LET me start by thanking you all for your support this year. Mother had a stroke on Saturday, 20th December 1997 from which she never regained consciousness and died on Sunday, 28th December. After a funeral service at St Nicolas Church she was buried with dad at Shaw Cemetery on 13th January 1998, on the same day that our curate, the Revd. Moira Astin and her husband, the Revd. Dr. Tim Astin were blessed with a daughter, Emily -- as one leaves this world, another arrives. Moira and Tim afforded tremendous comfort during the transition from life to death visiting mother in Battle Hospital almost every day.
Rather than review 1998 month by month I thought I'd try a different
approach this year and bring you up to date topic by topic, together with the odd "aside" here and there.
WHAT have I achieved this year? I suppose the biggest "break-through" has been getting Web-sites for local organisations I am involved with up and running. I am Webmaster for:
The Newbury Society which is the local civic society of which I am the Hon. Membership Administrator and Newsletter Editor.I have also been guiding 12 year old Mark Zealey the Webmaster of the St Nicolas Church site (www.st-nicolas-newbury.org). All this has been in addition to revamping my own site (www.newbury.net/robert.willis).
Newbury & District Organists' Association; I am not a player but an enthusiast - well somebody has to be Hon. Secretary and Treasurer.
The Cromwell Singers the choir in which Charmian and I sing.
WE finally bit the bullet and changed our caravan. Ever since we bought the Swift Corniche in 1991 from Collins Caravans it has suffered from damp and has been in for repair several times. We now have an Elddis Hurricane with an end "bathroom" with separate shower and loo compartments. This is splendid - being able to have a shower without being engulfed by a clinging shower curtain and being able to go to the loo without getting one's shorts wet after someone has had a shower and the water has not completely run away. It did not take too long to get used to towing without all-through rear vision.
These days we prefer rallying for a week or more. Rallies this year have included Wareham, France, Looe and Queen Victoria Country Park near Southampton. It was during the French Rally that Murray went into kennels for the first time - he survived very well with Buckingham and Henry to teach him the ropes.
WE rediscovered cycling this year. It was prompted by the difficulty of finding free parking close to St Nicolas Church mid-week. I often ended up parking south of the railway station and walking back to the church, a distance not that much less than walking from 54a Old Bath Road, although somewhat flatter.
I am now annoyingly enthusiastic about cycling and increasingly intolerant of "idiot" motorists and of the powers that be who only pay trendy lip-service to the crusade.
It is apparent that the UK accommodation of cyclists is so poor compared to that of the Dutch and the French. Yes, you've guessed it we took our cycles to France. We rallied with the Berkshire Centre of the Caravan Club in the Vendée for 17 glorious days in July. Actually by French standards it was not that hot, but compared to England during the same period it was a heat-wave! In France we found free parking on town outskirts and biked into the centre - very civilised.
(Click picture to ENLARGE.)
A Year of Change
1998 has been a year of change. Change is not necessarily bad, but the way it is managed often is. A case in point being Lloyds Bank in Newbury. Suddenly customers were prevented from going to the first floor, but despite having made an appointment have to report to the service desk. Unfortunately this is inadequately staffed and on one occasion although Charmian and I arrived five minutes early it took 15 minutes to get to announce our presence to the personal we had come to see. Needless to say we did not give them our business. On the plus side, Lloyds have introduced Internet Banking in a well managed way.
A welcome change at St Nicolas has been the return of David Reynolds as organist. He was organist and choirmaster in 1974 when Charmian and I were married on 6th April. David (although unfortunately not seen in in this picture) brought the choir down to Sandbanks to sing whilst he played for the service.
(Click picture to ENLARGE.)
Our local authority changed on 1st April. No longer do we have Berkshire County Council and Newbury District but a a unitary authority which unfortunately has two names West Berkshire District Council if you are dealing with the legal department but just West Berkshire Council with all others.
What I expected to be difficult, changing my dentist proved to be relatively painless, however.
I have also been aware of the changes faced by others. One of the saddest change has been that faced by my cousin Frank Carter. It is over a year since his motor cycling accident when a van crossed his path. A year of having three metal spikes in his leg, dealing with insurance, not working, etc. It now looks like his leg may have to
Can You Look at Death?
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