November 24th 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
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
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
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).