Dear family and friends,
As we reach the end of our second year in the UK we are still amazed at all the things we can fit into one year. We saw in the New Year with a quiet night at home and then a walk with some friends from Church on New Years Day, and while the year continued to be enjoyable the pace certainly picked up somewhat.
Despite not getting a day off here in the UK, we decided to celebrate Australia Day with a few friends – both Australian and the less fortunate – complete with various Australian foods and a viewing of Crocodile Dundee.
In February we woke up to the beautiful and exciting sight of snow covering our garden. While both of us had seen snow before, there’s something unique about finding it in your own backyard. Since it rarely snows in the south east of England the trains couldn’t run and Janet’s school was closed, so we had the day to play in the snow and make a snowman.
After much pestering from our good friend Hillary, we finally got around to printing some of the photos we’ve taken over here and putting them up on our walls to make the place a bit more our own. We now have an impressive collection of photos on canvas reminding us of all the wonderful places we’ve been – including a couple from our Honeymoon back in Australia.
The next exciting news was that Janet’s friend Fran had given birth to a beautiful baby girl, Sarina, and she asked us to be the Godparents. Janet flew home during the Easter holidays to see them both and enjoyed the opportunity to see all her friends and family while she was there. Sarina is a beautiful baby and we are both very proud of Fran.
While Janet was off in Australia, Adrian went on a couple of work trips – one out to Oxford for a conference and the other over to Switzerland. While most work trips have very little time to explore, Adrian wound up with a spare day in Zurich on Good Friday so had fun exploring the zoo. Adrian has had a number of short work trips this year including one to regional Denmark where he wound up renting a car from Hamburg and driving up. It worked out quite nicely when the compact car he’d paid for got upgraded to a convertible, so he had a great time exploring in the long summer evenings and despite staying up until nearly midnight never actually saw it get dark.
Our first trip together for the year was to Austria. We flew into Vienna and had managed to book a hotel right in the centre of town, close to all the major attractions. We only had the weekend in Austria so we spent the Saturday wandering around Vienna admiring the architecture, museums and doing a tour of the Spanish Riding School. Then on Sunday we joined a bus tour to Salzburg where Mozart was born and also where The Sound of Music was mostly filmed. The tour guide was very good, telling us all the history and stories from the local area and the Mirabelle Gardens in Salzburg were absolutely beautiful.
We’ve also been doing a number of day trips around England, including to the “beach” in Brighton, which is a great place to point and laugh at the British as it has nothing on any of Australia’s beaches. We also explored the south coast with a day trip to Winchester, Portsmouth and a few cute little villages in the area. One of the main highlights though was our day trip to Cambridge where we explored the University and went punting on the river Cam. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to go to the Wimbledon Championships since we’re both working, but we did have friends round to watch the final, complete with strawberries and cream and plenty of Pimms and lemonade.
July was a big month – we celebrated our second anniversary and Janet made it to the end of her first full year of teaching.
At the end of July, Sandy and Richard came over to visit as part of their 13-week epic journey around Europe. We did a road trip around Scotland with them – all four of us piled into the tiny little car and somehow managed to fit all the luggage into the boot. Each morning was a bit like a game of Tetris trying to get it all in, much to the amusement of some of our “hosts”. It was lovely to see Thelma and Dennis and for Sandy to finally show Janet where she was born and where her Grandparents had lived. One of the main highlights of the trip was going to the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, which we have watched on TV every year. The show was fantastic and despite all predictions, it was dry and reasonably warm.
After returning from Scotland and doing several loads of washing, we repacked this time for a cruise of the Greek Isles. While the ship held a couple of thousand people, our group for the cruise was only small and our group leader Beverley was an absolute hoot. The other people in our group were all from America so it was nice to swap stories and enjoy each other’s company. Going to the Greek Islands was a dream come true for all of us and we were thrilled to be able to experience it with Sandy and Richard. We enjoyed both trips immensely and have lots of fond memories of laughing and joking, as well as some beautiful scenery.
Sandy and Richard continued to explore Europe while Janet and Adrian had to go back to work, but they dropped in on us to do the washing and say hello between trips. Sandy and Richard kept their itinerary free to stay with Janet while Adrian headed home to go to his sister Lisa’s wedding. It was a fairly rushed trip home but Adrian was really glad he could be there to see his little sister get married and be so clearly happy. It was also nice to catch up with all the family who can be difficult to round up in one place. The trip back to Oz also gave Adrian his first chance to meet Sarina, which was particularly special.
As autumn rolled around, it brought with it Halloween and Guy Fawkes Night. Janet made her first pumpkin at Hillary’s place and Toby and Dave invited us to a fireworks night for Guy Fawkes. It was great fun standing out in the cold watching the homemade fireworks display and generally having a good time.
By the time you receive this letter, we will have picked up Katharine and Steve from the airport and started our awesome lead-up to Christmas. So far we have lots of exciting things planned, including going caroling, Toby’s choir concert, buying our Christmas tree and the party to decorate it, open air ice skating, a trip to Helsinki and a pantomime.
Christmas day this year will be at home in Maidenhead with Katharine and Steve. The four of us are going to one of our favorite “gastro-pubs” for what promises to be a fantastic lunch – and most importantly, no washing up!
For those that haven’t discovered it already, we’ve been keeping a blog of our adventures at www.thesuttons.name You can enter your email address there as well and you’ll get an email whenever we post something new. It’s been a great way to help us keep in touch and share our stories and photos with everyone back at home.
This time next year we should be back in Australia, but we still have plenty of exploring to do and visitors to share experiences with between now and then.
We hope this letter finds you in good health and that the New Year brings peace, joy and happiness.
Adrian and Janet