Text Box:  Field House, Toadsmoor, Brimscombe, Stroud Glos, GL5 2UL

Tel. 44 (0) 1453 884268

Email eliot@ogpog.freeserve.co.uk

Christmas came late for us this year. Well, actually it didn’t, but I never did get round to writing the newsletter and now I have had lots of lovely notes asking if we are well, is everything OK etc etc…!

No, none of us have died – I suppose that is tempting fate but I like to live dangerously – and we all had a really good 2004. The only thing disappointing about 2004 was the political scene, which culminating with the unreasonable ban on fox hunting and the re-election of President Bush was just ghastly.

Well, no doubt you have all been wondering what the old fart has been up to. My excuse for not getting the newsletter done was because I was busily drawing up the plans for yet another extension, this time a Pilates studio for Meg. What happened was that earlier in the year a friend, an architect, phoned me up and asked if I could give him a hand as he was overloaded with work and at his wits end what to do. So I hummed and haahed a bit and then said OK.

Well, I haven’t drawn up houses for about 30 years so it was a bit of a shock to the system. But to everyone’s amazement I managed to do it. Even more amazing, I managed to work out how to use the CAD machine and draw stuff up on the computer. CAD is a bit like programming a video recorder, only possible by those who are under thirty years old. But I conquered it and actually quite enjoyed it. It then inspired me to draw up our own extension and new garage and we have just received the planning permission. Hooray and in record time! When the planning officer turned up, she said is your wife ‘the Meg Walker’. I cautiously said yes, and it turned out she was one of Meg’s breastfeeders so that smoothed the way I guess! Or perhaps it was just my wit and charm…………..

Meg, of course, is busier than ever. Its scary really. She just cannot say no. So as well as running her beloved Guild of Pregnancy and Postnatal Instructors, she has just founded something called MOBS in Stroud. Mothers Offering Breastfeeding Support if you were wondering. And she has qualified as a Pilates instructor. And she continues teaching her aerobics classes. And she is employed by Gloucestershire Council as a Curriculum Support Team Worker. It means she monitors the standards of classes. It is an ideal job that she can do at times to suit her and Meg, being Meg, is very good and conscientious about it.

The children. What am I talking about? The men and women who are our sons and daughters! Its really very odd because as a parent you seem to get into some sort of time warp where they forever remain about nine years old. But they aren’t!

Tom is 25 and has had a steady job for the last six months. A friend of his called Angus had an idea. To make a computer that looked attractive, rather than something in a huge crappy cheap cream coloured plastic box. So he, and his ex-girlfriend Jo, designed a custom aluminium extrusion and the (tiny) Netbox was born. Top of the Independent newspapers most wanted object for 2004 this beautiful, solid shiny bit of hitech equipment was a remarkable success. So much so that Microsoft phoned up and ordered some for their stand at an international computer fair! Tom joined Angus and Jo to help make the computers, but in fact most of the ones that Tom makes are specialist ones called Longports. They have a special scanning card in them that is used by hospitals and old peoples homes to monitor ulcers in old people. In many ways it has been ideal for Tom. His own computer knowledge has helped in all sorts of quirky ways and he has learnt a lot about how computers are put together. He’s been living at home but we expect he may depart shortly as his girlfriend is pining for him in London.

Jessie will shortly complete her training as an Occupational Therapist. She is back at Oxford Brookes after doing a stint at the John Radcliffe Hospital. On the whole she has loved it, although it has had its stressful moments, sometimes the NHS can be quite bureaucratic and restrictive, and is looking forward to working….and being paid for it! She has a 34 year old boyfriend called Marcus and seems very happy with him. The picture is of Jessie and her friend from school days, Emma. What a pair of minxes!

Sam has been in his element. The Brighton Institute of Modern Music.

He decided that he needed to learn a lot more about the guitar, learn to read music, learn to run a group, learn about the pop industry, and above all meet lots of musicians. And Brighton has turned out to be ideal for him. He found his own flat, and flat shares with the lovely Maddy (just a friend) on the sea front and right near the centre of town. Sam being Sam has become best mates with his tutor, so when they are not out drinking (which seems to be most of the time), they are talking about guitars and music and bands and all this helps Sam to get good marks for his work.

For those of you that ask about the animals, we are overrun with sheep, seven ewes and a ram called Rockie are eating as much hay as I can give them in the field. Plus there are five lambs I did not get round to butchering, plus another seven I sold to a friend around the corner, so there is plenty to look after. The five hens cluck away, but do not lay much because it is winter, but they did not seem to lay much in the summer either1 They better look out!

Joan, Meg’s mum, and the only remaining grandparent is still remarkably healthy at 94. Her memory is considerably better than mine and although she did give us a turn when she had ‘diverticulitis’ during the year, it turned out to be something you can control by eating porridge for breakfast and she has been fine ever since.

So that’s it really. We had our usual lovely holiday in Samos. Meg and I have just come back from skiing in Les Menuires (bright sunshine and blue skies for the whole week, and just enough snow to ski on!). I had not been skiing for a couple of years but did not seem to have completely forgotten how to do it. We were joined by Jessie and her friend Molly who took the snap of the oldies.

We had a lovely trip to France for a couple of days to celebrate my great friend’s (Crispin Audens) 50 th birthday, at a Chateau in Champagne country. It was great! Also gave us the chance to stock up the wine cellar so if passing drop in for a glass!

Love to you all.

Hope you all have a wonderful 2005!

Eliot, Meg, Tom, Jessie and Sam