It’s been a year. Featuring a lot of music (but never enough), growing boys at home, a new car, one trip up a mountain and one around the world. No partridge, no pear tree.

In May I reworked this site and resurrected its blog, so the simplest way to survey the year is to look at its archive. Watching the post frequency gives a fairly accurate picture of the year: an optimistic and energetic start, then summer breaks the cadence, and then titles like “weak notes” and “weaker notes” start appearing. In September I caught covid and damaged my ribs, and my recovery from that double whammy took months and months and months (arguably I’m still not back to full strength).

Some high points along the way:

  • The year began with a family trip to New Zealand: very little sightseeing and very much people-seeing, which is how we like it. And we brought home quite frankly ridiculous amounts of beautiful handcrafts.
  • Early in the year we had a visit from some dear friends from Amsterdam, which was delightful.
  • In May, as I mentioned, I got this blog running again.
  • Also in May we adopted a kitten, Ares, who I found yowling in an olive tree. We loved him very much, but one day he abruptly stopped being around. We don’t know if a dog got him, or a car, or poison, or what. But at least while he was with us he had a good life, comfortable and with lots of cuddles.
  • In June the winners of the European Statistics Competition were announced, and the students that Olga mentored took the first prize in the age 14-16 category.
  • Portitsa Festival was a wonderful week of music.
  • In September Manu and I climbed Mt Olympus. This was however also the trip where I damaged my ribs and the following week I came down with covid: the high points are harder to find after that.


The boys are getting more serious about music: both are enthusiastically playing piano, and Manu is making good progress on guitar as well. We’ve discovered the benefits of headphones, both for focused practising and for listening to whatever the latest enthusiasm is on constant repeat without driving everyone else up the wall.

This year I, too, got more serious about Irish music, learning tunes for a monthly session and by the end of the year also playing regular gigs with a small band. I’m playing mandola, and eyeing sidelong the possibilities of Irish bouzouki and tenor banjo.

We have a new car, which is convenient for two reasons: it’s much more pleasant to drive than the old one (both because it’s smaller and because car technology has moved on a bit in the last fifteen years), but since we kept both we’re now also able to move independently, when Olga has an evening appointment and the boys need taking to athletics and I’ve got a band practise.

Speaking of which: they’re reaching the age where we spend incredible amounts of time driving them all over the place. We overdid it slightly for Manu and have had to cut back a little, but they’re still doing music lessons, athletics, and ping pong: it’s a lot of running around! Their time at home is roughly evenly split between football and lego.


I read around 70 books this year. Not many of them made a particular impression, which is slightly alarming.

  • Babel by R.F. Kuang has a particularly brilliant literalised metaphor.
  • Chain-Gang All-Stars by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah is brutal and ridiculously over-the-top, but the footnotes relentlessly remind you that reality is uncomfortably close to the satire.
  • Naomi Novik’s Scholomance trilogy was plenty fun.
  • The Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner is exuberant and joyful and was just what I needed when I had to spend a lot of time in bed.
  • Menewood by Nicola Griffith is a fine sequel to Hild.
  • Most recently The Dawn of Everything by David Graeber and David Wengrow was fascinating about early human history.

I did a lot of comfortable (re)reading: old favourites like Blindsight and Echopraxia (Peter Watts) and Tamsyn Muir’s Locked Tomb whose challenges I know back-to-front, and authors who choose not to challenge as much, like Naomi Novik, Ann Leckie, Nick Harkaway. I enjoy them! But there’s no The Blazing World or Rats and Gargoyles or Too Like the Lightning among them. Perhaps I should re-read The Gone-Away World.


Standout discovery of this year is Hazelius Hedin, in particular the album Sunnan and in particular the track Krivo Polska.

Second standout discovery is Turn Signal by Eric Harland, from the album Voyager: live by night. When Marijn and Anna first played this for me we reached the transition-moment when the cross-rhythms kick off and I swore, loudly and enthusiastically: I’ve stopped swearing at it but honestly the effect is still much the same, it’s only that I know to expect it.

Also much enjoyed this year: Ale Carr (Swedish, cittern), Louis Bingham (English, fretted-string multi-instrumentalist), Tijn Berends (Dutch, Irish bouzouki and harmonica). Wayward Jane is a recent discovery.


Not much this year. A few photographs. Perhaps more next year?