Paul and Margaret Hardy,

15 Kentings, Comberton, CAMBRIDGE CB23 7DT

Email paul @ paulhardy.net; Margaret @ paulhardy.net

Web: http://www.pghardy.net

Tel 01223 263232

 December 2008

Dear

 

 2008 – A Year of Settling Down

 

After the previous years’ drastic changes, including moving to and from California, this year has been one of relative stability and evolution:

 

·         The biggest change was that Paul started a new permanent job with ESRI Europe early in the year, following his previous six-month contracts of 50/50 split of time between ESRI UK and ESRI Inc. ESRI Europe is a direct part of ESRI Inc, rather than being an independent distributor, so he is back in the US admin systems! He is now a business development technical consultant focussed on national mapping and land administration agencies across Europe, and acting as a link with the development and product folk in California. Although the HQ of ESRI Europe is in Rotterdam, and Paul visits there every six weeks or so, he is based at the ESRI UK office in Cambridge, about 100 yards from where he worked at Laser-Scan for 28 years! He travels a fair amount, and also works from home some days.

·         We saw in the New Year in Arizona, where we were ‘on vacation’ visiting friends and some of the places we didn’t manage to see when we were living ‘next door’ in California. Arizona has some amazing sights. Our top two (excluding the Grand Canyon and Sedona which we’d already visited) were Monument Valley (familiar from films and adverts, but stunning in the evening light) and the Canyon de Chelly (with its cliffside Indian pueblos). Temperatures ranged from the upper 20s Celsius in Tucson to sub zero in Monument Valley and we narrowly escaped being snowed in at Flagstaff.

·         Paul went back to California twice during the year (March and August), to work at ESRI in Redlands and be at conferences in Palm Springs and San Diego. He met up with old friends, did a hike with the Mountain Top Hiking Group and played concertina with his Celtic jam group at Green Valley Lake - over 1 mile high.

·         In addition to the visits to California and Rotterdam, Paul has done various short work trips to Zurich, Aberdeen, Prague, and Frankfurt, and will probably be doing more next year.

·         While he was in Palm Springs, Margaret went off to renew her acquaintance with Majorca. She had an excellent week walking, mainly in the mountainous area of the island, though her leg muscles protested, having become used to the ‘flat lands’ of East Anglia.

·         In May we fulfilled an ambition and walked 130 miles or so of the Route St Jacques, which pilgrims followed on their way to Santiago de Compostella in Spain. We walked from Le Puy (volcanic peaks) to Conques (medieval timewarp village) in 10 days. The countryside was lovely with masses of wild flowers, but it was the wettest May in France for 50 years, which made walking difficult at times.

·         Margaret returned to France in June, to accompany a group of 13 year olds from her last school on a visit to Le Touquet. She was very pleased to find that the pupils she’d taught in Year 7, suffering from ‘hormones and hysteria’ (as did Margaret), had matured into very pleasant young people.

·         In July we were both in France again for a village twinning weekend in Le Vaudreuil in Normandy. The visit was timed to coincide with the tall ships being in Rouen harbour – a memorable sight. The reverse twinning visit planned for September was cancelled due to the fire in the Channel Tunnel.

·         Margaret spent much of July and August teaching English to students who came to stay with us for one or two weeks. Theo, aged 16, was French with a Frenchman’s appreciation of food. He was followed by Sergio, a Spaniard in his 30s, who was excellent company for Margaret when Paul was in the States, and Marissa, whom we hope to visit in Madrid next year.

·         Margaret has continued to do some supply teaching. In September she agreed to teach one day a week at the village school. She likes the regular income but the downsides are lesson-planning and being tied, by conscience if not by contract, to school hols. She continues to enjoy her retirement. She goes walking and plays badminton two or three times a week and attends a bridge class. A memorable day was singing as part of the U3A choir to a full house at the concert hall in Cambridge.

·         Before Margaret started regular work we managed to fit in another walking holiday, this time in northern Spain, in the wine region of ‘La Rioja’, staying in four centres, with excellent and varied walking in fine weather.

·         We’ve finally completed the preparation and publishing (as two book volumes and a CD) of the memoirs of a 92-year old engineer friend (Donald Welbourn), that Margaret undertook to keep herself occupied in California. It was a bigger task than anticipated!

 

Our time in California broadened our horizons, and we still miss the mountains and forests which were an important part of our lives. We’ve watched with interest on the TV and Internet the saga of the US presidential election (yay!), the tragedies of the ongoing wildfires in California, and recent earthquake preparation rehearsals for ‘the big one’ expected someday soon. The risk of wildfire was also brought home by pictures that Paul took on his visit back in March showing that the house that we put in an offer to buy near Running Springs (and were outbid) had been burnt to the ground in the 2007 fires. In our ‘risk assessment’ we had concluded that it was more likely to be destroyed by an earthquake, as the San Andreas Fault was only half a mile away (both horizontally and vertically!).

Paul’s mother Win is now 95, physically fit for her age, and still living at home, albeit with increasing support, both from a home help who calls in twice a day, and at least weekly visits from Paul’s brother Michael and his wife Cathy. We (or sometimes just Paul) go to see her every four weeks or so. Her memory is shrinking but she seems generally happy. Our foster son, Dom, is living with his girlfriend Sam in Milton Keynes after a period in Luton.  They are hoping to get married next year.

We’re off to the Algarve in Portugal for a walking holiday over Christmas, will be looking after Mother for New Year, and then it’s another year, with new opportunities!

 

We hope that 2009 is a happy and successful year for you.

 

With our best wishes for Christmas and the New Year,

 

 

 

 

Paul & Margaret