Paul and Margaret Hardy,
15 Kentings, Comberton, CAMBRIDGE CB3 7DT
Tel 01223 263232

December 2000

Dear All

Summary of the year - 2000

We saw in the Millennium (if such it was) in Competa in southern Spain, in a Millennium ball together with most of the inhabitants of the village and the rest of a group of Ramblers. That set the scene for the rest of the year, which has again included a lot of enjoyable travel and various memorable events.

In February, we returned to the Gambia, where we again enjoyed the sunshine, scenery and the colourful birdlife. We ventured away from the coast on a two-day trip up-country, led by a local bird-watching expert. In March Paul went to a hydrographic conference in Monaco and Margaret went along to sightsee. We spent a day getting reacquainted with Nice on the way home.

At Easter we spent a week at Puerto de Pollensa on Mallorca. It wasn’t a ‘real’ walking holiday, but we bought a ‘package’ of four walks from Thomson. There was a choice of two walks a day every day and we enjoyed some excellent hikes and magnificent views. In fact we enjoyed it so much we’ve booked to return next Easter to do four more of the walks! On one of our ‘non-walking’ days we walked into Pollensa and caught the bus to Cala San Vicente where we spent our first Mallorcan holiday 15 years ago. We were delighted to find it unchanged. We had a sandy cove to ourselves and Paul swam in an azure sea.

We spent two weekends in France in May, the first staying with a family in our twin village of Le Vaudreuil, where we enjoyed magnificent hospitality. During the weekend the official twinning ceremony took place and there was a celebration party, notable for a rendering of the can-can and the champagne that was still flowing at 2a.m. We spent a quieter weekend a fortnight later at a small hotel at Cap Blanc Nez whose restaurant had a ‘Bottin Gourmand’ rating, which we enjoyed even with the restrictions of Margaret’s diet. We did some coastal walking on the Saturday, but it rained so hard on the Sunday we gave up and caught an early ferry home.

Margaret had two invitations to memorable events. In May she went to dinner at the Finnish Embassy in London, and in July we both went to a Royal Garden party at Buckingham Palace. This was an amazing event, with thousands of people dressed ‘in their best bib and tucker’. It was like a scene from ‘My Fair Lady’ and we kept expecting people to break into a dance routine. The Queen, Prince Philip and Prince Charles were there. We saw some of the main rooms in the palace and got some ideas from the herbaceous border, though a team of gardeners to implement them would be useful.

We had a garden party of our own to celebrate the birthdays of Margaret and Win, Paul’s mother. The weather was kind enough for the hardiest to spend at least some of the time in the garden. Win is now 87 and is still fit and well. Barry (now Dominic), our ex foster son joined us for the celebration. After four years of being a porter at Magdalene College, he now works for an agency calculating teachers’ performance-related pay.

Later in July Paul spent 10 days at a conference in Amsterdam. Margaret was able to go for 5 days and enjoyed exploring the museums and canals of Amsterdam despite cool and sometimes wet weather. At the end of the month Margaret went to Finland for a week’s forest education conference with delegates from 7 north European countries. She stayed in log cabins (some with TV and en-suite bathroom!) and visited a huge range of wood related sites, including the magnificent timber Sibelius concert hall. Having taken advantage of cheap ‘Buzz’ flights she had to spend an extra day in Helsinki, which she loved, perhaps because the sun came out at last.

Paul went to a reunion day at his old school (Kimbolton). It was to celebrate 400 years of the school, but during the preparations for the day, the school historian had unearthed papers showing a school there at least 150 years earlier! Paul met some old friends, and rang the bells (briefly, to preserve his now better arthritic shoulder) at the church where we were married.

For Paul’s birthday in August, Margaret took him to Prague for a long weekend. The weather was perfect and the city is full of delightful and historic sights. Shortly afterwards, Paul went off to America, to give a paper in San Diego. He had one day free and in the evening took the local tram then walked into Mexico for half an hour! On the way back he went to Laser-Scan’s U.S. office in Stirling Virginia for a few days. It is amazing how that area north of Washington has exploded with development in the five years since he last was there.

In September, Paul’s travels continued with a workshop in Barcelona, to which he took a circuitous route via Monaco to attend an international hydrographic meeting. He didn’t stay in Barcelona over the weekend, as we were triple booked on the Saturday – it was the French twinning weekend, we had a Silver wedding to go to in Cambridge, and in the evening Paul’s college (Sidney Sussex) held a commemoration dinner!

At the end of September, we spent a week on the Greek Ionian island of Kephalonia (the setting for the book ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’). Although it wasn’t a walking holiday, the countryside was too good to miss. After a beautiful start to the week, cloud increased daily and our last walk ended in rain – and with us in a taxi! We saw villages ruined in the earthquake of 1953 and talked to a number of survivors. We were delighted by the hospitality of the older people who gave us fruit from their gardens.

In October, Margaret went off without Paul (who had no holiday left) for a week’s walking with Waymark at Grazalema in Andalucia. The walks were ‘vertically challenging’ after the flat walks of East Anglia, but she enjoyed walking in good company and took the opportunity to practise her Spanish. Paul took the opportunity to visit the Dome, which he enjoyed. It was probably one of the Dome’s busiest days, being the end of half-term, but he saw all he wanted without vast queuing and took some good photos for the pictorial diary.

In between holidays and major trips, Paul has been to Grenoble, Gothenburg, Vienna, Paris, Edinburgh and Oxford. He recently achieved 25 years working for Laser-Scan, which was recognised by a presentation of £50 in book tokens. In the last few months, Laser-Scan has been taken over by another British company called Yeoman, which has a focus on mobile location information. So far, the results of the takeover seem positive. Paul has also moved jobs within Laser-Scan to become Chief Product Manager, so may not be travelling quite as much next year.

He has continued playing the concertina with a local band of beginner and improver folk musicians called Greenshoots, which meet at a pub once a fortnight. He is half-heartedly learning Spanish at evening class. Margaret has added line-dancing to her winter evening occupations of French classes and badminton. We do go walking together, both abroad on holiday and locally - when it’s not raining.

We are off rambling in Costa Rica for Christmas and the New Year. The holiday is designated P/D by Ramblers. D indicates the level of walking (not very arduous) and P is for Pioneer i.e. anything could happen and Ramblers disclaim all responsibility!

We hope you had a good year and are looking forward to the real Millennium of 2001.

Paul and Margaret

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,