Paul and Margaret Hardy,
15 Kentings, Comberton, CAMBRIDGE CB3 7DT
Tel 01223 263232
Memorable moments of 2002
- Seeing in the New Year in the Gambia on a beautiful warm evening and being filmed for Gambian television. This was not a gateway to fame as only 2% of Gambian households have electricity!
- Visiting Barcelona again, with Paul as a delegate at a map trade conference, and Margaret as a ‘camp follower’. (After choosing the suit and shirt and straightening the tie she was allowed to roam the Ramblas etc until it was time to return to duty.)
- Spending two weeks walking (not trekking) in Nepal. We not only survived Maoist terrorists (who blew up the telephone exchange about a mile away from where we were staying in the lowlands), rhinos and Nepali driving, but had a wonderful time visiting the Kathmandu valley (with amazing Buddhist and Hindu temples and the ancient towns of Nagarkot and Patan), Pokhara (with views of the Annapurnas above 8000 metres), Gorka, Chitwan and Nagarkot, with distant views of Everest at sunrise. We didn’t get really high (2500 metres), but the ground went up and down a lot!
- An amazingly warm, clear and sunny Bank Holiday staying with Margaret’s cousin and partner in Wanlockhead (the highest village in Scotland), and exploring the local lead mining history.
- Making new French friends on a twinning weekend visit to Le Vaudreuil and seeing Monet’s garden at Giverny again. A reciprocal visit was held in September, when we hosted the same family and showed them the delights of Cambridge on a perfect Indian summer weekend. The English hosts initiated the French into the noble game of Conkers.
- Going to monastic choral mass in the impressive Romanesque basilica in Vezelay, while on a two-centre walking holiday through the vineyards of some of the most expensive wines in France. (Yes we did sample them - it would have been churlish not to.)
- Helping a friend organise a surprise 50th birthday party for her husband. 120 people came for lunch and 150 for a hog roast and Ceilidh in the evening. Fortunately they have a very large garden!
- Playing Boules by moonlight (Margaret) on a brilliant walking holiday on the French Swiss border (fortunately the ‘cochonet’ target ball was luminous yellow). Actually this probably wasn’t a highlight as it was perishing cold, but it was certainly memorable.
- Holding our ’garden party’ (well it was held in the garden) in August to celebrate Paul’s birthday, Margaret’s new job and our silver wedding anniversary, for 40 friends old and new, complete with a carpeted gazebo on the vegetable patch! An abiding memory is of Richard, who stayed to help us clear up, happily hoovering the carpet in the middle of the lawn.
- Toasting our actual 25th wedding anniversary in Prosecco (the local sparkling wine) with a group of ramblers at sunset overlooking Lake Iseo (one of the smaller lakes of the Garda, Como, Maggiore set) with the lake and mountains as a backdrop.
- Walking between the white villages in the Serrano de Grazalema in October. Despite a very wet start (Grazalema has the highest rainfall of anywhere in the Iberian peninsular, so it is definitely not true that the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain!) we had a wonderful week.
- Paul becoming a Fellow of the British Cartographic Society, giving him more letters to put after his name - and us an excuse to celebrate with more champagne.
- Margaret getting an A* in her Spanish GCSE (perhaps not as prestigious as Paul’s Fellowship but she’s inordinately proud of it). The course was a definite highlight of the year with a truly inspirational teacher and a class of adults and Year 10 students (aged 14/15). The latter were great fun and a real advertisement for modern youth.
- Margaret parted company with forest education after nearly 6 years, disillusioned and disappointed by the lack of support and appreciation from the FEI partners and from Forestry Commission in particular. She’s now working full time again for the first time in 12 years, as Professional Development Officer for the Independent Schools Association (the next to smallest of the five associations for independent schools). After two months of being convinced that this job too was doomed to failure, she’s now feeling that there may be hope after all. It’s certainly a delightful change to find that, not only does she not have to battle to get education on the agenda, education is the agenda.
- Paul is now a Principal Consultant in the Customer Services department at Laser-Scan after several years as Chief Product Manager, The change was somewhat worrying as the previous job became redundant, but overall is quite welcome, as it involves new products and skills, as well as expertise on the traditional ones.
- Evenings are busy as we both go to French and Spanish conversation and dancing classes, Margaret has joined the village choral society (currently rehearsing Mendelssohn’s Elijah for a concert of massed choirs to be held at the Concert Hall in Cambridge next April) and plays badminton and Paul continues to play concertina.
- We are also joint secretary of the village rambling group with which we try and walk on alternate Sundays, and are a joint committee member of the village Twinning Committee.
- Paul has bought two more concertinas this year, making five in all! One was in excellent playing condition, bought at a concertina weekend to commemorate the Bicentenary of Charles Wheatstone. The other was bought on impulse off the Internet as being in need of restoration, having been well used and then left in someone’s loft for at least 50 years. This latter is currently in many pieces and giving Paul a task to keep him occupied through the winter evenings to restore it to playing condition.
- Margaret manages to keep up with friends and family, to go to the theatre with friends, and be ‘a lady who lunches’ whenever work allows such luxuries.
- Our ex-foster son Dominic (a.k.a. Barry), now 27, declared himself bankrupt earlier in the year. He now has a stable office maintenance job in Cambridge and has set up home with a single mother (they are planning to marry in April). She has children aged two and three. (Will this make us step foster grandparents or foster step grandparents?)
Plans for the future.
- After Christmas at home with Paul’s mother (now aged 89) we are fleeing the country for a week’s walking in the Valencia region of Spain
- At Easter, we’re returning to Majorca, one of our favourite walking destinations, to explore a new bit of the island.
- We’re going to Peru to celebrate Paul’s 50th birthday next August (The lengths some people will go to to avoid arranging a birthday party!)
We hope you have had a good year and will have a successful 2003.
Wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,
Paul and Margaret