Paul and Margaret Hardy,
15 Kentings,
Tel 01223 263232

November 28th 1994


Summary of the year - 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 places.

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 trip.

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 it.

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 of money!

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 1995.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,