Tuesday, 24 December 2013


We are trying to go even more paperless this Christmas and will be buying a goat for Uganda instead of cards and stamps.

We have had two new additions to the Abbott household this year
Jenny got a pony in May - Ben, a lovely 13.3 half Connemara aged 13. He is so good natured and willing. We had a few teething troubles, while the vet was lunging him, the head collar snapped & he galloped down the front drive with Annabelle & the vet sprinting after him - luckily he didn't go to the road and the they finally caught him in a field.
One night he jumped a 4 and a half foot gate, when Jenny went out to see him in the morning, he had vanished! We had a very stressful morning reporting it to the guards and searching. He was found by Annabelle's cousin, John, grazing happily in a huge field near the castle.
The third time he escaped he undid the head collar rope & galloped down the back drive, this time with Jenny & Annabelle in hot pursuit. Again all was well & he stopped before the road. Needless to say we now have a 5 foot electric fence & a new head collar! Jenny took Ben to riding camp which was a great success. She is looking forward to joining the pony club.

Edward now has a pet - a bearded dragon called Puff. He is really quite enchanting and Edward is great at looking after him. Puff eats fresh fruit & veg and live crickets and meal worms. We usually manage to get silent crickets but we have discovered if we keep them for a long time and feed them well they begin to chirp. As Puff is kept in the sun porch under our bedroom we had some very tropical early wake up calls in the summer!!

Annabelle had 6 months work in a Montessori school in Bandon, working one to one with a four year old with high functioning Aspergers. She found this very challenging yet rewarding as she could work with his psychologist to help him to function in a class situation. He became much happier and started at a main stream school in September. Annabelle is now back doing supply Montessori teaching and has had plenty of work this term.

Gary finished his maternity cover at Cognex and got another maternity contract at SouthWestern an outsourcing company and is working on the Newspread account. This is the distribution arm of the Irish Independant. It is much closer to home - only a 20 minute commute which is a refreshing change

Jenny got confirmed,
and it was made extra special as Gareth (her godfather) and Emma came over for the weekend.

Other big news is that Emma, Annabelle's sister is marrying Tim Cooper in April. They are still living in Uganda but are getting married on the beach in Mombasa, Kenya. It is just immediate family going. We are all so thrilled about the wedding & to be going to Africa again!

We had a wonderful trip to the uk in the summer - we were there for the wonderful weather & spent some idyllic days in Brecon with Gary's father, his godparents and sister & sister in law. The highlight was probably the day spent at the waterfalls in talybont, swimming and sliding in the river and having a barbecue.
We then spent a week on a friends canal boat in Newbury. It was perfect. We spent lots of afternoons at the outdoor pool at Northcroft hanging out with friends. Thank you to all of you who made that week so special with their hospitality, meals, moorings & wifi, and the boat-you know who you are.

We spent a lovely few days in Killarney, we thought we would explore Ireland as the summer was so glorious. It's only an hour away but the landscape is very different, spectacular mountains and lakes. There is so much to do and see there and we finished the trip with a visit to the aquarium in Dingle.

We invested in two kayaks in the summer and all had so much fun on them and they are beginning to pay for themselves with all the mackerel we caught.
We were given a very large tent and went to Ballilicky. We spent a night camping right by the sea with friends which was great fun. We ate freshly caught mackerel for supper and will defiantly be going back there next summer!

Gary had two trips to Brecon to see his family, one with Edward (we also went to see Red Kites being fed) and one with Jenny (we went on a climbing wall with Tina & Trace). Both were fantastic trips.

We have had a lovely year and it has been great to see some of you over here.
If you are coming to Ireland for a holiday we would love you to come see us - we have plenty of room.

