Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Merry Christmas from the Newnham's - 2010

After a poorly executed attempt to migrate our letter from wood pulp and ink to electrons, we have decided to return to trusty snail mail, with the hope that we will be forgiven (or thanked) by those that missed out over the past year or two. 2010 has been an interesting but challenging year for the USA branch of the Newnham family. Tarrant is 22 and claims to be inch or two taller than Dale, Elliot at 19 has taken to posting complex physics formulas on facebook, and Eleanor has grown into an elegant young lady that captures the heart of everyone she meets (in the totally unbiased opinion of this author).

The "tree" constructed from random sailing bits

Tarrant decided to take up mixed martial arts against our best judgment and stern parental advice. The upside is that he enjoys beating the proverbial out of a whole new set of friends and has added highly functional muscle to his lanky frame. The many downsides include the stench of his gi, the sweat soaked Japanese style outfit that weighs perhaps 30 pounds and takes the best part of two days to dry after working through the family laundry. He is currently recovering from a depressed skull fracture and mild concussion after clashing heads during a training session. The dent in his lower forehead is quite noticeable at certain angles and you can guess what Santa is getting him for Christmas……plastic surgery! Jokes aside he is doing great and hardly missed a day of work or school.

Elliot has been consumed by school work and has done brilliantly, sailing through some very challenging classes and winning his university’s Freshman Engineering Design Competition with an innovative model vehicle that he rigorously tested for many hours.

He plans to major in electrical engineering and his passion for technology has developed into a seemingly masochistic love for solving highly complex mathematics and physics problems. His skills as a dinghy sailor have also developed, culminating in skippering team Newnham at a National regatta on Lake Erie, a week long event with Eleanor and Dale as crew.

Eleanor has enjoyed her junior year at high school a little more than we had hoped, with all the drama and fun you might expect from her group of 16 and 17 year old girlfriends. She has continued to row and competed in a number of regattas throughout the year, improving her fitness and developing a real love for the sport. Dale has taken after his dad Derek, cheering her on from the river bank but has sadly not managed to persuade her coaches to find him a spot in the boat even for a short practice row! Eleanor performed with her school choir at several concerts and sang a duet, played guitar and walked the runway at a fashion show fund raiser.

Eleanor's rowing team

Arlene has been busy coordinating all the family activities and her efforts to exercise continued to be thwarted by curious mishaps. For instance, she sprained her ankle stepping over a matchstick and sliced the top off her finger with a food processor while making Thanksgiving dinner! Eleanor showed her maturity, handling the spurting blood and Arlene’s alternating bouts of screaming and fainting like a highly training ER nurse. Dale had a clear preference for the fainting spells which he used productively to dig the finger slices out of the potatoes in the hope that they could be reattached. Although sewing the finger slices back on was not possible, the finger tip is surprisingly growing back as we write, a bit like a lizard’s tail, but with fewer scales and a lot more audible pain and drama.

Arlene at The High Museum Atlanta

We enjoyed a visit from Arlene’s mum over Christmas and New Year. Our niece Danni, a budding Alt-Country singer-songwriter visited with her girlfriend Sarah during their American tour. Arlene tagged along on their Deep South road trip which included Memphis, Nashville and the birthplace of the king. This was an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience for her, and to cap it off we all met at Muscle Shoals Alabama for a sailing regatta where Danni entertained the fleet with her unique British take on country music.

Danni and Sarah at Sun Studios

Danni at Tupelo, the birthplace of the King

Dale began the year training for a triathlon event, working on his pathetic swimming technique and relearning cycling, his primary form of transport as a teenager. He competed in a couple of events, culminated in an Olympic distance triathlon which he completed in just under three hours. After making the mistake of eating a large pasta meal the night before, he woke with severe stomach pain which persisted through the event. Arlene first noticed what was later determined to be an umbilical hernia. Surgery luckily was avoided as the scalpel happy doctor begrudgingly pushed in the offending bulge with his thumb while Dale cried like a baby and jumped clear out of the chair. All seems well without the need to revisit Dr. Evil’s torture chamber, but cheese tortellini is off the menu at Trattoria Newnham. Cycling has become Dale’s latest obsession and he can often be found climbing the mountains of North Georgia and planning a tour of the Pyrenees on a classic British two wheeler. Arlene joined Dale on a number of tandem rides including a tour of a beautiful and hilly college campus in the foothills of the Appalachians.

The tandem ride at Berry College


A ride in Appalachia

That’s all the news for this year and we are clearly hoping there will be fewer mishaps to write about in 2011. Wishing you all a safe and happy new year,

Love and best wishes, Arlene, Dale, Tarrant, Elliot and Eleanor xxxxx