Christmas News 2002

Seaside special

Martin, Miriam and Adrian on the beach at Caldey Island  

Caldey Island

Tenby is one of those places everybody seems to have been to, except - until this summer - us. Now we, too, can say what a nice place it is.

We were staying with two other families who have young children, which gave us an extra excuse to make up for our lack of beach holidays in the last couple of years. We played tennis, dug holes in the sand, and went into the sea (to various depths, depending on bravery).

Away from the beach, we went to an activity centre where we all had a go at karting and crazy golf, and Phil got lost in a Jungle Maze. On another day we played pitch and putt, but turned down the chance to go bungee jumping from a crane by the harbour.

Just a short boat trip away is Caldey Island, home to a monastic community and a haven of tranquility. Well, it was until we and a few hundred other people got there. It still made a nice day out as we enjoyed walks across the island and spent a bit more time on the beach.

Back on the mainland, we learned the hard way that although some roads in Tenby are temptingly free of double yellow lines, a residents' permit is required to park there. Not even the fact that the parking tickets are bilingual could make up for the fact that, as three families, we picked up no less than five penalties in a week.

I wish to register a complaint

Miriam sitting in front of a low ruined stone wall

So this is what the estate agent meant by "In some need of redecoration" (Miriam at Kenilworth Castle)

There is an Australian joke which goes: How do you tell when a planeload of Poms has landed at Sydney Airport? Answer: You can still hear the whining after the engines stop. Yes, the British have a reputation for complaining, and this year we've done our bit to contribute to the national quota. Our pet peeves include:

The Romanian Government refused to grant visas for our friends there to visit us in Britain, apparently believing that they would try to stay here permanently (which they have no intention of doing). The result was bitter disappointment, especially for the children of the family.

The Home Office is continuing to oppose the asylum applications of our African friends, even threatening to appeal after an already protracted judicial review case went against them. We are confident that the family will soon get the refugee status they deserve.

For reasons explained at the top of this page, the traffic wardens of Tenby need not expect any Christmas cards from us this year.

Martin's memories

Martin riding a bike

Martin takes to two wheels, after much patient coaching from Adrian

I went on a school trip to Redridge with six other pupils where I did activities (abseiling, rock climbing, orienteering etc). I won a silver medal when I went on a trip with my whole school to Alexander Stadium.

I am getting independent so I got a bus pass and I take 3 public buses to school, the 35, the 50 then the 11. I wake up at 6:25 on weekday mornings to catch the bus.

When I was in year 8, I went to the Tamworth Snow dome. I was tobogganing and I had a nice time.

My favourite TV programme is now The Simpsons. I went to the cinema at Star city and watched Minority Report which Adrian had watched earlier and thought it was good. We saw with Granny a play called Travels With My Aunt which just had 4 actors which were all men.

I got some new glasses which make me look like Daniel Radcliffe (the actor who plays Harry Potter). I got my watch a blue, leather strap when its metal strap broke. I got a new, dark coat.

I had found out that me and Adrian are taller than Granny.

There was a karaoke at my church where everyone did very well (including Martin, who performed a Robbie Williams song). There was an exhibition at my church to show what had happened during the last 25 years.

At drama, I acted out a play called A Slice Of Life.

Miriam reports

Life in my full-time post as a research associate in Birmingham University's Department of Primary Care continues to be interesting and stimulating with many chances to visit and work with general practice staff in the West Midlands and Oxfordshire. Oh dear, have you heard all this before? this is what I said last year, however it is still true! The M Sc is progressing, as I have 100 credits to my name and the dissertation is getting underway. Plenty to keep me busy! As the rest of my life seems to be largely taken up with housework and vainly hoping that one day I will be able to catch up!!

So spare time is spent playing games with the boys or biking with them occasionally, or watching a bit of TV drama, usually late at night. Then there are regular trips to the other side of Birmingham to see our friends in Washwood Heath, often combined with a shopping trip.

Fire alert

After Adrian had spent the day at a friend's house during the summer holidays, it was a bit of a shock to go and fetch him and see flashing blue lights outside the house, and smoke pouring out of the upstairs windows. Fortunately everyone had got out of the house safely as soon as the fire started, and no-one was hurt. The house itself was not so lucky, suffering extensive fire and smoke damage.

Disaster was avoided that day, but it's still been a difficult year for Adrian. He has suffered continuing health problems that have kept him off school for much of the year and curtailed many other activities. None of the tests carried out so far have revealed any physical cause, nor has any treatment had any significant effect.

Shotgun marriage

Phil and his colleagues have consumed numerous school governor-hours in fending off the City Council's attempt to forcibly amalgamate the Infant School with the neighbouring Junior School. This involved a long series of meetings, consultations, writing statutory objections and speaking in a public meeting. A Government Adjudicator ruled that the merger should not go ahead, at least at present.

A happier note was struck by a successful Ofsted inspection in the Infant School in July.

Tall tales

Martin is enjoying being a teenager, and has shot up in height during the year. But Adrian is growing too, and looks certain to overtake us all soon.

Takeover talk

Thanks to a company takeover, Phil has once again changed employer without even having to leave his desk.


Photo fun

Martin loves using a camera, although his choice of subjects is not always conventional. Kitchen pipes, snails on the wall, drinks machines and fridge magnets have all caught his attention. Adrian, too, is keen to spot good photo opportunities. Here are some of their more interesting efforts, all in modem-friendly high compression.

Adrian writes the letters AD on a beach

Adrian makes his mark on the beach

Children's feet on the grass

Close-up of Caldey Island

Houses and trees reflected in water

Pembroke (taken by Adrian)

Red fireworks in the night sky

Bonfire Night