Happy Christmas to everyone with lots of love from the Abbotts

Sunday, 16 December 2012

2012 - An eventful year

We had a dramatic event in March. On our quest looking for a pony for Jenny, as she was trying one out, she had an accident. She was jumping and fell over its shoulder, she was dragged under it and the pony trod on her face. Fortunately she remained conscious throughout. She was taken by Ambulance on a spinal board to Cork University Hospital. They were wonderful and so thorough. Miraculously she did not break any bones. She had plastic surgery to repair the gash between her eyes, all her skin was still attached so she didn’t need skin grafts and the surgeon spent an hour and a half stitching her up - 18 stitches on the outside and "too many to count" on the inside. He could not believe that she hadn't broken any facial bones and said that all the milk she drinks has really paid off! We had people all over the world praying for her and we really felt that she had God’s protection. We are amazed by her physical and emotional recovery - she was riding six weeks later. We have now started looking for a pony again. The scar is far better than we ever imagined it could be and it will fade further. She now says that she just has a scar with a good story!

We gained a new addition to the family in June in the form of a springer spaniel- Tafuta (meaning search in Swahili) Taffy for short. She was a birthday present for Gary from Annabelle’s parents. She is one of Annabelle's father’s dog’s puppies. She is enchanting, and with the training starting as soon as we had chosen her she has learnt quickly. She adores Matix, our lab, who is now top dog and she copies his behaviour. Gary says Labradors are born half trained and Springers die half trained! So we shall see with this one.

We had an amazing holiday this year. We went to visit Annabelle's sister Emma and her other half, Tim, in Uganda. It really was the trip of a lifetime. Emma had organised a fantastic itinerary that incorporated a whole week on safari taking in three different game parks and staying in lodges with fabulous pools, service and food.

The chef in one place was thrilled at Jenny and Edward’s adventurous tastes. They tried all the local foods. Edward developed a love of curries and ate so many that he didn't get one mosquito bite, Annabelle reckons that they were exploding on impact! We had one of Emma's drivers Mubiru for the whole time. He was lovely and very experienced. It meant that we could go on game drives whenever we wanted and stop to see the things that we wanted to see rather than going in the lodges vehicles with a big group.
We saw so much - lots of elephants, buffalo, Uganda cob, hartebeest , crocodiles, hippos, monkeys, baboons and 100's of giraffe.

The highlights were getting very close to crocs, hippos and

elephants while in a boat on the Nile, seeing lions

and seeing a leopard at sunset!
We spent a wonderful night with Emma and Tim in a self-sufficient lodge at Ndalli in the mountains. There were stunning views across the mountains and lakes, candles, oil lamps, and fires. Very romantic with wonderful locally grown food. Edward discovered that one should be cautious with freshly grown chillies as he nearly exploded when he covered his pizza with them!

Emma flew us back from there.
Jenny and Edward took the controls of the Golden Eagle plane for half an hour each.

They both loved it and are excellent pilots.
We went by boat to spent a few idyllic days on Bulago, on lake Victoria swimming, watching the birds, eating and drinking with E and T.

So we crossed the equator by land, air and water.
The rest of the time we stayed at E and T's house and hung out either at Ndege juu ya Africa (Emma and Tim’s aviation business) relaxing in the sunshine, watching planes and lizards and enjoying the food cooked by their chef or at the Lake Victoria Hotel with its wonderful swimming pool and diving boards. All in all a great experience and loads of fun!

Jenny won an art prize - pictured here on her last day at National School. She started secondary school at the end of August, Bandon Grammar School. She has totally thrown herself into school life and is loving it. She plays hockey and has won some matches against other schools in Cork. She has also joined the choir. She is managing her time well and keeping up with all the homework.
Jenny has just taken her grade three piano and passed with honours.
She has done a term as a Rookie life guard but that has taken a back seat for the hockey season- she will continue with that in the summer term.
She has just broken her wrist whilst on a friend’s birthday ice skating trip. –She really is having an eventful year!

Edward is enjoying school - He won the prize for oral work. They are doing a lot of science and he went to a science convention in Cork. This he's continued at home, we have a working model of a lung and a home-made lava lamp - very cool and have had a variety of experiments with things in fizzy water.
Edward has starting learning the guitar and adores it , he practices every day without being asked!
He has taken up tennis lessons on Saturdays which he thoroughly enjoys. Edward has finished the top level in swimming lessons so he will also become a rookie life guard in the summer.
His love of nature continues, he spends lots of time outside and he now has two hammerhead sharks painted by Annabelle on his bedroom ceiling to go with the huge whale’s tail coming out from under his bed!

