Merry Christmas from the Holy Land! I hope you had a wonderful time of family, friends, and the giving and receiving of beautiful gifts. Christmas this year has been the most extraordinary treat. First, we had the most incredible privilege of spending Christmas Eve at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
I'm sure for lots of you the shops have been full of Christmas decorations and gift sets for months. But it's taken a heavy duty week of Christmas (and Hanukkah!) parties here at the Residence to really start to get that Christmassy feeling.
Sometimes as I go about my everyday business it is possible to forget the significance of the place names I see around. Road signs to Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth and the Galilee are everywhere and to see them written on mere motorway road signs sometimes makes me jump.
So after bidding goodbye to our dinner guests and goodnight to our visiting delegation (who sensibly were not braving a night outside), we headed down to our garden tabernacle and settled down to sleep.
We all escaped to the mountains this weekend. We spent our days with the whole family, finding glaciers, eating delicious fresh food and admiring the mountainous view wherever we looked.
This afternoon we found ourselves walking through a cliff top nature reserve, with a beautiful view of an incredible blue sea.
This will be our last Autumn and last Winter on our current posting. We've been here four years now and I've become very used to things. But knowing that this is our last of everything means I'm seeing with fresh eyes again.
I travelled back to the UK to visit my old college in Cambridge for a reunion dinner. I was struck once more by the beauty of the place I had studied. And also by the weight of memories and a realisation of how much remained the same