Happy Christmas 2018


Dear Friends,

This was the year that I became a year older than I was last year. Older and wiser? Sadly no; just older. I would like to think that I am a little more tolerant than I used to be, but I am not sure than anyone else would agree.

There are some things in life that I am happy to have tried once, but feel no desperate need to try again. The example I often quote is water-skiing. I tried water-skiing in Australia in 1977. I was pleased with myself for managing two circuits of the bay, but felt no need to do it again. I did actually water-ski once more when some French friends took us out in their boat, and Matilda and Alistair both had a go as well. But as far as water-skiing is concerned I am happy to say, “Been there, done that, got the T-shirt.”

There are, though, other things that I cannot accept that I shall never do again; and even if I actually never do so, I live in hope.

We have twice climbed to the Tête des Chaudières. At over 2,000m it is a five hour round trip and a steep and rocky route, but when you get to the top there are magnificent views, or there would have been had it not been shrouded in cloud! This year I gave up after crossing the alpine meadow (1,836m) and a bit of scree. I was really feeling rather unwell. I fear that we may not do that one again. If I do, I shall take energy bars, salt tablets and two strong young men to pull me up the steep bits.

My disappointment was softened by the pleasure at seeing a small flock of Griffon Vultures close overhead. We have seen a colony at the South end of the Vercors over the Col de Rousset, but we had never before seen them up at our end.

I am not the only one who has got older of course, and for those at the other end of life’s adventure getting older is usually welcomed. We now have our first grandchild at Secondary School, and our first grandchild with her own iPhone. That raises all sorts of new issues. Internet safety and cyber-bullying did not exist when I was a teenager, and I don’t think they were much of an issue for our children. They are now very real issues.

Bethan, of course, is not the only grandchild to have grown in the last year. All four continue to thrive, and to keep us on our toes. They fill they timetables astonishingly full with sports, music and ballet. On one of our trips to Southport we discovered that Alistair, Michelle, Dylan and Reuben had all been running the 5 Km Park Run each weekend. It seemed that our presence was unlikely to prevent them, so Debbie and I decided to join them. I was slower than the boys, but as it was the first real run I had done in over forty-five years I was actually very pleased with myself for finishing at all. I remembered, thinking back, that for several years after I broke my leg running of any sort was impossible because of pain. So maybe I can forgive myself for not managing the Tête des Chaudières after all.

Matilda, Nick, Bethan and Josiah had a wonderful trip to Australia a year ago, and regaled us with tales and experiences, some of which reminded us of our own visits in 1977 and 1988. After such an exotic and extended holiday they were deliberately less ambitious this year, but their outings included camping trips for two family get togethers related to happy events in the Kay family. First Rosie got married, and then Bryony celebrated twenty years of not being married to her partner Henry. Debbie and I managed to join in the first one which was a happ
y home-grown event and incorporated many elements of Sikh culture organised by Dav (the bridegroom) and his mother. We also managed two other family gatherings. The first was a glorious spring weekend in the Lake District when we all took Debbie’s parents’ ashes to scatter on a hill, but we also cycled and took a ride on Lake Windermere.

The other was in France.