Updated Monday, 08 March 2004

Every year we send out a Newsletters with our Christmas cards.  This is a web version of it under construction. Enjoy or return to my Home Page 

1999 has been a packed year with almost too much happening. At the start of the year we had no intention of moving house that soon but then the house in the right location came up and everyone seemed to pull out all the stops to make it work.

We had no problem selling our old house – amazingly my sister, who confessed to loving it all the time that we were there, jumped at the chance. Its been fascinating going back to see all that Bettine and Terry have improved.

On 6th April we celebrated our silver wedding anniversary, celebrating with several parties and joyous occasions.

To maintain life’s equilibrium happiness has been balanced with sadness, not being there when Buckingham was put to sleep, not having that final chat with John Gould, Ernest Paul and the many others who are no more.

And, of course, there’s the things done and undone syndrome. I get the feeling that there are more of the latter this year, although people are kind and remind me of all the achievements I have had a hand in.

Oh! I thought the hand would sneak in somewhere – the injection I mentioned in last year’s missive was short lived and I had a carpal tunnel release in October. Thanks for all your good wishes and practical help.


  We saw the New Year in at "The Blackbird".
Here are some pictures!

(Click on a picture to ENLARGE.)


On Moving House

Why did we move house? Ideally we should have gone on holiday from the old house and returned to the new one with all the chores of moving being done. Perhaps we have not moved often enough. We were at 54a for 23 years and although having it re-roofed necessitated clearing the loft some eight years ago, we still had a lot of stuff to move.

We had been wanting to move for some time. Although Newbury increasingly frustrates me, our searches elsewhere have revealed nothing to compare. We adore Cornwall but surrounded by sea on three sides there is only one direction out. From Newbury we can go North, South, East or West. Similarly we have found nothing which offers the variety of Snelsmore.

We really wanted to move to the south side of Speen Lane, but those houses only rarely come on the market and when they do it is for really silly money.

34 is a good compromise. It has a south facing garden, easy access for the caravan and accommodation arranged to sort our changed life-style. And there is good dog walking opposite including a footpath to "The Blackbird", our local.

One tends to forget how over the years one moulds one’s habitat to suit. Of the things we perceive we need 34 already had them or had the potential to acquire them. However, we had no idea of the problems we would encounter finding people to do work.

I tried my hardest to rationalise potential archive material to be moved, and have currently reduced the number of lever arched files by about half, but there are still far too many. We also have too many books. Given that my actuary age is something like 76, I find myself posing the question will I ever look at, let alone read this publication again? The answer is, I don’t know. This year two key local figures passed away and I became involved in writing or providing information for their obituaries.

Of course, the information is of little use on my shelves, so I am gradually sifting through it and put it on appropriate web-sites. I am encouraged that a number of my friends are now active in the internet community – these include Lavinia Phillips and Liz Camfield.



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The last journey. 
In March we said farewell to John Gould, MBE. More can be found here.



On 6th April Charmian and I  celebrated our silver wedding anniversary. 

Pictures from our Silver Wedding Anniversary

(Click on a picture to ENLARGE.)

It was good that so many were able to come to our party at St. Nicolas Hall.


On Silver Wedding Anniversaries

When ever I meet an accident victim, tramp or divorcee I say to myself "there, but for the grace of God, go I". In the circle of friends we have known for a quarter of a century or more, the number of marriages which have survived is above the national average.

If the media is to be believed seemingly championing gay and lesbian couples, single parent families, politicians who play the field and so on, one could be forgiven for not blowing the marriage trumpet too loudly.

Although it wasn’t planned as such there seemed to be two divides to share our celebration, a Poole one and a Newbury one. Sadly we did not see Charmian’s sister or her children at either, nor my niece, the one who was so vocal aged 7 months at our wedding.


Buckingham made it to 17th May and in doing so celebrated his 15th birthday. This is a very good age for a Cavalier King Charles spaniel. Sadly he had to be put to sleep whilst we were in Canada.



In June we toured in Canada traveling coast to coast from Montreal to Vancouver.

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Canada is a big country. On the east coast temperatures were in the upper 20°C. In the Rockies there was still snow around. One exciting trip was to go on the snow coach over the glacier. All very safe and comfortable but it did give one an idea of what the pioneers had to contend with.

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Niagara Falls were spectacular. We boarded a "Maid of the Mist" boat for a cruise under the falls. Each passenger was given a blue cape in an attempt to keep dry.

