Friday, December 30, 2005

Merry Christmas - 2005

Another year has sailed by, which has been filled mostly with learning to race our dinghy and traveling to local regattas. Other possibly noteworthy news follows.

We celebrated New Year with Arlene’s Mum, Philomena at home here in Atlanta. It’s always great to see the kids with their grandparents, which is something we have really missed, being so far away.

Eleanor performed in a variety show in her last year at elementary school. Arlene helped organize the production with support from Elliot and Tarrant who recorded the music, including splicing various sound effects together on the PC which turned out wonderfully. I built a pirate ship stage prop which was used to capture and hold the cast to ransom, but unfortunately I missed the production as I was in Florida sailing. This is something that Eleanor will never forgive me for, but it was a great experience racing for a full week and staying with good friends Skeet and Beth Spillane.

Arlene traveled to England in March for her sister Alison’s 40th birthday. This was a great event, catching up with old friends and family, and spending time with Henry, the new nephew and future Arsenal star.

Arlene and Eleanor organized a 1st birthday party for Neo, complete with doggy friends, cake and party bags. People thought we were a little odd but the birthday boy had an excellent time. Perhaps his regular bubble baths are a sign that he might be a little spoilt, but he has matured into a wonderful dog, who will jump through hoops for a snack…literally!

As summer arrived, we sailed our dinghy to Cumberland Island, a natural wilderness off the coast of Georgia. Eleanor and Elliot crewed as we cruised in company with friends in several other dinghies. We hiked across the island to a deserted beach, camped, encountered wild ponies and armadillos, managed to avoid the alligators, but were attacked by killer oysters…Eleanor has the scars to prove it! This was a real adventure with challenges and mishaps galore, that we had wanted to do for years.

As soon as we got back to Atlanta, Eleanor and Elliot joined Tarrant at a sailing camp, where they stayed in cabins for a week with about 40 other kids. This was a great experience with lots of training and racing. Tarrant came third in the final regatta, which was a real achievement as he was very new to racing. Elliot also did well and managed to capsize more than anyone else in the squall that blew through on the last day. Eleanor learned to sail by herself and had great fun meeting new friends, especially at Fear Factor night, where she allegedly ate a live worm!.

For part of the summer, our family grew by one as we were joined by Aymeric, a French student. He fitted in well and lapped up all things American, even though there was a heavy British slant. Ironically, Aymeric was probably trying to escape from his sailing fanatic father. Joining us on our trip to Amelia Island in Florida, he and Elliot were good company for each other, hanging out in town while Tarrant and I crewed in a local regatta. We tried hard to appreciate French rap music during the long drive there. Chris and Janet Taylor, old friends from England were vacationing in Orlando and we really appreciated them taking the time to spend a day with us.

Arlene and I attended a friend’s wedding renewal in Seaside Florida. A beautiful weekend was spent with friends from Atlanta and Naina and Anand joined us from DC to make it even more special.

Tarrant’s high school band career culminated with a great year. Having made section leader, he was kept very busy. The band came third in a major regional competition, the best ever placing in the school’s history. The season ended with a trip to Hawaii playing in the Thanksgiving Day parade and a very moving performance at the Pearl Harbour memorial. Tarrant is also playing the bass and writing songs for his soon-to-be-famous band.

Elliot has had a great start to high school and continues to astound us with his computing skills.
Eleanor is enjoying middle school and learning to play the cello. Elliot seems a little miffed having to share his instrument, but we think he is secretly pleased that his sister decided to follow in his footsteps.

That’s all our news, wishing you a safe and happy ’06,
With love and best wishes,
Dale, Arlene, Tarrant, Elliot, Eleanor & Neo