The McKnight's Newsletter for 2017

Download our musical Christmas message for 2017 - (needs PowerPoint)
Jim and Kathryn report:

As has become usual because of imfirmity, we have holidayed by cruising from the port of Liverpool. In the autumn we visited places on the North coast of Spain, but earlier in the summer (what summer?) we visited Norway again; and of course we travelled once more on the fabulous Flam railway, just one of the remarkable engineering feats of that country. We had hoped to call in at Scrabster on the North coast of Scotland. This is the port close to the town of Thurso (with an internationally known surfing beach), and the old nuclear site of Dounreay. This is where Jim and a marvellous support team made history in 1982 by making ultrasonic images of the core of an operating Fast Nuclear Power station. Liquid sodium - high temperature and high radiation!
The chances to see the old site were dashed, however. Scrabster is not a large port and cruise ships need to anchor and use tenders. The Pentland Firth is notorious for its tidal flow and we were unlucky - the ship kept dragging its anchor, and the visit was abandoned. We went to Belfast instead!

Talking about Belfast, they are so proud of having constructed the Titanic that they have built an excellent museum about it. But two facts I noticed that they didn't tell us.

1. Captain Smith and his officers were not inexperienced in sailing the ship. For a whole year they had crewed the Titanic's identical sister ship, the Olympic, and made many Atlantic crossings.

2. The White Star line didn't like fuss. The Titanic was launched without ceremony, its maiden voyage started without ceremony - it was just a duplicate of the Olympic. All those pictures? They are mostly of the Olympic doctored by journalists to show the Titanic's name.

What summer? Every summer we like to spend time in our garden summer house. And whilst our climate doesn't justify regular air conditioning, we have a couple of electric cooling fans ready for the summer heatwaves. In 2017 we used the fans just once. We were able to dine in the summer house just once. I'm not a global warming denier, but----?
Disappointed at not going ashore at Scrabster, we sailed past the old nuclear site and I caught this image way over on the horizon. The site closed for business in 1994 and has been undergoing decommisioning ever since. Yet it looks exactly the same! The DFR Fast Reactor building is central, the PFR power station to the right. Further right, the Royal Navy nuclear training plant. The air strip is on the left.


Since we were visiting places for the second time, Jim took very few photos worth noting.

The photo on the left by the ship's photographer is probably the best photo of either of us for a long time. Our daughter Penny said we "seemed to have scrubbed up well,"

Having dined with a couple of the ship's entertainers, they obligingly lined up for us after a show. I think it was a patriotic theme. The pictures behind are of the Norwegian Royal Family looking rather bemused.

A reflection on the Christmas cards we have sent out this year.
Some thoughts on Audrey Jones.
They have been mainly on two themes: The nativity of Jesus, and the consequent visit of "the three kings". Now, unfortunately, the Christian bible mentions only "wise men". The development of the story over the centuries has settled on their number being three, that they were kings, and even have known names. Does this count as Fake News?

Concerning the nativity, I am happy that I have visited the Holy Land, and touched the places where Jesus was born and died. Some people actually kiss these places, but I thought no! Health and Safety and all that! But one minister I was with did kiss these holy stones. I asked him if he found the act especially moving. "Hmm!" he said. "Tasted of disinfectant!" Some things are best left to the imagination.

We recently lost a dear cousin of Kate's. We shall certainly miss her particualr sense of humour. As the senior pharmacist in a major hospital, she had a cynical view of "the system". In particular, as a member of the Anglican church she saw the funny side of "ancient and modern". In one week she had to struggle with a new computer system, which she needed to order a supply of -- leeches? Still used in medicine, apparently.

And now the rest of the family:

Penny and Rik help Jim trying on his new hats.

Penny is principle conservation officer for an area including the famous Ironbridge. Rik is now a full-time photographer.

See his fabulous web-site here

Jacqui is still IT officer for William-Hulme grammar school in Manchester.

Cora is at sixth form college, preparing to study psychology at university

May we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! ...

from Jim and Kate Mcknight

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