February saw us spending a week skiing in Sauze d’Oulx, Italy. We stayed for the second time at the Biancaneve, a nice little hotel run by two sisters – excellent home cooking. The snow was adequate, and we took the link over to Sestriere a couple of times. We also spent one day in Montgenevre. Highlight of the week was dinner in a mountain restaurant followed by a torch-lit descent down a red run at night. Colin held a torch, Pat concentrated on getting down.
In early March we celebrated Pat’s 60th birthday party with a family gathering at Alnwick Garden, including lunch in the tree house. Well worth a visit. There are a few photographs in the Family Album – email Colin for a password if you haven’t got one.
31st March was Colin’s last day at work – he’d decided to retire a year before his NHS pension kicked in (at 60). Nearly 40 of us took the curry train from Newcastle to his leaving do at the Valley Restaurant, Corbridge. His friends had composed a little song in his honour, which five of them sang in the middle of dinner. Colin and Pat
A fortnight after Easter in April we spent yet another night with biker friends at the Black Horse, Hulland Ward. Mike and Mu, who own the pub, made us all very welcome – and the beer garden turned into a campsite for the night. We opted for one of the pub’s four-poster beds.
For the Spring Bank Holiday we joined the same biker friends (about 40 of them in all) on a weekend trip to Dieppe, but taking the Dover-Calais ferry. We stayed in the Hotel Windsor, and managed to fit in a day trip to Etretat, doing a tour of the Benedictine distillery at Fecamp on the way. The Saturday market in Dieppe alone was worth the trip.
In June, Pat plus guest (Colin) had been invited to the inaugural meeting of the Warwick University Maths Graduates’ Society, at the Royal Society – address by Prof Chris Zeeman and a chance to meet old friends over drinks and canapes. We used this as an excuse for a four night stay in London. We fitted in a couple of walks in Hyde Park, shopping in Covent Garden, a day-trip down the river to Greenwich (and a look at Harrison’s Clocks) and a superb meal at the Tamarind, a Michelin-starred Indian Restaurant in Mayfair.
June also saw the refurbishment of our bathroom – green marbled tiles, white suite, polished and varnished floor, ceiling spotlights. Visits by appointment only.
Towards the end of June we gave a modest garden party for the family. There are some photos in the Family Album.
The first week in July saw us heading for France – in the car, as we intended to do more walking and sightseeing than travelling. We took the Dover-Calais ferry, spent a couple of nights in Honfleur and then a week in a 16th century apartment in the middle of Dinan. What an amazing
town! We then spent two nights near Giverny in order to have a look at Monet’s garden, before returning home. The weather was mixed, but we saw plenty of sights and managed a couple of nice days at the beach. Pictures here . We’d happily go back to Brittany.
Mid August brought our annual visit to Saltburn Folk Festival, where Colin’s group Backshift was due to play several concerts. For the second year running we stayed at the Diamond Guest House, where we always receive a warm welcome.
For many years Colin has been hankering to go back to the town where he first went to school – Tenby, in south-west Wales. So in early September we spent a few nights there in a lovely hotel on the seafront, walking on the Pembrokeshire coast and finding Glyder, the house in Manorbier where the family lived, and St Stephen’s, once a school but now a residence, on the cliff top in Tenby. Pictures here. Coming back we spent a night with Mike and Patsy (Mike is Colin’s cousin) near Tewksbury and a night with all our biker friends in Hulland Ward.
Later that month Colin decided to do a track day at Cadwell Park in Lincolnshire. Unfortunately at the end of one session he went into the hairpin too fast, came off and broke his collarbone. The damage to the bike was mostly cosmetic. We had to take the train back north the following day, and then hire a transit (Pat doing all the driving) to go back down to Lincolnshire the following week to pick up the bike.
At the end of November we got the sad news from Mike and Patsy that Mike’s father, Colin’s Uncle Bill, had passed away. Not unexpected – he was the last of that generation.
Our final trip away of the year was in late November to the Motorcycle Show at the NEC. We spent the nights either side at Hulland Ward again, and Colin took the opportunity to have a luthier in Lichfield fit a pickup to one of his guitars. This was followed by a couple of nights with old friends in Cheshire.
November and December also saw much work from Pat, as our firm Hiltrain had a concentrated 5 weeks doing training-needs analysis interviews for the soon-to-be-redundant employees of the local branch of a multi-national firm.
At the Davy Lamp Folk Club Xmas party the Washington Downtown Cloggies (Appalachian Clog Dancing group) did their usual party piece – this year a sketch starring Pat as Lord Nelson, while Colin and friends did an old Everly Brothers number (.wmv films here – let Colin know if you’d like another format).