You'll find this year's "report" refreshingly brief; last year's version demanded commercial colour photocopying which costs a bomb. Now most people have Internet access, at home, work or the local library. So the following is just a précis which is quick to read and even quicker to download: if you really want to see the rest, I suggest that you access this page on my website at http://www.ian‑gillis.freeserve.co.uk/Xmas2001.htm and follow the hyperlinks to the relevant text. There is also a web version of our Christmas card which you can see by clicking here. .
There's nothing more important than health and happiness; this year Christine continued to improve after her operation last year, Ian's new eye is working well (although it still does nothing for the golf performance!) and Peter continues to bloom. We keep happy by keeping ourselves very busy; overlaying Ian's golf and Christine's yoga, tai chi, line dancing and WI activities with frequent trips out as summarised below. Peter got through his A(S)-level exams and is working on his A-levels; his beer money comes from part-time jobs as a paper-boy, washing up in the local pub, and as a sales assistant in the Colchester branch of Dixons. As he is spreading the wings of his independence he no longer comes on many of our trips; we miss him but at least it saves on cattery costs!
We were saddened when Simon and Gill called off their planned wedding and went their separate ways, as we were when Tim and his wife Dee decided to divorce each other. Our distress at their unhappiness is compounded by the loss from our greater family of their former partners who we had grown to love.
The real start to the new millennium was celebrated in our new caravan at the Cherry Hinton site near Cambridge. The weather tested Ian's modifications for internal water storage with overnight temperatures of –7 ºC and a good sprinkle of snow (picture). A highlight was a visit to Ely cathedral where the choir were practising under the wonderful lantern roof.
In January we spent a fortnight in the charming alpine village of Samöens, not, however, without incident!
For details of how Ian encountered the rare French Snow Snake, did the splits and acquired a polychromatic groin, click here.
An Ian-organised walk in the Cotswolds was one of the many casualties of this scourge; he had organised a walk in April for the more ambulatory of the Marconi Old Geezers Society. Regrettably the paths led through arable, sheep and cattle country and the only responsible course of action was cancellation. Several caravan rallies also were cancelled due to FMD.
Advantage was taken of a caravan rally in Somerset to extend the journey to Looe in Cornwall. More on pottering around in Polperro, tinkering with Tintagel and embarking on the Eden Project is obtainable by clicking here.
Probably our most ambitious caravan trip yet, we spent June travelling through Belgium, Holland, Germany, Austria to Italy and Venice; then returned home via Switzerland and France. The trip is chronicled in my write-up "Castles and Canals", to read more click here.
We dutifully took the caravan to the Annual General Meeting of the Elddis Owners' Club at Harrogate, breaking the journey at Lincoln where a rally coincided with a wonderful steam fair.
A last-minute cheapo holiday that involved flying in September, shortly after the World Trade Centre atrocity, but which turned out to be surprisingly enjoyable. For details on dallying in Dalyan and "how Ian Gillis became a multi-millionaire", click here.
We went to two Elddis rallies, at Malvern and at Waltham Abbey, squeezing a couple of days at Moreton-in-Marsh to avoid a return journey to Waltham Abbey and to do some walking in the Cotswolds. Any caravanners may find something of interest if they click here.
Great Barford, near Bedford, was the venue for a pre-Christmas rally; the weather was bright but cold and we enjoyed a traditional Christmas lunch in the local pub on the banks of the Ouse.
Our latest "hot topic" is a potential house move; we no longer have the need for a five-bedroom house and are inclined to move to a smaller house in a more rural area of England. This will release some capital to go towards our crumbly French cottage and give Peter somewhere to hang out while he completes his studies. No, we haven't fallen out of love with Australia; their retirement visa regulations are just too strict!
We start the ball moving in the New Year, so watch this space!