reception: Back at Ditton Corner, the winter has started early
Back in Our Corner
After three years in United States, we moved back to England in
the summer to resume life in Cambridge. Our farewells were sad, but it is good
to be back home.
Perfect timing! Just unpacking the shorts and
sunglasses when the scientists discover that the Gulf Stream is switching
off and that Northern Europe is about to turn into Newfoundland. Certainly
feels like it. We miss that California weather.
farewell to our view across San Francisco
For us, 2005 was a year of two halves, changing ends at
half time. The first six months were our last six months in the States - a
rapid round of sightseeing and dream fulfillment, including skiing at Tahoe,
trekking at Point Reyes, and a high point of surfing in Hawaii at Xmas.
And of course, all those last minute trips to
photograph the Californian buildings for Helen’s book.
We missed New Orleans...
As we got busy in the New Year we shelved our plans to
visit New Orleans for Mardi Gras. Never mind, we thought, it’ll still be
there for a trip in the future. Oops. It vanished under the waves of
Hurricane Katrina only months later.
...but Katrina didn’t
Actually Andrew got to visit and pick his way through
the debris later in the year, as part of the disaster reconnaissance, but by
then it wasn’t the New Orleans we had pictured.
Somehow in just three years we had forgotten how
painful a transatlantic move is. There was all the packing and selling up of
the entire contents of the house, cars, bikes, TVs – how did we acquire so
much stuff? Just a container load left to ship home.
Home again, home again, jigitty-jig
Its merely taken us the second half of the year to
unpack and settle back in to our house. New schools, new cars, old friends,
old habits. Seems strange but comfortably familiar. We’ve traded NPR for
Radio 4, The Giants for Man United, and i880 for the 8.15 to Kings Cross.
And of course, now we’re busy planning our next vacation in California.
rains in California - except when we’d hired a convertible for our last
Bidding our Californian
friends farewell at a party for Helen’s birthday. Magicians and all.
The expensive magician made all
our money disappear, but we had fun saying farewell to our Californian
friends before we vanished ourselves.
May and June was
just one giddy round of parties. A ‘Farewell’ here, a ‘Welcome Back’ there.
The dinner-dance in the Highlands Country Club was only spoiled by Dad
playing air-guitar on the dance floor.
Most of the
eighth graders showed us how Green Day should be appreciated. Many thanks to
all who came to celebrate our extradition. Note that we got well clear
before the Americans started their traditional July 4 celebration of
limey-culling. So long and thanks for all the fish!
admiring the hats on the bank
A groveling apology to those who ‘noted the date’ in
this Gazette last year and came to the Bumps party a week early. Yes we got
it horribly wrong when the University Boat Club switched the week. Those who
ignored our information and came on the right day had a scorching hot day
watching scorching Caius keep everyone at bay.
Note the Date!
2006 Bumps & Carnage
will be on
Saturday 17 June 2006
No honestly we’re
really sure this time...
slopes of Squaw Valley at Lake Tahoe
Trouble on the Piste
A few days skiing on the slopes of Lake Tahoe with
Uncle Ian and Aunty Jane and then nine months recuperating from the knee
injury. Poor Helen’s ambitious slalom on the black run (!) did for her
anterior cruciate ligament and had her in a leg brace for several months.
Apart from that Mrs Lincoln, as they say, it was great fun. Henry took to it
quickly on his first time on the slopes. Helen shouldn’t have been trying to
keep up with him.
We were sad to lose Sue Gray, longtime assistant at Cambridge Architectural
Research, when she lost her long struggle with cancer in November.
If God had
intended Englishmen to wear Hawaian shorts he would have given them legs.
Hawaii Sleigh Bells
on the beach
Christmas dinner after scuba diving is a real treat.
Our trip to Maui with the extended family saw us soaking up the rays and
catching the waves with the best of them. Apart from sun, sea and sand we
also drove up to the rim of the amazing Haleakala volcano, and snorkled with
the giant turtles through the coral reefs.
Alice & Nick scuba diving on Maui on Christmas Day
Henry and Alice catch a wave
Andrew’s birthday was celebrated with Mai-Tais and hula
skirts, and then it was down to the beach to try our hands at surfing. OK
its not as easy as it looks, but the youngsters seemed to get the hang of it
pretty quickly. The older guys just hung out on the beach getting whistled
at by the chicks, or was that the faint sound of laughter we could hear?
the great wine lakes of Vienna
Team Co-locates in Vienna
The Shrinking City project coordinates international
researchers looking at planning issues in urban areas in decline. Helen is
researching the urban energy implications. The group was established at
Berkeley, and has regular web-based meetings spanning several continents.
Occasionally they all get into the same time zone for a face-to-face
meeting, such as the annual congress of the Association of European Schools
of Planning in Vienna.
panels used as architectural features on a Santa Monica studio apartment
Buildings in California
Helen continues her investigations into low-energy
architecture in California for publication by Taylor and Chapman next year,
using 12 recent buildings as case studies. Technology tends to eclipse
design for energy-efficient solutions in California, but some useful lessons
can be drawn. There are also parallels with the collaborative project Helen
set up on Large Scale Building-Integrated Photovoltaics, now into its fourth
year at CAR.
in New Orleans, and a repaired Superdome, surveyed from a downtown rooftop.