In the long summer holidays Jenny and Edward both went to a residential Christian camp centre for a week which they loved. Jenny went to riding camp and Edward went to sports camp.

Gary’s bit:
I continue to shoot and am active in the local Gun Club, raising pheasants etc. I am enjoying training Taffy – and it is great that Matix is able to show her what to do. All that training of him in the early days is really paying off now.
I am not playing as much Crib as last year as Grant had to go back to the UK for job reasons, but he is back now so we hope to resume that for a while.
I am occasionally playing golf. . Both at Bandon Golf Club and with the Nyhan’s Golf Society – we went to Killarney this year for our weekend away – it was fabulous, if a little wet & windy (but this is Ireland)!
I enjoyed the Rugby last year.. and just hope that Wales improve from their autumn series for the 6 Nations!
I really got the veg patch going this year with a green house and made raised beds. I tried out square foot gardening (Growing stuff in 1 ft squares) and it worked really well, even though we did not have a huge amount of sun. The only thing that was really poor was the squashes - from lack of heat & sun.

I was made redundant from PFH in November, but have managed to get another job at Cognex for 9 months as Maternity cover as Supervisor of Finance and Admin for Europe. The job is going well so far and I am learning lots.

Annabelle's bit:
I have had plenty of Montessori teaching work this year. My 9 month contract covering maternity leave finished at the end of June. Having thought that I would catch up with all the things that I had let slide while I was working 5 days a week I was offered supply teaching in Bandon on the 3rd day of term and have continued to work for more than one nursery school two or three days a week which keeps me on my toes remembering where I am going in the morning, names, different school procedures and even the colour coding for cloths is different. So plenty of fun and variety. I prefer doing supply at the moment as it’s so flexible so I can fit it around Gary, children, dogs, appointments, jobs around the house, estate etc etc as well as hanging out with a great bunch of friends!
I popped over to the UK for a weekend to catch up with some college friends which was wonderful, like stepping back 20 years, none of us really change on the inside, despite outward appearances!
I am still swimming twice a week, although I haven't been recently as I had a "weird episode" after which I spent three days in Cork hospital (after another ride in an ambulance), it was a scary few days. After a CT scan and an MRI , they confirmed that,yes, I do have a brain and despite what you all think there is nothing wrong with it- hooray! They initially wanted to stop me from driving for a year, for those of you who have been to visit, you will know how awkward that would have been. Luckily they changed their minds as they think that it was an unfortunate mix of circumstances that brought it on, so hopefully it was just a one off. I still have to see a neurologist and ENT specialist. I have been left with vertigo which is a peculiar sensation, it means that sometimes I just have to stop and hold on to something , it does raise a few eyebrows in the playground!

We have had various people to stay which is always great fun. The furthest being Jenny's godmother SJ and her gorgeous 3 from Japan.

We spent less time on the beach this year as the weather was disappointing. It's lovely to walk the dogs but less swimming and sunbathing than last year.
Annabelle's family are all well. The parents are as busy and active as ever, hosting an amazing concert and garden party on one of the few sunny days. We also opened to the public in may for the Bluebell day. It was even more of a success than last year raising €1,500 for mu and the local youth cafe. We have decided to make it a yearly event. Philip and Michelle have bought a house in Finsbury Park, and are settling in between their various travels for work. They have even crossed paths and had a few dates in airports! Emma and Tim are happy and are always busy with the business though are trying to get a bit more time to relax, but Uganda does seem to throw up unusual problems that need dealing with, so it's hard to switch off from work.
Emma and Philip managed to come here for few days in Nov. it was great to all be together. We seem to be managing to do it once a year.

It's been a eventful roller coaster of a year. All the events have made us realise as a family that much as we need to plan and look to the future we need to enjoy who we are with, where we are and what we are doing right now, as you never know what's round the corner.
I hope you really enjoy Christmas and New Year whoever you are with and wherever you are.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

2011 – A fun packed year for the family.

We had Annabelle's 40th birthday in March- It was a great weekend, starting with Cookie (the goat) giving birth to a perfect male kid -which was named Cappucino by J&E. Philip and Michelle came over for the weekend having just got back from working in Pakistan for a year. Emma- Annabelle's sister - also flew in from Uganda as a surprise – it was just brilliant.
We then had a party here for about 50 people and it’s official, this house is a good party house!
All the family had lunch on the Sunday in a wonderful fish restaurant right by the sea- perfect.

