Sam is terribly pleased to be a grandfather, more than 50 years after the first of his four sons was born.
Guy and Kai are a bit shell-shocked as Ivy wasn't due until January 5 – Kai was induced because there were concerns that the baby had stopped growing.
In other news, we have a gorgeous new kitchen which has had a gestation period almost as long as Ivy's. The electrician finished work at lunchtime on December 20, so we had a new kitchen and our first grandchild on the same day. We're a bit shell-shocked too!
The kitchen came from IKEA via the pretend store in Norwich, which is an "Order & Collection Point". The kitchen team there are lovely people but stupendously inefficient. It look from a first visit in May until November to finalise the order, and even then three of the units didn't actually fit. In addition the replacement units, due to be delivered to Hoxne, never turned up and Lawrence Osborne, who runs the lovely (and efficient) company which did the fitting, drove down to IKEA Lakeside overnight and charmed his way into the store before it even opened, in order to get our units and make sure we had a kitchen by Christmas.
So what about earlier in 2018? We saw the new year in at the family house in Pretzfeld, Germany, with Ben and Anne who flew out, and Guy and Kai and their dog Jenson who came with us on the ferry by car. The weather was wet and gloomy but we had a great short break and Jenson thought he was in heaven.
|The 90th Birthday or Dinner for One, starring Freddie Frinton, shown throughout northern Europe on New Year's Eve and famous for its catchphrase "Same procedure as last year?"|
In January we visited Ben in Nottingham to celebrate his 25th birthday and stayed in an apartment with the biggest bath I have ever been in. Sadly it was far too high for Sam to climb in, but fortunately there was an enormous walk-in shower in the same bathroom!
|Camilla's view from the bath|
|Sam and Patricia in Santiago|
|Sunshine in Gijon|
We also sailed to Ramsholt with Bob & Elaine, to Walton Backwaters with Alex & David, and drank a lot of gin over a gusty weekend with Lucilla & Mark where we didn't go anywhere because the engine start battery died.
In between all of this Sam participated in the Step out for Stroke walk in Bury St Edmunds and walked about 150 metres, which is a very long way for him. Thanks to the generosity of our friends and family he raised almost £2500, including Gift Aid. If you meant to give at the time but never got around to it, you can still make a donation.
Of our many breaks and holidays in 2018 probably the best was a full two weeks in Pretzfeld with Patricia, Ben and Anne, again by car and ferry. The weather was perfect – cooler than the UK's summer heatwave and mostly in the mid-20s, although on the hottest day we all managed to go swimming at the stunningly-located local lido. I managed to relax completely and stop worrying about everything, walk up hills and cycle along valleys (Ben took his high-tech bike on the roof of the car and cycled up hills too), and enjoy the company of my mother who put the ghosts of the past behind her and relaxed too. (I hope).
In between all the other activities I have continued as the editor of Cruising magazine and the Cruising Association's newsletter, which now takes up almost half of my time. Many of the CA's members keep their boats in EU countries and/or enjoy extended cruises in Europe, so Brexit will have a big impact, and the last few months of the year have been filled by efforts to update our members on what we know.
On a personal level, Camilla and many of her family have applied for "Restoration" of German citizenship, which is open to any direct descendant of someone who had to give up their citizenship because of Nazi policies. This is now such a popular option that it will be at least another year before we hear whether we have qualified.
Meanwhile Ben is still working at making concrete pipes and living in Nottingham with Anne. In his spare time he is volunteering with the Army Reserve and has recently taken up playing the oboe.
Guy spent a second summer running the National Trust ferry over to Orfordness, and in between becoming a father is working over the winter for Harbour Marine at Southwold.
Gosh, I thought it had been a quiet year, but looking back it seems to have been rather busy. Here's hoping for equally good times in 2019 – we're planning a trip to Australia and NZ in March, so should have plenty to report back on, and we will also cunningly avoid Brexit Day, whatever the outcome proves to be.
Much love to you all
Camilla & Sam