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Friday, 28 December 2018

Looking back on 2018

We've never done a reliable family newsletter but I do manage to blog every now and then, so this is my feeble attempt at our 2018 newsletter/blog. When I say 'our', I intend to speak for Neil and I. The boys are no longer boys, and though they are still very much family, as adults, I'm sure they can tell their own story, should they wish (with one possible exception).


Let's start with the positives. We both continue to have secure, full time, permanent jobs... which, by contrast to our situation a few years ago in Finland, is something neither of us should ever take for granted. We have both largely continued to work for the same employers, doing similar jobs to what we've been doing for a few years. However, we have both had 'insignificant changes' that have actually turned out to be quite significant in some ways.

Neil got moved in June and was TUPE-d across to a new company where he continues to invest my (and others') pensions, with varying degrees of cheerfulness, so that when we retire, we can be sure of a healthy pension income - that's the theory at least. The significant difference is that the new company is nowhere near home, so his previous 5 minute commute each way to work is now nearer 90 minutes each way. This means he is more tired, has less social time and has joined the competition to argue out whether train services are actually worse in the north or the south. Because only one train a day comes anywhere near us, he also has a long drive to get to a sensible railway station that offers a Plan B if his train gets cancelled. On the plus side, he does have a very modern looking, light and colourful office.

I continue (for now) to work in Adult Learning, but in May my role changed slightly. I was Area Manager for a geographical area but changed my area to online and digital. It's a secondment, which means it's a temporary project, and it gave me some interesting and enjoyable challenges in the field that I love - ICT. The highlights included learning about Citrix, which I can only describe as seriously quirky, and introducing myself to the world of Trello (online project management tool). It's quite possible that I will never encounter Citrix again, and may not be any worse off for that. Trello and I are now very close friends though, and if anything were to happen to Trello, I would grieve miserably for a long time!

The most significant little detail about my new role was that it put the word digital into my job title, which meant that when looking for a career move into e-learning, my CV didn't get ditched by robots. The result of this, is that I have just found a new job as a junior e-learning designer. I'm quite excited, at my age, about being referred to (in any context) as junior, and it really isn't as senior a position as I would like, though I hope to progress. It does offer me a few really positive aspects though:
  • Working from home a couple of days a week
  • Getting me out of traditional education and into the private sector
  • Opportunity to learn and become expert with Articulate Storyline (this is the industry standard software and the main obstacle to me finding a job)
  • A role where I can put my Masters to good use and hopefully combine e-learning theory and practice.


To say that I have been a pain this year with holidays might be the biggest understatement ever made! We were due to go to Devon in January for a week, but cancelled at the last minute because I was so poorly and exhausted I just couldn't face travelling that far.

Our annual pilgrimage to Skegness went very well, which was fortunate, as I was a little concerned that I was becoming holiday-phobic. Spring Harvest was fantastic, apart from the first day that was so rainy that even I complained about the wet weather. My hands, gloves, sleeves (3 layers deep) and everything were soaked through! Once I'd dried out though, we had a lovely week with equal amounts of rest, relaxation, laughter and spiritual refreshment.

As October was our silver wedding anniversary, we had booked a cruise. We booked it pre-Liggy though and in reality, both the thought of leaving her in kennels for 2 weeks and the thought of having 2 weeks off work (hence using up 2 weeks of precious leave in one go) appealed less and less, so we ended up cancelling it and going to the Peak District for a week instead. That was a fantastic week, in the best accommodation in an idyllic location, with weather that was perfect for me. 

Family stuff

This year has been fairly average... normal... boring even, which made it extremely pleasant in terms of family. No major disasters, dramas or anything. The only really sad event was losing my beloved Nanny in May. It was sad that she's passed away and the last week or two wasn't very nice at all, seeing her, possibly for the first time ever, in pain, complaining and generally unhappy. However, the fact that in all of my life, I don't actually remember her really being sad, in pain, unhealthy or anything else like that, makes the last couple of weeks not seem too bad. She was 94 years old, had virtually no memory left and had no idea where she was, yet she was full of laughter, mischief and a love of life. The only time she ever sounded sad was when she talked about losing grandad - her beloved Frank. Yet even in her grief, she was always positive, talking about the wonderful life they had together. I'll be honest, I don't really want to live to 94, but if I do, I hope I can be like Nanny (but with a better memory).

The more exciting family news is that Andy, our youngest son, got engaged this year and is planning a wedding in June. His beautiful bride is lovely - everything we'd dreamt of for him. Her family and our family are completely different in many ways but I hope that means that their marriage will contain the best bits from all of us. My biggest prayer for 2019 is that their big day is filled with joy and that their marriage is healthy, filled with adventures and brings them closer together with every new day.

Looking forward

I don't like new year's resolutions but a new year does give us the chance to set new goals. Here are some of the things I would like to do in 2019:
  1. Make a positive and influential start in my new job. Once again, I seem to have found an employer that looked beyond my disability and saw the skills and experience I bring. I really hope to show them that they made the right decision and I hope I can make a difference in my new team.
  2. Teach Liggy two or three new tasks. We're quite settled now and she does so many things for me that make life easier. She loves learning new things though, and this year, I'm hoping to teach her how to help me open the doors at work (she'll hopefully release them with my access card while I open them). Then we'll see what else she could do to help me out.
  3. Go on several hikes with Neil and Liggy. I would love to do either the Monsal or Tissington Trails from end to end. I don't know if that is even possible but I'd love to try it. 
  4. Keep Neil smiling with lots of lovely home-baked treats. I need to find some that are healthy as well as tasty, or next year we'll both be trying to lose weight again. Why did God make all the tasty stuff fattening?!! I have loved seeing Neil enjoying my homemade Christmas cake, and being able to eat it with him. Now, I want to find some low-fat recipes. I might even make some of my own.
Happy new year to all our family and friends!