Paul and Margaret Hardy,
15 Kentings,
Tel 01223 263232

November 25th 1996


Summary of the year - 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 over Kas.

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 Edinburgh counts.

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 hand in.

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 of chaos.

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).

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,