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Strakers 2011


Here's a rapid run-down of the year 2011 for family and friends...


The year started quietly enough, despite the cold weather. Eleri still teaching, me still semi-retired and working on my website. The days passed in a gentle stream, still getting up at 5:30 to walk the dogs before Eleri heading off to school. Then write a web page or so. Chew through emails. Have desultory conversations with people around the world. Pack and take books to the post office. It got rather boring at times and I'd go for a pootle or see old friends just to get out. But by and large it was ok.

I was doing the househusband stuff too. Hoovering (or should that be Dysoning?). Make dinner before Eleri comes home and welcome her back with an hour of listening to the trials and tribulations of teaching. I taught for a couple of years back in the 70s before I escaped into software and have huge admiration for all teachers.

One of the nice things I found was the ability to head off at a moment's notice. A Greek friend in the village said he was going back to Greece for few days and would I like to come? Wouldn't I just! He went out first to sort out some business and I flew into Thessaloniki a couple of days later. We drove slowly south, stopping off at Mount Olympus where John did what turned out to be a regular habit of going off road (he hired a Jeep for this purpose). Then the next day meandering down to Delphi, where we wandered around a deserted ancient site and so to Athens. We stayed with his 90+ year old uncle who fought with the Free Greeks and now spent time re-translating ancient Tibetan Buddhist texts and arguing with the experts. I spent a day wandering around Athens and of course the amazing Acropolis. Being January it was mostly deserted but the weather was fortunately beautiful. Photos here.

At Easter we picked up a nice internet package of a couple of days in Venice followed by a cruise, mostly around Greek islands. We stopped at Split in Croatia (where it poured with rain) then went around Corfu, Chania in Crete, Athens, Santorini, Mykonos and Katakolon (for the original Olympia). Here are the Venice photos but I'll (shamefacedly) admit not to have yet sorted out the cruise pix. We made friends with the lovely Mike and Cyndi from Colorado and are planning on visiting them next September to see the Aspen colours.

I've kept up the interest in photography and go to a local club where I narrow missed winning the advanced class by half a point. To be fair, I was lucky to come close as the guy that did win is amazing and uses really expensive kit (eg. 2K+ for one lens). I just take what interests me and fortunately some competition judges seems to like these too. As ever, photos are here.

Then in June I got a call from an old colleague from the QCA to help him do some marketing of qualifications in the BCS. I'd done the CIM diploma when working for HP's sales and marketing organisation so was ok with the practices. I launched a computing course for beginners, including writing the brochure and leaflet, then project-managed another course on web accessibility to launch. It was nice to get back to work and do something new. It was also nice standing back from many of the hassles that affect full-time people and just doing the job. I did six months there, which was a nice boost to the retirement pot, finishing at the start of December, so now it's back to househusbanding.

In August, we did another cruise, this time on the Danube. The weather wasn't great but fortunately it didn't rain much either. It was run by Shearing which, as we found out, specialise in old-folks tours. We were probably the youngest there. We did Linz, Vienna, Budapest, Bratislava and a couple of smaller towns along the way. A highlight was a free concert in the main square in old-town with all kinds of performers, from heavy metal to classical. The Gypsy Devils appeared too, including an enormous and amazing hammered dulcimer player. We even appeared in a crowd scene on Slovak TV. Look at the bottom of the picture after eight seconds. Here are the photos of the cruise.

August also brought results from Geraint's A-Levels. He'd been accepted at Plymouth to do Law and needed only 180 points. But another year of under-working meant he missed even that and only got into Cumbria U in Lancaster on clearing, doing English. It may turn out to be a better choice for him as he's good at the subject. Fingers crossed for him as always.

Heledd has continued to do well in Accenture, working often into the wee small hours. She once emailed her boss with something she produced at 3am -- and got an email straight back! It wears me out just thinking about it. And she's also now doing another master's degree, part time over two years in Birkbeck, in Organisational Behaviour. She also passed 30 in November (erk!) which she celebrated with a fancy dress birthday party. It was nice to see all her friends again from various times of her life. She's got a really lovely boyfriend and they're living in Ealing. They saw the summer riots first-hand, with the rioters running down her road and smashing windows. Luckily they escaped damage and came over to us in a lull.

Christmas day will be just Eleri and me. Geraint's decided to stay in Lancaster and Heledd's at James' mum. First time ever just us. It used to be at parents and then kids here. Odd, but ok. It'll be nice to take it at a relaxed pace.

2012 will be an interesting year for us. Eleri will be retiring from teaching in the summer and we're planning on moving back to Wales. We looked early and nearly bought a house near Abergavenny, but the surveyor's report showed just too many hassles. We've put in a couple of other offers but nobody's bitten. We're not confident about where the market's going so any purchase before we need to move will have to be a real bargain.

So whatever your story has been, do have a very merry Christmas and a most splendid 2012,


Dave, Eleri, Geraint, Heledd, Ceri and Beca.


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