2005

More travel, some inside the UK and some outside.

Gong Xi Fa Cai,

2005 was our second full year in the UK. It’s been busy with school, work, and a lot of travel. It’s also been quite traumatic with family illness, and all of us getting a bit older. Wiser, I cannot say. Our 2004 letter is not online, so this will touch on some of our activities over that time too.

The highlights have been the time we’ve been able to spend with our family, and the travel – Paris, Budapest, Venice, Prague, Turkey (Istanbul and the south coast), Cornwall, the North East and the Lake District (pictured), and most recently a trip to Norway and Sweden. Of course we have also been back to the US as well. Rather than include a lot of pictures of our travels here, you can find them on the website (they will be re-published here when I get a chance). It’s one of the great joys of being in Europe that so much culture is so close.

Tim’s business travel has added a number of other locations – Malta, Munich, Stockholm, Helsinki and Antwerp to name a few. Travelling one is always aware of the diversity of culture and opinion, the different priorities and the many ways in which culture and belief are reflected in daily life, in architecture and design, and of course in the basics like food and clothing.

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In April, we met The Coughlins in Istanbul and spent a couple of days there before heading down to the Aegean Sea to spend time on a traditional Turkish gulet for 7 days. We had two boats with four families on each, so we had the chance to meet some very interesting and nice Turkish people from both Turkey and the States. Some of them had spent all or part of their careers in the Navy or shipping, so Tim had plenty to talk about. Our days consisted of swimming, motoring from cove to cove, or docking at a town where shopping and cultural opportunities awaited us. The boys became much better swimmers, and we all loved the food (and drink!).

Marina tagged along on one of Tim’s business trip to Prague for a couple of days while the boys stayed with Tim’s parents and in April, the boys and Marina headed back to CA. Marina went to the US Open with her family in early September, a long overdue birthday present for her Dad. We saw some good tennis and Marina couldn’t believe that her Dad still wants more tennis after a full day out on the courts!! Then just after Christmas, the boys and Marina tagged along with Tim on his business trip to CA. We spent about 6 days in Los Angeles with Marina’s family and then another 6 days up in the Bay Area with friends.

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In August, Marina’s cousins Melody and Lucia and their families visited from Hong Kong. Their kids went off to a boarding school in the Cotswolds for some intensive English language experience, while the adults lived it up. The first week in was spent in Rotherwick. The cousins’ husbands arrived on Jermy’s birthday. We took them to York, Grimsby, Whitby and the Lake District. We had a great time, and enjoyed both meeting Marina’s family and the opportunity to show them around.

Jeremy moved up from the infant school to the junior school. Most of the children in the infant school just naturally go on to the junior school, but staff of the infant school made it a big deal so in some sense, it was a big change. In the UK school system, most schools combine the infant and junior school but for some reason, it isn’t the case for our local school district. In this situation, Caelean was behaving like the big brother, describing to Jeremy the ins and outs of the junior school since this is the school that Caelaen started out in when we first moved here. It’s taken a little bit of time for Jeremy to settle into Year 3 (2nd grade) but I think he has a good circle of friends now and is quite happy. Jeremy has always loved books but he has discovered the joy of reading to himself and is now almost all the way through the Harry Potter books. He also started piano lessons in September. He is enjoying this too, singing along as he plays, and is making great progress. The two boys both performed in a concert put on by their teacher – both did well and seem to be unaffected by nerves.

Caelean is happily settled into his school life and is in Year 5 (4th grade). He still loves to read and we are amazed that he still remembers all the intricate details of all the Harry Potter books. This year, Caelean has ventured into two new interests: PlayStation 2 and sailing. Jeremy and he pooled their financial resources during the year and purchased a PlayStation 2 console shortly after Caelean’s 10th birthday. They have been saving up for the PS2 for almost 2 years and Caelean found himself overwhelmed and exhausted after the purchase experience. This opens up a whole new world for not just the boys, but also for Tim and Marina.

Just before school started in September, Caelean received a certificate for taking the Stage I sailing class and then another certificate for the Stage II sailing class over the October school break. We would like to sign Caelean up for the Stage III class and Jeremy for the Stage I class (since he has expressed interest) in April over the Easter break. When Caelean reaches Stage III, he will be able to take a sailboat out on his own which he is very much looking forward to. It was nice to see him show helpfulness and kindness in this class towards his classmates and we think it will help with boosting self confidence and self esteem. It was also an opportunity for Caelean to show some leadership skills now that he’s a full ten years old. It makes us realize that in another ten years, our children will most likely be seeking lives of their own and we will be entering into another stage of life ourselves.

Marina is still doing her telephone contact job but the calls have really been tapering off as email is becoming a more popular tool. She has also signed up for a counselling course and she is really enjoying it. Marina is still running and has also taken up Pilates with an ex-London ballet dancer as the teacher. She’s hoping to do the Paris marathon with Liz and Dick in 2006, but is currently nursing a minor injury. We’re hoping to take the opportunity to visit Brittany and possibly Normandy at the same time if we can fit it in…

Tim has been travelling a lot, especially the last 4 months of 2005. He was gone every week with a monthly trip to CA. With the waiting time in airports and some flight times on planes (when he is not actually sleeping), he has found the time and rediscovered the pleasure in writing. Jeremy and he developed the plot of a children’s book together which is now finished and he has also gone on to write articles, plays, and other stories. We have not had much sailing experience with our boat, Yamkat. 2005 was full of maintenance work and with Caelean’s interest in dinghy sailing, we decided to put her on the market which was a really sad event. The cost of a large boat really requires the whole family to be committed to sailing, and that’s been difficult for us. In addition, the sailing conditions here are pretty challenging with big tides and changeable weather. We’re not quite sure what 2006 will bring, but if previous years are anything to go by, we expect excitement and a lot of wonderful experiences. We wish you the same.

Tim, Marina, Caelean and Jeremy.

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