We flew to Portugal in April, direct from Cork and spent a lovely week in an all inclusive resort on the beach. It was lovely, a real break for us all, not having to even think about meals was a real treat. Having food and drink on tap all day by the pool was brilliant , but not for the waistline! Edward said "you mean there is free cheese all day!!"

We hired a car and drove over the border into Spain to stay with Belinda, Annabelle's cousin, and her 3 kids, in the mountains just North of Seville for a couple of days. We explored their olive and cork oak groves and rode the horse and ate yummy tapas in Zufre. It was especially great as they have now moved back to the UK so we got there just in time.

Gary had a flying visit back to Brecon to help his Dad (Peter) move in May. Peter moved from small village outside Brecon into the town and he is loving being in his new place. He has had electricians, plumbers and decorators in to make the place his own..

The summer was very eventful for the Abbotts. Jenny went on guide camp and a church camp, Edward went on rugby camp and football camp and both of them went on a riding camp at the stables where they have riding lessons. In between all the camps, we went to Euro Disney, Philip, Annabelle's brother, got married over here and we had friends and family to stay.

We went to EuroDisney for 4 days, flying over to Paris early on Wednesday and flying back on Saturday afternoon. We stayed on the EuroDisney site in the Sequoia Lodge, which was great as it was only a ten minute walk to the Parks. We had Wednesday afternoon and Thursday in the main Park, Friday in the Disney Studios Park and the Saturday morning in the main park again. We had an absolutely amazing time. We managed to go on almost all the rides at least once and our favourites we got to do a second time on the Saturday morning.

Because we were staying on-site we were allowed into the park an hour before the general public. We therefore went on the really popular rides at this time with very little queuing - also we were there just before the British Schools broke up, which I think meant again it was less busy. The food around the park, in the restaurants and hotel was great. We had vouchers for all of the kids meals which worked very well. The weather was good to as although it was not particularly sunny it was not too hot in the queues etc.

Philip and Michelle got married on 30th July. It was a great event. We had Annabelle's cousin Belinda and her family staying with us which was really good fun.
There was a marque between the castle and the lake-the perfect setting for a perfect day. Jenny and Edward were bridesmaid and pageboy, Jenny matching the other 6 adult bridesmaids in sky blue chiffon. Edward looked so grown up in the full morning coat etc. The party continued into the small hours, then we started again with 200 ish people coming for drinks the next day!

Gary went on a Sea Fishing trip with a few of the guys from the gun club off the South West Coast. Whilst out on the boat he saw a family pod of Dolphins. With only a mobile phone he got this shot..
The fishing was good and we got plenty of Mackerel, Ling, Pollock and a few Cod. The Fish pies we have had since are scrummy, especially with the fish stock Gary made after filleting what he brought home. Being a true hunter gatherer G now has a .22 rifle and has added rabbit to our "free" food and he has started the main shooting season well with pigeon, pheasant and some duck.

We went over to Wales in November for Gary's Dad (Peter)'s 80th. This included a trip to the Penderyn Whisky Distillery (www.welsh-whisky.co.uk) which was fascinating.
It was great to see Peter’s newly decorated house and to see him so settled. We also saw Tina and Trace’s newly decorated house as well.

Gary is not playing as much golf as he should be - but there always seems to be something on... Still he has had a few outings with the Nyhan's Bar Golf Society - which is always great fun. He continues to play 5- a-side football on a Thursday evening. He is still working at PFH.

Annabelle still swims twice a week when she can and she was going to the ladies walking group until her job started. Yes Annabelle now has a year’s contract covering maternity leave from September to June working for a company that has 5 Montessori schools in Cork. She has been based mainly in Clonakilty, but if needed more elsewhere she is sometimes sent to 2 different ones in Bandon. They say variety is the spice of life, but she is looking forward to being head Montessori teacher from Jan-June in Clonakilty. She is loving being back in school – although the challenge of the working, looking after the kids and running the house means that her days are always full!

Jenny continues to play the piano and has passed her grade 2. She is loving Guides and has been on a number of trips etc with them as well as the camp. She is collecting loads of badges too and is becoming quite a knitter.

Edward has started Drama Club and was runner up best actor in his drama class,(he plans on putting the certificate in his C.V!). He has also gone with Gary when he goes shooting and is enjoying the outdoor life. He has just taken up the guitar (after Gary won a ¾ sized one at the School Christmas Fair).

Both the children love their horse riding. They are both progressing well. We have fenced off a paddock at the back of the house and are actively looking for ponies. They both continue to swim regularly Jenny has now started a Life Guard’s course and Edward has moved up another level.

So, all in all, a very enjoyable and full 2011. We hope you have enjoyed finding out what we have been up to. Next year we intend update the blog more often

We hope you all have a super, enjoyable and relaxing Christmas.
This year for all the Christmas cards not sent we are going to buy 2 sets of ducks for families in Bangladesh (http://www.presentaid.org/animal-lovers/24-ducks/invt/24-ducks/)

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

A White Christmas from the Emerald Isle 2010

We had a lovely yet busy summer. We moved into the house at the end of July-It's heavenly!!.

The house is now finished other than a few doors still need a final coat of gloss.
We had two sets of friends come and stay. It was so lovely to relax and enjoy the house.

We spent loads of time on the beach. Both Jenny and Edward learned to catch a wave on a boogie board- what a buzz!!
They are loving riding and are really progressing, Jenny is now jumping really well and Edward cantered for the first time this week having refused to put his feet into the styrups until he was allowed to try!
Edward's rugby is now full contact ,so he comes home bruised ,muddy and happy!
Jenny is now a Guide and loves it- we are all benefitting from her aim to do a good deed every day
Edward has moved up a level in swimming ane Jenny has started lane swimming at a small local pool with the intention of doing lifeguard training when she is big enough.

We now have goats living in the castle again,Cookie and Cloud (named by J&E). They are delightful-the castle seemed very empty without any.
Gary's work is busy but he has managed to fit in some shooting at the weekends, and will play some golf over Christmas.
Annabelle is still painting doors and is really enjoying the warm, dry house. She can now host the walking group and is still trying to get the scones right- flapjacks are popular though! She has some supply teaching lined up for February and is ready to step in if she is needed before then.

We managed to all get to the U.K twice this year. Once was for Tina's (Gary's sister ) Civil partership ceremony with Tracey . It was a beautiful day in a beautiful setting.

We also came over for half term.We saw so many of you -it was a really fun mad exhausting week. Thanks to all those who fed & watered us and gave us beds for the night!

Other big news is that Philip-Annabelle's brother will be marrying Michelle Butler here in Ireland at the end of July!! Annabelle went to the engagement party at the Players Theatre in London in November-such fun to be free of responsability in London for a weekend. She landed in snow at Cork airport and had to leave the car by the castle and walk-it stayed there for over a week! The school was shut so we all went sledging and generally got in a festive mood

We still have snow on the ground and the thaw is not expected till at least Christmas night ,so we will have a white Christmas! hurrahhh!!!
Jenny and Edward break up today(23rd) .Its a non uniform day, Edward was so pleased because it meant he could wear his yellow Mexican hat!?

We are doing Christmas at our house. Annabelle's parents, Philip, Michelle, & John (annabelle's cousin) are all coming. Should be a giggle.
We hope you have a wonderful Christmas and new year

Monday, 28 November 2011

Dandelions and Buttercups

Hi all,

Here is the next instalment from the Abbotts in Ireland

Annabelle’s bit:
The biggest news we have is a great sadness. Jen my aunt sadly died on the 3rd of June. She had a heart attack a couple of weeks before and fought bravely, but eventually she asked for “no heroics” and we realised that we needed to pray for a promotion rather than to stay here with us. She was very peaceful at the end and Mummy was with her. Emma managed to get here from Uganda and Philip and his girlfriend Michelle from Australia (they were visiting Michelle’s family, Philip lives in Pakistan) for the funeral. It was a lovely send off, the church was packed. Edward read a poem and I managed to read my bit with only a few tears. Emma and Philip read beautifully and mummy told about Jens life-lots of laughter and happy memories. We had at least 100 back here afterwards, Jen would have loved it! Edward said a lovely thing “Jen can see Jesus now-how cool!” and Jenny and I talked about how Jen can now eat as much chocolate as she likes (having been diabetic for years, this was a problem). So I now have a lovely picture of her in my mind, just chilling out and eating chocolate with Jesus…perfect.

