Christmas letter 2019


We went to NZ early in January for a long holiday, staying with Jo and Kane for a bit before canoeing for a few days down the Whanganui River with a guide who cooked for us and set up our tents.  Then we met up with Jo and Kane in New Plymouth where we spent a long weekend.  Shortly after our return we flew to Dunedin where we were booked in at a backpackers hostel.  The street art there is stunning and we enjoyed our stay there.  Our next adventure was the Otago Rail Trail, a 5-day cycling adventure staying in bed and breakfast accommodation.   When we returned to Dunedin we hired a car and drove south exploring the east coast, Stewart Island and finishing off with trips in Doubtful and Milford Sounds and a short stay in Queenstown.  We stopped off in Melbourne on the way home, stopping with friends from Bill’s Cape Town days, Garth and Evelyn.  They took us to a campsite in Bright in the mountains where we had a few days.  Sue discovered she was suffering from shingles and became quite ill on our return to the UK towards the end of March.

Sue’s daughter Carla had a little girl, Everly, on April 7th and even though Sue was not well we trained down to London to see her, staying with Ros over Bill’s 75th birthday.  Rather than go straight home we caught the train to Rugby and stayed with Dougal and Jo for a long weekend treat with Alisa and her children.  Next was a trip to Bingley to meet with Tom, Sue’s father, and Les and Alex.  We flew straight from there to Corfu on May 1st, spending a fortnight on yacht Pernol with owners David and Viola in the Ionian Sea.  On our return to Bingley we celebrated Les and Alex’s 60th and Tom’s 90th birthdays with a Eurovision Party.  Rushing back home after that to pack ready for our next adventure, a trip over Whitsun with the rowing club to Morbian, Brittany, to a week long celebration of boating.  We stopped in a caravan and joined the other 2k boats sailing (rowing) between various ports in the Gulf de Morbian.

Friends, David and Clare, came and stayed for a few days shortly after our return.  Then in mid-June we drove to Portsmouth to stay with friends David and Viola who took us a day or so later to Southampton to our cruise ship, Marco Polo, where we met up with the other 7 in our party who were accompanying us on our trip to the Faroes and round Iceland.  We were back home for a couple of days before setting off again for London early inJuly where we spent a week with Ros, helping out by looking after Everly, and have a day at Wimbledon.   Back home we enjoyed playing tennis, table tennis, swimming off our beach and rowing (coxing in Bill’s case).  We had a couple of barbecues on the beach and Mike and Jo came to stay early in August.  We had an open week at home from 9th August.  Sue had cooked great quantities of food in anticipation and we had visits from Di, Mel, Heather, Willow, Frazier, Alisa, Amelia, Austin, Carla, Lorcan, Everly, Les, Alex, Tom, James, Kim, David and managed a walk in Snowdonia and lots of trips to the beach, the children’s playground and local coffee shops.

Life calmed down a bit after that and we enjoyed our regular routines and rowing in various regattas.  Sue also won her third Great London Race.  We harvested lots from the garden, blackberries from the hedges and broad beans and blew berries from our friend’s, Pippa and Godfrey, garden.  They also supplied us with enough logs for our log burner to last through the winter.

Then it hotted up again as Sue spent 8 days in London helping look after Everly when her father, Lorcan, was away in Madrid with the Davis Cup team and Jo had her second child, Alana, so we came again to Auckland, as we are now for a couple of months, to help out.  We fitted in a trip to Market Harborough and another to Bingley with a few days on the canal to say our farewells before we flew here on 3rd December.

Our health is good again after Bill’s scare last year with his heart and Sue’s shingles and a nasty cyst on her eye.

Dougal and family continue to thrive and Gabriel is in his first year at uni.  Alisa has had a tough year and is now divorced.  She had to live with her two children at her mothers for most of the year until now as relations with Richard were so bad.  They still have issues to sort out but now the 3 of them are back in Madeley we hope things will improve.  James still has to deal with the erratic and vindictive behaviour of his ex, Rachel.  But he now has a permanent place to live and we hope things will start to get easier for him and more settled for Emily.  Nicola has also had it hard, still struggling with her fistula problem and having had yet another operation and several trips to hospital.

So a busy, fun year with 2 new grandchildren and worries over some of our offspring