As 2016 draws to a close, it's slightly hard to find much of a lighter side in Brexit and the election of Trump. These are difficult times and for those of us who prefer friendship, diversity and co-operation to division, bigotry and hatred, both these political events are threatening. Brexit in particular, for someone who has spent a lifetime working and traveling freely in Europe is a worry. However, we must hope that somehow a sensible solution can be found which allays people's fears of the stranger while continuing the acceptance of the new.
On a much brighter note, this has been an excellent year for the Bannatyne-Scott family with Donald gaining an MSc in Chinese Studies at Edinburgh University with Merit and Kat pursuing her Social studies and becoming a star in the world of yoga. She will embark on a course for yoga teachers in India in January, and hopes this will spur her on to becoming a yoga teacher in 2017. Meanwhile, she continues to work at House of Hound in Edinburgh, and Donald continues to work as a team leader for Hickory Hospitality.
We are delighted that our house is full with Donald and Kat's partners, Alexis and Sam, spending most of their time here. It is a joy to watch these young people grow and mature.
2016 has seen Fran and Brian enjoy a lot of time together abroad. Fran came out to Vancouver Island when Brian sang Bottom with POV and we had a wonderful time exploring that great place. Trips to Tofino way up to the north west and Vancouver by sea plane were true highlights. In September, we had a non singing holiday in Vienna with trips to Budapest and Bratislava as well. Vienna has always been a city that we have loved and shared together and this latest visit proved no exception. The weather was great (as it had been in Canada too) and the combination of a beautiful city, fine weather, good food and wine was irresistible.
Brian's trip to Beijing to sing Snug in MND was also a major event. After our visit last year to Shanghai, it was fascinating to see the capital city in all its splendour. It is quite different from Shangai but special treats were the Temple of Heaven and the Summer Palace, as well as Beijing Zoo with its many giant pandas. Sadly our trip to the Great Wall was marred by quasi Scottish weather which stopped us from seeing the true majesty of this magnificent edifice. However, even in the rain and mist, it had undeniable star quality! Generally, the weather was against us as pollution levels were mostly very high, including some days described as "apocapollution" when it was suggested not to venture outside the hotel. However, a great time was had by all. It was a world class cast in a brilliant production, and everyone got on well. Many jolly meals were taken!
This autumn in Edinburgh has been one of the most beautiful in years with clear skies and glorious colours in the trees. They say winter could be hard. Time will tell.