Saturday, 10 December 2011

Graham and Dylys' news in 2010


Holidays
We are conscious of just how well we have done for weather on our recent holidays. In the middle of October last year, we enjoyed an excellent week walking the North York Moors and coast: a mix of warm sunshine, low cloud and mist one day but only light touches of drizzle, and a bitter wind on the final day, but nothing to spoil our getting out every day. In May this year, we spent a week in North Wales. We did climb into cloud one day and there were no views, but the only rain during the week came overnight or whilst we were in the car. Then in October this year we paid a family visit to Cornwall, spending a week there on a wonderful summer holiday with not a spot of rain.

Home
There certainly has been rain this year. We bought a new water butt which collects water off the roof of the green house, and since it was installed we have never managed to empty it – as there has been no prolonged dry period over the summer. In January we found a damp patch in the boxing around the water pipes in the kitchen: and we suspected that we had a leak from the pipes. However, when we called in a tradesman, he diagnosed a broken tile vent on the roof. The boxing is where the original boiler used to be, and it hides the old redundant flue pipe – rain was coming through the tile vent, down the pipe, and into the kitchen! Then in the spring, we noted that a damp patch in the corner of the garage roof seemed to be getting more noticeable – we opted to call in Everest before the damp patch developed into a leak, and we had the flat roof replaced. We also had the kitchen radiator replaced before its rusty blisters got any worse: the new radiator has made the kitchen the warmest room in the house!

Out and about 
We had an interesting day out of a different kind in August. A friend had fallen out of a tree, incurring serious injury, and was in hospital in Sheffield. His poor wife was making daily trips from home in Macclesfield to visit him in Sheffield; so we took a day off work and drove her over. It was a really nice drive over the Peak District (through Castleton). We found Mike in the process of moving wards, and it was almost funny to see him racing about in his wheelchair getting everything organised – he was in good spirits. We are pleased to see him back in church now.

Lud’s Church, Gradbach, Staffordshire
We are getting old! On August Bank Holiday we decided to do a walk over Shutlingsloe (our local hill) and a circuit around the south Cheshire / north Staffordshire borders. It was over 15 miles – not really strenuous climbing, but not much of the walk was flat. Our hips and thighs really felt the hammering with each step along the latter stretch of the walk, along roads into Macclesfield Forest. It was a good day out, but we have rarely been so relieved to get back to the car. We have done the walk before, though from a different starting point and a rather shorter route. It has a number of highlights, including the summit of Shutlingsloe, and the amazing Lud’s Church: a passageway between walls of rock where a persecuted saint used to worship.

The nice people in Dylys’ office gave her two garden plants for her birthday. Sadly, the Hattie’s Pincushion was enjoyed by unwelcome predators. The Passion Flower has proved much more domineering: it has helped itself to a large section of the tall fence down the side of the garden, and has produced some nice flowers!

Church
At church this year we have stepped down from some official duties. Dylys had served as Deacon for six years, and Graham as Church Secretary for six years. The constitution obliged Dylys to take a break after this time period, and Graham was ready for a break too. But we have both got involved in Hope Mission Action Groups: Hope being the banner that unites most of the churches in North East Cheshire, and the action groups being the practical outworking of different types of mission. We were both looking after tables at the Hope Expo day in the Town Hall in November.

Graham and Dylys' news in 2009


It's official: salad is bad for you! Graham managed to break a tooth whilst eating a mouthful of cucumber and coleslaw. Actually, the salad was probably just the straw that broke the camel's back, as his molars had been getting increasingly sensitive in the weeks prior to the incident.

Holidays

The North York Moors in mid October
We hired a static caravan near Scarborough for a week in May. The weather was mixed, but it did not stop us from getting out and about. We did the coast walk from Ravenscar to Robin Hood Bay and back. We spent a pleasant day around Whitby, although getting caught in the heavy showers in the afternoon. We found some steep and slippery paths around Broxa Forest. We saw the amazing white cliffs around Flamborough Head. We were pleased to be able to walk "the Hole of Horcum" and not just part of it(!). We are hoping to return to the area, as the unsettled weather put us off visiting Goathland with its promise of a scenic waterfall.

We decided to see more of the North York Moors in October, and booked a cottage in Ruswarp just outside Whitby. All in all, it was a much better holiday than the one in May - the weather was better, and the cottage had real novelty value - it was the old ticket office on a station platform, with steam trains and regular service trains passing our front door! We did the walk around Goathland, travelled to the west side of the moors to see the Cook Monument and climb Roseberry Topping (sounds like a sticky dessert, but it's a little hill). We also did a coast walk, and another moors walk at Danby.

