The invasion of the Playchute Palace began with the arrival of Greg’s sister Sallie and her husband Rod for a couple of days toward the end of April. This was followed shortly thereafter by the arrival of Penny’s sister Judi from Toronto who is always a most welcome houseguest – at the very least she keeps Pen’s folks distracted and out of our hair.

Judi’s arrival was the precursor to the massive invasion which took place during July and August. Adam and Sugar arrived from China for an extended visit which prompted Ben to come from LA for a couple of weeks. Nick and Lucy joined us whenever they could and the weather was gloriously co-operative. Lots of fabulous meals and late nights sitting out on Penelope’s newly finished patio. Judi’s daughter Thi joined the throng during August and the palace was filled with laughter, music and the warm pleasure of the companionship of family and friends.

It is now twenty years since Greg left the classroom to provide advice and support on ICT in schools so, in July, we held a reunion with dozens of colleagues, former colleagues, their wives, husbands and children on a gloriously hot and sunny day. It was wonderful to see how well we’ve all aged apart from Greg, of course, who easily won the competition to determine who had decayed most markedly during the past twenty years.

After all the demands and imposition of our house guests during the summer, we felt in need of a break so, in November, we spent a wonderful week in Andalusía in southern Spain. We visited Seville and found, much to our surprise, how much we enjoyed tapas and Rioja. We then made our way to the astoundingly impressive gorge at Ronda, to Cordoba with its gorgeously serene and beautiful Mezquita and finally, the undoubted highlight of the week, to the intricately beautiful and atmospheric Alhambra in Granada. The weather was gorgeous, the food and wine plentiful and the sights simply stunning.

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