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Wishing you a happy Chistmas


The decorations are up, it’s snowing outside, the mince pies are baked and the mulled wine poured. If that’s not enough to make one get into the Christmas spirit, I’ve even come down with a festive cold to really get me in the mood. All these things can mean only one thing, it’s time to put on some Christmas tunes, dust off the laptop, rummage through the digital photo album and try to recall the Sparey family highlights of 2010.

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is in c h arge .

D JAN 2010

Andrew ha

Emily knows exactly who

making r Cake e h f f le so gle Pigg r show ew’s Ig Heathe r d n A y with master e ay Cak Birthd

s develo ped a t aste fo r hittin g thing s h ard.. .

week One

: ny. ) Gran h t i w ll rnwa n Co i y a s holid


After seven long years at our old church we came to the conclusion that it was time to move on. It was with sadness that we left friends behind but as we looked to the future we found the burdens were lifted from us and the search for a new church began. Since there is no independent church sales room full of helpful church dealers, and I couldn’t find a ‘Which Church magazine’ at Tesco, we decided the best approach would be to spend a few weeks taking each church for a test drive. Actually, a year on and our first test drive has turned into full blown ownership. New Life Church seems to be a perfect fit for us, comfortable seats, great music system and a drive that seems to be going somewhere.


oy m enj E d n h a e b at Drew in th g n i splash

Summ er Fun at Nan and G ny randad ’s old h ouse

DINNER Why Andrew is wea and a wellington boo

I’m sure many of you will understand what it’s like when one’s wife gets an idea that won’t go away. Last year she decided that the house was in need of a makeover. So being the caring sort of husband I started decorating the lounge. Finally this year I completed the stairs and landing. I admit decorating makes me grumpy. I hate the preparation, I hate the painting, and most of all I hate clearing up the mess at the end of the job. It’s a good job that I sent Heather and the kids off while I carried out the renovations, because when I’m balanced up a very tall and wobbly ladder, slapping paint all over the stairs I’m at my grumpiest. Well, here I am balanced at the top of a ladder when the

R TIME aring his sister ’s shoe ot we will never know.

door bell rings. I knew it would be touch and go, if I could descend the ladder of death and reach the door in time. It was only as I opened the door that I realised in my rushing to get there I had made a rather big error of judgment. The lady on the other side of the door was greeted by a man covered from head to toe in white paint speckles and wearing just his boxers, (thankfully they were a good pair). Like I say I hate decorating and now only months after completion I’m beginning to notice the appearance of little scuffs and finger prints. I fear it won’t be long before that nagging voice returns again.

A rare occasion when the girls show some affection for each other.

Having children means that at some point, your offspring will make a friend, and that friend will inevitably invite your offspring to a birthday party. Somehow, Heather managed to convince me that it would be a good idea if I took the girls to this birthday party, in order to socialise with some other parents. It’s a Saturday afternoon, I would be quite happy sat at home with a nice cup of coffee and the TV remote, but because I’m a dad, and my wife seems to be pretty good at getting me to do things I really don’t want to do, I find myself in a room full of over excited children high on sugar and apparently the only rule on the bouncy castle is I’m not allowed on it. Looking around I see I’m not the only dad whose drawn the short straw, however judging by the football tops they were wearing the chances of holding a conversation with them looked unlikely. Even if I could find a common topic or interest, the chances of hearing them over the din the children were making would be unlikely at best. Still, at least I had the free buffet to look forward to, judging by the sounds my stomach was making I was ready for it! As we moved into the next room it became apparent I would not

be partaking in this dining experience. Instead I would be spectating from the sidelines whilst trying to encourage Emily and Jessica not to mix their sandwiches and crisps with the bowls of jelly and ice-cream. The reality hit me on the way home, the word ‘dad’ really means glorified taxi driver and I am only at the beginning of this exhausting journey.


Emily blowing bubbles by the canal

Jessica on

a photo w alk with D addy.

en ld wh it’s co w o n les... You k ee icic you s

After months of careful pre paration. Andrew and his cousin, Isaac finally see their chance and make a run for it.


Heather and I have both reached a life mile stone this year. It seems that turning 30 flicks some kind of ‘uncool’ switch in your brain, it’s ok to listen to Radio 2 and enjoy it, or wear your pyjamas whilst you take out the bin. Actually, I might wait till I’m forty before I try that but you get the idea, at 30 you stop worrying about what other people think of you. In order to celebrate this momentous occasion, we both decided that a walking holiday would be the perfect break. We farmed the children out to Heather’s Mum and Dad which gave us a much needed rest from the daily grind, and the opportunity to focus on ourselves. It’s unfortunate that 4 years of being woken up at a ridiculous time each and every morning has played havoc with our body clocks therefore, any attempt at a decent lie-in resulted in us being wide awake before 7:30 every morning. Still, the guest house we stayed at was excellent, and despite the less than perfect weather the holiday didn’t disappoint.