In November we combined a brief family visit to Cornwall with a couple of nights in Cardiff. We stayed in a shiny new Travelodge in the Cardiff Bay area, and enjoyed walking along the waterfront, and around the shopping centre and Bute Park next to the castle.

House

We had to call in our tradesman neighbour at new year, as we saw water dripping through the eaves outside the kitchen. We think it was just due to condensation, and hopefully the new ventilators have seen an end to the problem.
In the summer, with the promise of a local authority grant, we signed up for new loft insulation and cavity wall insulation. We were not very happy with the company that did the wall insulation - Dylys took a day off work, they turned up, announced that they could only do the front and back of the house and not the side due to problems with access from the garage roof, and then tried to bill us for the full job. Eventually they arranged another date and completed the job - no reason why the garage should be causing a problem!

Towards the end of the year, we had the dry stone retaining wall at the bottom of the garden rebuilt. The wooded area beyond our garden slopes down to the Bollin River, with the retaining wall keeping our back garden almost level. We had been advised when we had the house surveyed that this would be a job needing doing within a few years.

Church

At Bethel Baptist Church, Dylys took part in the Holiday Club at half term in February. We did not get as many children as anticipated, and the ensuing weekly youth club ran for only a few weeks. We were amongst a small group that went on a Child Protection training course in the spring.

This year we started recording the sermons at the church, and Graham now edits and publishes the sermons as podcasts, accessible from the church web site www.bethelmacclesfield.org.uk, which he also maintains.

Choir

Dylys continues to sing with the "Claritas" Hospice choir, as do several other members of our church. Besides the weekly practice, she has joined occasional public performances through the year, including one at Bethel in April; all raising money for the hospice.

Jobs

No change - Dylys clocked up another year at the Information Commissioner's Office, whilst Graham continued working for GPC.

Graham and Dylys' news in 2008


Family

The year did not get off to a very happy start, wtih two funerals in the first month: Dad Patrick (Dylys' father) died after months of being in and out of hospital following a major stroke in the summer of 2007. Less than a couple of weeks previously, he had attended the funeral of his brother Uncle Cyril.

Holidays

We booked up a caravan for a week's holiday in the Lake District in the middle of May. However, two or three weeks before we were due to go, we got a phone call from the site owner to say that due to unforeseen circumstances he had to cancel our booking. We did some frantic phoning around and got a caravan at another park near Bothel, not very far away from Cockermouth where we had originally booked. It was a great week during which we were able to climb Helm Crag near Grasmere, Grasmoor by Buttermere, Haystacks and Fleetwith Pike , along with some gentler walks.

We spent a long weekend with family in Cornwall early July - the weather was not so good this time around, so our walking activities were limited. We spent a few more days down in Cornwall in November, but although we were able to catch up with family nicely, Graham was not very well, so walking was again curtailed.

Car

After the several incidents recorded in last year's journal , our car fell sick big-time in February. The engine malfunction indicator lit up on the return journey from Leicester: fortunately we got home OK, but the following day the car was very jumpy and really not driveable. We were reduced to bus and train for over a week whilst it was in for repair. Then, on a couple of occasions, we had to book the car in again to get a malfunctioning airbag malfunction detector sorted out - we were getting a little weary of the hassle and expense associated with this car! Just weeks later the car became very noisy: it took some time to diagnose, but it needed new wheel bearings. Once we had got the car running OK again, we decided to trade it in before the next problem arose. We had only kept the car for four and a half years, and had budgeted on keeping it for eight. But in August we said good-bye and took delivery of a new Hyundai Getz. It feels a more basic car than the Micra, but we will be pleased if it requires less visits to the garage.

Church

We remain active with Bethel Baptist Church in Macclesfield. This year, churches around the UK have been getting together for Hope 2008 - to show 1000 hours of kindness to our communities. At Bethel we helped to renovate a playground in a local park, and organised community fun and games on the recreation ground. The two of us were stewarding on the Hope Sunday morning when there was open air worship and "Kidzone" children's activities.

