2014 continued.


We have just had the warmest All Saints’ Eve on record. We had the warmest summer on record and the wettest winter with widespread flooding in Somerset and along the Thames valley. It was fun to see the politicians jumping up and down when flooding affected the Home Counties. Somehow they don’t get so excited when it is “only” Cumbria or Cornwall that’s affected. The Prime Minister made a famous “Money is no object” speech. Does that mean that they are going to get serious about climate change? Alas, no. It means that they are worried about votes and they are going to get the army to bring in sandbags.

There is some good news on the subject of politics: I am gradually making my exit from active politics.

I spent most of the year going to London every week as part of a working group developing Liberal Democrat policy on Public Services. When the report contained none of my suggestions I wrote my own report which was endorsed by seven members of the working group, but was kicked into touch by the Party. I continued to agitate at our Autumn conference, but now I shall take another step back and spend more time. . . with what?

Well, the family of course. We continue to see a lot of the grandchildren. They all thrive in their different ways. Mostly we go, either to Southport or to Hollowell for a few days at a time, but we also overlapped parts of our holidays in France; and occasionally we all get together.

Exactly forty years on from our Wedding in Bull Street Friends Meeting House we held a small family lunch at the Longmynd Hotel (see photos previous page).

The West family at Newbury in March was another happy event. We were most hospitably accommodated by Leila and Jason; I am not sure how fitted us all in, or how they arranged the sunshine.

Debbie’s father has had a pretty good year, on the whole. After a break while Alice was rather frail he has been to France three times in twelve months. Each trip was a bit difficult for him in some ways, but he remains very positive and is glad to be doing things. He has had a couple of falls, which have limited his walking a bit, though he walked every day when he was in St Raphaël.

Debbie and I still walk of course.
We walked in the French mountains near Villard and in the dry forest of the Estorel near St Raphaël. At home, mostly we do short walks unless we have visitors, so many thanks to friends and family who have passed this way. The big walk this year was another one arranged by Jon and Jane Kay.
We set off from Penzance, walked north across the Cornish peninsula and then round the coast back to Penzance. We had lovely company and views and learnt a lot about the history of Cornish mining and fishing. The weather was a bit mixed!

I have spent a good few hours practising the saxophone, or rather saxophones, as I now have a soprano to keep company with my tenor. The tenor sax is a big beast and makes a big sound. The soprano is straight and a bit more compact so it’s easier to take on holiday. I joined a concert band in Ludlow which has been fun. We have played perhaps a dozen concerts mostly in informal settings and they are a very friendly crowd. I am progressing, and greatly enjoying it, but I’ve a long way to go.

As we celebrated our Ruby Wedding, it is perhaps not surprising that some of our friends are also forty years on from their own weddings. One such celebration gave us an opportunity to catch up with a good number of Birmingham University friends. So with family, friends, music and walking, we have been very fortunate. Would that the wider issues of the world had fared as well.

May 2015 be a good year for you and for us all. Happy Christmas and love from,

Charlie and Debbie .