2018 - A Brief Review

It’s been an odd kind of year in many ways for reasons that might become clearer as you read through this review of 2018. I guess the most unusual part of the year was we didn’t have a family holiday. That being said, we traveled, and we certainly have lots of plans for the future. It was also a year of significant transitions, and new beginnings as you’ll soon hear.

Gary traveled back twice to the UK, once in February and then again in November to visit his Dad. Mike seems to be coping well with the loss of Mom but has several health issues that create challenges living on his own. However, he battles on, and as usual, his garden was full of flowers and fruit.

Enjoying a cold day out at the Bristol Classic MotorCycle Show
Gary's Dad Enjoying a Cold Day Out at the Bristol Classic MotorCycle Show

Fabulous Day Out at the Museum of the Great Western RailwayFabulous Day Out at the Museum of the Great Western Railway

Yafei and Xaria spent an amazing eight-weeks in China late in the year. They went with Yafei’s parents, based themselves at their apartment in Nanjing, and managed to find time to visit the capital, Beijing, and the bright lights of Shanghai. Xaria spent five weeks in a Chinese pre-school that ensured her Chinese remains as good as her rapidly developing English skills.

Yafei on Nanjing City WallYafei on Nanjing City Wall

Xaria Learning About Her Chinese HertitageXaria Learning About Her Chinese Hertitage

We also continued our camping adventures with outings to the local deserts in the early part of the year, and the Sierra Mountains towards the middle of the year.

Exploring the Arroyo Tapiado Mud Caves. Nr Ocotillo, California
Exploring the Arroyo Tapiado Mud Caves. Nr Ocotillo, California

You might be wondering how Yafei managed eight weeks in China. Well, after fifteen years with Qualcomm, Yafei took voluntary redundancy. For the first time in a long, long while, neither of us is in full-time employment. And that’s the way we’re hoping it will stay for a while as we embark on a new phase in our lives. It may not be a permanent phase but, if all goes according to plan, it will take us through the next four years. The plan is to travel and spend time with Xaria, but the exact details remain up in the air, as we deal currently with a health issue with Yafei’s Dad.

It’s funny; we thought the whole family would be excited about beginning this phase, be in boisterous spirits, and looking forward to the adventures ahead. Nothing could have been further from the truth in that last week before the girls traveled to China. Yafei's last days at Qualcomm turned out to be a frenzy of activity. Loads of people at work wanted to say goodbye to her, and colleagues kindly arranged a happy hour. Trip packing and dealing with final leaving arrangements were all behind schedule, and her work office needed boxing up. On her last day, Gary had planned a surprise meal and champagne to toast the end of an era. By the time Yafei got home, Xaria had gone to bed, and Dad was celebrating by himself! Tension was thick in the air!

Gary gave up thoughts of returning to employment as the year began and turned his attention to writing! In the first half of the year, he self-published the book he’d written about his first trip to China in 1995. Re-titled, Changing China, Changing Life, and featuring poems by his brother, Andrew (wrote while teaching in China), the book is now available through Amazon. In the second half of the year, Gary switched his attention to a second book, tentatively entitled, A Life Redesigned, which is complete in draft form and soon to be published.

Xaria is now rapidly approaching four. It’s fantastic to see her grow and she’s turning into a fine lady when she’s not pinching mommy or smacking daddy in the head! She has a great smile, is inquisitive, loves the outdoors and entirely rules the house. If you’re into social media, you can follow her many adventures on Facebook, Instagram, and others - just search #ourgiftoflove in Google.

Xaria Being as Boisterous As Ever

Healthwise, Gary has struggled a little this year. He had another bout of pneumonia in March (he had one in the late nineties), two additional periods of chronic flu and is now being treated for asthma! These illnesses meant exercise took a back seat, which is most unusual. Now he’s got to lose a little weight as well! Yafei remained well, although as mentioned her Dad’s health does not look too good currently. So, the last month of the year has meant Yafei ferrying her Dad to endless trips to doctors, scans and other medical appointments. Hopefully, we can get his health stabilized soon.

Gary Visits Joshua Tree National Park with Friends in NovemberGary Visits Joshua Tree National Park with Friends in November

Our Xmas decorations have been up since the beginning of December, and multiple friends have been visiting in the lead up to Xmas. The tree looks grand this year, and there’s a fair smattering of festive lights outside. Xaria is very excited but can’t understand why Christmas and her subsequent birthday can’t come sooner. She told Santa she wants a large walking dinosaur!

Fun in front of the Christmas Tree

"Merry Christmas Everyone"

Pizza Making Just Before New Year
Finishing the Year with Xaria, Yafei and Uncle Mike Making Pizza

Happy New Year from Gary, Yafei, Xaria, and Miko, "the cat.”

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