Katrina Tops Off A
Record Catastrophe Season
A record number of
hurricanes, the New Orleans flood, tsunami, quake and an impending flu
pandemic gave RMS a busy year
This year’s hurricane season was a belter. Hot seas
spawned more and stronger hurricanes than usual. They ran out of names, and
hurricanes were still forming in December.
Katrina And The Waves
And then there was Katrina. RMS estimated it caused the
biggest insurance loss in history at $40 to $60 billion. Its clients
scrambled to assess their own losses and RMS’s phones never stopped ringing.
The New Orleans flood hit the headlines as 100,000 people were stranded in
the waters. Andrew put together the RMS report on Katrina and joined a
client team assessing damage in New Orleans. The destruction is on an
unbelievable scale and will take many years to rebuild.
Tsunami and Quake
Other catastrophes also broke records: last Boxing Day
was the Indian Ocean tsunami that killed 280,000 - the dealiest tsunami
ever. In October the Pakistan earthquake killed 73,000 in an area close to
Andrew’s fieldwork in the 1980s. The winter looks bleak for the 350,000
survivors who are without shelter above the snowline. Both of these events
have involved RMS in research and publications about risk of other
Red Cross Aid
RMS also contributes to disaster charity, and this year
marked a record corporate contribution.
Terrorism Risk Insurance Act
Other areas of risk management have also hotted up this
year. U.S. legislation to backstop terrorism insurance is in its final year,
and RMS has been centrally involved in the debate about potential renewal.
Andrew was the author of an RMS whitepaper analyzing the bill, that was
The RMS business continued to grow rapidly, with strong
demand for models and services for risk management. In July, RMS won the
‘Risk Modelling Agency of the Year’ award from Reactions magazine, citing
the TRIA contribution and production of new models, like the Global
Emerging risks with the potential for catastrophic loss
are currently being researched. Recent work has involved modeling the risk
of pandemic influenza. No doubt next year will bring more challenges but
fingers crossed for fewer big Cats.
London Bombing 7/7
on the Northern Line
Andrew took his role as Director of Terrorism Research
a bit too seriously, standing on the Northern Line platform at Kings Cross
when one of the bombs went off on the Piccadilly Line several platforms
away. Evacuated from the station, he spent the day doing roll-call in the
office and fielding press interviews, before he gratefully returned to his
graduates from Bentley Middle School in California
Blazers and badges return
Back into Uniform
American school system for British, Alice and Henry had to make a few
Alice (14) completed her eighth grade and Henry (11)
finished fourth grade at Bentley school before heading back to UK. Alice saw
friends disperse to various High Schools after graduation, as she headed off
to her new school, Perse Girls in Cambridge, to start her GCSEs.
A big difference in style (none of those distracting
boys, for one thing) but she enjoys the academic focus, and relished a Paris
trip on textiles in her first term. Judo is a hit, and it’s not true that
studying the Russian Revolution has made her all bolshie.
Henry underwent Britification a little more radically,
losing his rat-tail hairstyle, gradually adapting his accent and forgoing
From Minuteman to Red Coat
He switched the colonialist mufty for a red uniform to
return to St. John’s College School. He traded baseball for rugby, Spanish
for French, and Presidents for Kings. The school has helped him re-acclimatise,
with a role as a Dickensian urchin (“Gor Blimey Governor!”) at the Victorian
fair, and some good old Latin vocab. New school friends, old school friends
- all just an email away.
flanked by editors Vanessa & Kelly
Henry’s Public Reading
Cody's Bookstore, Berkeley, hosts readings and special
author events. Henry was one of several invited to read their contribution
to The Dayton Tribune created and edited by Vanessa Thill and Kelly Reed.
Naturally this was followed by the authors signing copies.
Henry hefting the 600-pager
Two fans were there for the release of Harry Potter VI
at midnight on July 15. Their verdict? “No great imaginative leaps in this
one, like the earlier books. She’s cruising, but hopefully she’ll resolve
all the loose plot lines in the last volume.” Was it worth staying up till
Henry’s invention of a self-operated back-scratching
machine was exhibited at a school show. Order yours online at the Coburn
family website www.dittoncorner.com...
homage to King Kong before Peter Jackson did it
Our summer project was a short movie, The Making of
Monster Island, starring Henry, Alice and a cast of friends and family.
Thanks to Bill and Max Thompson for their production and acting skills! And
to the scriptwriting team, make-up, Best Gaffer, Dolly Pull Grip, etc...
Critics raved over Alice’s Valley Girl heroine, and Helen won acclaim as
angst-ridden Erica. No Monkeys!!!
sock-monster claims another victim. Lavish special effects in the summer
Critic Bill hosts at BVSH HOVSE
Watching the Radio
Go Digital is a cutting edge radio show about
technology on the BBC World Service, hosted by ‘contraversialist’ Bill
Thompson. What better day out for Grandma Edna’s birthday treat, than
visiting the BBC to watch Bill doing his shock-jock stuff.
Cheshire Cat Productions 2005