Paul and Margaret Hardy,
15 Kentings, Comberton,
Tel 01223 263232

November 24th 1998


Summary of the year - 1998

Yet another Xmas approaches, and 1998 slips by. As always, it has been a busy year, with a lot of pleasurable travelling, Anyway, we are both generally enjoying life.

Our year started in Morocco, where we were on holiday with Mother on a coach tour of the imperial cities (Fez, Meknes, Marrakech, Casablanca). The souk at Fez was very memorable, and scenes like the leather tannery were like walking back into medieval history.

In February, we went to northern Tenerife, where we enjoyed our walks and the sunshine and scenery. It was Carnival while we were there, and the streets were full of people in fancy dress (including more than 101 Dalmatians). We enjoyed it sufficiently to book to go back next year for the other half of the Carnival fortnight.

We have rambled a lot this year. In April we went on a Ramblers 'Birds and Flowers' holiday in Minorca. We learnt a lot about flowers, which grew in profusion - and kept still, rather less about the birds, which had a tendency to fly off before we'd adjusted the binoculars.

We spent a long weekend in northern France at the early May bank holiday. We stayed in a farmhouse near Montreuil and walked some of the marked paths in the area. On a rainy afternoon we went underground at 'La Coupole' - a museum situated in a V2 rocket base with artefacts and audio-visual presentations on the occupation of Northern France and the conquest of space.

Our rambles resumed - rather more energetically - on the hilly Greek island of Samos in May. This was our first visit to this beautiful island. The weather, accommodation, food and company were excellent. There were also historical sites to visit. Particularly amazing was the Evpalinion tunnel dug through a range of hills in 500 BC to bring water to the town of Pythagorion (the birthplace of Pythagorus of triangle fame). This tunnel was big enough to walk through, and had been dug from both ends to meet in the middle - an amazing feat of surveying and precision engineering.

Also during May, Margaret went on a forestry training course in the Forest of Dean. She liked the area very much and took Paul there for a long weekend for his birthday in August - our first holiday in England for some years! It was a success, with good weather, comfortable accommodation in a lovely setting, a cosy local pub with excellent food, and some interesting walks around the Wye valley.

Our 'main' holiday of the year was a fortnight in the USA in late September (again with Ramblers). This was a belated celebration of our 20th wedding anniversary. The trip was "Mountains and Cities of New England", although most of the time was actually spent in New York state, which strictly is not New England. The trip started with two days in Boston (where we checked out 'the other Cambridge') and finished with two days in New York, where we saw the sunset from the top of the Empire state Building, took a ferry trip round Manhattan and finally got to see 'The Phantom of the Opera'. In between, we were walking in the Berkshires, the Catskills, and the Adirondaks. In the north the fall colours were beautiful, particularly when seen on a glorious day from the top of the Olympic ski jump at Lake Placid. (We took the easy way down, by chairlift.) The walking was interspersed with visits to art galleries, museums and historical sites, making ' a real interesting vacation'.

Later in October, Paul had to go to Singapore to give a paper at a hydrographic conference, so Margaret took the opportunity to fit in yet another Ramblers holiday, this time to Paguera in Majorca, with coastal, country and mountain walking in warm sunshine.

In between holidays and major trips, Paul has been to a trade show in Bruges, and to various meetings in Paris, Edinburgh and even a day trip to Brussels. The last of these was definitely a fraught experience, as the plane from Stansted had to turn back with engine trouble, and after a four hour delay, he got to the meeting with about two minutes to spare before the start of the afternoon session in which he had to demonstrate Laser-Scan's software to our project masters in the E.U.

A further memorable experience for Paul was attending a residential concertina course in Somerset in March, culminating in a hymn session on the Sunday morning. The sound of 100 concertinas playing "Abide with me" in four part harmony has to be heard to be believed! However the downside of this visit was a degree of dissatisfaction with his concertina which was tuned to the old Salvation Army pitch (a semitone sharp of modern concert pitch). Margaret came to the rescue, and for Paul's birthday, paid for the concertina to be retuned and overhauled - it is now done and ready for the next 80 years.

Margaret is enjoying her job is as Coordinator for the Forest Education Initiative. She is mainly office based but travels to various parts of her 'patch' i.e. the UK, from time to time. As well as the course in the Forest of Dean, she has spent a week in southern Scotland - with a group of Finnish teachers - and days in London, Edinburgh, Bristol etc. Her hours have just been increased to three days a week. She continues to go to French classes, plays badminton and is the mower, weeder and harvester in the garden.

Paul is still at Laser-Scan, but in a different job. He has moved from Product Manager back into the development department and is now Software Production Manager. It didn't start as a good year for Laser-Scan, but orders and prospects have been picking up recently. The pressure to get ever more from fewer staff continues, as it seems to in most industries. Paul finds time for German classes and playing his concertina, as well as a swim once a week. He is the creative gardener, responsible for planning, planting and growing. His shoulder has been giving trouble for the last few months, and he has just had a scan done. He sees the specialist in December, but keyhole surgery to clean out the joint seems likely.

Our ex foster son Barry (now Dominic Graywolf) is 23, and when we last heard had a permanent job as a porter at Magdalene college. He comes to lunch every few months, and at the last visit had bought an aged Rover car.

We're booked to go to The Gambia, taking Mother, for a week over Xmas, so we should end 1998 with some sun. Plans for next year include Prague and Madeira, and hopefully Costa Rica over Xmas (provided the Millennium bug doesn't bring the world to a standstill!).

We hope you had a good year in 1998, and are looking forward to 1999 (and beyond).

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,