One final post to wrap up my review of 2010. Another year bites the dust and I feel I didn't quite manage to do all that I ought to. One of those things was writing a meaningful message in our Christmas Cards to those friends and family we don't see very often. Mrs Chopper is always very efficient with the card writing and this year (partly due to being off with a poorly child) had them done before the close of November. I was left with the few cards she felt I needed to write but faced with a blank card and the pressure of a large pile of seasonal stamps resorted, as usual, to the standard platitudes. I considered doing a late family newsletter but as the weeks went by that seemed a bit irrelevant too. Best stick to what I do best then a write a Top five instead. If you know me and I haven't seen you for a while this is what we've been up to. I hope all is well with your family too!
1. Fulham in Hamburg (May) - The early part of the year was undoubtedly dominated by European football. Fulham don't have a great history of this sort of thing so I was determined to make the most of our moment. I'd been to Rome in November 2009 and was happy to see my team play in a major European stadium (even if we did lose). I wasn't expecting another opportunity but a remarkable run of results (beating defacto cup holders Shaktar Donetsk, Italian giants Juventus, German champs Wolfsberg and host side Hamburg) saw us reach the final. This was the biggest game the club have played since the '75 F.A. Cup Final and I am lucky enough to have a very understanding wife. My friend Mark and I arrived in Hamburg around 8:00, had a good morning doing the tourist thing, then an even better afternoon getting drunk with Fulham fans in Hans Albertz Plaz (a small square just off the Reeperbahn). The game was a blur, we played valiantly but lost 2-1 to Atletico Madrid. We flew home the same night, it was a long and slightly sad journey but with hindsight a brilliant day and the highpoint of my football supporting life.
2. Ben wins at the Sunbury Regatta (August) - My eldest son has been rowing since he was seven. He's quite tall for his age (something he clearly doesn't get from me) and really loves the sport. He's been entering the Sunbury Junior regatta every year since he started. The first year he won a trophy for being the youngest competitor. The second year he won the Sportsman's trophy for being enthusiastic and helping the organiser's out with getting the boats ready. Last year he didn't win anything and was a bit upset about it. They had an Olympic Rower present the prizes and she made a speech about how she had competed at the Regatta and been upset about not winning, so she worked really hard and trained a lot and came back the following year and won. Ben was very determined this year and although he lost out in the early rounds of the singles events he finally won his first Sunbury Pot claiming the trophy for the Junior Double Sculls with his partner Zak. Very proud Dad moment.
3. Holiday in Cornwall (June) - As a family we're definitely creatures of habit. We've been going down to Cornwall for our annual holiday for the best part of 10 years now. There are so many new places I'd love to see but timing and money tend to get in the way. Going to Cornwall is easy and we love it. This year was particularly good as the weather held out all week and we were able to spend most of it on the beach near Rock. Met up with our friends from Shepperton, so the boys had people to play with. Managed to cycle part of the Camel Trail from Wadebridge to Padstow (i.e the flat bit), so that we felt we'd done our active bit. I even fitted in a visit to the Sharp's Brewery to pick up some cheap Doombar. Perfect.
4. George at Beaver's camp (November) - George finally started Beaver's in September after what seemed like a very long wait. He isn't as active as Ben (definitely taking after me there) but was keen to go and has really enjoyed it ever since. In November they had their first overnight camp since he started and despite the fact he'd never stayed away from home before really wanted to go. Your kids never fail to surprise you in what they can do. He had a brilliant time and it was lovely to see him happy and mucking about with his friends when we collected him the next day.
5. Lahori Curry (Jan - April) - Work played a fairly big role in my year. I was involved in two fairly lengthy periods of system upgrading, learnt a lot as we did them and made some new friends. Works a bit boring to include in a top five though so the lasting legacy of all this effort was the discovery of the Lahori Karahi restaurant in Feltham. Absolutely the best curry I have eaten anywhere and a popular lunch time venue when we were working our hardest.
In other news we bought a car, survived the secondary school selection process, Jane started running and generally getting fit, I made a bit of a break through with my achilles injury, and we all had a couple of very pleasant days out at Leeds Castle and Whipsnade Zoo.