Choir

Last year, Dylys joined "Claritas", the fund-raising choir of the East Cheshire Hospice. This year, she has joined them for concerts in Bollington, Wilmslow, and Congleton; and they had a summer outing to the Eisteddfod at Llangollen. Dylys also joined the community choir that provided the backing for the Graham Kendrick concert, held at Macclesfield Leisure Centre in December.

Graham and Dylys' news in 2007


House

May saw our first anniversary at our house on Abbey Road. In the previous month, we had had a fence erected at the bottom of the garden. The garden overlooks the Bollin Valley park, and in the summer months, all is screened by the trees beyond our garden; but in the winter it felt much more exposed, so the fence serves to sheild us from the footpath in the park.

We had our bathroom suite replaced just before Christmas, as it was getting increasingly difficult to get a certain item to dispense water. It was not the best time of year to be without the use of a shower for a few days!

Holidays

We paid a flying visit to Cyprus (in every sense of the phrase) in March. The purpose was to visit Graham's brother and family who are posted there for four years. We took Graham's Mum, so that she could see her new grandson, nearly a year old, for the first time. We flew from Manchester on a Wednesday, arriving late evening. We had two clear days there, and were on a return flight in the early hours of Saturday morning. We stayed at a hotel in touristy Ayia Napa, whilst Mum stayed with the family. The weather was great: pleasant and summery, and the touristy areas were nice and quiet - as the holiday season did not properly start until Easter.

For our main holiday of the year, we booked a caravan at Bunchrew near Inverness for a week in June. In a notoriously wet summer, we did remarkably well. The Sunday was very wet, and we were stuck in the caravan apart from when we went to church; but for the rest of the week we were out walking every day and never put our cagoules on. The highlight was a climb up Ben Wyvis , from where we looked out over a fantastic inversion.


We made the usual couple of family visits to Cornwall.

Car

Our Nissan Micra has not proved itself quite as reliable as our previous model. It has occasionally become jumpy and the engine has cut out, particularly when driving in heavy traffic in hot weather. It caught us a couple of times this year: once on our way back from Scotland, when the engine malfunction light came on and in accordance with the owner's manual, we drove the remaining 130 miles of the journey at 43mph. Our local garage failed to diagnose the problem properly, so we suffered it again when driving down to Cornwall. A little garage in Cornwall identified a faulty camshaft sensor, and there have been no further incidents since that was replaced.

Jobs

Unexpectedly, Capital One announced that the Macclesfield offices where Graham was working were to be closed. This affected many people, leading to a protracted affair with a statutory 90 day consultation period. We could never wish for this kind of development, although Graham has gone through it all before: for several months we are living in a state of uncertainty about the future. Graham was formally made redundant on 21 October, and secured a new job with GPC Computer Software Ltd shortly beforehand.

Thankfully, Dylys' job with the Information Commissioner has proved to be rather more stable.

Church

Graham has continued in his role as secretary, and Dylys as deacon, at Bethel Baptist Church. We joined the church weekend away at Quinta Hall near Oswestry in April. We held a couple of community fun days on the local recreation ground in the summer.

Other activities

Dylys joined the local hospice choir. The choir have cut a CD, in addition to a few little performances, so let us know if you would like to sample the CD. Dylys also signed up for an art class at the local high school, and has been acquiring art materials, and producing paintings and drawings. Hopefully sometime we will get some work scanned and published on a web page not very far away!

Graham and Dylys' news in 2006


House

Having put our old house on the market in May 2005, we finally moved in May 2006: we were able to buy the house that we had seen and set our heart upon back in June 2005 - a mile and a half from the old house. We have traded our basic two bed semi for a three bed semi with a garage and a wonderful rear view of the wooded bank down into the Bollin Valley. Until November, we could see nothing but a wall of green from the rear of the house. Over the winter months, we can see something of the river, the railway line, and the footpaths beyond the trees.

Holidays

The house move meant putting back our holiday planning. Our plans to going away somewhere special for our tenth wedding anniversary were shelved (we moved house two weeks after our anniversary). We spent a week in Cornwall in June, visiting family, and walking both along the coast and inland. Our main holiday was at the end of September, in the Lake District, where we climbed the curiously named Darling Fell and Lowe FellSkiddawScafell Pike, and Latrigg, and managed a few low level walks. We made a second trip to Cornwall at the end of November.

Work

No real changes: Graham's employer has been renamed from Hfs to Capital One, since Capital One acquired the business last year. Graham has won an award, which pays for a short break: we plan to use this for a trip to Cyprus next year. Dylys still works for the Information Commissioner.

