Paul and Margaret Hardy,
15 Kentings,
Tel 0223 263232

November 29th 1993


Summary of the year - 1993

1993 has been a year of little change for us, but with some memorable experiences. We haven't moved house, changed jobs, got ill, or anything like that. The small extension to the dining area which was underway last Christmas was finished successfully, and we are pleased with the result.

The year started in grand style by us going to South Africa for Christmas. Originally, we were intending to go on a safari in Kenya, but we were persuaded by some cousins that now was the time to go to S.A., and to visit them for Christmas. We duly booked flights to Cape Town, hired a car, and spent a week going out along the Garden Route coast to Knysna and back through the semi-desert interior of the little Karou. We then stayed in Cape Town over Xmas, and had Christmas Dinner with the cousins. There were 10 of us, eating turkey and all the trimmings outdoors in the evening! The second week we stayed in the Cape Winelands area (Paarl and Stellenbosch). The whole trip was a great success. The people were very friendly and hospitable and the scenery was magnificent.

The trouble is that travel is contagious. Since then, we have been to Gran Canaria in the Canary islands, to Nerja on the south coast of Spain, to Tuscany, to Slovenia (part of the former Yugoslavia), and to Majorca. None of them have been for more than a week, but we have an enormous variety of memories (and photographs) to look back on for 1993. In Gran Canaria we stayed in Puerto Mogan, a delightful pleasure port, and enjoyed the winter sunshine and the excellent fish and seafood. In Nerja we did a lot of walking and enjoyed the Easter processions.

We arrived in Tuscany three days after the bombing of the Uffizi gallery in Florence, so it was shut. However there was more than enough culture to see elsewhere! I nominate two items in particular: Firstly in Pisa, coming to the gateway in the high wall surrounding the 'Campo dei Miracoli' or field of miracles and seeing the Baptistry, the Cathedral, and the Leaning Tower in a row against a backdrop of clear blue sky, green grass and the far wall of the old Camposanto cemetery. Secondly in Siena having admired the historic buildings around the central square (more an oval) of the Piazza del Campo, to enter into the Cathedral and be amazed by the scale and harmony of the black and white mosaics, columns and arches. We were staying with some friends in a villa in the Tuscan hills, with magnificent views and a tranquil setting which was much appreciated after the bustle of nearby Florence.

Our trip to Lake Bled in Slovenia was a late arrangement. I had stayed there as a child 25 years before, and it hadn't changed a lot. The setting of the town is superb. The lake has a small island with a charming church, against a backdrop of the Karavanken mountains. The weather was cooler than we hoped, but it is excellent walking country, and the hotel was keen to encourage the few visitors. It's a shame that most people seem to think that Slovenia is a war zone - it never has been, and its been independent for nearly three years now. The impressions were of a prosperous and peaceful country, with a feel of Austria. Certainly the capital (Lublijana) has a feel of Salzburg or Vienna.

The final trip (well almost) this year was to the mountainous western coast of Majorca to the village of Banyalbufar. Once again the weather was a bit disappointing, but the scenery was magnificent and good for walking.

I said 'almost', because we have booked a trip to Egypt with a cruise down the Nile for the week after Christmas. We are taking my mother with us and we fly to Luxor on the day after Boxing Day. More about that trip in next year's letter.

On the work front, Laser-Scan's recent large installation in Mexico went so smoothly that I wasn't needed to go and sort out problems. Maybe I'll get there another year! Business isn't exactly booming, but we seem to have survived the recession (which is more than can be said for some of our competitors), and there seems to be flurry of sales prospects and tenders at present. Perhaps the market is picking up at last.

On the leisure front (apart from travel), I achieved two other long-standing ambitions this year. The first was to have a trip in a glider, for which I had an ideal summer evening at a nearby gliding school. The second is that Margaret has bought me a concertina which I am learning to play. It's quite an antique, being a Lachenal from around 1920. A concertina is unlike any other wind instrument to play, in that successive notes of the scale are on opposite ends of it, so it needs good hand coordination. Only time will tell if I master it properly!

Margaret is still teaching 0.6 of the week at Potton Middle School in Bedfordshire. The school is going over to locally managed funding next year, so her contract with the county education authority expires in April and we don't know if she will get a new one from the School. We had a French girl called Eve staying with us in the summer for private English tuition from Margaret. Once again it worked well, and we quite enjoyed showing her the delights of Cambridge.

We are both doing evening classes in Italian at the Village College, and Margaret is continuing with French as well. We've just finished doing Box Office for the local dramatic group production of Godspell. It seemed at one stage that it would have to be called off as half the cast was going ill with 'flu, but "the show must go on", so it did and was a great success.

Our ex foster son Barry reached 18 this year, and is living in Cambridge. He has recently started a course at Anglia Polytechnic University leading to GNVQs which involves him doing a fair amount of maths as well as computing and physics, which he is finding hard work. He's finding it equally hard to balance income with expenditure, but that's a common problem today.

For next year, we have a trip planned to America for Easter, to visit New Orleans as well as our friends in Tennessee. We also plan a trip to Sorento, when we hope to visit Pompeii.

We hope you had a good year in 1993, and are looking forward to 1994.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,