The Russell Christmas Letter 2015

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. Sorry that we're a little late with our letter this year. We had to wait for all of our family members to arrive before we could finish putting it together.

Xmas Dinner 2014

Traditional Yule Log in Chocolate

Like Marian, Emily enjoys kitchen experiments and last year made a traditional chocolate Yule Log for the first time. She decorated it with a small Santa that John's mother used on John's first Christmas cake for Christmas in 1951.

John's mother gradually became more and more forgetful about dates and times so that taking her medicine according to a schedule became a challenge. Even though in every other way she seems like her normal self, she decided to move into a care home in Guildford in January and likes it there very much. She has a bright and cheerful room with many of her things from home, so that it feels like home to her. The staff are very friendly and helpful and we are all happy to know that she is getting her meds on time and being well looked after. John visited in January to help her get settled and we both visited her in April, August, and November. Her bungalow in Elmbridge Village has been sold, so the address is no longer valid. Send John an email, if you want her contact details. 

New Mac

Becky and Daniel

Redford, with Snape and Lily

Becky's Hair

Becky's Photo Art

Becky spent her 21st birthday money on a new Mac to help her with her graphic design projects at school.   We see Becky and Daniel about once a week for dinner here in Probstdorf.     Becky now has three cats - the newest addition is an orange tabby called Redford.   Becky is half-way through a graphic design degree program at the Werbe Akademie Wien (Advertising Academy of Vienna).  She has been taking classes in photography, computer aided design, website design, drawing, and typography, and also has been working with a group of classmates on various joint projects.   The programme is very demanding, but she is learning a lot and has been enjoying it very much.

John and Emily, Clifton Bridge, Bristol




"A Lady in Grey", 1859, by Sir Daniel MacNee (Scottish, 1806-1882)

Woman and Scarecrow Cast and Crew

Emily and her Beside Team in Edinburgh

Emily and the Wind in the Willows Cast and Crew

Apple Dryer

In April, we visited Emily in Bristol.  She designed the lighting for the plays "Little One" and "Woman and Scarecrow", performed in Bristol in May 2015, and "Wind in the Willows", performed in Bristol in November/December 2015.   In August, we travelled to Edinburgh in Scotland to see Emily while she was working as the Venue Manager for Beside in the Pleasance Courtyard.  This is the second year that Emily has worked at Pleasance during the annual Edinburgh Fringe Festival.  We strolled around Edinburgh and visited the free Scottish National Gallery with its wonderful collection of Scottish painters.  Emily will finish her two-year programme in Stage Management at The Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in July 2016.  She has been specializing in lighting design, since she already has so much experience in stage management.  She has been enjoying the programme very much, even though it has been very stressful.  

We have five apple trees, two peach trees, an apricot tree, two cherry trees (sour and sweet), a pear tree, and a walnut tree, and harvesting and making use of all of the fruit every year is a huge challenge.  In addition to making lots of cherry pies and apple tarts, cherry and apricot jam, apple pies, and pear tarts, Marian experimented with new recipes for apricot chutney, apple butter and apple cake, and froze many batches of cherries and apples for pies, tartes and strudel between now and next harvest.  This year, we also bought a food dehydrator and Marian made at least eight batches of dried apple chips which Becky took to school with her and shared with her classmates who said they'd never tasted better apple chips.  

Garrison in Vienna

Otto Wagner's Kirche am Steinhof

Soap by Marian



Snow Family

In October, Marian's cousin from Alaska, Garrison, visited for a few days.  On the first day, Marian took him on a walking tour through Vienna's center, focusing on architecture, including that of Otto Wagner and Friedensreich Hundertwasser.  The next day, they visited the castle ruins in Aggstein, Durnstein, and Hainburg, and on the last day, they visited Schoenbrunn, Otto Wagner's Kirche am Steinhof, the lookout at Kahlenberg, and the lions at the entrance to the Vienna Canal.  In November, Marian learned to make soap.  The grandchildren, Tiffany and Samantha, continue to grow more beautiful and we hope to visit them and their parents in the Spring.

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Copyright 2015 John Russell, last updated 23 December 2015, Number of hits = Counter