Church

We are active members of Bethel Baptist Church, where Dylys is a deacon and Graham is church secretary. The main event of the year has been the Big Deal weekend in July, when virtually all the churches in Macclesfield joined together under the banner of the Message Trust from Manchester: we did social work and community events around the town on the Saturday; and open air service, family fun day, and concerts in one of the main parks in the town on the Sunday. The Big Deal weekend was followed up by a Community Carol Service at Macclesfield Leisure Centre, shortly before Christmas.

We joined in the church weekend in Scarborough in March. The weather was unseasonably warm, and it was nice to enjoy the coast as well as the time of fellowship at the full-board catering "Green Gables Hotel".

We were pleased to see a baptismal service in October, not just for the two that were baptised, but because six others in addition to the two entered into formal membership on that day: a record for our small church.

Graham and Dylys' news in 2005


Holidays

Lake District at the end of May, staying in an excellent caravan on the edge of Cockermouth, overlooking the Lorton Valley. The weather was rather mixed, but we managed a good walk over Grasmoor; we did Sharp Edgebut failed to scale the cliff to Blencathra at the other end, so we repeated Sharp Edge in the reverse direction and took an alternate path up Blencathra, and we finished off the week with Great Gable.

North Wales at the end of September, another excellent caravan above Penmaenmawr. The weather was very mixed, with quite a bit of wind, which put us off climbing high. But we did climb Snowdon in the dry, and the clouds parted to give us the spectacular views from the top that have eluded us on previous occasions.

House

We only bought the house three years ago, but that was when the housing market was frantic, and we ended up with something smaller than we really wanted. So we put the house on the market at the end of May (as soon as we returned from the Lake District). We have had loads of viewers during the year, but no offers. It is a slow market - the house we would really like to buy has been on the market for longer than us - we are hoping for good news next year.
Our central heating boiler broke down in December, and since it had been periodically leaking for over a year, we decided that it was time to replace it. Fortunately, it was a mild weekend when it broke down, and we managed to survive a couple of days with a kettle and an oil-filled radiator.

On a more positive note, Dylys' Mum and Dad sold their house much more easily and we helped them move into their new bungalow in August.

Work

No changes this year: Graham is still working for Hfs, and Dylys for the Information Commissioner. Graham used to work for Critical Path in Tytherington before being made redundant in 2004 and getting a new job with Hfs whose head office is on our doorstep. But with head office bursting at the seams, and with Critical Path being much reduced in size, Hfs acquired the old office in Tytherington. So in March this year, Graham moved back to the office where he was working with his previous employer!

Church

We are active members of Bethel Baptist Church, where Dylys is a deacon and Graham is church secretary. Dylys is also treasurer of the building fund, and looks after the communion, whilst Graham maintains the Bethel web site and helps out at the After Eight youth club.

This year we took part in the church weekend at Beechwood Court in Conwy and helped out with the family fun day in August.

Christmas

It was nice to have a quieter than usual Christmas. Usually we drive long distances on Christmas day, but this year, following the Christmas morning service at Bethel, we entertained Dylys' family. Graham was at work one day between Christmas and New Year, and we spent a day with Graham's family at his sister's house in Solihull.

Our gas boiler broke down a couple of weeks before Christmas, and we opted to have it replaced rather than serviced, so we were without heating and hot water for three days until it was installed properly. Consequently, the kitchen needed a bit of touching up around the boiler, and it was useful to get this done at Christmas.

Graham and Dylys' news in 2004


New year, new car


Christmas 2003 was not great. Graham's mother was ill, and we did a lot of extra travelling. The gear box in our old car had been noisy for a while, and was getting progressively more so. Our local garage were on the lookout for a replacement. But one frosty night, when we had persuaded mother to come back to our house, the clutch started jumping, and we were afraid that we might break down with an invalid in the car. We got home fine, but we resolved to go out and find a new car. We exchanged our 11 year old Nissan Micra for a new Nissan Micra (pre-registered, but it had 2 miles on the clock when we picked it up). If the new car serves us even nearly as well as the old car did (over 140,000 on the clock), we shall be very pleased.

Holidays

We made a family visit to Cornwall at the end of March. We hired a caravan near Bude, and had time for some decent walks, besides visiting family. We made a return visit in November, managing some great walks considering the time of year; and this time we stayed with family.

