Newsletter: Christmas 2016

Dear family and friends,

We're still living in Cyprus, doing much the same as last year, wondering again where the time has gone. 2016 has been a difficult year for many; it began with several celebrities dying, many of whom even we had heard of. It got worse in June with the EU Referendum, the result of which left us shocked and saddened. We have no idea how it might affect us, and it appears that those in charge don't know either. So we plod along, hoping and praying for something positive to emerge. In the latter half of the year, several friends have developed serious health conditions or suffered bereavements. Life is difficult and stressful for many, and our hearts go out to you.

Still, this newsletter is our attempt to keep friends and relatives in touch with our lives. There are many uncertainties, but we can't keep putting it off forever. So here are a few quick snapshots of the past year.

House: When we moved into this house, in June 2006, we had many plans for it. A primary one was upgrading the bathroom. We have talked for some years about repainting woodwork around the windows, particularly on the outside, and we were also aware of a damp problem in the ground floor, which is our guest flat. Ten years later, we finally did significant work on the house, and are very pleased with the results. We had a local firm in to provide a non-chemical damp-proof course, and someone else to replace our bathroom, a job which took a lot longer than anticipated.

Painting has greatly improved the look of the front of the house. We also installed more ceiling fans, something we should have done years ago. We thought we had done enough for one year, only to discover serious leaking problems from our hot water tanks last week. We are awaiting delivery of a new one. Despite the problems and expense, we are very thankful to have the house, and the facility of the guest flat downstairs, which has been used a lot this year.

Cats: Shortly before Christmas last year, Joan of Arc vanished, and her brother Alexander the Great had a serious tail injury. We assume some kind of accident in the street. Joan was never found, but Alex made a full recovery. In the summer we adopted Tim's cat, Lady Jane Grey, who is Alex's other sibling. Cleo is now over 18 and still limping along…

Our black cat Cleo, now eighteen and quite frailDaniel, Becky and David enjoying a 'Thomas the Tank Engine' bookAlexander and Jane learning to adjust to each otherTim, now happily settled as a music teacher in Surrey in the UK

Sons: The reason Tim's cat moved here is that he has returned to the UK. He was offered a term's contract teaching music at a small private school in Surrey, which was then extended to a permanent contract from November. He has been renting a room, and hoping to be able to rent a flat now that he's planning to stay. This is proving remarkably difficult for many reasons; but he loves his job, and has settled happily into a local Anglican/Methodist church.

Daniel and Becky are still in Carlisle, but there have been major changes in the way their organisation works. This means that Daniel's role is coming to an end and they are trying to decide where they should be going next. One possibility is to spend a few months in Cyprus living in our guest flat.

And our stop-press news: their second baby, due Christmas Eve, was born in the early hours of December 9th, a few hours before we planned to print this newsletter. Esther Elizabeth is a healthy weight and both she and Becky are doing well. We are delighted to have a granddaughter, sister to our wonderful grandson David (now two and a half) and thrilled at this positive end to such a stressful year.

Travelling: Sue has been to the UK twice this year: in April when the bathroom was being done, and also at the end of summer to see Tim's new environment, and to escape the heat for a couple of weeks. She thoroughly enjoyed spending time with the family, particularly David. The arrival of our new grandchild means that we are planning to visit the UK right after Christmas - not a time of year when we normally choose to be out of Cyprus!

Work: Richard has been as busy as ever this year. In addition to his ongoing ministry, he has provided PA for several conferences and the 'Barnabas' musical mission which toured the island last month. His free time is, as often as he can manage, taken up with sailing and the inevitable boat-related maintenance. Sue looks after the house, cooks and bakes, writes, scans old negatives, and has taken up knitting again in the past year.

Sue in 2016Richard in 2016We love to hear from family and friends, so please get in touch any time via email or phone, or look for us on Facebook.

We can't invite anyone to stay in our guest flat next year until we know whether Daniel and family are coming, and for how long; but if you'd like to visit, let us know and we'll try to work something out.

Wishing you much love, a relaxing Christmas, and a blessed and peaceful 2017.

Richard and Sue