Ruth's Christmas Newsletter 2006

It seems so soon since the last Christmas letter, as if time itself has sped up recently. On mentioning this to others my age it seems as if this might even be true ! Anyway, when I really think about what has happened it has been a busy year. Back in January I was still working for Stuga. It was good, the work was challenging enough and working from home does have good points - no getting stuck in traffic, for example! However, I did find it lonely, both socially and technically. For those interested in technical things, I was using the new VS2005 version of the Microsoft language C#, which I enjoyed. There's been a lot of flack heading towards Microsoft, some of it deserved, but some things they do well and this, I think, is one of them. The first months of the year were fairly normal, I guess - cold, grey, wet, windy and not very nice. We didn't get much snow (a few flurries that didn't really settle) although in places further from Cambridge the snow did linger. Jan and I enlivened one weekend with a lovely dinner party at her place and a spa the next day; very nice. In February I stage managed the St John's Players with very successful Agatha Christie production. Easter brought a flurry of a different sort - lots of things to do for Church. I had volunteered to organise the Walk of Witness, where people from several Churches in our area walk the streets on Good Friday to demonstrate our faith. I have also been taking the church minutes and editing the Newsletter, which keeps me occupied. I've just finished the Christmas edition, which has some colour pages - normally it's printed on my (mono) laser printer. Work for Stuga carried on. I ended up writing over 64,000 lines of code in about 7 months. The contract ended, as they do, at the start of June. I did look around for new work but, as ever, it wasn't coming through. Very depressing. It did leave me with the summer to enjoy the weather and "chill out". I wasn't idle, though. I'd decided earlier in the year to rennovate the living room, and had ordered a new sideboard already. Now it was time to start. Repainting walls and woodwork in a not quite-white yellow, a new sofa and curtains, renew the HiFi wiring, and much varnishing of shelves took time but the room is now brighter, and I like it. The start of summer holidays means Holdiay Club, staffed by the local churches. We take 200 children every morning for a week, teaching and having fun, with a Christian theme and stories. This year's theme was the Hebrews leaving Egypt. We had hot weather this year and water bottles and sunscreen were de-rigeur, but I enjoyed it. To my great surprise, my "Mother-in-law's tongue" cactus (officially Agave Sansevieria) decided to flower this year. I must admit I didn't think it could flower and I've had it 20 years. Anyway, the wait is worth it - the white flowers look reminiscent of a Honeysuckle, and the scent is similar too, but unbelievably wonderful. I went on a B&B holiday, visiting haunts old and new in North Yorkshire, then Sedgefield (nice) and Durham (also nice, but smaller than I'd thought). I finished the trip spending some time (not enough) at Fountains Abbey, which was great. Sometime in August my long-suffering sister decided that my repeated musings about visiting Tuscany were going to take fruit, and she booked me on a trip I'd found, starting in late September. I went by plane: I had tried hard to avoid this, but it was just too expensive by train - over £500 vs. about £180. Italy was great; interesting and much more varied than I had anticipated. It was a group tour, starting in Florence, then west and south to Volterra and Montieri, with trips to San Galgano and Siena. The group was great; mostly women, barring one husband. His wife once asked whether she'd missed the "ladies only" sticker on the trip guide! I enjoyed Siena a lot, though Volterra was nice and so was Montieri. On returning, I was asked to interview for a job, and a scant few days later I was offered it. I'm now working for Global Graphics, making high end printer software. It is going well so far, but there is so much to learn. My best to you all, and have a happy 2007... Talking of which, on June 29th I'll turn 40. If you'd like to come to my party please do let me know soon. Details are not yet fixed. Ruth