Due to the Lockdown in Austria, last Christmas was very quiet with just John and Marian for Christmas lunch. We did manage to open our presents in a joint ZOOM session with Emily, Rebecca, and Jasper. Rebecca was in Voralberg visiting her partner Tommy's family, so we met his family for the first time via ZOOM.

In April, we travelled to the south of Austria to pick up a new cat. She is a rescue cat from Belarus - a Russian Blue about 2.5 years old - and we named her Yuki. Getting a second cat was meant to provide Zoe with companionship and encourage her to be more sociable by having a friend to play with, but unfortunately Zoe remains very afraid of Yuki, and reacts aggressively if Yuki approaches her. We hope the cats will eventually become friends, but with the way things have been going, it may still take some time for that to happen.

In July, the Lockdown was relaxed and we started Hashing again.


The Daily Stand-off

Marian and John

Marian has been continuing her experimentations with new recipes, and in June attended an online King Arthur Flour croissant-making class with her sister, Lisa. She was happy with the results, but it was a lot of work for only eight croissants, so she's not planning on making any more in the near future. Some of our favorite new recipes include Korean fried chicken, lemon roulade, and blackberry galette with berries from our blackberry patch in the back of the garden. A galette is kind of like a pie, with the same kind of pie dough, and can be made with apples, berries, and other fruit. Marian finds a galette a lot easier to make than a pie, and made several more with apples from the garden in late summer and early fall.


Korean Fried Chicken

Lemon Roulade

Blackberry Galette

In October, Emily and Jasper got a dog that they named Ponyo. She is two years old and is a beautiful Belgian Malinois/German Shepherd mix with a very sweet temperment. Jasper started Year 1 at his school this year. Emily has discovered that she really loves to go camping and has done quite a lot of it this last year. Jasper has also enjoyed the weekend outings into the countryside, especially when there are trees that allow for a hammock. Emily has met many new people who also like camping and recently organized a big Christmas party for a group of them. Jasper recently played one of the Three Wise Men, King Jasper who brought the gold, in the school's Christmas play.


Jasper's 1st Day

Jasper in a Hammock

Emily at Christmas Party

King Jasper

Rebecca and her business partner (also Rebecca) continued to expand their company. In January, they opened a proper office and in October they moved the whole office into larger premises in the same building so that they could accommodate additional staff. The windows in the larger office overlook a railway line! Their company is called Same Same Studio. In addition to her company work, Rebecca continues to teach pole dancing and play football with her team whenever possible, and has learned the art of tattooing!

First Office

Larger Office Entrance

Inside Larger Office

Nice view of Trains

Fun Stuff!

John reached the young age of 70 and we organised a BBQ at the sporting grounds in Probstdorf. Rebecca designed a special T-Shirt for the event, and Rebecca and Tommy helped us set everything up for the party. About 45 friends attended, and many of them contributed various bits and pieces of a very elaborate special birthday model train! If you are viewing our letter online, you can see more photos of the party here.There is also a set of photos of each part of the train here.

Everyone at the Party

Russell Family

Rebecca and Tommy

Model Loco

Because of not wanting anyone to worry about possible germs being blown over a real cake, Rebecca and Marian together painted a fake three-tiered styrofoam birthday cake a couple of weeks before the party, to which Rebecca added the final decorative touches on the day, including ribbons around the layers and putting in 70 candles. Lighting the candles was a disaster, though, because there were so many of them and they couldn't light them fast enough. At one point, one of the styrofoam layers caught fire! They got the fire out, but had to rush the cake outside for John to blow out the candles before the whole "cake" went up in smoke. Rebecca and Marian were collapsing with laughter through all of this. There was also real cake, of course, which everyone enjoyed. John absolutely LOVED the train present from his Hash House Harrier friends.

Cake Lighting

Candle Blowing

Model Loco

Full Moon Carriage

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