Saturday, December 23, 2006

Merry Christmas from the Newnhams - 2006

Here is the Newnham News for 2006, apologies in advance for boring you all to death! The year started with Tarrant’s 18th birthday. It seems like just yesterday that he was crawling, and now he is looking down on Mum and Dad and ridiculing our taste in music.

Eleanor sung and danced in a school production of Once on this Island, which she really enjoyed. This was a grand affair that played for 5 nights with over 70 actors. She is currently busy rehearsing for next year’s show.

Sailing was scattered pretty densely throughout the year with trips to regattas in Georgia, Florida and Alabama with one big National event on Lake Erie with 100 boats. Dale, Elliot and Eleanor lugged Dare, our 40 year old dinghy over 600 miles north and spent the week camping and learning from the sailing “rock-stars” about what it takes to make a little sailboat move fast. Although our results are slowly improving locally, Nationals was a very humbling experience where we worked hard to come in 98th place!

How not to sail on the St John's river in Florida

Eleanor and Elliot attended a week long sailing camp in cabins, where they honed their social and nautical skills. Activities included “Fear Factor”, where the kids ate live crickets, (although the Newnham offspring claim they did not partake). Elliot learnt team racing, a challenging and fun sailing game and Eleanor gained confidence steering her boat around the course.

Optimist dinghy

Elliot team racing a Laser dinghy

Sailing camp group

Tarrant graduated high school which made us all very proud. We attended a big ceremony and were moved to see over 700 mitre caps flung into the air! A couple of days later, Tarrant traveled to England to stay with his cousins and grandparents for the rest of the summer. He was exposed to young Brit culture at its finest, frequenting pubs and playing footy with the lads. Side trips were made to visit Martin, Anita, Misha and Hari in Bristol, and cousin Danni in London to see one of his favorite bands.

Ready for the prom

700 at the graduation ceremony

Graduation party at home

Tarrant returned just in time for a family “holiday” trip to Disney which Arlene had been plotting for some time. Dale’s courageous resistance to this scheme was of course futile so we spent three days mixing with large mutant rodents, evil witches and fairy princesses. The torment culminated with dinner in Cinderella’s castle and we lived happily ever after.

Cinderella gets to meet the Newnham's

Peter Pan ride

Cinderella's rat helper meets Eleanor

There was another big milestone for Tarrant, as he started at Georgia State University. He is not sure where he will focus his studies, but music is likely to be in the mix as this has been such a big part of his life in high school.

Elliot continues to enjoy the cello, playing at a number of concerts through the year. He is looking forward to an orchestra trip to Prague, Vienna and Berlin in the spring. Elliot’s real passion is building and playing with computers and his skills have advanced to the point where he provides frequent phone and internet support on various complex and mystifying technical problems such as overclocking processors, cooling graphics cards and optimizing your frontside bus (whatever that means). He is currently building a custom wooden computer case with a little help from Dad, which he hopes to enter in a local competition.

Neo, our entertaining and enthusiastic Jack Russell has mellowed a little (thank goodness), and has the household tending to his every whim. He sleeps on our bed, demands rice crispies with milk for breakfast and smothers anyone that visits with unconditional love, whether they like it or not! Neo seems to lack the killer instinct of a terrier and was very pleased when he caught a possum, roughly the size of him, in the back garden. He stood there gently holding the hideous creature by the scruff of the neck and wagging his tail while Arlene donned protective clothing and commenced “Operation Free Opossum”. This frantic and chaotic mission involved a large forked stick, loads of screaming, barking and hissing, and a possum actually playing possum, before making a final heroic crawl for freedom. Arlene still has flashbacks and the odd nightmare and does not like to talk about the incident very much, (although we have noticed her wardrobe has been expanded with a few camouflage garments).

Neo misses his possum friend

After overcoming a severe bout of PTSD Arlene spent a long “tennis” weekend with friends in Florida. Tennis was very much an adjunct activity and most time was spent drinking cocktails, sampling local culinary delicacies and chatting up the tennis coach. Arlene and Dale also enjoyed a number of concerts, taking Eleanor to see Jamie Cullum, seeing Keb Mo play the blues and watching the Beach Boys (who are way past their sell-by-date). After one concert, Arlene met Richard Rountree of “Shaft” fame and was beaming as she had her picture taken with this 70’s legend.

Arlene and Richard

We finished the year with a weekend in the Smoky Mountains in a log cabin where Arlene married Greg (luckily, this was our friend Arlene, not the Arlene you know and love!) This was a lot of fun with great scenery, food and company.

With love and best wishes,

Dale, Arlene, Tarrant, Elliot, Eleanor & Neo