Heather stood still just long enough for me to grab this shot.

Because I’m worth it!

This year we took our main holiday in the Lake District, two weeks of glorious British weather sleeping under canvas. For those of you who can recall our letter from last year, you will of course remember the tragic and untimely end our tent came to. The positive outcome was it meant we could go tent shopping. We thought it would be a good idea to practice setting up our new tent before we arrived at the campsite, that way we could check that we had all the pieces and be able to erect our tent with the precision of a military crack team that would undoubtedly impress all the other campers. The problem was that in all the excitement we had opted for a tent that was far too big for our garden, so the only option was to make use of a field. So one windy afternoon we marched across a field dragging various tent bags behind us. Half an hour in, our construction efforts had obviously attracted the attention of one of the neighbourhood watch brigade who had mistaken us for a group of gypsy's and rang the farmer whose field it was. It wasn’t long before a Land Rover turned up and out stepped an angry red faced farmer. In my attempt to diffuse the situation we declared our half erected tent a success and proceed to dismantle it and hastily stuff it back into the assorted tent bags. plays Emily blues oody the m ddling ew pa any Andr the m f o e in on lakes

amp at C t s a f k Brea

Crummock Wa

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ater Jul 2010

Evening cards on the campsit e.

le at An Owl Eag

Castle. Muncaster

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ad Jessic d n ly a ool Emi r sch o f y read


SE NOV 2010

After the holidays it was time for Emily and Jessica to take their first steps of Independence, and start the first day of the rest of their working life. So, driving our much loved 6 year old Corolla past the school, I checked out what the other parents were driving. Range Rovers and Land Rovers littered the road. If it wasn’t for the odd spattering of German saloon you could have easily mistaken this for a 4x4 convention! I’m sure the 4x4 fans were secretly laughing among themselves as we gingerly edged forwards scraping the bottom of the car as it went up a steep grass verge at the side of the road which was the only space these ‘off-road’ parents weren't hogging. There were no tears as the girls waved goodbye and headed into the classroom, in fact I think Andrew was overjoyed to be rid of them, boy was he in for a disappointment when we returned to picked them up at 3.30.

Andrew checks out his portrait in the Snapixel magazine.

One of the joys of the weekend is trying to keep the children entertained and stop them from killing each other. We have discovered through much trial and error the best plan is to tire them out to a point where they don’t have enough energy to fight. Bring on the Sparey family weekend outing, this usually involves us piling into the car and driving to one of the local National Trust properties. We often find the gardens full of retired people and photographers and while I look at the photographers green eyed, I remember that while I might not have time to take photos I am blessed with children who are currently trying to jump into a pond, or throw gravel at passing visitors and that's why my camera is safely stored in it’s case at home.

rew And & y mm k Mu droc anhy L @

Little Moreton Hall


Sometimes if I have been really good Heather does let me take my camera, and I can immerse myself in the art of photography, while she concentrates on wearing the children out.

Summer day at Biddulph

at osing P y l i Em lph Biddu

ers at Flow lph Biddu

Andrew make


s the m ost of gravity

p in uggles u Jessica s


her duv


When we eventually drag the tired children back to car and get them home they seem quite happy to sit and watch TV. When I was a child there were 4 channels and most of time they were rubbish. Now a parent can sit their square eyed child in front of the TV 24/7 and have a choice of 100’s of children's programs that beam directly down, in high definition, from a satellite orbiting 22,223 miles above our house. My children now know all the jingles and catch-lines of nearly every advert and as a result if we were to write out the list of demands that they want to send to Father Christmas it would probably reach from our house to the North Pole.

TV May 2010

So 2010 has come and gone, and I can barely remember most of it, but one thing I’m reminded of every day is being a dad is one of the hardest yet rewarding jobs in world and despite my complaints I’m so glad I’ve got a loving family to share my life with. The only thing left to do before I refill my glass and devour another of Mrs S’s superb mince pies is to wish you all a happy Christmas and a prosperous 2011.

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long till Chri stm

as now

lper little he Santa’ s

Emily & Jessica in their first school Christmas play

e th th lays wi p a ic s Jes ts. puppe r e g in f

y nativit

advent breakf

fast dec 2010

2010 Christmas Letter  

2010 Sparey Christmas Letter. All images and Content © 2010 copyright Richard Sparey