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.