Looking back at 2017

Joshua (then 8), Snowy Jr. (rabbit) with Isaac (6) and Reuben (then 8) on the Queensferry Crossing, Saturday 2 September 2017.
Joshua (then 8), Snowy Jr. (rabbit) with Isaac (6) and Reuben (then 8) on the Queensferry Crossing, Saturday 2 September 2017

My Christmas letter for 2017.

Hello! How are you? I hope you’ve had a good 2017 amidst the craziness and uncertainty of the world around us. I hope that you’ve had more than a few moments of joy and happiness and laughter.

This year has been a tough one for me, especially my health. From March through June I was signed off work suffering from pneumonia. I was burned out and came down with a handful of infections that my body was unable to fight on its own. After a late phased-return in August/September I went off again at the end of September when it became clear that I still had pneumonia. (That would explain the breathlessness, exhaustion and near-constant headaches then!)

I’m back to work now, and feeling much, much better. I just need to get fit again and lose a lot of weight. One positive thing that came out of this year was my learning to sleep properly again. My sleep has been disturbed for a decade or more. I’m learning just how important sleep is, and how much more I now get done because I’m rested and feeling fresher. Who knew?!

I had to move flat in early June (while still off sick) as Agnes Blackadder Hall is undertaking an extension programme and my format flat is scheduled for demolition. The extension should open in August 2018.

This year was also the year that the formal legal proceedings began on the divorce. Since February I have been represented by Rollos Law LLP in St Andrews (who offer a handsome discount to University of St Andrews staff). At the end of November I signed the final Minute of Agreement, two years since our formal separation. Next step is for Jane to formally file for divorce, and for me to sign over my half of the house to her [this has now been done]. It has been an emotional and at times frustrating process, but I’ll get there; wherever there is.

The hardest part remains living apart from my children. Reuben, Joshua and Isaac are doing well, though, and I thankfully get to see them regularly. We spend most weekends together, and enjoy a lot of fun and laughter. Isaac enjoys a game of Carcassonne most weekends, and Reuben challenges me to chess regularly.

In September the four of us took part in the historic walk across the new Queensferry Crossing, the new road bridge that crosses the Firth of Forth. Jane’s nursing shifts changed and so I went in her place.

I welcomed a number of visitors throughout the year. Jonathan Coore (former flatmate in London, and fellow NYCGB alumnus) and his son Felix—my godson—visited in mid-February. Later that month I met up with three friends from my university days here, Jewels, Jules and Richard, when they enjoyed a few days again in the ancient town. Danny Curtis (another NYCGB alumnus) visited from Manchester for a few days in July, as did a cousin from San Francisco who was looking at Scottish universities. And I welcomed Mum three times this year.

And that, in a nutshell, is where I’m at. It’s been hard but I’m still happy and trying to live simply and faithfully. How about you? What is your news?

Feel free to get in touch or come visit.

In the meantime, I hope you have a blessed Christmas, a wonderful new year and that 2018 is a good year for you.

Published by

Gareth Saunders

I’m Gareth J M Saunders, 46 years old, 6′ 4″, father of 3 boys (including twins). Latterly, web architect and agile project manager at the University of St Andrews and warden at Agnes Blackadder Hall. Currently on sabbatical. I am a priest in the Scottish Episcopal Church, and I sing with the NYCGB alumni choir.

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