We have had a fairly uneventful year, with the usual mixture of trials, tribulations and successes. A year on, we are still in the same jobs, in good health, and reasonably content.
Margaret is still at Roysia Middle School, though increasingly disillusioned with trying to cope with the National Curriculum and attainment assessment, without the necessary expertise or resources. She still enjoys teaching, but finds it a diminishing part of an ever longer school day. The next bandwagon is LMS (Local Management of Schools), which will turn heads and senior staff even more into administrators, and pull the purse-strings even tighter.
Margaret has this year being doing a part time course in Librarianship and Information skills, for a City and Guilds qualification. Her final exam was last week, so we are awaiting results. This may be useful on two fronts; to help her run the school library which she has done for many years; and as a opening for a career change if she gets fed up with the education system.
Paul is still with Laser-Scan, as Chief Programmer. The firm has gone through a series of mergers, takeovers, and refinancing deals and survived. The core of the firm's business is now supply of software for handling geographic information in computers. This involves supplying systems for both producing paper maps (the Ordnance Survey has 100 Laser-Scan workstation licences), but also for an increasing number of spatial query applications. These are systems to answer questions like "show me all gas mains installed before 1975 which lie within 2km of a built-up area#?".
Barry is 15 in February, and is now nearly as tall as Paul. He is embarking on GCSE courses, and thinking about future jobs. He is still in Scouts as a Patrol Leader, and takes part in "Cambridge Expeditions" run by the Social Services. His keenness on outdoor pursuits has led him to want to join the Army, but we feel he would have problems with the concept of blind obedience to orders!
We had a tough time with Barry a few months ago, when he seemed very sullen, moody and violent. He lashed out physically at Margaret a few times, and broke the nose of a kid at school. Things have been better recently, so we hope that it was the stress of adolescence, and that he is growing to control himself better.
On the holiday front, we went to Spain at Easter with Barry, and stayed on the villa complex near Marbella where we have been involved in buying a villa (this now looks increasingly unlikely due to delays and finance problems by the developer). In the summer, we two took a short break in Brittany, while Barry went to his grandparents. We then all had a week in southern Austria, during the deepest depression of a poor Austrian summer. It looked lovely when the sun eventually came out - on the last day. In October, we went to stay with French friends near Nice, while Barry went off on scout camp.
Both our parents are doing well, considering their ages, and we are all 5 going to stay in a hotel in the Lake District for a Christmas break. Hopefully, the weather will be better than last year, and we can do some walking.
Highlights of the year include a lovely summer, with lots of punting and some excellent concerts in Cambridge. This is balanced by lots of tourists and increasing traffic problems (Cambridge is now apparently second only to London in slowness of commuter traffic!). The council have introduced "Park and Ride" schemes, and "Pay and display" everywhere near the town centre, including the "Backs". Its not that bad though as a place to live; we went last night to a very pleasant evening of carols with mulled wine and mince pies at St Catharine's College, to put us in a mood for writing Christmas cards!
Wishing you a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year,