Another year gone, and we wonder what the word "retirement" is meant to mean! I have taken over the secretaryship of my church district (about 15 churches, one theological college and chaplaincy of all the Manchester Universities). The amount of work involved has meant re-equipping one daughter's old room as an office, which incidentally affords a splendid view of the garden, aircraft taking off from Manchester, and on a good day, the Derbyshire hills. Kate, meanwhile, has taken over the "chair" of her school governing body, which keeps her busy.
As usual, we holidayed in the Greek islands - twice. In the spring we went to Cephalonia, and stayed near to where Captain Corelli escaped back to Italy. (I refer to "Captain Corelli and his Mandolin" by Louis de Bernieres, which has remained a best seller since 1994.) In the autumn we went to the island of Kos, and were totally captivated by the place. So much so that we are taking our friends Doug and Aud there next June; even staying in the same rooms. The picture shows Kate sitting on the edge of an arena in the old capital at Palatia (destroyed by earthquake 2500 years ago) where Hercules fought the king's champion. You thought Hercules was a myth? Well, maybe. But the fight did take place - they just attached Hercules name to the event. Fascinating.
This last holiday was in part our celebration of our "Ruby Wedding" (forty years married.) We count ourselves lucky, very lucky, to have got so far and still be able to enjoy a good life together. We were saddened to find that the best man at our wedding, Peter Bentley, has died recently. He was just six days older than Jim.
Mind you, our voluntary duties have encouraged us to use our caravan (trailer home) frequently. For the third year running we kept it on a site in the Highlands of Staffordshire, available at an hours drive away, and where no-one could telephone us. Our mobile number is a secret to us and our daughters. Unfortunately, the Caravan Club, who own the site, have decided to end their seasonal concessions next year (after all, the club is meant for tourers). Accordingly, Kate and I decided to purchase a holiday home at a site not too far away. These are sometimes known as "Static Caravans". Whilst built as caravans, they are scarcely roadworthy; and their lifetime the wheels probably only travel a few hundred metres. However, their limited mobility attracts certain tax concessions.
The picture shows Kate approving the location of the home with the Site Warden. It is a caravan, it has wheels and a towbar! In every other respect, it is like a house, with bedrooms, bathroom and kitchen. It is at a place called Newhaven in Derbyshire, and is only 70 minutes drive away. It is in an area steeped in industrial history, which is handy. You may recall that our younger daughter Penny is an industrial archeologist. We have recently commissioned the home, and have already spent a few nights there.Very cosy, and very quiet!
Last autumn we we delighted to meet Jun Kubota and his wife Michiko, who stayed overnight during their tour of England. Jun and I met in California, way back in 1981, when we both were interested in Ultrasonic instrumentation in Nuclear Fast Reactors. We exchanged drinking customs, Michiko showed us how to make tea properly, whilst Jun was introduced to Best British Beer.
I promised myself to limit this letter, so, I take the opportunity to wish you all the very best of the season; and all prosperity for - the next thousand years!