We hired a static caravan in Glen Nevis for the final week in May. The weather was excellent. We had a wonderful climb up Ben Nevis (we found 6-8 inches of snow on the summit, there was bright sunshine, and it was hot!). We also climbed Stob ban: much more challenging, with a bit of scrambling as opposed to the easy tourist route up Ben Nevis. We did a long walk around theHeights of Kinlochleven: up onto the moors in search of Blackwater Reservoir.

Family

In April we spent a week staying with Graham's mother in Leicester, as she underwent and recuperated from a cataract operation. We also made several visits to Solihull, and joined in nephews' birthday parties. We travelled to Solihull to spend Christmas Day with Graham's family. Then a few days later we entertained some of Dylys' family at our home.

Work

We moved to Macclesfield in 2001 for Graham's job in the town with Critical Path. Sadly, Critical Path has become a shadow of its former self, and Graham survived a number of rounds of redundancies, but not the 2004 round. However, he was able to obtain a new position with Hfs, starting in October this year, with a two-week break between jobs. By the end of the year, Dylys had clocked up three years with her current job for the Information Commissioner in Wilmslow.

Walks

We made a day trip to climb Mount Snowdon whilst Graham was between jobs. Sadly, the weather deteriorated, and we did most of the walk in thick drizzle. We got to the top, but our cagoules were tested to breaking point and we were thoroughly soaked. Fortunately, it was very mild, so we did not get cold on the descent, despite being soaked to the skin.

At Christmas, we managed a short walk around Errwood and the Goyt Valley (close to the Cat and Fiddle).

Church

In the spring, Graham became secretary, and Dylys became a deacon at Bethel Baptist Church. We continue to be involved in regular activities with the church, and you will find details of some of the one off activities on the Events page of the Bethel web site.

Christmas

It was a relatively quiet Christmas: we visited family, entertained family and enjoyed a quiet few days to ourselves.


Graham and Dylys' news in 2003


Church

We have been attending Bethel Baptist Church in Macclesfield since we moved to the town in August 2001. Graham teaches at Kool Kidz (Sunday School), and since the start of the year has been helping out with the "After Eight" youth club on a Thursday evening. Early this year, Dylys was appointed treasurer of the church building fund, which means that lots of people keep approaching her with big bills! In mid-April, we helped out with a "Fun Day" at the church: the weather was brilliant, lots of visitors came, and many people asked when another such event would be organised.

Work

Graham has been working with Critical Path in Macclesfield since August 2000. Dylys works at the Office of the Information Commissioner in Wilmslow.

Home

We moved into our own house in Macclesfield in October last year. From there, Graham cycles to work in nearby Tytherington, whilst Dylys drives to her place of work in Wilmslow. The house had a small mossy garden with a damp shed that was falling apart. Since Graham needs to keep his bicycle in the shed, we have had the shed replaced, and we have had the mossy lawn replaced with gravel. Finally, we had a new rotary line, pictured here under its cover.
Indoors, Dylys has done some decorating during her flexi-days off work.





Celebrations

Dylys celebrated her xxth birthday in July (xx is a round number), and received greater than the usual number of cards and presents. It is standard practice for us to go out for a meal on the Friday closest to our birthdays, and there was nothing unusual about going to the Mexican in Macclesfield town centre - except that Graham did not tell Dylys that a number of friends were also invited. There were eleven of us in total, the food was excellent, and we all had a good time.

Our newest nephew, William, was born to Andy and Karen (Karen being Graham's sister), also in July. A week after the birth, we picked up Graham's Mum in Leicester and went down to Solihull to see Andy and Karen and family.

Holidays

We spent an exceptionally warm and sunny week in March with family in Cornwall - a nice summer holiday down at the seaside. So we got some decent coast walks done as well as seeing the family.

We returned to Cornwall at the end of October, and took Graham's Mum with us for the first time. Graham's sister Karen and her family from Solihull happened to be down at the same time, staying at Wendy's house in Saltash. So we had a family get-together at the Eliot Arms in Tredagillet, near Launceston. The twelve of us had a room to ourselves: we had a great time, and can thoroughly recommend this pub as a meeting place. Good variety on the menu as well.

