Wednesday, 31 December 2008

2008 in a Nutshell

Amid national tales of woe, sub-prime lending, the credit crunch, plummeting house prices and the FTSE’s worst year on record, we plod on here at 23, living out life’s little day.
The national, and even more so the global, picture is generally too big to contemplate, so for most of us it is the day-to-day issues of our personal lives and our families which most pre-occupy us.

So here goes! What do we have to report at the end of 2008?

Inevitably when there are health issues they dominate the scene. Last Christmas Geoff was just recovering from his knee re-placement, a healing process which took us into the New Year. Unfortunately ‘the knee’ soon reared its ugly head again and Geoff was eventually hospitalised with an infection in July. It was a worrying time, but I’m pleased to report that the knee celebrated its first birthday in September (shortly before Geoff drew his state pension for the first time), and decided that it was time to grow up and behave itself.

Our plan to visit cousin Jeremy in France was disrupted as a result of the above-mentioned problem, but during the year we have enjoyed a few days in Durham, a week in Filey with Mum, and short breaks in Suffolk and Norfolk. And of course, I managed a couple of most-enjoyable trips to visit Martin in London, and we twice stayed over with Karen and Ian in Nantwich. Not bad, all things considered.

Let me mention music before I do the family rounds. A major highlight of my year has been the arrival of a new piano. It has taken me a long time to get to the point of parting with my old friend, but we had a little ceremony which involved “Blest be the tie that binds” and I thought of it more as a celebration of life than a funeral. I think I fell a little bit in love with my 1940s Brinsmead when I saw it standing there in Foulds window, so I was at last spurred into action. It arrived on the day when I was singing in the carol concert at the Assembly Rooms with the Derby Hospitals Choir. Ringing the handbells has yet again been an important part of Christmas. We had a slot on Radio Derby when their reporter came to our coffee morning in Ockbrook. Quite a claim to fame!

This was a special year for Mum as she celebrated her 90th birthday in August. The partying was double-layered and extended over 24 hours, although I must hasten to add that this was not non-stop carousing! We had a family party at 23 on Sunday 3rd and then a gathering of friends and neighbours at 14 the following day, her real birthday. I have a feeling that Mum loved having her nearest and dearest around her, but secretly wondered what all the fuss was about.

As well as Geoff, Margaret was the other member of the family to start living ‘off the state’, as she celebrated her 60th in July with a party at Parwich. Unfortunately she and Clive were victims of the flooding in September which caused considerable damage inside their house whilst they were away in Scotland. The end of the year sees them dried out, but with bare walls and still waiting to replace their carpets. Outside in the yard, however, things go on as usual with the rescue hens continuing to show their delight at release from captivity. And somehow or other Clive has managed to notch up 1,000 running miles in the course of the year. Not bad for 66!

And what of my other sister-in-law, Rosemary? Well, this seems to have been a year to remember. I find it difficult to keep track of where she is when, but her travels caused her to meet David, and they seem to have clicked. So let’s hope that she will at last be happy in a new-found relationship and with the cruises planned for 2009!

It has been a year to remember for Martin as his crews achieved very pleasing results at Henley Royal and at the National Championships. It was good for him to have some real recognition of his colossal commitment to coaching at AK. On the BBC front, he moved over to covering the Olympics so has not been short of work this year and looks set for a busy time right up to 2012. Changing from his previous shift pattern meant that he had a proper Christmas holiday for the first time this year. I hasten to note that it also means more time to spend on the river at weekends.

Gareth and Beverley moved house in March, having had worrying problems with vandalism around Scampton. They have bought a semi closer to Lincoln and have been busy ever since ‘improving’ in a big way. I think it now seems more like home for them than it did at first and Levi has settled well in his doggy way.

Andrew and Sarah’s improvements have been out in the garden, where they have made their almost precipitous garden more accessible and safer, and much more productive. They took Tilly for her first sea-side holiday this year and all had a happy time. It has been a thrill to visit them and observe Tilly growing up and developing her conversational skills. She was 3 in November.

