Christmas Newsletter 2018 

6 Berne Avenue
Staffordshire ST5 2QJ

16th. December 2018

To all our friends and family

It's December, we have had just a single frost, a few flakes of snow (probably the last we shall see) and a lot of rain, so Christmas is coming and it is the opportunity to send our greetings and best wishes to you. We hope you and your family have a lovely Christmas and a good New Year.

In June, we celebrated our Diamond Wedding and had a truly happy anniversary together with many friends and nearly the whole family. It started in Garmisch-Partenkirchen where we had a celebration lunch with several German and American friends. On the day itself we had the card from the Queen, kindly arranged for us by Paul and Rosalind.

Diamond Wedding 2018Then followed a party for sixty at the Upper House in Barlaston. There were lovely tributes to us from our boys and everyone was "treated" to a thank you speech from Peter, pointing out how fortunate we have both been in our lives, our work and particularly in our friends and colleagues, and our sons and their families. There was a photographic game and finally an "entertainment" from our grandson William. He is a juggler by profession, having graduated in Business Studies from Edinburgh. However, as he had turned up with a broken ankle sustained on a Scottish mountain a day or two before, we thought the entertainment would consist of signing his leg plaster. But no – he roped in James, his brother, as his stooge and with an amazing patter, proceeded to juggle. His situation created an extra excitement among his audience but, when he (rarely) dropped anything (it is difficult to juggle when immobilised) he simply blamed his able stooge. He finished up juggling, to enthusiastic applause, with three crutches!

A couple of days later we had our neighbours round for drinks and there were other gatherings as well: the group that organise the local talking newspaper for the blind and Pat's U3A book club – so much celebration in fact that Patricia was able answer her doctor's question, in a routine medical check-up just afterwards, that during the last month she had only drunk champagne!

Our sons and their families including six of our grandchildren hosted the various tables at the Upper House and perhaps what pleased us the most was seeing the family at home with our friends. Much added excitement was provided by James and his girlfriend, MJ, who announced their engagement. She is just qualified as a dentist so they will set up home in Cornwall where she is doing her supervised practice. James is successfully engaged in computer coding in Bristol but can work from home. Also involved in IT is Sarah, his cousin, who has just completed her first year at Uni. in Frankfurt. Her brother, Timothy, is studying Maths and Economics at Uni in Cologne to where his girlfriend, Rebecca, has transferred to continue her Law studies which began in Würtzburg. That’s the advantage of the German Uni system: one can transfer without undue fuss from one Uni. to another.

Felicity is fully engaged in looking after and improving distressed horses. Part of her work is training others to do such work in the various farms owned or operated by the Redwings Horse Sanctuary. She is also in the throes of buying her own house. And Fiona's teaching of maths is going well and her husband, Adam is now a fully qualified actuary working in Bristol.

The only grandchild absent from the parties was Charlie who had just graduated in Engineering Geology from UBC and was starting a job in Calgary the following week. He called us on the day and he seems to have made a good start. Unfortunately, as the family are widely scattered, we see little of the families or the individuals. However several of them write regularly which is a great comfort.

Happily, we are still well though getting creakier and wearier. We take shorter walks now and like to go to Apedale. However we did several longer walks in Shropshire in the summer: on the Brown Clee Hills, the Stiperstones, the Wrekin and Caer Caradoc. We are very pleased to remember that the boys were on the same hills exactly fifty years ago when we first took them on late Autumn walks to get them fit for skiing and being used to being out in the cold.

Last year ended well with Conny, Stephen, Timothy and Rebecca staying with us over Christmas. Since then, we ourselves seem to have managed a number of trips and visits. We started in London, and followed up with several visits to Munich for the opera. There were a couple of excursions with Probus which included the Terracotta Warriors in Liverpool, and also with the Classical Association to see Roman remains in North Wales, and one to Huddersfield to visit a friend who has just moved there. We stayed with Mike and Nicky in Copenhagen, where Mike now works, and were taken to the opera. We were in Pangbourne where we had lunch with my ninety two year old first "boss" from Harwell and also in New Milton in Hampshire to be with my ninety seven year old brother. The ninety year olds are both reasonably fit but it doesn't seem much fun being that age. We had holidays at the opera festivals in Buxton, Llandudno and Wexford, and also one at Roseleigh Abbey on the North Yorkshire Moors. We came back the long way from Wexford, staying in Belfast with my nephew, now a retired GP, and his talented wife, an eye-surgeon who recently received a CBE for her services to medicine in Northern Ireland.

We have been reminded of our own mortality with several funerals including Rosalind's mother. Four deaths that affected us more than most were Enid's, our Bridesmaid sixty years ago who was unable to get to the diamond celebration, Georgina who was also unable to be at the party through illness, Robert Smith a "young" retired friend who was at the party but who collapsed and died a couple of weeks later, and we were also saddened to hear about Jean Gittins, a Toronto friend from Cambridge in the fifties.

Pat still goes regularly to read for the local talking newspaper for the blind and I still trudge up the hill to have lunch at the Uni. on most Mondays; I also am part of a scientific discussion group as well as attending Probus regularly. My near daily task of putting past pictures on my website continues. However the gap in the record is now less than ten years so I hope to be around long enough to complete it.

We still read a lot, both magazines and books. Pat uses Kindle to read her books but tackles magazines at close quarters with spectacles, a bright light and a magnifier. The latest book, picked up in Wexford, is "Churchill and Ireland" and I do wonder what he would have made of the current situation. To be fair, his brushes with Ireland were at times when it was a lot more dangerous than it is at the moment but it is hard to be confident that our current crew of politicians are statesman-like enough to tackle the difficulties that we and they have created.

This seems enough of us. We hope things are well with you. Once again, a very happy Christmas to you and yours.

With much love to you all.

 Patricia and Peter