Sunday, 3 December 2017

2017 - The Year of "Seventy"

Round the luncheon table

It has come to that time of year when I feel I should put finger to keyboard and write something about what happened to Julia and I (and the children) during the past year. Last Christmas and New Year were great. The whole family were down, although we were too busy enjoying ourselves to take a group photo!
Grandad teaching his grandson how to nap

Helena, Julia and I went to Herne Bay in the rain just after Christmas

Then at the end of January we had a "minor" mishap that has taken most of the year to recover from. To cut a very long story short following a succession of "colds and coughs" at the end of 2016that lasted several months Julia ended up in hospital at the end of January. After many tests/X-rays/scans etc the diagnosis was Vasculitis which is where the bodies auto-immune system attacks the blood vessels. In addition she had the Epstein-Barr Virus and the Influenza A Virus - quite a cocktail. Julia is still under the consultants and still gets tired very quickly - it has left her with damaged eyesight and hearing - so we both now have hearing aids!! Sorting this out has taken inordinate amounts of time but she is now much better than she was although still not 100%.

In March our God-daughter Billie, who is slowly recovering from leukaemia, married Tony, the son of good friends of ours, Aidan and Kathy. It was a fabulous occasion with much dabbing of wet eyes.

Tony and Billie with us and Father Tom
 Julia made a trip toYork and met up with old college friends. I went on a Church retreat to Merville in France so the year was fairly busy.

The "girls" in York -all went to St Paul's Teacher Training College 
Andrew & Gaew organised a family BBQ in July at their house. Sadly we cannot seem to find any photos of the event - but we do have this photo of a rather strange sporting event.

During the year we made several trips to our lodge in Devon. The one downside is that it takes us around 4 -4.5 hours to get there. But when we are down it is really fabulous. So all in all well worth the trip.

One of the gardens we visited

I turned seventy in October. Julia and I went to La Gavroche  for lunch to celebrate. Then at the weekend the children took me out for lunch. Well at least that is what they told me. I missed this lunch as they had arranged a surprise party for me. It was really great and I thoroughly enjoyed it all.

Alcohol was consumed!

The day after the night before!
Celebrations continued into early November as we spent a few days in Dorset with old college friends. Us "boys" all turned 70 in September/October.

Cutting our cake in RCET colours with Martin and John

Golden Cap in Dorset

Almost inevitably there was some sadness in the year, one of the penalties of getting older. My cousin Lesley's husband Ken died after a long illness. They lived in Canada and so we were not able to get to see them very often. We were not at the funeral; but I was privileged to be able to help officiate at the service when we buried Ken's ashes in his family's plot in Sussex.

Lesley and Ken with David, Julia and I on a visit to England in 2009.

Father Cyril, who was a retired priest and a great friend died early in the year. Cyril had been a great help to me and source of inspiration when I was in formation for the Permanent Diaconate.

Dermot Poston, my first English teacher at Aske's school died. Dermot was an inspirational teacher and introduced me to the delights of caving. What I did not know at the time was that my first day at Aske's as a pupil was Dermot's first day as a teacher! I got to know Dermot quite well over the last few years at various dinners and rambles courtesy of the Old Askean Association.

Dermot and Julia talking at an Old Askean Dinner

Two second cousin's on my dad's side of the family, Anni Martin and Peggy Dawson died. Both had been ill for some time but this does not make their passing any easier.

A deacon friend, Peter Rennie, tragically died far too young. Peter greatly helped me during my diaconal formation and was one of the deacons who played a major role at my ordination. This photo was taken at the post-ordination celebration.

With Peter Rennie, 8th June 2013

My cousin Tony, whom I spoke to on  4th October, my birthday, was taken ill and died on Friday 13 October. He was a lovely man and we are all recovering from the shock. Barbara, his widow, organised a wonderful funeral service for him which was a fitting tribute. We all miss him.

Tony, Barbara, Helena and Julia when they visited us in California in 2001
We ended the year with a three day break on the Isle of Wight, courtesy of Julia's twin sister Phil - she and her husband Peter gave me a two  night break in Shanklin  as a 70th birthday present - thank you both very much. We had a great time - I had not been to the IoW since our honeymoon some 46 years ago.

Beautiful but rather chilly
I end this missive on a very happy note. Emma, partner to Lawrie and mother to our only grandchild Henry, is expecting a second baby on December 31 - so the year should go out with a bang!

All in all 2017 was an interesting year, we hope and pray that it was a good one for you and yours.
Wishing you all Good Health, Prosperity and Good Luck in 2018
All our love and best wishes
Barry and Julia