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his year has been a lively mixture of experiences and events for us. We can be grateful for several things including, most importantly, discrete health. Sandra continues with her art and art courses and Francis continues to lecture in IT at Greenwich Community College to a wide variety of students of all abilities and ages. Indeed, the difference between his oldest and his youngest student is 86 years! – 5-year-old Tom in the Parents and Children computing class and Albert, a sprightly 91-year old in the Retired Workshop – thus emphasising one’s dedication to life-long learning!

 

We spent our Easter sailing down the Nile from Aswan (from whence we took a detour to visit the colossal temples at Abu Simbel) to Luxor in a felucca with six other adventurous spirits, taking in the biblical landscape. There is nothing more peaceful that sleeping under the stars in a boat on this mythical river. Eventually we reached Cairo, the largest city in Africa with its heady mixture of bazaars and boutiques, minarets and mosques.

 

 

 

 

No prizes for guessing where we are!

 

 

We avoided the stifling heat of this year’s English summer by escaping again – on a last minute holiday to Cuba where we discovered an extraordinary country untouched by the commercialism invading other parts of the Caribbean. We spent the first week at Guardalavaca in very comfortable accommodation by the beach. From here we hired a scooter and ventured among some of the worst roads and most cordial people we have ever met. Much of the second week we spent in Havana which was truly a revelation with its colonial architecture (said to be the finest in the whole of America), its fine museums crammed full of old masters and revolutionary art and excellent bars so loved by the likes of Hemingway.

 

 

 

 

Sandra paddles her own canoe in Cuba

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In September I attended a teacher’s conference at the University of Genoa and also identified a lovely old house in a remote village in the Garfagnana region of Italy.

 

In October, we returned to the Tuscan autumn and bought that house thus guaranteeing our retirement home!

The season at our three-star WTB rating Wales cottage of Rhiwhiriaeth Uchaf was successful this year and we managed the near completion of a Finnish log cabin in the garden.

 

Our other interests went well. We saw many shows and events ranging from the Chinese circus to the Opera.

 

Our cats progress in good health, particularly Muffin and Tinkerbell.

 

In conclusion, we wish you, your friends and family a truly enjoyable Christmas season, hoping this finds you in good health, and send our best wishes for the New Year, hoping it brings you a thousand and one good things.