I always look forward to hearing from you just before Christmas, and it sounds like you’ve had another great year. I’m sorry to hear about Liz and hope things are better now. Sorry we didn’t get to Woodbridge this year. 2024 perhaps? Are you still keeping your Woodbridge accommodation? Moving house sounds very exciting and makes a lot of sense to be close to everyone. That’s what Alison and I will do when the girls are eventually settled.
For us, it’s been another eventful year on various fronts, so here goes:
Rebecca went out to Australia as planned as part of the Jim Perkins PhD Scholarship. Conor managed to spend several months with her too. They had an absolutely wonderful time (visiting many places), and she really enjoyed her research at the University of Melbourne too… I know you loved your Australia trip.
Rebecca’s photo of the Twelve Apostles in Australia
We collected Rebecca at the airport on her return in early November. It was a complete surprise for her.
Rebecca spots us at Heathrow Airport
While they were away, Rebecca and Conor got engaged! They are hoping to get married in the Chapel of St John’s College (where Rebecca currently teaches) but their PhDs are quite time consuming currently, slowing their planning.
Special meal for Rebecca and Conor’s engagement at Hambleton Hall
Rebecca is also very busy with student supervisions. While she was away, Rebecca was nominated for a special teaching award at Cambridge. Teaching seems to be her passion. Conor finishes his PhD next June, and already has a job lined up in Cambridge, in Artificial Intelligence.
Bethany how now entered her final year of her PhD in biostatistics. How time flies! Oli has just started a PhD at Christ’s College (in Artificial Intelligence believe it or not). We are going to have a lot of PhDs in the family! In October, Bethany and Oli moved into a couple’s university flat together in the centre of Cambridge.
Bethany and Oli outside their new accommodation in Cambridge
Bethany seems very happy. She’s just had her first journal paper accepted and has some very interesting international conferences coming up. Like Rebecca, Bethany also really enjoys supervising. Oli certainly likes to travel, so they have been all over the place, including the Alps and Venice this year.
Bethany, Oli and Alison in the German Parliament Building
Alison is still at Papworth Pharmacy. She is busier than ever, achieving record script numbers. In January, she celebrated her 60th birthday, and we arranged lots of different events and activities. One surprise was that everyone came one weekend to create a special meal – with each couple creating a course. Alison loved it! Alison has always enjoyed travelling so we have been going a bit mad (for us) on that front. In her work, Alison sees so many people who put off travel and then couldn’t do it due to health problems, so she is very keen for us to travel while we are still healthy.
60th Birthday Celebration for Alison
Alison in Valletta, Malta
My work has been very exciting this year, and we’ve managed to double revenue and more than double profitability. When I started, annual turnover was under £700,000 and now it will exceed £2.5 million. It feels a bit weird that while so many of the people I know are retiring I’m doing the exact opposite! I do make sure that I keep it all in balance though compared with my youth, and still have lots of free time – particularly for my photography. I am really enjoying learning new things about renewable energy. We now have solar panels and heat pumps! I am addicted to watching my solar power generation statistics in real time. I hope you are adding solar panels to your new bungalow.
Travel seems to have become a much more important thing for us, and I’ve been loving taking photographs of interesting places. Our addiction with Norfolk has continued, but we also managed to get to the Cotswolds (close to you). This year, we have enjoyed Tenerife, Kos, Valletta in Malta, Berlin (with Bethany and Oli) and (wonderful, wonderful) Copenhagen. In September, we did our first river cruise – from Amsterdam to Budapest, which was incredible.
Hungarian Parliament at Night in Budapest
St Stephen’s Basilica in Budapest
I’ve taken far too many photographs over the year. If you are interested, you can see some here:
Because we have to book Alison’s leave so early, we have already booked our holidays for 2024. In June, we do our first ever ocean cruise – to Alaska – with an additional break in Vancouver. Perhaps foolishly, we do our second ocean cruise in September – from Barcelona to Venice (with a long break in Venice). We’re taking Rebecca and Conor to Florence, and Bethany and Oli wine tasting in France. I am really enjoying photographing cathedrals and churches, so have added Lisbon and Seville to our 2024 destination list. I hope to photograph many of the world’s greatest cathedrals and churches over the next few years. Here’s an article I wrote:
I have written far too much already. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and here’s to a fantastic 2024.
All the best