Christmas 2003

Season’s Greetings from Belgium!

First things first: Ursula Mary Whyte arrived a few days late but safely on 22nd December last year. Now coming up to her first birthday, she lights up the room with her beaming smiles, and shows a strong interest in the concept of walking. Some say that she looks a bit more like Anne and a bit less like me than her siblings, but we think she just looks like herself.

Fergal, four and a half, is now full-time at the local village school, and while his Flemish is not yet up to his English he has no problem doing the various word games and puzzles he is set in class. He has also developed a thorough knowledge of the children’s BBC website and allied places on the internet. (Now we’re on broadband luckily…) Bridget, six and a half, is still at her special school in Leuven. She is spending occasional weekends at a place on the other side of Brussels which specialises in short-term respite care for autistic children. Her school has been taking her pony-riding, which she loves.

Anne has of course been occupied with baby for much of the year, though she also supervised a major upgrade to our kitchen in September. We also had several weeks in Ireland in August, about which our only regret is that we didn’t see as many of our friends as we would have liked, and visits from grandparents, Anne’s sister Helen and brother Rob, my sister Caroline and her husband and my brother William and his new partner Steph.

My work has kept me busy; the last week of November saw political crises in three of the countries I cover, Croatia, Moldova and especially Georgia. I visited Georgia and also Slovakia for the first time this year. Georgia is a fascinating place, surreal landscapes and even more surreal politics, with excellent food and wine. Slovakia by contrast is pretty normal in an ex-Habsburg way. However after seven years now in the think-tank/NGO sector (preceded by seven years of combined postgraduate study and political activism) I’m beginning to think about my next move. No urgency about this as yet, but perhaps by the time I write next year’s Christmas letter I’ll have moved either to the inside of the EU machinery or to the private sector; I’m still taking initial soundings.

My literary endeavours have prospered a little; I contributed some science fiction reviews to the Infinity Plus website (well known among those who read that sort of thing) and also attended a small sf convention in Dublin at the end of September, which was fun. My Northern Ireland elections website had a lot of expansion this year, first with a nice government grant that allowed me to hire a couple of students to fill in some of the missing election results of the 70s and 80s, and then with the elections themselves (which coincided of course with the crises in Croatia, Moldova and Georgia). While less than thrilled with the results, I’m glad that 23,000 people looked at the website in the month of November. (And very glad that all six seats held by the Alliance Party were held on a decreased vote.)

With our very best wishes and love for Christmas and the New Year,

Nicholas

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1 Response to Christmas 2003

  1. nwhyte says:

    Looking at the original printing, that seems very plausible.

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