What I hadn’t appreciated was how close Japan is to Vancouver – a lot nearer than Vancouver is to London. Another "revelation" was the thrill that the 1½ hour boat journey between Vancouver and Victoria was to mid-state Americans obliged to travel thousands of miles to see the sea. The adventure is aptly captured by the livery of this coach. Victoria Island is certainly the furthest west I have been but, nevertheless, it is very English, and not just the red double decker buses. The weather in Vancouver was also typically English – it rained for the whole three days that we were there!

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Did I enjoy Canada? Frankly I expected to enjoy it more. I suppose in recent years our "package" holidays have been to the comparably compact middle east where contrast was found round every corner, in a group of whom we already knew the majority. In Canada one had to travel long distances to find change – one lake looked very much like another, one pine tree like another and so on. Possibly it me not being able to cope with vast expanse of the same. I do like variety, be it in scenery, music, art, history. 
Ottawa, come closest to providing this variety. Its House of Parliament is a "double-take" of our own complete with its version of "Big Ben". In 1998 we visited Gallipoli in Turkey. You may have seen the David Jason TV drama in which he led the Norfolk Regiment. Before going to Turkey I had not given the battle too much thought. In Ottawa's "Big-Ben" there was a memorial chapel with one Book of Remembrance dedicated to the Canadians slain in that ill-planned campaign. The guide in her mid-20s seemed truly interested to talk to someone who had trod the battlefield. The above and below ground culture in the eastern cities was disturbing. At street level the area around the hotel we stayed in Montreal was run down with not a few beggars. But below ground it was rich and opulent with plush shops and much dazzle. I’m glad I’ve been, but it was hard work.

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Guide Driver, Gil

"Maid of the Mist Boat" setting off to view the falls.

I was brave (or foolish) enough to lay on the glass floor of the 
observation platform in the CN Tower, the world's tallest free standing structure.

For the complete set of pictures please click HERE.

Mist" boat for a cruise under the 

After the frantic traveling across Canada hardly having time to unpack a suitcase, it was good to take the caravan down to Cornwall for a rest. We wpeF.jpg (6942 bytes)again rallied with the South Staffs at St. Merryn, 2 miles south of Padstow. The Stauntons were renting their usual holiday cottage in Padstow and it was a great reunion especially as Kevin was celebrating his 50th birthday. Stuart Walker joined us. He can be seen here with Charmian, Oliver, Henry and Murray paddling in Newquay Harbour.



wpe11.jpg (2917 bytes)The total eclipse of the Sun at 11:11 on 11th August was interesting. The last total eclipse in Britain was over 80 years ago. The partial eclipse started about 10 am. We were rallying on the Dorset-Devon border just west of Lyme Regis. It was said that the eclipse was the biggest non-event of 1999. Seaside telescope had signs on them warning against their use during the eclipse.


 In September the bust of the late John Gould, MBE was unveiled during "Art in the Park". This is a picture me and Wyn Gould standing by the amazingly life-like bust based on photographs of John in his heyday. jJG Bust Me Wyn 08.jpg (56947 bytes)



After much effort to find a new home for it Charmian decided that there was no alternative but to take her old Rayleigh Shopper bicycle to the tip. This is a picture of it on the bike rack of the Discovery. bye bikes01.jpg (57047 bytes)

We tried very hard to find a gardener to help "restore" the much neglected garden, leaving countless messages on Answerphones, etc. Thankfully, Simon Powers came to our rescue. Garden Simon16.jpg (62268 bytes)


Somebody managed to capture me on camera at the choir's backrow party! Me at Choir Party24.jpg (51946 bytes)



I seem to have attended an increased number of funerals this year:

Robert Bance

George (Hugh) Davis

John Gould, MBE

Ernest Paul

Robin Porteous

Kathleen Simpson

At each the Rev. David Cook has presided. Why is that one only gets a snap-shot in totality of a person on these occasions? If only one had got to know them and their good works better when they were alive!

For some of these it has been my privilege to do the desk top publishing of the order of service. I have long felt that "off the shelf" ones a little bland. Of course it is helpful if the departed have left instructions, favourite hymns, prayers and so on. George Davis, who I knew from the church magazine and as a neighbour, in his choice really set me thinking.

Incidentally, I have started planning my order of service ….

Thinking of departures and it took me several days to recover emotionally from the Speenhamland Reunion 1959-60 – all was going well until I spotted a board with names of those who would never see their 50th birthdays.



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