We booked a caravan in the Lake District for a week in the middle of May. We have stayed in Cockermouth a number of times before, and really like the town. On the Sunday we went to the Methodist church in the morning, had a general wander around the town in the afternoon, and went to a united service at the United Reformed Church in the evening. On the Monday when there were sunshine and showers, we climbed Grisedale Pike, and then did a walk over Causey Pike. On the Tuesday when the weather was again showery, we did a walk over Catbells in the morning, and then repeated it in the afternoon after a visit to Keswick. Wednesday was a super day: we went to Buttermere from where we climbed Red Pike, walked over High Stile, and came down over High Crag. On Thursday we went to Glenridding from where we climbed Helvellyn via Striding Edge: the weather was absolutely perfect for clambering over these specatular ridges, hardly a breath of wind. On Friday the weather was disastrous, but we cannot complain after such a good main part of the week.

We liked the Lakes in May so much, that we booked up for a second week, overlapping September and October. We stayed in the same caravan in Cockermouth. Arriving early Saturday afternoon, we set off to climb Grisedale Pike (as we had done in May). On the Sunday we went to the Methodist Church in the morning and then did a very picturesque walk from Stonethwaite in Borrowdale in the afternoon. Monday was unsettled, but we managed a decent walk from Keswick over Latrigg in the morning. Tuesday started very wet and then brightened up, at which point we did a circuit around Ennerdale Water. Wednesday was a glorious summer's day (1st October!), so we did theNewlands Horseshoe, covering Maiden MoorHigh SpyDalehead and Hindscarth. Thursday was another bright day, when we headed south to climb the Langdale Pikes. Friday we did a short walk from Keswick over Walla Crag, and then returned home.

Christmas

This did not quite go according to plan. Neither of us were working between Christmas and New Year, and we were looking forward to a decent break. We were expecting to entertain Dylys' family on Christmas Day, and two days later we were due to go to Graham's sister's house at Solihull for the get-together on that side of the family. There were no other plans, so we anticipated getting some jobs done around the house, and getting out for a day or two together.

But Graham's mother was unwell, and it meant a lot of time on the road, visiting and caring for her, and some unscheduled nights away from home. Fortunately, we were able to entertain on Christmas Day, and have the get-together two days later. Mum was well enough to return home on her own soon after that. But where did the Christmas break go ... ?


Graham and Dylys' news in 2002


Church

We have been attending Bethel Baptist Church in Macclesfield since we moved to the town in August 2001. In January this year we were formally welcomed into membership. For the first part of the year, Graham led one of the housegroups; and latterly has been teaching at Kool Kidz (Sunday School) instead. Dylys has taken up singing in the alternative music group within the church. At the end of August / beginning of September, we had a church weekend away at Quinta hall near Oswestry where the theme was "vision": how our church might be an effective part of the community and draw others to Christ.

Work

Graham has been working with Critical Path in Macclesfield since August 2000. Dylys works at the Office of the Information Commissioner in Wilmslow, and after starting as a temp she was made permanent in January.

Home

We sold our house in Stoke on Trent last year ...

and we have been renting a one-bedroomed flat in Macclesfield whilst keeping half of our house contents in storage. We started house hunting in February, and in April we attempted to buy a Victorian end-terrace in the town. The survey was bad and we considered a reduced offer, but the vendors were unwilling to accept that their house was as bad as the survey indicated, so our purchase was aborted.

In June we agreed a price for a modern semi, and in October we finally moved. It is smaller than the old house in Stoke on Trent. We are gradually getting it into shape.


Family news

Graham's Mum celebrated her **th birthday in July this year. His sister Karen organised a family party at her house in Solihull. It was a beautiful summer's day and we spent most of the day in the garden. It was the first time that mother's five grandchildren have all been together in one place (well, Elisabeth the youngest has only been around for eight months).

Also in July, Dylys' Mum and Dad celebrated their golden wedding anniversary. Dylys organised a family party in a room above a pub in Cheadle (Staffordshire) very close to where Mum and Dad live. Forty attended (the extended family on Dylys' side is much bigger than that on Graham's side). Everything went very smoothly, and the pub are to be highly commended for the buffet.

We spent Christmas day with Graham's sister Karen and her family in Solihull. Two days later, we were at Graham's Mum's house, where his other sister and family were also calling in.

Holidays

We spent a week with family in Cornwall in March, and were especially pleased to see our four month old niece. The weather forecasts were miserable, but the weather was better than expected, so we did manage some decent coast path walks.

We returned to Cornwall for the best part of a week in September, and the weather was fine and mainly sunny. We saw family again, and managed some good walks around Boscastle, from Polperro to Looe, around Crackington Haven, and from Trevone Bay to Trevose Head.

