Happy Christmas for 2016

Nick, I, Rebecca and Sam would like to wish all our family and friends a very Happy Christmas and that we will be thinking of everyone as we go into 2017. I know that it isn’t an easy time for so many people, but we hope that it allows people space to be with people that care about them and to take time out for themselves and find some comfort.

As some of you will already know, we have decided that this year, we will cut down Christmas cards to the bare basics and instead, that we would make a donation to Myeloma UK. It’s been a hard decision as I love getting Christmas cards and I’m conscious that people tend to have a reciprocal relationship with them. But given how important my fundraising is to us, and the work of Myeloma UK, it seemed to fly in the face of common sense.

However, for those few people (and yes, there really are a few!), we have still done the annual gascoyne-christmas-newsletter-2016 (well….when I say we, I mean Nick!). So, please find it attached….read, digest, and feel free to stop following my blog if the sense of humour offends…..although I would ask you all to remember that I have to live with him!

Here’s to 2017…..may it be a good year!

West Ride * Adams Hill * Clent * West Midlands * DY9 9PS

To all our family and friends

I am delighted[1] to pen the fifth Gascoyne Christmas newsletter and share the trials and tribulations of 2016 (whether you want me to or not)

The family have settled down well in the West Midlands and we have now had a full year in our house in the Clent Hills. It is a beautiful part of the world and we have spent many happy hours (Deb and I are happy, the kids less so) walking the different trails in all kinds of weather. It is fair to say the kids like it more when we are ‘Jessie sitting’ – having a dog makes walking much more enjoyable – so thanks to Ruth and Mike for the dog-loan – I know you miss her (until the third bottle of prosecco kicks in!)


The Lakes 2016

Family was a significant reason for our relocation and it has been great to spend more time with Chris, Jen, Hugo and Darcey, Mum and Dad and Ruth and Mike and their (not so little) kids.

For the immediate family it has been a busy and demanding 2016. Rebecca turned 12 in October and started at Haybridge Secondary School in Hagley (You can’t be old enough to have a child at secondary school I hear you all yell). She has settled in fantastically well, developed friendships, become increasingly independent and we have received superb feedback from her teachers at her first ‘consultation evening’ [parents evening in old money].

She continues to be a committed Girl Guide and recently prepared, single handed, a three course banquet of Tomato soup, Mac cheese and wicked chocolate squares with ganache……. and no one stopped breathing. A success indeed.

She is turning into a sweet natured, slightly ditsy, young lady and we are delighted to support her as she grows (let’s see if I am still saying that in 12 months when she’s a teenager).

img_4354Sam was 10 in August and is now in his final year at primary school. Although the move from High Wycombe was tough for him, he has settled in here in the Costa del Clent and has a passion for all sports, mathematics, and royally winding his sister up – an activity at which he excels. Sam’s big decision this year, other than which hair product to use, was choosing secondary schools. He made the choice some months ago to both sit the 11+ and the entrance exam for Oldswinford Hospital school (renowned old boys include yours truly, his uncle Chris, Barbara Taylor Bradford[2], Cousin James and Cousin Michael). He did extremely well and was so happy to open his results as he secured marks high enough to have his choice of schools. We will see in March how that pans out – a topic for the 2017 newsletter.

Deb has started a new job. This is a true statement and not the start of some poorly judged joke (like this comment!). A local charity is now benefiting from her fund raising experience and although this is, as I write, quite a new venture she is already making a difference and the coming months should see her hard work come to fruition.

The job is of course in addition to her unceasing work for Myeloma UK and in 2016, as well as raising additional money herself, she has inspired others to fundraise for this charity. A significant event last month was the ‘Bling on the Night’ Ball near London, organised by Debs’ sister Liz (or Lizzy as I like to call her), which will donate nearly £20000 to Myeloma UK and LAM Action. We would like to thank Liz and Julie for their hard work creating and holding the event and those who were major sponsors, including Truckman – thanks Mike.

I am delighted, and a little bit proud, to say that in 2016 Deb has taken her total fundraising for Myeloma UK past the £100,000 mark. I would love to say that upon reaching this zenith Deb has stated her goal is achieved and her appetite sated. I would love to say this, but of course I can’t, because I suspect this is some kind of positive personality disorder and she is accelerating towards her next event at the Stone Manor on 22nd April next year. If you like cheese, or wine, or better still both get the date in your diary now coz it’s gonna get cheesy and winey on 22nd. And she’s forcing me to say that if you have anything suitable for an auction, she would love to hear from you (even if she normally ignores your calls!).

Add to this 2 kids (she would say 3), 2 houses (more on that later), a destructive father (see appendix 1: insurance claim for re-plastering, appendix 2: insurance claim for garage door and appendix 3: claim from West Midlands police force for escort to our house), netball, move to new area, running a household, attending multiple hen-dos and weddings and life – it has been a busy year!

So to the main event – me.

In summary……. Pickups til June, Whisky til September and Hepatitis C ever since…what a party!

Within that hedonistic year, 2 highlights are genuinely whisky and badgers!

Whisky first – during a glorious 3 month gap between jobs (still can’t believe Deb allowed this) Dad and I took a week in Islay off the west coast of Scotland on a malt whisky pilgrimage. We visited 8 distilleries, sampled multiple drams, learned a new game with 3 Swiss men in a bar (insert gag here), watched goats, walked, got stuck in a bog, cut peat and sampled some more drams. We laughed a lot – a trip I will never forget.


Next, Badgers. In a moment of optimism earlier in the year we purchased a house with the aim of securing planning permission for a second house in the garden of the first. Without wishing to mention my father too many times in this Christmas letter, he has supported us massively as we have attempted to navigate local authority policy and we hope we are close to a decision. One of the many things we have learned is that ‘nimby’ism is alive and well in Hagley, and that, according to local residents, every bat and badger in the county, holidays in the garden of our newly acquired house. I have purchased a mammal sanctuary of such proportion I half expect to find David Attenborough up to his armpits in guano whenever I visit the site. To disprove the theory we hired an ecologist[3] who found no supporting evidence but did recommend that when work began on site any trenches must have sloping ends to allow repentant suicidal badgers a means of escape. I blame Brexit.

So the end of 2016 will see the Gascoyne’s travelling down under for the trip of a lifetime. Niece Jo, will marry Ben, in Adelaide and we are delighted to be able to join them and celebrate their nuptials – you can look forward to my report in CNL2017.

So with that we would like to wish you a Very Merry Christmas and we hope that 2017 brings you much to look forward to (not only next years Christmas letter)

With all our love

Nick, Deb, Rebecca & Sam

[1] derived from the Greek deligius meaning nagged repeatedly by ones wife

[2] factually incorrect. Taylor Bradford is female and attended  Northcote School for Girls

[3] derived from the Guatemalan ecolop meaning charge at £250 an hour and always recommend a bat box