The Russell Christmas Letter 2009

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Last December, we had a quiet Christmas at home. The girls had the usual fun opening presents and Marian cooked a magnificent turkey accompanied by her Grandmother's famous rolls. Later in February, we travelled to Interlachen, Switzerland, for skiing, John got back on skis again and fell at the first turn (sorry no photos available)!

Christmas Tree

Christmas Dinner

Beccy and Emily

Beccy took part in a fashion show at the school in March and designed and made seven costumes which were modelled by her friends. In April, John and Marian went away on a weekend with the Hash to the border of Austria and Slovenia (Southern Styria) - a well-known wine growing area. It was unusually warm for April and we ran all over the area, which was mostly vineyards and very hilly.

Queen B

Beccy and Ilona

View from the window across the Vineyards

View from our hotel room

At the end of June we travelled to the USA for a long holiday with some of Marian's relatives. First we visited Marian's sisters Jennifer and Lisa in Southern California. They live in the San Diego area. We stayed at the lovely home of Jennifer and her husband Javad for two and half weeks, and spent lots of time with them and with Lisa and her husband, Craig.


Javad preparing food for us all

John, Marian, Jennifer and Javad

Lisa and Jennifer

While in San Diego, we did fun things like going for a harbour tour, eating Mexican food (especially Rubio's fish taco's!), visiting the San Diego Zoo, barbecuing, and enjoying an incredible 4th of July fireworks show at Craig and Lisa's secret and excellent viewing location. We took turns cooking for each other, some of the highlights of which included Lisa's Chocolate Cheesecake, Craig's Grilled Chicken, Javad's Grilled Lamb, Jennifer's Bean Dip, and the famous Chocolate Flake Coconut Cake for Lisa's birthday celebration.

On the boat

Leaving the boat

Getting comfortable to watch the fireworks

4th July Fireworks

Steve Allen Cake

San Diego harbour view

Marian on the boat

Lisa, Marian, Jennifer

Beccy in her gorilla shirt

After visiting San Diego, we flew to Jacksonville, Florida to spend time with Margaret, Chris, and Tiffany (Marian's daughter and her family). While there, we celebrated Margaret's birthday with another Steve Allen Cake, and we did fun things like eating fish and chips at an Irish Pub, shopping, swimming, getting haircuts (although this was NOT fun for everyone), and visiting the oldest settlement in the USA, St Augustine, which was founded by the Spanish in 1565. On the last day in Florida, we took a walk along a beautiful boardwalk near where Margaret lives and got to see some interesting birds, little crabs, and a pair of dolphins.

Chris and all the girls

Tiffany, Chris, Margaret

Beccy and Tiffany on the Boardwalk

Boardwalk birds

In early September, Beccy turned 16 and started to learn to drive and Emily turned 18 and is now an adult.  Later in September, Emily and John flew to England for a long weekend to visit some universities. They visited Royal Holloway (London University) and Warwick. Ann and Ellen, John's sister and her daughter, came on the Warwick trip for an Open Day.  Emily has applied for Theatre Studies or English and Theatre Studies (combined honours) at five Universities (Warwick, Royal Holloway, Hull, Loughborough and Sheffield). She has already received two offers, a request for interview and an essay request. Meanwhile the girls are very active in the School sports Teams (Emily in Volleyball and Beccy in Soccer), travelling to Freistadt, Zurich and Munich in the last three months. Emily's Team came first in the Munich tournament, against teams from all over Europe.

Beccy's  Sweet 16 Party

Emily and Volleyball Team in Munich

Emily and Volleyball Team in Zurich

Beccy's Soccer Team in Munich

At the end of September, John reached 1,000 runs with the Vindobona Hash House Harriers, after 27 years of running with them. The 1,000th Hash occurred during a weekend in Melk, Austria which he helped organize, so there was another celebration, with special red baseball caps, on 18 October 2009. On 16 October, his Hash Name was modified from Glo-Balls to Lord Glo-Balls in recognition.

John reaches 1,000 at Melk

John with a small beer (Down, Down)

John receives a 1,000 Hash Medal
and the Order of the Vindobona HHH (OVH)

The girls are old enough to drink now (Austrian law, of course), so when we did some early Christmas shopping in one of the Viennese Christmas markets, called a "Christkindlmarkt", we were able to enjoy a nice hot spiced wine (called "Glühwein") together.




We hope that you have had a really good year and that the coming year will be a peaceful, healthy, and prosperous one for you and your loved ones.

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Copyright 2009 John Russell, last updated 16 December 2009, Number of hits = Counter