Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Round robin

Dear friends and relatives

First of all apologies to all of you who hate round robins. I’m afraid that we are just too busy to reward our loving, caring, generous and well-deserving friends and relatives with a detailed calligraphic & handwritten note of everything that’s happened in our lives over the past couple of years or so. Secondly, apologies for not even sending a round robin note to anyone last Christmas. We were even busier – moving house amongst other things!

Anyway the past couple of years have been pretty excellent and eventful for us. Phil managed to get a training post in A&E which he is really loving – based in Yorkshire. We bought a house here in Leeds – right at the height of house prices to the very day. Chapel Allerton is a villagey suburb on the Harrogate Road about 2 miles from Leeds City Centre. It’s not quite as diverse as Stoke Newington, but Chapeltown is getting there and that’s a 2 minute walk from where we are now.

For the past year I have been commuting weekly to London to carry on my role as Partnership Support Officer at a ‘highly commended’ NHS organisation very close to where I’ve been living in London. Apart from the financial aspect to this arrangement, I have thoroughly enjoyed this – 18 hours a week is perfect working time. I’ve absolutely loved studying for my MA in Contemporary British History at the Institute of Historical Research, University of London, which I’ve done alongside the NHS work. And today is the start of a one year career break from that to concentrate on finishing the MA in Leeds! Brilliant. I’m a very lucky woman. The NHS is great for career breaks.

I certainly wouldn’t be able to pursue my ambitions without the support of the wonderful Phil – we are very much still newly weds and hoping the honeymoon period will last a good 15 years at least! I hope I’m not putting words in Phil’s mouth when I say that our wedding day was the happiest day of our lives – thanks to all of you who shared it with us. And for those of you that couldn’t– we hope to see you in 2009!

The past couple of years in time has inevitably brought ups and downs. A few people have died, and there have been some new arrivals. We hope we have helped support those friends and relatives who have been bereaved. And we hope we haven’t hogged the bundles of joy that have arrived!

I was elected a public Governor of Homerton Hospital in September 07. Unfortunately I can’t think of anything non-controversial to say about that. My advice to anyone thinking of standing for Governor is, perhaps not to take on ten other things at the same time as moving out of the area.

Phil has created a geek’s paradise in our living room. We remortgaged with Northern Rock to fund the remote control alone. Phil got advice from a nice American chap called Madoff and capitalised on our lack of capital investing our debt in computer equipment. We now have four different methods of playing computer games. The Wii, Sony Playstation, the Xbox and the PC. I cashed in my Lehman Brothers shares at a convenient moment to fund the garden landscaping. [Joke].

In fact I wish I had/have more time for gardening. I seem to be spending inordinate amounts of time writing essays. The difference between now and 1995 when I was last doing this is that now I enjoy it. Or think I do.

The most recent exciting event was Pete and Candy’s September wedding in Bali and Hong Kong. What a brilliant time we had! The wedding in Bali in the ‘chapel in the clouds’ overlooking the sea was breathtaking. Pete and Candy looked stunning and we had a great little party in the villa by (and in) the pool afterwards when we all let our hair down. A week later was the Hong Kong banquet where we got thoroughly and pleasingly immersed in Hong Kong culture, with various tea exchanges for little red envelopes of cash. Phil gave a great best man’s speech. Pete and Candy are such generous, patient and caring hosts and made us feel totally at home – spoiling me in particular taking me to all the museums. We can’t wait to go back!

My brother may as well live in Hong Kong – he has probably been in this country as long as Pete last year. But I think this indicates his career is on the up which can’t be bad. Joe has worked with his partner Aoife in a new band called Rodina. They have an amazing brand new album - out now!

Apart from our big holiday to Hong Kong and Bali, we’ve been lucky enough to have a couple of little minibreaks. We went to Burgh Island, just off the Torquay coast to celebrate our first wedding anniversary in the spring. In November we had a marvellous time narrowboating from Leighton Buzzard to Milton Keynes, a birthday present for me.

Hopefully see you soon, keep in touch

Lots of love

Anna and Phil xxx

Monday, December 08, 2008

19th May 1971

This was a very special day for one of my closest friends - she was giving birth on it. It also turns out to be the day I got married 36 years later. And, it turns out to be the date that my Granny was looking at her wedding veils, writing a note of what she remembered about them, after she got married in July 1927. I don't know what the odds are of all this happening on the same date, but it's not odds on. Whatever it is, it was a very nice coincidence to think that precisely 36 years beforehand, before she died, before she lost her memory, before even I was born that my own grandmother was thinking of weddings, including her own on what later turned out to be my own wedding date. I discovered this at the weekend along with other family history - including my grampa's war medals, which husband was of course more interested in. It is of course slightly regrettable that we didn't discover the afore-mentioned veils and their little note PRIOR to the wedding so that I could wear one of them. Such is life.

Other things are pootling along. The cats have been fighting. We think because of the cold. They don't like going outside when it's so cold and so start picking on each other. I have about three deadlines all at the same time. PhD funding, essay deadline and work.
I have managed to include manuika money in my new bread machine recipe (you only put half a teaspoon in). I have done 80% of Christmas shopping online. Went to the gym on Saturday, and according to the heart rate monitor I am even fitter than I was. It doesn't make sense though - I don't feel it, I haven't been doing any cycling (bike is in Leeds), I am fatter and weigh more, plus I only ran once this week and last. I think it needs new batteries. We went to the very nice Watts Russell pub for lunch on Saturday with Mum. And Alan Bennett is on the train. Reading the Guardian. In fact he's asleep.

Thursday, December 04, 2008


Defining success for yourself I think is one of the key facets to being content and then happy. Being rich doesn't come into much, for me anyway. I am getting very excited indeed about the impending career break. Probably over excited. Not unusual for me. There's nothing like trawling through the history of death though as an antidote to that. Anyway have also prepared a one page PhD proposal for funding, which I'm not that ashamed of. Other news - the cats seem much happier since I gave them frontline for their fleas.