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And we've reached that time of year again, when I begin recalling in my mind the events which made up 2018. It has become a bit of a juggling act, as it seems that this A4 page gets smaller with every passing year... I could probably fill ten such pages on the events of one week alone. And as I try to single out the highlights of the year, my trip to Scotland stands out as one of the most prominent. Visiting Ricky and Valeria was reassuring for me, it was something I needed to do. Seeing how settled they are in their Deco style home in the suburbs of Glasgow and meeting Alfie, their hunk of a Maine Coon who can be found sitting on his cat perch, staring out of their third-floor living room window as toying birds tease him as they fly by. They have created a warm, loving home and are both very happy. Also meeting Ricky's colleagues at Paesano Pizza was an absolute pleasure as they have taken full credit for his ability to now communicate in a strong Neapolitan dialect. Our time in Edinburgh, visiting the castle and doing the whisky tour was educational! And then there was the game at Old Trafford, followed by an evening out with dinner and drinks in the bustling city of Manchester. And there was more, like the symphony concert which Valeria treated us to. Lunch of oysters and scallops at Loch Fyne.... Visits to the museums and the art galleries, and of course the red bus tours. All so inspiring…. but I'll stop here, for obvious reasons. And Franco's Pizzeria turned 32, and I sometimes ask myself, "Where have the years gone?" And Frank demonstrated his charisma and charm by entertaining various very difficult municipal inspectors and officials as they honed in on Franco's. He danced their dance and talked their talk. Something which I fail dismally at, yet he does it with such patience and tolerance and I admire and thank him for that. And during the small hours of the morning his voice can be heard drifting through the stillness of the night, as he manoeuvres troops across the battlefields of Fortnite together with his sub-lieutenants Ricky (from Scotland), Agis and Saul. All this whilst our resident doctor Jay fights her own battles against sleep demons and our nocturnal and demanding cats, as she tries desperately to recharge her batteries, before another locum shift at one of the various pharmacies in our area. And besides meeting lots of interesting people and learning new systems, she also learned to make tea with just a single "doink" The lesson that came with this is from an old Irish proverb: "it's not all in the cup of tea, but it's how it's made" And Deon became a member of the 40's club and with that, he ran the Soweto marathon in what was a good time, whilst Claudia started a new business, selling advertising space and at the same time, continued her hard work with Visual8... never ever for one moment neglecting to be a super duper mom. And Olivia rewarded them in her own way by bringing home over 150 merit awards for her Grade Two year, and she also achieved her yellow belt in karate! Luca started playschool and took to it like the proverbial fish to water. Nona Tina felt the void and the absence of their time together, the gentle persuasions of trying to force-feed him and the loving banter which they share together. And this free time was filled by Tina teaching her Italian classes which she does with much love, animation and dedication, gesticulating and pronouncing the regular verbs, as well as the not-so-regular ones. And Massi became all inspired as he watched Bernie complete the 94.7 cycle race. So struck was he by her strong will and perseverance to finish the race on that excruciatingly hot day, that he has promised himself that next year he will be there with her at the starting line-up. He also took a flip over the JHB skies with Mark Jackson, and that too inspired him to get his pilot's licence. And it came to be that Massi and Bern almost moved in together. This was going to be in a lovely townhouse in Linden. It was all signed and sealed, but at the eleventh hour it fell through, due to a small/large oversight. And so with this, everything returned to what it was. And Bernie was so saddened as her baby Isabella departed for doggy heaven. With life comes death, and we all have to accept this. And back to Scotland where Ricky ran the Edinburgh half marathon in the freezing cold and on the work front, a promotion to GM of their flagship restaurant in Miller Street, Glasgow's CBD. A huge achievement in such a short space of time and this makes me very proud. And with all this added responsibility and juggling of time, he did not let a day pass without a phone call, and for this I say thanks, as it has made the distance between us just a little smaller. Thanks also to WhatsApp call for allowing us this luxury…! And so to our extended family… Scott joined us once again at Franco's after he reached another crossroad in his life. And it's good to have his cheery disposition around, as he waltzes about in what can sometimes be the stressful environment of Franco's. And with this, some of the Metal Heads in the family had the great pleasure and opportunity of seeing the ageing Guns and Roses concert. As for the rest... well, someone had to work. Next time, Massi! And as the final weeks of the year play out and we all prepare to do what pleases us most during this time of rest and joy, a thought goes out to all our dearly departed… always in our thoughts and never forgotten. And as I wish you all well, I'll leave you with this to ponder upon…. Do not resent growing old, many are denied this privilege. Peace, love and tranquillity to you all.