At least we don’t have to worry about forgetting Christmas – this year’s first card arrived on 20 October and we are, once again, much indebted to Penny’s Australian relations for the timely reminder that we had only two months in which to complete our preparations.

Another fine year with far too much to be grateful for and very little to be too disgruntled about, but that’s never stopped us in the past. This year’s Easter excursion once again saw Greg, accompanied on this occasion by Penny, travelling to Hanover, New Hampshire to visit Greg’s folks. The Great Restaurant Ramble was even bigger and grander this year and involved a five day road trip around New England visiting nieces, nephews, old school mates and an assortment of fine eating establishments. Even though Penny was there to moderate his intake this year, Greg’s waistline continues to expand at an alarming pace. Still, everyone in the northeast is in fine form and Greg’s folks continue to enjoy their finishing school at Kendall.

Barely home for a few months before we were obliged to drag our sorry souls back across the Atlantic for another Stragnell family reunion in the paradise that is Lake George in upstate New York. Ben and Donna came from Los Angeles for a few days and Nick joined the congregation for a few days as well. This year’s reunion marked the debut of the newest member of the extended family, Amélie, Greg’s elder sister Sallie’s first grandchild who naturally was the most popular member of the clan. At least her cheery disposition made a welcome change from the general irritation and disappointment which is endemic whenever Greg’s about.

Following a very successful two weeks in upstate New York, we were able to join our friend and neighbour Pete Taylor as he neared the completion of his extraordinary expedition to visit every major league baseball stadium in the US. We spent five days in New York City at the end of August and Greg particularly enjoyed being able to accompany Pete to a game at Yankee Stadium although Penny confesses she would rather have watched paint dry. Some time in New York also gave us a chance to catch up with our favourite UN diplomat, Jordan Ryan, and his ever delightful family as well as our dear friend Miles Rosedale and his new bride Alexandra. Once again, it became necessary to find a shop selling elasticated trousers following all the fine dining which New York had to offer and which we reluctantly felt compelled to enjoy.

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