Christmas Newsletter for 2004

from Colin and Elizabeth Hicks

Each year we send out a Christmas Newsletter to family and friends.
The text below is a slightly edited version of our Christmas 2004 Newsletter.

Joshua on 21 Nov 2004
Joshua James Carpenter
born 20 April 2004

Joshua is our third grandchild and a second child for James and Joanna.
This photo was taken on
21 November 2004.

Miriam, Joshua and Jasper on 21 Nov 2004
Miriam, Joshua and Jasper
on 21 November 2004

Travelling Europe!

Colin and Elizabeth spent Easter in Florence where they saw, at close range, the incredible spectacle of the "exploding cart" ("Scoppio del Carro"). Every Easter Sunday morning this is exploded in a firework display started by a model dove which is propelled by a rocket along a wire from the Cathedral's altar towards the cart. Strange as it sounds, this has been happening every Easter Sunday for hundreds of years - and is now attended each year by thousands of tourists. During this visit, we spent a day in Pisa admiring the leaning tower from a respectful distance.

In June, during half-term week, Colin was due to attend a work meeting in Paris, so Elizabeth, Rachel and Jasper went with him. Among other fresh experiences, Jasper went up to the very top of the Eiffel Tower and sailed a boat on the Tuilleries Pond - fulfilling one of Elizabeth's dreams to be able to do that with a small child.

In August we rented a house for a week in the same village north-east of Angouleme in which Richard and Rachel have bought their house (see below). It was a real family holiday with a dozen or so in the house -including all our children and grandchildren, plus James' parents (Robert and Gwyneth Carpenter) and Elizabeth's sister (Heather). We also had some friends from church in our party of a dozen or more. Only James (who was in Australia) was not with us. It was the best house we have had in five years of spending a summer holiday in France.

At the end of August, we went on another family trip to a small town in the middle of Sweden called Leksand for the wedding of a good family friend, Katarina. She had spent a year with us in Teddington when our daughters were teenagers. We had a wonderful time in Leksand - Jasper really enjoyed showing off the canoeing skills which he had learnt during our French holiday. Seven years ago we went to another wedding in Leksand - that of Marit and Oyvind. It was lovely to meet up with them again and to be introduced to their children. Rachel could not get over how pretty the countryside was and Elizabeth got another wish fulfilled when we all visited Carl Larsson's house in idyllic weather. (Celebrated Swedish painter of the ilk of William Morris)

Mars Express
Mars Express
At Home

Colin is now in his sixth year as Director General of the British National Space Centre (BNSC). The failure to receive a signal from Beagle 2 on the surface of Mars cast a long shadow over last Christmas when Colin spent much of the holiday season at press conferences. Despite several official inquiries, we still don't know what went wrong and probably never will. But Mars Express (and other missions with UK involvement) have produced remarkable results even as Beagle 2 failed to communicate, so it has been a year of successes to offset that disappointment.

Hicks family in September 2004
Above from left:
Jasper, Colin, Joshua, Elizabeth
James, Miriam, Joanna
Rachel and Richard

in September 2004

We hope that this year's Christmas space spectacular will be more successful than Beagle 2. The Huygens probe will separate from the Cassini mother ship on Christmas Day 2004 and it should descend into the atmosphere of Titan (a moon of Saturn) on 14 January 2005.

Colin's work has taken him all over the world again this year. Destinations outside Europe have included Canada, China, Japan, and South Africa - sadly usually having to fly in and out each time without much time to look around. However, in Japan he managed to meet up with our good friend Peter Jamieson who is there teaching English as a foreign language.

Elizabeth goes over to Beckenham, the other side of London, to look after Miriam and Joshua one day a week combining that with teaching at Chase Bridge School and some private tuition.

In addition to the birth of Joshua we had two other family celebrations this last year: Elizabeth's Dad was 90 in March and Colin's Mum was 80 in September.

Our Church has had a major redevelopment project during the year (Feb-Nov). Having been re-elected to the Leadership Team, Elizabeth has helped oversee the development and particularly the outfitting and furnishing - a big responsibility but fun.

Colin completed his term as chair of the Board of Directors of the London Baptist Association (LBA) in September but continues as a Board member. He still runs a number of websites including the LBA website which now has between one and two hundred visitors each day.

Miriam on 15 Sept 2004
Miriam on 15 September 2004
Joanna, James, Miriam & Joshua

Joshua - our third grandchild - was born on 20 April 2004 and is a bouncy and cheerful little boy who is looked after with great love and care by his elder sister, Miriam, as well as by his parents, Joanna and James. For more photos of Joshua click here.

Joanna has been on maternity leave from the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) since April. She has kept her hand in with some private tutoring (chemistry, German, maths) and doing a German course at Die Goethe Institut in London.

Miriam will be 4 in January 2005. No-one is in any doubt now that she is a little girl - she is growing her hair and has pigtails which reach to her shoulders (see photo). She is also full of chatter - with animated gestures which become even more animated if you wave your arms back at her. For more photos of Miriam click here.

James spent much of July attending an international conference in Australia and doing some research there with colleagues.

Click to see Colin and Elizabeth's eChristmas Card to You!

Jasper in June 2003
Jasper in October 2004
Richard, Rachel & Jasper

Richard and Rachel are renovating the French house they bought last year. They have been out to the village several times to supervise plumbers, builders and roofers. Colin and Elizabeth hope it will be ready for their retirement - i.e. by summer 2006.

Rachel is still working part-time at a local sixth form college helping students with language and other learning difficulties.

Jasper is 7, reading fluently, and interested in everything about the natural world (although he still wonders why Colin seems so interested in rockets). Jasper was delighted when in late August the Evans' family finally acquired the puppy for which he had been longing. Sophie, a Yellow Labrador, is quickly becoming an extra member of our extended family. For more photos of Jasper click here.

e-mail and website addresses

e-mail to Colin:
e-mail to Elizabeth:

Colinís web sites:
Colinís office e-mail:
Colinís office web site:

e-mail to Richard and Rachel:

e-mail to James:
e-mail to Joanna at home: