight in a log cabin at Druid’s Temple, screamed ‘til we’re hoarse for the Knights of the East (and the North) as they thundered at the tilt at Kenilworth.  We revisited a concert from the year we went to University, seeing Mark Knopfler play in Sheffield, getting very nearly the same seats as last time!  We’ve enjoyed both playing and listening to more live music than we ever have before.  We’ve even been a musical family, leading an audience in “She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain When She Comes”.  We’ve loved hosting visitors- Robert & Elaine from Aus, Dave & Sheila from Castleford and Rod & Tori. All came a long way out of their way to visit us, which was wonderful of them all. Thank you.

7 on the beaach

Next year, more of the same!  More music & jousting- we’re already planning Broadstairs and following it directly with the Loxwood Joust.  Hopefully the house will actually get the boys bedroom extended, after a year of nearly getting the planning sorted.

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