Updated Dec 2018
Well last year I wrote about how 2017 had turned into a year of travel, albeit unexpectedly. This year has been much tamer, mostly due to budget constraints, although also in part due to the complications of having multiple adults in the household now, all with their own plans and arrangements.
My milestone this year was turning 50, which I celebrated with a small party for friends in our church hall. We had a great time, and I was really touched by the number of teens/young adults who I have had contact with through the years who came along – I couldn’t imagine a 50 year old’s party would be much fun, but they seemed to enjoy themselves! Elsa baked me an amazing cake, and I had a lovely time catching up with people.
Another highlight of the year was my life-long friend Andrea also turning 50, which she celebrated at the Hawk Conservancy Trust https://www.hawk-conservancy.org/ This is a beautiful place where we saw many different birds of prey and heard their stories. The trust does amazing work and is well worth a visit if you are in the Andover area ever.
This summer Toby spent the first half of his summer break in China, teaching English in school summer camps, and getting to see some of the country too. He had an amazing time – for some of his photos have a look at his page on this website.
That meant that our summer holiday was without one of us for the first time ever – something that I am sure will only increase from now on. We missed Toby of course, but we had a lovely time driving down into France and staying in the Loire valley near Saumur, and then on into the Basque region of Spain, before heading back via a return visit to the Ile de Re. We had visited there for a day when we first went to France and always intended to return, this time we camped there for 4 days and thoroughly explored the island.
Highlights of the holiday would include the vibrant town and castle at Saumur (and the wine of course!), and the stunning views from our campsite over the Loire. We also had glorious views from our cottage in the Basque country, just a short train ride from Bilboa. We visited the island church of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe (note all the steps!), which was stunning, and the girls learned to surf on the Atlantic beaches.
We also thoroughly enjoyed exploring Bilbao, including the Guggenheim. Our stay on Ile de Re was relatively short, but we still managed to explore the main town, Saint-Martin-de-Ré, and do a 50km bike ride along the length of the island.
My work as a home educating mum has changed significantly this year. Joel and Toby are both at Oxford University, so they are away during term time. They seem to be happy both in their times there and their “holidays” at home (Oxford predictably sends a lot of work home with them, so it’s hardly a holiday for them when they are here!), and both are doing really well in their respective courses. They see each other at the main Christian Union events and at church, but otherwise are pursuing their own lives very much.
Kirsten did really well in her GCSE exams this summer, which was a fitting ending to her time being home educated. She is now at Solihull Sixth Form doing A levels in Maths, Physics and Geology – she has settled in really well, and is enjoying her subjects, especially Geology.
However this means that it is now just Elsa and me at home during the day. Elsa is happy with this arrangement – or at least at the moment she would much prefer it to going to school, so I am trying to make it as fun and varied for her as possible. She has taken up a pottery class, and as well as formal work we have done loads of visits to different places – at least it’s cheaper paying entrance fees for one child than four!
Elsa on a visit to Plymouth
Joel and Toby at Oxford
Kirsten and Elsa
When I am not home educating I am still playing guitar in the church worship band, and on day and weekend conferences as part of a small worship group. I also enjoy running, kayaking and walking when I have the chance. This doesn’t sound like I do very much, but somehow I seem to be very busy all the time!
2018 has been a turbulent year in many ways, with changes both for us as a family and for our country as Brexit plays out. But I know that in all these things God is there for us – not like some Santa figure who makes everything perfect always - but who is walking through the stresses and struggles of our world alongside us, and available to us whenever we call on him.
Joel’s 21st birthday