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Happy Christmas to all our friends and family, near and far. Wishing you peace and joy for the new year.

A brief update of what we’ve all been up to over the last twelve months for those who know us and might be interested…

The year started with a big shift in the family dynamic as Wilf officially started home ed. Anita has been looking after him on Mondays and I do the rest of the week. We took things very gently for the first few months, with plenty of long walks, appreciating the countryside on our doorstep, library visits and a good dose of Minecraft… Hatty meanwhile continued in year two, so we remained somewhat bound by the academic calendar.

In February Hatty joined a local gymnastics club and this has been an important and consistent part of her weekly schedule. She’s been improving rapidly, working her way through a series of badges.

Wilf and I started exploring some of the home ed groups locally and have been gradually building up a small group of new friends. Wilf still has regular play dates with a couple of his close school friends too.

In March we welcomed four very important new members to our family… Guinea pigs Daisy, Eevee, Poppy and Snowy moved into a hutch in the back garden, though are currently inside for winter. Hatty and Wilf are both doing an excellent job looking after them and the allotment is benefiting from a bonanza of slow release manure…

In April we enjoyed a steam train ride to meet Bluey on the Spa Valley railway. The beach hut, which we share with a big group of friends, and the allotment, remain a pleasingly big part of our life. Anita uses the beach hut most days as a base for sea swimming and we spent many relaxing days down there with the kids over the summer. The allotment continues to challenge me in terms of being a successful grower, but I think that is normal.

In May, Wilf started a home ed tennis group, which continues outdoors through the winter and which he seems to love. At the end of the month we returned to Elderflower Fields and had a great weekend catching up with old friends and letting the kids go a bit feral, still basking in the freedom of not working.

In June, Wilf and I discovered Geocaching in a big way. Basically a nerdy treasure hunt all over the world. We also hosted quite a few cyclists as they passed through Hastings via the Warm Showers organisation. Something we love doing as it gives the kids an opportunity to meet people from other countries and us a chance to reminisce and scheme about cycle touring.

At the end of July, once school has finished for the year, we took a short bicycle tour to Camber, which was great. Fairly gentle cycling and a couple of days camping and playing on the sandy beaches before heading back home via Rye.

The highlight of the summer holidays was undoubtably a camping trip to the Dorset with a few friends. We stayed at an excellent campsite right by the beach, with days full of swimming, fossil hunting, camp fires and ice creams. Dreamy! We also celebrated great-grandma’s 99th birthday with family!

September was back to school and year three for Hatty, and back to a more regular home ed routine for me and Wilf. We made the most of the fine, late summer weather and were on the beach every weekend I think…

Anita and Wilf had an excellent visit to Legoland Windsor as an early birthday present for Wilf in October. At the end of the month we all trained it via London to visit some friends in Wales, which was super fun. Then, right at the end of the month, another huge change in dynamic as Hatty joined us in home ed. The decision happened fairly quickly and we’re all still just settling into life as a completely school free family, but it feels liberating and hugely positive. Also, fairly big news, Wilf found a 140 million year old Iguanodon fossil on the beach. Pretty cool huh?

November was birthday month, with two separate (and mercifully small) birthday parties here at home (two outstanding birthday cakes too of course…). Hatty and I also had a wonderful day out in London to celebrate her birthday, the highlight of which was going to see Matilda! in the west end.

And then to December, which so far has been fairly chilled. We’re all looking forward to hunkering down for a couple of weeks over Christmas and spending time with loved ones.

Pottery continues for Anita (she is really very good) and I took a tentative dip back into music, playing a gig in London with a fun covers band. We’ve also enjoyed hosting and visiting friends over the year – really it’s our favourite thing. So if you would like a trip to sunny St Leonards some time in 2024, our door is always open and we’d love to see you!

For now, we’ll leave you with a selection of photos from the year, in no particular order. And with our warmest wishes to you and your family. Happy Christmas!

Lots of love,
Stuart, Anita, Hatty and Wilf

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