And so to Broadway. We continue to worship there every week and try to ‘do our bit’. I continue to keep the web site up-to-date, and have been playing the piano for a few evening services this year. I also had a very happy few days with Holiday at Home in August. Geoff has struggled on with the team of people trying to come up with new ideas for raising money for Broadway Plus, our building scheme. We sometimes wonder whether the new building will ever happen. In the meantime, though we have lost three dear, older friends at Broadway during the year, we have been pleased to see a number of new families in our congregation, particularly over the Christmas period. It is good for us to know that we will be spending this evening, New Year’s Eve, with the same long-standing church friends with whom we welcomed in 2008.

Apologies for absence

I wonder if there is anyone out there. If there is, I apologise for the fact that I have not been out blogging for a while. I could offer lots of reasons, but they might look too much like excuses. Suffice it to say that I have been pre-occupied with displacement activities and intend to mend my ways before the year is out. And if there is anyone out there, give me a shout.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

There but for the grace….

Yesterday we had a jolly gathering. Brian (back) and Jackie (hips) came round to see husband Geoff (knee) who has recently been in hospital. I got the kettle on as they came up the drive and Jackie (hips) presented me with a Birds’ cake box. “Hello,” she said, “I’m trying to loose weight. I’ve brought us all a custard tart.” They were yummy! Before long the doorbell rang. It’s a new one from Wilco’s and plays the Westminster Chimes so my first reaction was to look at the clock. On the doorstep stood Betty (grazed shin) from next -door-but-one returning my Savlon spray. She didn’t come in, but was soon followed by Bill (knees) from next-door-but-two in the other direction who sat himself on the sofa and sought advise on his current complaint (knees). General response was, “Keep your own as long as you can”, and he left.

Today, as we lazed in bed, Barrie-Next-Door (heart) trundled past the window, returning our wheelie-bin. Life is full of excitement! I shall go for a bit of light relief tomorrow and take my Mum (hip) to visit friend Brenda (knee).

[I would like to acknowledge the help and support afforded to me in my writing by my sports’ journalist son, Martin (back).]

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Water Water Everywhere

On the basis that I have to start somewhere, here goes. I've been wanting to write a blog for ages but now I have the tools to begin, well, it's a different matter! I'm hoping that it will just evolve and that I will sit back and watch.

I have just finished reading "Regatta" by Libby Purves, having bought the copy whilst visiting Southwold on holiday. The preface says that all the places are fictitious but it is not difficult to imagine the setting for the story as it is so like the Walberswick area where we stayed. It does have a touch of "Swallows and Amazons" about it too, though with a more twenty-first century feel.

We were looking forward to crossing the river from Walberswick to Southwold side of the harbour, and were not disappointed. We were rowed across by the Amazon daughter of the boatman who had been there on our last visit some years ago. We had a lovely walk along the beach to the 'new' pier. It's no longer new, but we have called it that since our first viewing in 2002. On that occasion Southwold was crowded to watch the fly past of Concorde and the Red Arrows en route for Buckingham Palace and the Mall to celebrate the Queen's Golden Jubilee. It was quite peaceful when we visited a fortnight ago, but I read yesterday that Gordon Brown had chosen it as his holiday venue too, and that the peace was being disturbed by demonstrators who were less than happy with his policies.

On our way to Suffolk we stopped at a lovely National Trust property, Oxborough Hall. It a moated manor house (home to several swans and their cygnets) which had fallen into disrepair some decades ago and was under threat of demolition. Fortunately a far-sighted benefactor saved it from the developers. We were told that though of considerably advanced years, she still visits the family who occupy a suite in the house. One particular photograph caught my attention as I did the tour. It showed an Oxford Eight, Head of the River in 1938. Above the photograph was a blade on which were the names of the crew. It was a strange co-incidence as I was just reading William Woodruff's "Shadows of Glory", which begins with such a picture and follows the fate of the eight men and their cox through the years of the Second World War. I found it incredibly sad, but had a greater insight into the war from this novel than I had previously had from any text book. That story was very much in my mind as I watched the young rowers of today pushing themselves to their limits at the National Championships at Holme Pierrepont. There has been rejoicing in this family over both the Nat Champs and Henley Royal this year.

Friday, 18 July 2008


I shall be linking this blog from my website. There will be regular updates.