Now about the rest of what has been going on:

We are all well and are enjoying the nice weather. Not too much ash coming down on us - although great excuse for the car being dirty!! Hope none of you have been stuck because of flights being cancelled.

Paul and Frin are fine too, planning their holidays in September. They are real saints putting up with us living in their house whilst the renovations continue at the Cottages. We have been living with them 11 months now, a bit longer than any of us had imagined when we started!!

Talking of the renovations - things are progressing. It is all moving forwards now which is a great relief. The second fix of electrics and plumbing are almost complete. All the walls and ceilings are painted now .We got through 400 litres of paint! Annabelle painted 3.7 miles of skirting and architrave once she had primed both sides and glossed. They are now being put on the walls. Gary has most of the bathrooms tiled- made easier by investing in an electric tile cutter! The kitchen is fitted and Annabelle is thrilled by her Rangemaster cooker and will soon be baking!

All this means that we are hoping to move in a week or so.

Gary’s bit:
I had started to play crib one night a week with an English mate who is renting one of the cottages on the estate, but he has gone back to London to work for a few months so I have lost my card partner - but I am still going to the pub anyway! I have been told I am fitting in quite well ... Hope that is a good thing!
The rugby season had been good fun even if I was getting a bit of stick in my Wales shirt. Munster did well in the Heineken Cup and the Mangers’ League so that was always a good excuse for a trip to Nyhan’s Bar.
I am getting to play a little bit of Golf with a few friends and also with the pub society. Some evenings as I get home - I park up and play the three holes in front of the castle before carrying up the drive to the house.

I am looking forward to being able to fish (now the flies have started hatching). I’ve been given some fantastic rods by Annabelle's godmother, so can not wait to put them to good use. The shooting season was great and I got quite involved with the local gun club. Matix (the black Lab) has matured a bit and has been a delight. So all in all as far as I am concerned this is heaven!

The job at PFH has been going well. I was made permanent after 2 months of a 3 month contract which is fantastic as the job market over here is far from good. I have a new boss and this is working out well. The company is even expanding. I’ve joined a gym close to work and go early in the morning to miss the traffic. It is great getting a bit fitter and not waste time sitting in traffic jams.

Annabelle’s 2nd bit:
I am well and settling back into a routine after a crazy month. I’ve been doing a lot of decorating. I’ve done a bit of supply nursery school teaching- probably a little more than we had intended, but as we were close up behind the plasterers as far as decorating goes we are not turning down the extra cash. I’ve managed to keep up my swimming, but it is a bit further to go than Northcroft was back in Newbury! I’ve also joined a group of mums from school who go walking once a week. We walk briskly for an hour or so and then don't feel so guilty eating all the cakes and scones afterwards!!

I really enjoy walking around the Estate with Matix. We’ve had herons nesting on the lake and the rabbits are prolific, there are a couple of black ones, very sweet, no one is allowed to shoot them! After such a cold long winter, the rhododendrons, bluebells, dandelions and buttercups have been spectacular! Matix gets home with yellow legs from the pollen. I am so looking forward to moving into the cottages and finding a new normal. I hope like the buttercups and dandelions after a long hard year we can put down strong roots and blossom!

The Kids bit:
Jenny is doing really well at school, she won a maths trophy and has lots of friends she is loving her riding and she did a riding camp at the beginning of July for a week- they broke up for the summer on the 25th June and don’t go back till 1st Sept! She is still enjoying playing the piano and is working towards her grade 2. She went to Brownie camp weekend and has discovered the joys of smores (chocolaty, marshmallowy, melted biscuits). Jenny is loving the freedom of living here, she and here friends can go down to the lake or the castle or collect the eggs without a grown up!

