November 25th 1996
Another busy year has gone by
... At the end of last year, we went to Sicily for Christmas with
Ramblers and had an energetic but enjoyable break. We concluded
that living in a bungalow in Cambridgeshire was not good training
for climbing (and particularly descending) Sicilian mountains.
Mt. Etna was erupting as we flew in, and the mountain seemed to
be in the background of most of the photos we took. We had good
weather with excellent visibility. We stayed in Francavilla, a
small town surrounded by orange groves. The oranges were literally
falling off the trees as we passed.
In March, we had a week in Lanzarote,
which has weird volcanic scenery. Margaret was more impressed
by the warm sunshine and the spring flowers. We found the island
more interesting than we had anticipated, partially due to the
efforts of Césare Manrique, an architect who had succeeded
in combining the works of nature and of man.
We went in June to Kas in Turkey.
Here there was if anything too much sun - we even went for walks
before breakfast to avoid the heat! It was however beautiful,
with lots of historical sites. The holiday wasn't even spoilt
by the 10 hour flight delay we had at Stansted airport - it was
beautiful weather and we got the basis for a tan lazing on the
grass outside the terminal building waiting for our flight. It
meant that we arrived at Dalaman at 3am - and saw the sun rise
In July, Paul attended the ISPRS
(Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing) conference in Vienna. Margaret
went too and explored Vienna with her friend Sue, another Laser-Scan
wife. They went off together to Budapest by train, where they
stayed overnight and went to a Mozart concert (too expensive in
Vienna). They came back impressed by their experience of Eastern
Europe. The historic buildings in Vienna were beautiful, but we
also enjoyed walking in the Vienna woods and drinking the wine
in the local Heuriger.
At the end of August we spent
a long weekend in France, celebrating Paul's birthday. As usual
in France our room had been let before we arrived, but despite
this we had an excellent time, with Margaret showing off the places
she had found on her visit to the Oise four years ago. Particularly
memorable were the picturesque hilltop village of Gerberoy and
Monet's garden at Giverny.
In September, Paul went walking
in Menorca. Although less up and down than Sicily, Menorca still
provided more than adequate exercise, particularly as on the supposed
day of rest he hired a Laser dinghy on a windy day and went sailing.
Margaret had to cancel because she had just accepted a new job.
As a compensation, she had a long weekend in Aspremont near Nice
with our French friends, returning in time to fly off to Scandinavia
for a business trip.
Margaret's new job is as Coordinator
for the Forest Education Initiative. This is a new body jointly
funded by the Forestry Authority, the Timber Trade Federation,
the Forestry Industry Council and a charity called the Forestry
Trust. Margaret is the sole paid employee, and is based at the
Forestry Authority H.Q. in Cambridge, which provides an office
and resources - and drives her mad with Civil Service bureaucracy.
Her job involves coordinating,
visiting and assisting the local FEI cluster groups which have
been formed in different parts of the country. These aim to educate
children in the benefits of forests, woods and timber. The post
is half-time for a year initially. The trip to Sweden and Norway
was funded by the Nordic Timber Council which is sponsoring an
FEI resource pack for 5-7 year olds. It was an interesting and
enjoyable trip, but was marred by a chest infection which afflicted
all 6 in the party on our return. (Margaret claims to be constitutionally
unsuited to life north of Cambridge). Unfortunately the post isn't
likely to offer any other opportunities for foreign travel - unless
Margaret had built up a 'portfolio'
of part-time jobs during the previous year. She was Clerk to the
Parish Council for nearly a year, and worked at the University
Library since December. Although she had enjoyed parts of both
jobs, she found the financial side of the Clerk job too stressful,
and the library not stressful enough! She gave up both with few
regrets. She does a little private tuition to keep her teaching
Paul is still at Laser-Scan,
as Product Manager for Mapping and Charting products. He has had
a reorganisation recently so he has a new boss, and LSL seem (like
much of industry) to be trying to do 50% more with less people
than three years ago. There must be something wrong with today's
society when many people in jobs work long hours and would like
to work less, while many other people desperately want a job.
However, LSL seems to be thriving, and there is a lot of interest
in our new products. As well as the Vienna trip, he had a trip
to Sweden in February, a week in Canada in August, and he's off
to Delhi in December to set up a new distributor there at the
same time as attending the Indian National Cartographic Association
conference. He is due to return on December 20th, in time to fly
out on the 22nd - to India, where we plan to spend Christmas in
the southern province of Kerala.
We have had lots of visitors
during the year, including members of the family and friends old
and new. If you didn't come and see us this year please come in
1997; if you did, come again. As Margaret was working in the summer
she couldn't teach English to foreign students. However a French
woman came for a fortnight in May and two American students came
for a weekend's introduction to English life before starting a
term's course in Cambridge. We have enjoyed the company and showing
our visitors the delights of Cambridge and the surrounding countryside.
As well as travel, life has been full, with evening classes (French for Margaret, German for Paul) and sport
(Badminton for Margaret, swimming
for Paul), gardening, music, theatre etc. We've also just had
a partial refit of the kitchen which caused an unlikely amount
Paul's mother has recovered
well from her hip replacement last year, and is back striding
over the Derbyshire moors. Our ex foster son Barry (now Dominic
Graywolf) is 21, is sharing a rented house in Cambridge with six
others, and is mixing being on the dole with working in a bicycle
shop and refitting a house. He came to lunch last weekend and
writes fairly regularly.
We have celebrated various anniversaries
this year. It was the Quatercentenary (400th) of Sidney Sussex
College where Paul was a student, and all living alumni and their
families were invited for lunch on one of two days at the weekend.
While in France we found ourselves at Crecy during the 650th anniversary
of the famous battle, and the whole town was taken over in a re-enactment
in medieval costume. There were street stalls, medieval games
and entertainments as well as English and French combatants. We
thought it was very generous of the people of Crecy to stage the
event as the French had lost the battle. It will be our 20th wedding
anniversary next year as well as Margaret's 'half century', so
we shall have to find a special way of celebrating. Margaret has
plans for a foreign trip - or two.
We hope you had a good year
in 1996, and are looking forward to 1997 (and beyond).