A round robin from Graeme and Angie

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The Independent Culture

Yes, it's a Dreaded Xmas Round-Robin Let-ter! As you know we (Graeme and Angie) always swore we'd never send out such a thing, but here we are, breaking all our resolutions! It's just that this year has been all go, and, what with being rushed off our feet with one thing and another, we just don't have time to bring everyone up-to-date with the news personally!

The first thing is, the new kitchen is very nearly finished, and Angie is hoping (fingers crossed!!!) that it will be ready in time for Christmas Dinner. It'll be really lovely when it's finished and, as Graeme says, we might well get most of the money back when we sell the house. Graeme did as much of the work as he could himself, and, as he says, they deliberately design these things so that you have to get so-called professionals in at the last minute (and pay their exorbitant prices!!) to do the last bits of tidying-up. The chimney-breast problem was a blessing in disguise, and now the whole wall has been removed, I (Angie) really must admit that the new kitchen-cum-dining-room is a vast improvement - literally!!

Mr Parks (builder) is sure that the plastering will dry well in time for Xmas Day if we keep the space-heaters on. He says the plasterer will bear him out on this one, so, as you can imagine, we can hardly wait for him to turn up so that we can ask him and put our minds at rest.

Some of you may have heard the news that Grandpa Ichabod went to a better place earlier in the year. It was a merciful release, what with the state he was in, and we know the last few months were very difficult for the dedicated staff at the Princess Diana Long-Stay Unit. Still, many of the nurses turned up to give him a good send-off, including Nurse Kirsty, who told Graeme that he wasn't too old to learn a few lessons from his father in one or two areas. Goodness, did Graeme blush! Anyway, Grand- pa Ichabod has gone to his reward and seems to have settled in very well. They are very fond of him at Larchbroome House, particularly the housekeeper there, judging by the amount of time Sister Kerleigh says he spends in her little flat above the day-room.

Anyway, we are looking forward to having him for Xmas lunch and I (Angie) must say he is always a reminder of how they did things in days gone by. It's like having the past come to life, to listen to him talk you could believe that you were still in the days when people had servants and if Grandpa Ichabod is anything to go by, the master-servant relationship was closer than we're led to believe by what Graeme calls the "wishy-washy bleeding hearts" in the Government!!!

It's been quite a year for the children, too, especially Gawain, who is doing much better at school now they have (finally!!) identified his special needs. His form teacher is really hopeful that his exams for senior school went better than we could have expected, and says, in his experience, they will probably make allowances. Dr Offerdyke has lowered his dose now, so, all in all, things are looking up, especially his mechanical skills, which he has been practising on Graeme's Volvo (which, incidentally, he is hoping to trade in for a Alfa Romeo Spider, in Daytona Red!!!, now that Mr Smills has given his back the "all-clear").

Saxifrage, too, has had an exciting year, and sometimes we (Graeme) find it hard to believe that only this time last year she was a little girl, all excited about her new Xmas party-dress and all the family fun. Now she is making all sorts of new friends and becoming quite the independent girl-about-town, especially over on The Leas, which is much nicer since they introduced the new traffic-calming scheme. We don't actually meet many of her friends but from what she tells us they do seem to be a fascinating crowd, what you might call a melting-pot really.

Bamber is living in Tenby now. His Catering NVQ didn't work out but he tells us he is on a new Scheme and doing very well. We are looking forward to seeing him home for Xmas though like all young people his plans all seem to be left until the last minute!!! So all in all we think we are very lucky, especially when you think how things could turn out.

Graeme's business, too, is going very well and we are all confident that the "blip" over the summer is now well and truly behind us. It was actually a fascinating opportunity to get to know Derek Wemyss at the Bank, far from being a "faceless bureaucrat" we (Angie) found that Derek had a lot of get-up-and-go once you got on the right side of him, and contrary to popular belief, it seems that Bank managers can in fact exercise a wide range of discretionary powers if they really feel that there's a personal relationship with some hope of a quid pro quo, ha ha!!!

Graeme himself seems much happier, and oddly enough we have seen a lot more of him at home since Derek insisted that his "research assistant" Mo-Mo had to be let go. It's my (Angie) opinion that she was letting him in for all sorts of things he just wasn't really up to, eg Birming-ham etc. Certainly,Graeme seems to have much more energy these days and is almost back to his old self, "crumblies" or not!!!!

Healthwise, everything is fine except for a bit of a rash which seems to be going round. We are not too worried about that, and the cream Dr Offerdyke prescribed works so well that we (Angie) have recommended it to Derek at the Bank too!! On a sadder note, Mister Squiggly-Pops passed away peacefully at the caring hands of Miss Freeborn, our charming and down-to-earth Australian vet (although we still find sad reminders of her last illness around the place). Sometimes I (Angie) think it's a pity the same kindness can't be offered to humans once they have outlived their happiness and are just a burden to others.

So that's our news. We hope you have all had as exciting and fulfilling a year as we have, and look forward to catching up with Auld Acquaintance sometime in the New Year.

Angie, Graeme and All at No. 27