Saturday, December 22, 2007

Merry Christmas from the Newnhams - 2007

Well, time seems to be flying by for the North American branch of the Newnham clan. The year started out with Elliot completing his custom computer and entering in a county technology fair. He enjoyed demonstrating the advanced features and fine woodworking to an admiring crowd of techno-geeks and judges and won first place in the hardware category. This qualified him for a State wide contest where he came in third place against some stiff competition. Elliot continues to tweak and tune his machine and has helped a number of friends to build their own “Ell” computers which are faster and cheaper than similar machines from that insignificant competitor that shall remain nameless.

In March, Elliot and Dale crewed for a good friend, Jim Roberts at the Thistle Mid Winters regatta in Florida. This was a solid week of sailing and coaching on Tampa bay mixing with some of the best dinghy sailors in the country. The last day included some pretty strong winds and big waves that were both exciting and a little frightening in a small sailboat, but they managed to hold it together for 3rd place in the B fleet and some nice awards. Arlene claims this was actually also 3rd from last, but this is not even close to the truth...honest!

Elliot, Dale and Eleanor sailing Dare at the Orange Peel Regatta, Jacksonville, Florida

The next big event was Eleanor singing in the chorus of her school’s musical, “Thoroughly Modern Millie”. This was a big production for a middle school, with many months of rehearsals, but opening night and the cast party made it all worth it. Eleanor also enjoyed one of the most important events in modern literature, with the release of the last Harry Potter novel “Deathly Hallows”. Our local bookstore held a monster party with horse drawn carriage, sorting hat and a thousand Potter Pretenders. Arriving home in the early hours of the morning and attempting to read through the night was challenging. Eleanor is active in the school choir and recently sang at an Honour Chorus concert with over 100 others picked from district schools.

Thoroughly Modern Millie chorus line

Tarrant started his second year of college by moving into a small house in down-town Atlanta with 5 friends and his (our!) Jack Russell Neo. Tarrant’s friend Jessica found a young stray Pit-Bull/Boxer cross in a parking lot in a sorry state and nursed her back to health. Uma and Neo have become the best of friends, although it’s best to keep clear if they are play-fighting! Tarrant has decided to major in Business and IT, which is a change from his initial thoughts of a career in music or anthropology, but its early days and who knows what he will decide to do.

This was not staged, they actually do love each other!

The possum returned for revenge after last year’s humiliation and had obviously bulked up a lot and developed more advanced fighting skills. Neo was more cautious and seems to have lost a little of his youthful recklessness. He kept the formidable intruder at bay using more mature techniques that included a nasty bark and a particularly hard stare, avoiding direct dog/possum contact (for the most part).

In May, Dale and Arlene helped organize the “Disco Dixie” regatta. The theme brought back some great memories and some pretty dreadful clothes and music, but the party was epic and the sailboat racing was a lot of fun with the best turnout for many years. Elliot and Eleanor raced our boat “Dare” with friend Trey as crew in the Junior Regatta, sailing well to take first place! This was a great accomplishment that made Dale’s year as he proudly made the awards to his talented offspring! A picture of the winning team made the front page of the “Bagpipe”, a national sailing magazine for the Thistle class which nicely topped off a wonderful event.

Elliot starting a roll tack in the Dixie Junior Regatta

Eleanor and Elliot with friend Trey modeling on the front cover of the The "Vogue" of dinghy sailing, Dad got up a 7am to wax that hull!

Dale discovered a beautiful old wooden dinghy built in 1962, the year he was born and viewing this as divine providence could not resist adding this to the Newnham fleet. Elliot and Dale spent many hours lovingly upgrading the old girl and raced her with Eleanor and Tarrant in a number of autumn regattas, possibly the only team in the country to race with an original wooden rig. The person that owned the dinghy happened to also have an old rowing shell that he wanted to part with, so Dale is reliving his youth and has taking up rowing again in a futile attempt to stave off the onset of old age!

Eleanor, Tarrant and Dale at the Great Pumpkin Regatta in Alabama sailing the old wooden Thistle

Dale trying to remember how to row

Tarrant, Elliot and Eleanor spent a week together at a sailing camp which has become a real family tradition. Days were filled with good friends, games, sailing and a number of practical jokes at the expense of the adult “supervisors”. Arlene was Cabin Mum to the eldest boys which included Tarrant, much to his chagrin. Elliot and Eleanor sailed to victory in the end of camp regatta and were closely followed by Tarrant’s team who sailed Dare to a well earned 3rd place.

Tarrant's Thistle team

By that smile, Elliot, Eleanor and Trey just got another 1st place!

Tarrant working hard to catch Elliot (the silly hat is fast)

Elliot on the right, Tarrant 3rd from the left and ahead

Sailing camp attendees (they look harmless in this picture)

Elliot continues to play the cello and had a big trip to Europe, with stops in Prague, Berlin and Vienna. They played a number of concerts in some great locations and visited the birth place of some famous composers. Both Tarrant and Elliot really prefer live composers and they saw a number of excellent bands including The Decemberists, The Shins, Ted Leo, Death Cab for Cutie and Of Montreal.

Arlene started a part time job at a wedding gown boutique, as a receptionist where she enjoys getting dressed up and meeting the new brides-to-be. We hope to not take advantage of the staff discount at any point in the near future! Arlene has also had fun developing her flower arranging skills decorating at parties and a friend’s wedding. She was also lucky enough to see the Police reunion tour in Atlanta.

That’s our news for this year. Hoping you all have a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

With love and best wishes,

Dale, Arlene, Tarrant, Elliot, Eleanor