Nativity 2019

6 Berne Avenue

Staffordshire ST5 2QJ
revised: 31st December 2021

Dear All

For us, 2021 is now bracketed by two sadness's and concluded just yesterday with a total tragedy. So this is a revised version of the original message, which was mostly encouraging and optimistic. But yesterday's event covers it all in an unavoidable pall.

The major family news was the imminent arrival of the first baby of the next generation to Fiona, our granddaughter, and Adam her husband. Very sadly, the pregnancy ended in a stillbirth and so the parents, Fiona and Adam, the grandparents, Paul & Rosalind, and we, the potential great grandparents, are devastated and heart broken by the totally unexpected outcome.

It is impossible to express adequately our thoughts and feeling at this dreadful time but one thing did occur to me. Yesterday we were with Michael, my youngest son and two of my grandsons, Patricia and I deriving so much joy from their progress and happiness. Sadly poor little Edwin, the stillborn child, had nothing at all, to experience or remember. It makes me weep just to think of it.

This year began sadly with the death of my oldest brother, Frank, who died aged ninety-nine. He contracted the now rampant Corona virus in his care home and was ill for just a short time. Unfortunately, it was not prudent for us to travel down there so were unable to support his son, Alan, at the funeral. So, I am the end of an era, my parents, my two brothers and my sister are now dead, so I am firmly the next in line. Of course, Patricia, being an only child has experienced this situation ever since her parents died a little over twenty years ago. Like her, I now rely on the next two generations to carry on, which they all seem more than capable of doing.

Happily, both we and the rest of the family seem to be in good health and, indeed, positively thriving.

Felicity, the other granddaughter in Paul's family seems to be prospering, ensuring that the horses at the Redwings sanctuary are carefully looked after in their later lives. Leo, her Italian boyfriend, seems to be progressing in his studies to become a physiotherapist.

Paul himself seems to be enjoying his consulting work, helping to update the IT system for the House of Commons. An unexpected by product was the gift of a nice bottle of House of Commons wine which we shared with our friends, the Andertons, with whom we enjoying meeting up with from time to time.

About half way through the year, we met up with Paul and his wife Rosalind for a lunch near Sudbury, Rosalind seems fully engaged in looking after their two horses. One of them sadly died in the Spring but Felicity found an immediate replacement which she owns but which Rosalind looks after; an arrangement that seems to suit them both.

We have seen Stephen a couple of times this year when he visited his German firm's English subsidiary for the annual major audit. He the managing director of the subsidiary, but he spends most of his time, in Germany, sorting out the market and the problems for the firm's extensive Far Eastern endeavours. Unfortunately, the epidemic has prevented most of his normal travels to China, Japan and Korea the upside is presumably to be able to work regularly from home as most of us do.

Conny acquired two kittens which have rapidly grown into cats and on which are lavished much love and affection. She is still helping a formerly African family with their adjustment to Germany, particularly the children who have to learn in the German language.

Our youngest grandchildren, Sarah and Timothy, are in their mid-twenties and still pursuing their studies, both now in fact in Aachen. They very kindly contact us from time to time.

Michael and Nicola's life has changed completely since Mike retired early. He has undertaken to walk the South West Coast Path, together with a friend. They travel from Bristol to the subsequent stage by car, often accompanied by their wives, who don't walk, (!) and then spend for between three or four days and a week walking along the coast, often with their support team to convey the rucksacks by car. They have walked from Bristol to Land's End and then along the southern Cornish coast and, at the moment their location somewhere beyond Torbay and the Exe Estuary.

However progress is likely to slow down now since Mike and Nicky have bought a house or rather, a small mansion, in Chew Magna. Indeed they are proud owners of two large houses in the Bristol area but the original one will soon be sold. The new house is grand but, as always, there is certainly work to be done on the both the new house and its three-acre garden so there will presumably be a bit less walking.

This year they hoped to have all their boys at home for Christmas. Will, the circus administrator and juggler, was coming from Belgium with his partner who is a museum curator. Unfortunately, Will had to go straight back as he had Covid. James lives not far away near Bath with his wife, MJ, who is a dental surgeon. James is a computer coder and changed jobs at least once in order to progress in the coding world. They have a nice house in the country which we visited briefly in the summer. And Charlie was home from Calgary where he is a geological engineer, working at the moment on strengthening the soil on a large area of Northern Alberta so that they can safely store the vast quantities of mine tailings which are left when the bitumen has been extracted to provide petroleum products.

At Michael and Nicky's suggestion, we joined them all for a day or two just after Christmas. It was lovely to see them again.

We ourselves keep fit by walking locally but these are appreciably shorter walks than in the past. We sometimes walk to Seabridge and occasionally to the University. However, in recent days, we have been a bit inhibited by the mud on the paths between here and the University but we try to get out on a daily basis today we were out separately on two-mile walks round the neighbouring roads.

One walk which we wish to repeat was to the new hotel at Keele. On our single visit there, we ordered a light meal and waited. Then we were ordered out of the restaurant because of a fire alarm in the kitchen It was a lovely day in midsummer and I had remembered to pick up my beer from our table, so standing outside observing the emergency was quite a nice experience altogether.

Patricia still goes once a month to her book club at the U3A in Madeley and always has a book to read for the next meeting. This in addition to the several other books she reads during the month.

Unfortunately, my monthly meetings of the Probus club are still in abeyance. There is an effort to re-start them in the New Year, but I am doubtful if this will actually occur immediately thanks to the current spread of the omicron variant.

We have managed to have more or less regular monthly meetings of the Enquirers and had some nice discussions in Eddie Slade's grand garden and in Gordon Pearson's nice campus house. Sadly, I had to cancel the Champagne lunch which Patricia kindly gives for my birthday each year and should have been held a few days ago.

While the Munich opera was not accessible, despite our season tickets, we did get to splendid performances by Opera North at the Lowry and the Welsh National in Llandudno. While we are pretty content at home, it was lovely to be away.

We also visited Porthmadog in North Wales and took advantage of the chance to ride on the Welsh Highland Railway and also on the Ffestiniog Railway.

Other trips were an earlier visit to Michael and Nicky in Bristol, and Melanie in Kingskerswell. And we also went off to Bletchley Park for a couple of days where we also visited the National Computing Museum which is also there. Arriving at the museum late in the day, we were the sole visitors and were treated to an interesting description of their early computers.

The year, 2021, was already ending on a sombre note before the tragedy. Susan Gomme, whom we often took to the opera at the Lowry and the RNCM in Manchester since her husband Andor died, herself died recently and we were at the funeral in Astbury on Wednesday. It was a pleasure to hear about her life and meet her four children, but still a sad occasion.

This all seems enough for now so I shall wait until tomorrow morning to finish it off.

This morning is grey but clearing, so we are off on a walk together to Seabridge. So may we wish you all a very happy New Year and hope that you have had a lovely time with your families

With much love to you all.

Peter and Patricia