Monday, 22 December 2008

Last Blog of the Year

Merry Christmas Everyone, (or to both of you, as I only know 2 people that read this blog!)

This year we celebrated our 10th anniversary at Brook House Inn, we are all still working hard. I am pleased to say that we are in the 2009 Camra Good Beer Guide, 8 years out 10 – not bad going. In June we had our eighth Boot Beer Festival and the busiest yet, with over 40 beers just at Brook House Inn.

Ten years here also means that Emma is 10 years old, how time flies! She moves up to big school next year so we have had to choose which one. We picked Millom in the end because it‘s teachers seemed friendlier and more animated, it is slightly further away but they finish at 3pm so Emma will be back by about 4pm.

After spending May and June with a bad back,
I have had quite an active year. Emma learnt to ride her mountain bike so we have been going on little rides up and down the valley. Ben, one of my diving buddies is also a canoeist so I have had my boat out a couple of times, down the river and on the sea at St Bees, and as of December I have taken up caving!

Sarah and Shaun's two boys are growing up fast, both are now in school which gives Sarah a bit of piece and a little more time to work without the help of Ben and Jacob! They both have bikes so with the help of Emma have spent most of the summer tearing round the car park and trying to drag us all out on bike rides, but Jacob is only 4 years old so that is a little scary on our narrow roads. Jacob loves to climb things and has just discovered the stone wall in the passageway - I think he needs a "no fear" tshirt for Christmas and I wish I had his strength to body weight ratio. Ben is a bit more sensible but likes to get his own way so there is plenty of arbitration to do between him and Emma. When it was not raining in summer, we spent time down by the river, I am glad to say that all 3 kids can now swim, but Jacob is not too keen on the cold water!

At the end of last year I was allowed away on my own so I jetted of to Florida to complete a cave diving course, after a week training and lots of diving I passed the course to become a certified cave diver. So from now on our family holidays will revolve around not only places where I can dive but also with caves to dive in! I have had a good year with some great dives, especially in Mexico at the beginning of the year, the cenotes and caves are truly amazing, incredibly peaceful in water so clear I imagine it's like floating in space with white stalactites like a thousand knitting needles suspended from the ceiling and the floor a bed of shining calcite crystals. Emma and Lesley really enjoyed Mexico too, we went to see Chichen Itza, now rightly one of the seven wonders of the world.

In Summer Lesley, Emma and I escaped for a week to Roccamadhour, in France, I met up with a cave diving buddy who brought my kit down in his car so I managed a few cave dives. We had a day canoeing on the Dordogne which Emma liked a lot. I will have to buy her a life jacket soon so she can come rafting down the Esk with me!

In November Lesley and Emma fancied going to Egypt where we have been before but only so I could dive, this time it was to be educational - to see Cairo,
The Pyramids, Luxor and the Valley of the Kings, on a 2 day whistle stop tour.

The Temple at Karnack is immense, the workmanship is stunning, and some of the paintings are still clear and colourful on the walls, 4000 years on, we have to get our building painted every 5 years or so, they were damned clever those Egyptians! and the river Nile is pretty impressive too. After the tour we spent a few days on the coast near Marsa Alam and you guessed it I did a spot of diving, all very pleasant, no proper caves though. But I had forgotten just how reliant on the guide, holiday only divers are- no watches, no depth gauges that worked, it was only after 3 people had asked “what depth did we reach?” when I realised I was the only diver apart from the guide with a dive computer! We went through some lovely coral “caves” on the way through the reef and saw lots of Turtles. and a shark.

Although I do not get out onto the fells as much as I should, Owain and I did manage to climb Harter Fell in the snow last week, which brought back fond memories of winter holidays in Scotland. This was Owain's first trip out in the snow, we even managed to play with the ice axes and some frozen turf! Shame the weather has turned wet again.

Mum and Dad are now back from their trip of a lifetime down to New Zealand, with lots of tales to tell of scary aeroplane rides and beautiful mountains.

Well it is nearly Christmas eve so there I will end, is has been a good year for us all.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Gareth and all the gang at Brook House Inn