I've said many times that I'm not the reflective sort. Yet blogging encourages one to reflect. Sitting down in front of the computer, reading what others have written, noticing with absolute amazement that I have had more than 50,000 visits since I started out and looking forward to a new year, another new year here in Spain and, at the moment, in glorious sunshine and under exquisite blue skies, I feel a quick glance back might not be a bad thing to do.
The first thing that I feel compelled to acknowledge is that for the past few months, we've been in negotiations for a property. Nothing is settled yet. I've resisted writing about it partly because I'm trying very hard to keep it from being a blot on the landscape if we don't get it. If I only see it vaguely from the corner of my eye, then I can cope with it disappearing. And it's always so important to see what is right in front of you.
The other reason for not writing about it has been that the house is not in Alcala la Real. It's on the other side of Granada.
I had not wanted to see it and viewed it very critically when FR insisted it was worth having a look. And despite my negative approach, it worked its way into my heart. We took the children to see it and they were surprisingly very enthusiastic even though we explained it would necessitate a change of schools if we were able to get it. They didn't seem to mind at all, which surprised me; I know that if they'd said 'no way', then we'd have gone no further.
As it is, our offer is going backwards and forwards; we know our limit and cannot go beyond that. So I continue to hold it as a shadowy idea in the corner of my mind's eye. (But I know just what will go in that little nook next to the kitchen door, of course....)
You may, if you will, cross a couple of fingers! It has wisteria too.
I feel I have developed as a language teacher this year, particularly from October when I took on some extra hours and more responsibility at the Academy. I knew I loved language and words but that love is now something I so enjoy transmitting to my students. I enjoy the Spanish/English connections and finding the differences and similarities. Many of my students also like to have 'hooks' to hang their understanding on and it's great fun finding out what works for whom. I'm very grateful to Kirklees Council for the emphasis they always placed on training for employees - much of which helped to develop my own skills and knowledge but which also instilled an understanding of how training works. Helped having a really good friend who is a really good trainer too!
My children have grown tremendously this year - not just in height and age, but beginning to turn into rounded young people.
It hasn't been easy for Mateo and he knows he has to buckle down and address those areas of academic work that he has held at arm's length in his new school. In addition to growing and changing radically in the past twelve months, he's gained in confidence and shows many glimpses of the mature person he is becoming.
Ruy is most anxious to follow in his footsteps and is filling out in preparation for a growing spurt. He really hopes this will come soon as his sister is only a hair's breadth or so less than him in height. Ruy can put so much effort in and at the Christmas performances, he absolutely shone with pleasure and enjoyment as his class sang. Quick to anger and very stubborn at times, he's also the most delightful son to have - cheerful, responsive, responsible and fun - and he flourishing in the Spanish sunshine.
My delightful, clever and funny daughter..is delightful, clever and funny! She loves to entertain, works hard at school, is thoughtful, independent and original. Her drawings are quite amazing - she creates cartoon sequences that tell her stories brilliantly and I am constantly fascinated by and proud of her.
And in reflective mood, I'm so happy to say that FR and I are still very much in love. We are quite a volatile and argumentative couple and our ups are as high as our downs are deep. We haven't reached a stage where we are comfortable companions - maybe we won't - but we are not bored with each other, can still make each other laugh - and cry - and are looking forward to another exciting year together.
Looking back I am amazed, as we so often are, as to how quickly the year has passed. For many in the UK it seems to have been a year of celebration as well as downpour. I saw little of the Golden Jubilee here and not that much more of the Olympics - partly because we were away on holiday and partly because the coverage in Spain concentrated on favourite Spanish sports such as basketball, football and synchronised swimming...so the summer months focused on seeing family for us. It was great to catch up with my sister again albeit briefly. And we were all grateful to be able to be with FR's grandfather for the last time too and, if an old man has to die, then his timing was perfect, allowing us all to get together to celebrate his life with the least possible undue fuss and the greatest affection.
A moment that stands out for me is when, in April, we painted our toes in rainbow colours to offer support across the world when a fellow blogger was diagnosed with cancer. She is doing well and her blog is an absolute delight - she's Annie at Artistica Domestica. Good on you, Annie - you're doing great!
Then, more recently, a diagnosis was made on a friend closer to home - someone I have known for more than 20 years but with whom I have only recently come to view as a real friend. It is always shocking news to hear.
Janice in Caunes and I worked together for the same council and I always appreciated her intelligence and knowledge of the Education Service; her strong views, commitment and level-headed approach were things I really admired. I admit to being rather in awe of her. She left the council a couple of years before I did and went to work at her local hospital and I rather lost touch. However, I remember bumping into her in the carpark at Kingsgate in Huddersfield just before we upped and offed to Spain and thinking again how easy it was to talk to her and how genuine, friendly and approachable she was. It was that chance meeting that kept us in touch via Facebook and then my blog. Janice took to blogging like a duck to water once she decided to do it and those of us who follow her know that she is full of wonderful stories and anecdotes about her family, past and present, and her insights into life in France. She has a tough few months ahead of her as she faces chemotherapy but when I saw her at Christmas, she looked wonderful and I don't think cancer has a chance in the face of her strength and optimism. And we are going to spend some time together as soon as she feels up to it. Janice, you are one of the most precious things of 2012 - here's to enjoying more of 2013 together!
I will be discussing these issues with my students when I return to my teaching and with my own children too. Changing the world is rather too much for me to take on but damn it all, I will make sure that these things don't go unnoticed by those near by me. And maybe we should all look over one shoulder to see what is going on behind our backs or in places we don't feel we belong to - because whilst we don't feel the threat directly, it's much better to be aware of what is happening than burying our heads in the sand or somewhere cosy and comfortable.
We really should be aware.