Christmas news

Well, I’ve been wrestling with the difficulties of sending our Christmas letter to you guysSeason’s Greetings from Belgium!

We have had a stable year.

Bridget, now seven and a half, has moved up a class at school and settled in very happily with five other little girls, up to the age of twelve, none of whom talks. She does a lot of horse-riding and other fun excursions. Here she is enjoying the delights of the flowering cherry tree in our back garden.

Fergal is now old enough at five and a half to start appreciating the museums and other more or less educational attractions of Brussels. Particular favourites include the Natural History Museum (“dinosaurs!”), the Central Africa Museum (“elephants!”) and Mini-Europe, pictured here. He is settled into his Dutch-language school and a series of friends have been coming around to play.

Ursula, who will be two on December 22nd, loves watching Teletubbies and will demand they be put on if grownups are watching something boring like the news. It’s amazing how directly you can communicate without being able to talk. She likes action songs, communing with her cuddly toys, and getting attention from Fergal and (occasionally) Bridget. She was baptised in September – see picture of the “chapel party” below, including N, A, F, U, our local priest, and godparents Liz and Gerry who came over from England.

Anne’s language skills have developed to the point that Flemish people don’t instantly switch into English the moment she opens her mouth; she often understands at least half of what Fergal’s schoolfriends say. Her French is benefiting from chatty coffee breaks with the francophone neighbour who does our cleaning now that we no longer have an au pair.

Meanwhile Nicholas remains in his jobp; he visited Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia for the first time over the course of the year. We are watching events in Ukraine with great interest, though it is not on Nicholas’ beat as yet. Watching Kosovo anxiously for trouble next year…

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

Nicholas, Anne, Bridget, Fergal and Ursula

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