Eric and Clare's Christmas Letter, 2007

This year has been a lot of fun, some of which we shall this year tell you in pictures, starting with an amazing holiday in Skye with family (David, Naomi, Matt, Gerry), cousins (Jonno & James) and friends (Sarah, Ruth, David, Donella, Joanna).

Cottage where we stayed --- James, Jonno, Matt, Nim -- One of many peaks scaled.

The children are all flourishing -- Naomi training to be a speech therapist in Glasgow with her partner Jamie -- Matt in Edinburgh with partner Colin applying for training as a primary teacher -- David in transition at home applying for jobs while his dad brings him tea in bed every morning -- Andy and Cathy well settled in Cambridge where Andy is involved in many fascinating magnetic resonance imaging projects.

In the summer we headed off over Greenland glaciers

to a very relaxing time in Montana, as you can see: we floated down rivers, sat in hammocks and soaked in the hot tub at Piet Martens house where we were staying looking after their lovable dogs:

It was great to have Clare's sister Elizabeth and hubby Roger join us in Montana, as well as in a holiday in the awe-inspiring Canadian Rockies -- we stayed in the tiny village of Field in Yoho National Park, a stop on the Canadian Pacific railway just before it crosses the continental divide:

our B&B ------------- the local store + cafe

The area around Bamff and the icefields parkway heading north have absolutely stunning scenery and lakes:

At the Athabasca glacier (right) coming from the huge Columbia icefield, the effect of global warming is dramatically obvious --- it was not so much the distance by which the glacier had retreated that impressed me as the huge volume of ice that had been lost, as indicated by the height of the lateral moraine.

It was a real privilege also to watch a beaver a few feet away as he gnawed through a tree, as well as come very close indeed to a black bear picking red berries (the photo was not taken with a telephoto!):

In St Andrews, Clare continues developing her counseling and Eric has recently taken on a couple of responsibilities -- the first is as president of the town-gown St Andrews Chorus, which has an active and extremely helpful committee -- we recently sang an uncut Messiah and are now rehearsing a Rossini mass and the Verdi requiem -- the Friday evening rehearsals are a great lift to the spirit under the guidance of our superb conductor, Edward. See

The committee -------- Messiah concert

Secondly, Eric and Alan Torrance (a theologian) have been given a grant (Templeton foundation) to fund 12 public lectures on Science and Religion over 4 years. They are named after James Gregory, a 17th century St Andrews scientist who invented the 'Gregorian' telescope and helped found calculus (with Newton and Leibniz).

James Gregory ----- logo for James Gregory Public Lectures

The first lecture in the series was a brilliant one given 2 days ago by Tom Wright (Bishop of Durham) on 'Can a Scientist Believe in the Resurrection?' It is sponsored by the Scotsman newspaper and was attended by key Scottish figures such as Sally Magnusson. We were staggered that 600 people turned up. Future talks will include one on 'Islam and Science' in April and ones by scientists on many other aspects of the science-religion interaction. See

With very best wishes for the holiday and the coming year
Eric and Clare