November 28th 1994
1994, like 1993, has been a year of little change for us, but
with some memorable experiences. We haven't moved house, changed
jobs, or got ill. We have however continued our travels to exotic
After sending out our letter of last year, but before Christmas
93, I was sent to Israel for a week. Unfortunately the work was
rather intensive, so I didn't get much time to look round. We'll
just have to keep it on the list of places to visit for a future
At Christmas, we had my mother to stay, and went to the service
in Kings College Chapel on Christmas Day morning. The next day
we all flew off to Luxor in Egypt for a week where we cruised
up the Nile to Aswan, visiting the Valley of the Kings, the Temple
of Karnac, etc. It was a fascinating and successful holiday.
Its amazing that the temples and tombs were built so well to
survive in their beauty for over 3000 years, though the Coptic
Christians had done their best - or worst - to deface the temples..
In February, I was sent to Canada to arbitrate in a dispute over
software ownership between two Laser-Scan customer organisations.
It was a most interesting trip, although the temperatures were
a shock. It was -30°C when I arrived in Ottawa, dropping
to -36°C in Sherbrooke! It was the time of the winter festival
in Ottawa, with ice sculptures on the frozen lake, but the natives
were friendly and kitted me out with suitable boots for enjoying
At Easter, we went off to the South East USA for a trip we had
organised ourselves, staying in B & Bs (where we were occasionally
regarded as objects of curiosity by the natives!). We flew to
Atlanta, hired a car, and drove down via Mobile to New Orleans
(jazz, quaint streets, and the mighty Mississippi). Then we followed
the Mississippi, stopping at Natchez (beautiful ante-bellum houses)
and Vicksburg and along the Natchez Trace Parkway to Tennessee
to visit friends, before heading back to Atlanta. Margaret suffered
psychologically driving from late spring in the south back into
winter as we went north. This plus a tooth abscess and a 'New
World lurgy' left her a trifle tetchy! We covered 2000 miles
in two weeks, which was a bit far. However, we saw many memorable
sights and met interesting people.
In May, we had a week in Sorrento, in which we visited Pompeii,
Capri, and Amalfi. This produced more photos for the albums (up
to number 42 now). However we now want to go back there to go
to the museum in Naples which holds many of the objects and treasures
found at Pompeii. Memorable moments include a chairlift to the
summit of Monte Solera on Capri (even M. enjoyed it when she opened
her eyes) and a lift in an 8-seater van with 19 other people during
a lightning rail strike!
At the end of the summer, we went for a week to northern Portugal,
near Viana Do Costello, staying on a Quinta or farm (surrounded
by vineyards). We had a car included, so went up to the Spanish
border, across to the historic town of Braga, and up into the
national park in the mountains where we had several lovely walks.
We'd managed to learn a few phrases of Portuguese - with difficulty
since essential prerequisites seem to be adenoid trouble and a
lisp. These (phrases) proved invaluable, though insufficient
to follow a conducted tour of Braga cathedral, which had to be
translated into French for us!
Back in England, we went to visit friends in Bath for the first
time. Once again, the English weather was at its best, and we
were pleasantly surprised by the harmony of the town.
Our final trip this year was in October to Morocco for a week
in Marrakech. This was with Ramblers Association, and it involved
three days of hiking in the foothills of the Atlas mountains.
We went into it with some trepidation ( being amblers rather
than ramblers as a rule), but it was a success (Margaret is now
looking at the Ramblers catalogue for next year). We walked well
off the beaten track, through Berber villages which could only
be reached by foot or donkey, and hence it was like going back
in time. Marrakech was a real contrast, full of bustle, but also
timeless when walking through the souks.
On the work front, Laser-Scan's business isn't exactly booming,
but we seem to have survived the recession. It was LSL's 25th
birthday this year, so a celebration was held alongside our User
Group meeting. We had absolutely perfect weather for it this
May in Cambridge. We have just finished installing a mapping
system at the AA, which they will be using to produce their atlases
and their Member's Handbook next year.
Margaret is still at Potton Middle School in Bedfordshire. However
her hours are now down to teaching 0.5 of the week from 0.6 last
year. The school roll is falling, & we doubt if she will
get a new contract next year. We had an Italian girl called Sylvia
(aged 16, going on 21) staying with us in the summer for private
English tuition from Margaret. Once again it worked well. She
was a delight to teach and learned to play the guitar as well
as improving her English.
Margaret is doing the second year of a Master's degree (M.Ed.)
by distance learning from Sheffield University. This involves
her doing six assignments of 5000 words (5 down, 1 to go) and
a thesis of 20,000 words, so she has bravely taken on our PC to
do the typing!
I am still getting enjoyment from the concertina that Margaret
bought me last year, but I fear that I will never be totally proficient.
I could probably get by at busking in Cambridge if we get short
We are both doing classes in Italian at present. Mine is an evening
class at the Village College, and Margaret's is a daytime one.
She is continuing with French as well, as well as attending classes
in Bridge and Sport. We have done Box Office or `front of house'
for some drama group productions, including an ambitious (but
successful) West Side Story. We are now taking orders for the
pantomime in January.
Our ex foster son Barry is now 19 and currently one of the many
unemployed in Cambridge. He came to lunch last Sunday. He wants
to join the army, but has some money problems to overcome first.
For next year, our main adventure is a trip planned to China for
Easter. We are taking my mother, and travelling from Beijing
through Jehol, Xian (terra-cotta army), Shanghai, Guilin, to Hong
Kong. (If it's Wednesday it must be Xian!) I suspect it will
be an experience rather than a holiday, but we are looking forward
to it. Other trips planned so far are to Madeira just after Xmas,
and to Corsica in May.
We hope you had a good year in 1994, and are looking forward to
Wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,