As in previous years, if you’ve been spared the annual Christmas newsletter in the inevitably too-small-enveloped card, here’s a recap of some of the things I got up to last year:
The most important bit first - this year was marked by a very special occasion - Mark married Brittany. It was a fairy-tale wedding ceremony in a castle by Lake Garda on a beautiful sunny day in late September. Welcome to the wider Skerratt family Britt - you and Mark will have many, many happy years together. This, I know.
That’s my Christmas present, right there.
As for me…I’m still on the committee of the Local Section of the Royal Society of Chemistry, and I write this on the way home from chairing a meeting of the RSC’s Environmental Chemistry Group. I also managed to find my way onto the committee of the RSC Water Science Forum and the Energy, Sustainability and Environment Division. If that wasn’t enough, I’m also an elected member of the RSC Professional Affairs Board. Yep, seems I’m all in on the RSC at the moment. Don’t tell them, but I’ve moonlighted carrying out some professional body licence reviews for the Science Council and I’m also now a member of their Registration Authority. I also reviewed a couple of interesting legal cases for the Environment Agency which kept me busy...but not too busy to continue working with the Nantwich Museum Research Group and the Betley Local History Society. The former is interesting because Nantwich is a lovely old market town with an interesting history, & Betley is where I grew up. Membership of the latter also gave me an excuse to go to spend a wonderful summer’s afternoon at Betley Show for the first time in donkey’s years.
Lucky with the lovely weather for an all-too-short holiday in beautiful Cornwall and a couple of energetic weekends tramping around charming Grasmere in the Lake District, R&R-time was immeasurably enriched by the annual visit to the splendiferous laburnum arch at Bodnant Garden which was in full bloom at the end of May when we dropped by. Go and see it; it’s amazing.
Less jet-setting from me this year - must be my age! The annual visit to the summertime Copenhagen Jazz Festival, and a flying visit in April to a concert at the Jazzhus renewed old friendships and left First Direct aghast at the amount of money I could spend in Copenhagen restaurants in 72 hours. A glorious visit to N. Italy at the end of April to see the fruit blossom, sample the vino and stock up on olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Parmigiano-Reggiano and speck was bettered in September with the most wonderful of weeks in Malcesine for the wedding.
Seen and heard during the year…in January we went to see Harry Potter & the Cursed Child - a truly brilliant production and worth buying tickets for well over a year in advance. Also, if you’re ever close to Piccadilly Circus and feel hungry, seek out Brasserie Zédel and enjoy the great food, reasonable (for London) prices and amazing décor. I must make a note not to start buying tickets for things too far in advance…says he, having just purchased tix for an Elton John gig in Nov. 2020. He’s on my bucket list, OK? I also had a lovely evening reminiscing during the Barclay James Harvest 50th anniversary gig in May - they were one of the first bands I ever saw live and that was back in 1971. They were so good I went to see them again a few times over the next year or two but fell out of the habit, so it was wonderful to catch up.
Other (separate) memorable evenings spent with Don McLean, Paul Simon, Ralph McTell and Jools Holland rounded out my musical treats during 2018.
Just before Christmas last year a local National Trust property - Dunham Massey - transformed their large gardens with a Christmas light show. Spectacular and magical, so good was it that a follow up visit this year is booked.
I laughed all the way through separate evenings with Bill Bailey and Dara O’Briain, two of the funniest and most talented entertainers around. Either can lift my spirits and carry me through the most turbulent times. Speaking of which, I went on my first demo in 47 years when, along with 700,000 other assorted citizens of nowhere, we marched in the sunshine for a People’s Vote. If you’re a Brit, whatever your views on Europe and whatever political changes have taken place between me writing this and you reading it - which could indeed be profound, we probably deserve a day or two’s respite over Christmas. So let’s do that.