Christmas 2003

The start to the year was hectic as the Post Office banking project that Paul was working on reached a peak before going live in April. Since then, work has been thinner, which has given us more time for things we want to do.

Both mothers are finding it much more difficult to get about these days. Paul’s Mum has had to give up driving and really feels the loss of independence. They have also both had cataract operations during the year. Fortunately, the operations are much simpler these days and each was able to come home on the day of the operation.

This is the first year that we have been able to enjoy the Salisbury Festival. In May, we were out most evenings for three weeks at one event or another. If we had a favourite, it was Pete Poslethwaite’s one-man show “Scaramouch Jones”. We were a little unsure when booking one concert for the Cathedral, which advertised a world premiere of a piece by the modern composer, John Taverner. Our fears were totally unfounded – it was a beautiful piece.

BruggesEarlier, we had a short break in Belgium visiting the old cities of Brugge and Gent. Amongst other things, we visited a Victorian country house, which was designed by the famous British architect Pugin – his best-known design is the Houses of Parliament. He also designed the church we attend in Salisbury. It was fascinating to see many of the themes in our church repeated in this Belgian country house, especially in its lovely little chapel.

We have spent quite a bit of time working on the garden. We are delighted with the newly landscaped area we mentioned last year. The new plants (and grass) survived the dry summer. On the other hand, the rabbits and deer seem to think we have set up a gourmet restaurant for them. They are great to watch – one doe brought her triplets into the back garden only a few hours after they were born. We just wish they had not got such a taste for roses, violas and other plants.

Pine WalkPeter came on our main summer holiday . We went back to Porto Pollensa in Majorca – an old favourite. We rented a lovely apartment at the quiet end of the Pine Walk, on the edge of the beach just round the corner where this photo was taken.

We have both reverted to being students again. We are trying to brush up our French. Sue is also doing a computing course in the hope that she can catch up with the rest of the family. Paul has been scanning negatives of old photos into the computer and has bought a digital camera. He is doing a course on digitally manipulating the images in Photoshop, a software package used by many professionals.

LarchesThis year has been a stunning autumn in the countryside. There was a massive crop of incredibly juicy and tasty blackberries. We now have a nice stock of bramble jelly plus some frozen blackberries to add to our winter apple pies. The hazels and holly round the garden also had massive crops – much to the delight of the wildlife. The squirrels have buried all the cobnuts and the birds have gorged themselves on the holly berries. Later on, the trees colours were spectacular as you can see from the photo on the left. For more nature notes see the photo pages.

News of the Lads

Peter started the year taking on more responsibility at Domino’s in Salisbury. He moved out from home in the spring, sharing a house with friends from work. Later, he was moved to the bigger Andover branch but things did not work out so well and he decided to move jobs. At the moment he is working for a firm that makes car parts. However, he is looking around for a job that makes better use of his computing qualifications.

Dave has also moved jobs – he has moved from the computing side of the bank to the banking side. His wife, Vicky, is still working for IBM. It won a contract with Dave’s bank. Vicky managed to get a transfer to the contract so that they now both work on the same site – albeit for different employers.

They had a short break earlier in the year on the Red Sea. The main objective was for Dave to get his scuba-diving certificate (Vicky is already qualified) in preparation for their main holiday. They are currently in South Africa where one of the activities was diving with sharks. We had an e-mail to say they had survived it with all limbs still intact. We look forward to catching up on their adventures when the get back in the next few days. Dave is due to put some of his photos on his site.