The Xmas Letter

In keeping with tradition - although a bit later than in previous years - here's the note that went out for Xmas 2014 from Skerratt Inc.

It's been another busy year - I'm sure we had a pretty good summer because I don't remember getting wet too often, but it only seems 5min. ago that I was writing last year's letter. I'm lucky; work has been interesting and I have the luxury of being able to be productive anywhere there's a half-decent internet connection. This means I get to ‘work’ in some unusual locations - London Zoo, the British Museum, Stoke station and Edinburgh Sewage Works have all featured at one time or another. Life can never be dull when sewage is involved. Especially Scottish sewage!

As for music, this year has the been the usual eclectic mix - Paul Carrack, The Big Chris Barber Band, The Pierces [twice…once for each of them], Eric Clapton, Gregory Porter [twice], Burt Bacharach, Art Garfunkel, First Aid Kit, The Gaslight Anthem and Jackson Browne. As I write this, Jools Holland should already be setting up for the pre-Christmas event in Birmingham that I always try to get to, and there a number of tickets booked for 2015 gigs that I’m already looking forward to.

Other people seen and listened to, or laughed with, this year include all the folks involved with The Festival of the Spoken Nerd, Steve Punt and Hugh Dennis, Jimmy Carr and Jim Naughtie. Robin Ince and Brian Cox are having another Christmas Compendium at the end of this week at the Hammersmith Apollo, so I’m looking forward to that too.

Once again, the astrophysics lectures at Jodrell Bank that I went to were a fascinating blend of pulsars and black holes and event horizons. We don’t get too many of these in Kidsgrove - well, not the first and last in the list anyway. This year also saw return visits to Chatsworth and Haddon Halls; I’d forgotten how beautiful Haddon really is. Oh, there was also the Natural History Museum [for the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition] and first visits to the wonderful Kew Gardens, to London Zoo and to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.

As for travel, there have again been several research trips to Italy during the year (mainly researching wine, cheese, olive oil and balsamic vinegar!) along with visits to Copenhagen for the jazz festivals there in February and June. Yes, I researched jazz too. In addition I managed to spend some time in Amsterdam and Helsinki, and there were a few working trips to Brussels. I also managed a weekend in Liverpool - I’ve never wandered around the city before, and what a splendid place it is!

The long weekend in Amsterdam was wonderful with visits to the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank’s house, the Jewish Historical Museum and the Heineken Experience. The latter was surprisingly well done, but make sure that you go by bus or tram – don’t attempt to walk back and certainly don’t go anywhere near a car…or a bike for that matter!. Dutch people on bikes are just bonkers. Fact.

I can also report that the Amsterdam Museum of Medieval Torture Instruments is both naff and a rip off in equal measure – not recommended. Even if torture is your thing. Actually, especially if torture is your thing.

On that unusual note, I really do hope that your year has also been eventful, interesting and fulfilling...and I hope you have a wonderful 2015.