Edward too is having a fabulous time. He has continued to play in the U7 Bandon Rugby team and was presented with a medal (along with his team mates) at the annual club presentations. He did a Munster rugby camp in last week and had a wonderful time.
On the last day of term a group of mums and kids went straight to the beach from school. It was so great to see J&E playing on the beach and in the dunes with a gang of friends. Edward spent most of the time swimming and watching the older boys surfing-I think we may have a surfer in the making judging by the way he raved about it afterwards!
They have been to their first school disco at which Dad was a bouncer!

Friday, 28 October 2011

Christmas Greetings from the Abbotts - 2009

This year we are going environmentally friendly. The money that we would have spent is going to Christian Aid to buy a couple of goats for the "Goat Bank" in Burundi (see the attached word document) . This gives a goat to a farmer who then passes on one of its kids to help another farmer and so on so its the gift that keeps on giving!!

Its been an amazing year for us. We let our house in Newbury from September and moved lock , stock and barrel over to Bandon in Ireland. We are living with Annabelle's parents temporarily as the house that we are going to rent, which belongs to A's aunt Jen, is being renovated. This has been major reconstruction, but we now have floors upstairs and down, a new roof and windows. We hope to move across the field to it in the spring. In the mean time it is working out very well sharing Paul and Frin ' s house. Most of our furniture is in their large garage , or dotted about their house.

We have been going to three churches and will continue to mix and match for a while as they all seem wonderful. We may settle on the Baptist Church most weeks as the children's groups are fab, as is the music and teaching. We have been so welcomed to all the churches and have made good friends in each.

We came on a wing and a prayer as Gary had no job to come to and our prayers have been answered and he got a temporary contract working for a computer solutions company called P.F.H. Technology Group (http://www.pfh.ie/home.html ) about 45 mins away in Cork . This has just been made permanent-HOORAY!! As Jen put
it ,we came over and Gary got the only job in Ireland! He is playing crib with a friend most Tuesdays in the pub. When he gets the chance he has been watching the rugby too-supporting Munster and Wales. he plays 5 aside football some Thursdays too.

Annabelle has been doing a bit of supply work for a Montessori school. She really enjoys it and is starting to get to grips with the names and the spellings (eg: Caoimhe- is pronounced Queeva!) She goes along to a ladies walking group with Matix on a Wednesday .They go for a brisk hours walk from different peoples houses and then coffee, scones and cake. She swims twice a week , once with the children and once alone, which she combines with a Tescos shop to justify the hours round trip.

Jenny is so happy at school, she immediately joined in with a group of 4 other girls ,who are lovely.She has been to a sleepover already and speaks with an Irish accent when with them; however there is not a hint of it at home. Jenny has some catching up to do in Irish lessons but she is learning fast. She has learned how to jump in riding. She has joined the Brownies
and been for a day in the woods with them. Her piano has really improved,she is aiming for grade 2 in the summer. She has done a concert for all of the residents at Jen's hospital and is playing "Walking in the Air" and "The Combat Man" in the school play.

Edward also loves school -particularly his teacher. His reading is excellent and he is doing really well in his Irish lessons apparently he is doing as well as children who have done it for a year already. He has joined Bandon Rugby Club and they have won all their matches this term. He is loving being truly immersed in nature (almost literally sometimes).

Matix loves being part of a pack with Paul & Frin's boxer-Tisa and Springer-Poley. He loves the freedom of the estate and has discovered the joys of eating crabs and mermaids purses on the beach.He finds the pigs fascinating but can no longer bait the goat as it sadly died in September (he was very old)-hence the Goat Bank gift,it seems appropriate.

Bandon had the worst floods on record in November. 187 businesses were affected. Many had over 4 feet of water in and a few had 7 feet! It has been amazing to see the community spirit in the town People have been so generous with their time and money. Nearly all of the shops and banks are open again and we had a wonderful belated Christmas light switching on ceremony with a snow machine!! If you want to see some pictures etc of the floods follow this link: http://www.bandon.ie/blogspot/2009/11/bandon-flood-links.html

We are looking forward to our 1st Christmas living in Ireland ,we hope you have a wonderful, happy, peaceful, fun Christmas