Sunday, 28 November 2010

The Modern Christmas Newsletter

This year we have decided to move with the times and replace the newsletter with a blog piece.  Maybe I'll get around to Twitter, Linked-in and Facebook next year, maybe not.  (But Second Life is definitely a miss)!  Instead of saving up my thoughts for Christmas, I have been writing about everything and anything since March, so here are a few links (in blue) to some of the stories of this year.

Apart from my bouts of gout, and Christiane's back, we are in good shape, but I had reason to remember the chemotherapy treatment I had nearly twenty years ago when I had a skin cancer diagnosed in June, fortunately it was not a serious one!  Staying with medical matters for the moment, my old Dad has had a pacemaker fitted at 104!  It is quite remarkable that the doctor decided to go ahead with it but it has meant that my sister can continue to look after him at home.  He is still quite good physically but, as you would expect, he is not as alert as he was, even five years ago.

We went to Brittany for a holiday in June and I took 487 photos, mostly of pink and grey rocks!  We then went straight to the UK and this story for Georgia, about a pink rabbit, was inspired by our visit.  Oscar's story, about a sweet corn monster, was written following a family meal at Celia and Julian's, where we were staying whilst we were replacing the kitchen in the Richmond flat in July.

Our garden, has a heavy, highly alkaline, clay soil over limestone rock, and is at times a constant source of frustration and hard work!  But when things turn out well it's a delight.  Here are some pictures of the Irises and the Grasses which are the most successful features so far.  Everything else is going to get a dose of fertiliser and more water next summer!  There is a lot of wildlife in our garden. We keep the lower part as a meadow, cutting it only once a year, and we love the insects that are abundant there in late summer.  Unfortunately Nora the bat, who appeared one night in our porch has not returned!  Some friends of ours, Don and Jenny, have a house a few kilometres away on very different soil and they grow amazing roses. They sell them as cut flowers to support the charity they run, which funds a Kenyan orphanage and is called New Dawn.  It's named after one of Don's roses. 

In May we really enjoyed making Raku ceramics with Annick. I can easily imagine taking it up as a hobby.

The Story Telling Festival is in May. It was the tenth anniversary this year and so the organizers attempted to outdo their usual excellent efforts. Every year they organize a walk with stories at strategic points. The pictures from the walk are panoramas. Follow the links to the flash presentations and say yes if Internet Explorer gets a bit shirty! This text is from France Léa, who was one of the best participants this year. Persevere, it’s worth it! It was an absolute nightmare to translate!

Jean- Marc Derouen en pleine campagne

Ever since my father gave me his Practika SLR camera in 1969 I have been interested in photography. Recently, since photography has become digital, I have been able to combine it with my interest in computing.  High Dynamic Range photography, enables you to produce spectacular, sometimes unreal, results by combining images with different exposures.

This image was assembled from three pictures of a sunset taken in Brittany 

A few weeks ago we went to see Of Gods and Men (Des Hommes et des Dieux), which is an excellent film about the seven monks who were murdered in Algeria in 1996. You don't need to be religious to appreciate this film.  Don't miss it!
When writing about it, several connections with this tragic event manifested themselves, leading me to wonder whether someone is trying to tell me something.

I am very interested in politics and I should probably separate the political subjects from the others.  Meanwhile take your pick! If you only read one, then choose this one about a Freudian slip. It contains essential things you should know if you are thinking of coming to France!

Harry and Ginny
This is my favourite!  I re-read "The Deathly Hallows" and I just couldn't put it back on the shelf without thinking about what happened to Harry and his friends afterwards, so I wrote this piece. Harry Potter – What Happened Next?  If you haven't read "the Deathly Hallows" yet don't read this! If you have, and you are a fan, please leave a comment.

(Try putting "charter of rights for house elves" (with the inverted commas), into Google!  There must be a word for a phrase that gives a single result in Google!  It's not quite a GoogleWhack but close!)

And finally is this really a tame crocodile ?

Wishing you all a Happy Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.
John and Christiane



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