Paul and Margaret Hardy,

15 Kentings, Comberton, CAMBRIDGE CB23 7DT

Email paul @;Margaret @


Tel 01223 263232

 December 2007



 2007 – A Year of Celebrations


·         Paul returned permanently home from the USA at the end of last year (six months after Margaret). We’d had met up for a short time in California in December to pack our household into a container again, and to spend Christmas in Death Valley. Having flown in from California on 31 December we celebrated our homecoming to Comberton with a party for 50 friends on New Year’s Day. Having no furniture in the living room meant that there was lots of room for people!

·         Paul had a 6 month contract shared 50/50 between ESRI Inc (the American parent company) and ESRI UK (the British distributor) which is based in Aylesbury. He works largely from home, with a day a week at customer sites and a day a fortnight at Aylesbury, plus longer periods at trade shows and conferences. Paul’s dual-role contract was renewed in June, celebrated with a bottle of bubbly.

·         Our belongings arrived home in early February. There were a few casualities but it was great to have our things again. Margaret had been living in an empty house, apart from a bed and picnic table and chairs since the previous July. We celebrated with a bottle of Californian bubbly!

·         We celebrated our return to a part of the world with footpaths, by going on a two week Ramblers holiday in Turkey. It was our fifth visit to that beautiful country which has had a lot of development since our first visit.

·         On July 7th we celebrated Paul’s mother’s 94th birthday. Her memory is getting very erratic, but she is still living by herself near Sheffield, though with daily support from a home help, and at least weekly visits from Paul’s brother Michael and wife Catherine.

·         Margaret celebrated her ‘bus pass birthday’ in July; actually the celebrations started on the 8 July and continued until 29 November when she was treated to a performance of The Gondoliers by friends.

·         Two weeks after her birthday Margaret celebrated her retirement with two Pimms parties held in the garden on consecutive days. Having bought bottles of Pimms whenever they were on offer we had accumulated more than we needed and were left with a “Pimms’ pond” (smaller than a “wine lake”).

·         In August we celebrated when Margaret’s chest infection and cough, which had plagued our lives since February, were finally diagnosed and quickly cured when the appropriate special antibiotics were eventually prescribed. Once the course of antibiotics was completed we opened a bottle of bubbly to celebrate Paul’s birthday.

·         In September Margaret went on a week’s walking holiday in Normandy with seven of her walking friends to celebrate not having to be in school on the first week of term. She has since been lured back into the classroom to do occasional supply teaching at the junior school in Histon where her friend Lesley is Head and in the primary school in Comberton, where she also maintains the (newly recreated) village maze with the help of a team of little helpers.

·         We celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary (in September) with a Ramblers holiday in November in Swaziland and South Africa. This included four days in the Kruger National Park, where we saw an amazing number and variety of wildlife, including four of the Big Five – elephant, buffalo, lion and rhino (the leopard proved elusive.) We were lucky enough to see a rare black rhino (only 3000 in the world!). He didn’t seem too impressed at seeing us and did a mock charge to show who was boss. We spent the final week walking in the Drakensbergs, staying on an estate where hippos and crocodiles literally lived in the stream at the bottom of the garden. Hippo spotting became an evening pastime.

·         We will be celebrating Christmas with Paul’s mother in Dore and with family and friends who live nearby. Then we’re off to Arizona to celebrate the New Year with friends in Tucson. We plan to visit the Frank Lloyd Wright museum in Scottsdale and, snow permitting, to see some of the natural sights in the north east of the state such as the Canyon de Chelly and Monument Valley (we visited the Grand Canyon and Sedona while living in California).

Paul has been back to California twice during the year, to conferences in Palm Springs and San Diego. They were both during term so Margaret couldn’t accompany him. He also went to a conference in Moscow in August, and came back with giardiasis (an intestinal parasite infestation).

Margaret meanwhile went to Ireland with two American friends who came on a three week visit. Her friend Nancy, whose visit she was eagerly awaiting in September, was unable to come as her passport application was, and still is, sitting (after six months) in a bureaucratic pile. This is because the American government decided to tighten up on border controls and insisted that Americans who travelled to Canada or Mexico should travel on a passport instead of their driving license ID. Many Californians go to Mexico frequently for business or leisure and the state passport offices were swamped with applications.

Two of the wildfires that swept through southern California this autumn were in the San Bernardinos. Many of our friends were evacuated, but fortunately none lost their homes, though in two cases the house next door was burnt to the ground. The friends who visited this summer had previously lost their home in the 2003 fire. Corliss only had time to gather up the cats and some jewellery. We were particularly concerned about Forest Service friends who were on the front line of this year’s fires and we followed the progress of the fires daily until the winds dropped and they were contained without serious injury or loss of life. The air quality in Redlands, where we lived, was so poor that schools were closed and people told to stay indoors where possible.

We miss the many friends we made in the US and the mountains and forests which were an important part of our lives. We are, however, very pleased to be home. Margaret has woven herself into village life and returned to her rambling and badminton clubs. Paul has rejoined his music groups, and goes walking with Margaret on Sundays whenever time allows. He twice went to residential concertina weekends in Somerset and he also went to the ”Swaledale Squeeze”, making up for the lack of concertina events in the US. Our foster son, Dom, has got a nice girlfriend and they have just moved into their first home together in Luton.  

Paul still isn’t quite sure what he will be doing next year, but is expecting to get a new contract from ESRI, probably to be focussed on national mapping agencies and cartographic producers across Europe. Unfortunately he’s too young for retirement to be an option!


We hope you have had a good year and that 2008 is a happy and successful one.


Wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,





Paul & Margaret