Last updated December 2017
2017 has, rather surprisingly, turned into a year of travel for me. Having grown up entirely on UK-based holidays, and then revisited many of those places with our children, both Jase and I have come rather late to the joys of discovering new countries.
This year, however, we’ve managed to get to 7 in total (or 9 if you count Scotland and Wales!).
At the start of the year we found out that the Russia trip that Toby had hoped to be taking from his Sixth Form College had been cancelled, and in a mad moment we decided to take him ourselves – and all the rest of the family too! So at Easter the 6 of us flew to Moscow for a short break.
I must admit I had been expecting something from cold-war propaganda news items – all grey concrete and austere people – but Moscow was one of the most vibrant, colourful and friendly cities I have visited. I was staggered by the religious heritage – I never knew that the Kremlin was full of beautiful chapels – as well as the amazing architecture, both ancient and more recent.
Then for our summer holiday we did a mixture of camping and renting, driving first through France to the Ardennes in Belgium, then on to Germany, staying in beautiful countryside near Berlin. A brief day-trip into Poland, and then back via Utrecht.
Highlights were far too many to list, but would include daft table tennis matches, incredible scenery in the Ardennes, the Berlin Wall, a concentration camp, and a mad midnight bike ride back to the campsite after visiting Amsterdam for the day.
This year has been heavy on exams, with Toby’s A levels, Kirsten’s first GCSEs, and Joel’s first university exams. They all did really well, and it’s great to see them growing in confidence and independence (although I miss the days when they were little very much). Toby has now joined Joel at Oxford (although different colleges and courses), and we are slowing getting used to being a family of 4 during term time. It seems very small!
Kirsten is now getting ready for her main GCSEs this year, and then she will be moving on from home ed to Sixth Form College to study A levels. She is also working hard to gain her watersports coaching qualifications, and for much of last year was volunteering one day a week at a local outdoor education centre. Elsa still loves baking and art, and she is quite happy at the moment to stay home educated, although it will be a very different experience in September when there is just her at home during the day.
This year had a fair number of milestone events – Toby’s 18th, Jason’s 50th, and our Silver Wedding, which we spent in a field in Dartmoor, although we also had a long weekend in Barcelona later in the year.
For me personally, most of my life still revolves around the home edding, especially as it is an exam year, which takes a lot of preparation, planning and marking. However I’m also finding time to play in worship bands and church and a couple of other settings, and to do some canoeing and kayaking too. I’ve also tried to be more disciplined about my running this year. It’s still hardly what you’d call impressive, but at least it happens now!
More than anything I enjoy being outdoors in whatever form – camping, running, canoeing, walking, cycling… I think the older I get the more I value the freedom of being outside buildings, often in beautiful countryside, but sometimes just in my own back garden. I am very grateful to God for this year – I realise increasingly that you never know what lies ahead, so I am thankful for the good times while they are here.