We spent a week on the Isle of Arran in May. We managed to climb Goatfell, the highest peak on the island, but generally the weather was mixed and we restricted ourselves to lower level walks. It is a very quiet island (on some walks we saw hardly anybody), and it is worth a visit just for the stunning mountain scenery.

Walks

On Easter Monday (beginning of April) we did a Goyt Valley walk (which is local to us in Macclesfield), seeing the ruined Errwood Hall, walking below Foxlow Edge, and enjoying the views from Cats Tor and Shining Tor.

On the May bank holiday we repeated the walk that we did on New Year's Eve last year: over White Nancy and Kerridge Hill. Last time we did this walk, it was very cold and the ground was covered in snow and ice. This time around it seemed quite a tame walk in comparison.

On the Tuesday of the Jubilee bank holiday in June we walked around Throwley Moor fromGrindon, a repeat of a walk that we did in 2000. There are some extremely muddy sections, even in June, and Graham managed to slip, fall and plaster himself in mud at one point. Doing this walk twice is enough, and it is not one we could recommend.

On August bank holiday we did a walk from Ashford-in-the-Water over to Lathkill Dale, through the Dale to Alport, and across the fields to Haddon Hall and Bakewell. It was a nice comfortable day for walking. It was not a particularly exciting walk, only odd short stretches of climbing and no really outstanding views, but a good day out.

Car

We will change the car when we have to. We do not like paying a lot of money to get it through each service and MoT; but at 10 years old and with the clock turning over 130,000 on Christmas Day, the car is fully depreciated and we can afford to spend money on servicing. What we really like is the way in which we can get into the car, turn the key, and away it goes ...


Graham and Dylys' news in 2001


All Change

Until late 1998, Graham was working in Stone, close to our home in Stoke on Trent. Then he started work in Manchester. He never intended to commute: and at that point we stepped up our efforts to sell the house which had already been on the market since 1996. But whilst many parts of the country were enjoying a housing boom, our area of Stoke on Trent was very depressed. Graham ended up commuting for best part of three years, during which he changed his job for one in Macclesfield.

After five years of trying to sell our house, we finally moved in August. Do the mortgage lenders tell us that house prices are rising at the rate of 10 or 11% per year? Sadly, we had to accept much less than Graham paid for the house nine years previously. We have moved from Stoke on Trent to rented accommodation in Macclesfield (near where Graham is working), and intend to buy again once we are sure the job is stable. It is a one bedroom flat, with much of our stuff in storage, and we are learning how to exploit the space to the full, because there is not very much of it! We are about three miles from Graham's place of work, and he has been experiencing the joys of cycling to work again.

Apart from our move, this is a year in which Graham's Dad has moved from one side of Wadebridge to the other; his brother has moved from Scarborough to Bude, one sister and her family have moved from Leicester to Saltash, and the other sister and her family are in the process of selling their house in Solihull.

Church

We started the year as members of Park Evangelical Church in Stoke on Trent. As in recent years, Graham was the morning "door man" at the church, and led one of the Prayer and Bible Study home groups. Dylys looked after the communion.

Since moving to Macclesfield we have been attending Bethel Baptist Church in the town, and expect to become members there in 2002. Graham has had opportunity to lead Bible studies at our new home group, and Dylys has joined one of the music groups in the church. The home group meets in a sheltered housing complex where two of the group members are resident, and in December we were able to organise and conduct a carol service in the communal lounge, attended by a good number of the residents.

Work

Graham has been working with Critical Path in Macclesfield since August last year. Dylys was working for Longton Cottage Hospital near our home in Stoke on Trent until we moved, when she had to resign. In Macclesfield she did a bit of temping, and a bit of voluntary work in a "Scope" shop, before being offered a job with the Office of the Information Commissioner in Wilmslow. She has started the new job on a temporary basis, and the job is due to become permanent in the new year.

Walking

Last year we made a determined effort to get out walking more regularly, as you will be aware if you have viewed our year 2000 page of the journal. This year, along with many other people, we have been restricted by the Foot and Mouth epidemic.

Our first proper walk of the year was on the late May bank holiday. We walked the Frogatt and Curbar Edges, as this was a walk which had been broadcast as being re-opened. The day started cloudy with a hint of drizzle, and brightened up nicely: very comfortable walking weather. This was also the first walk that we did in 2000.

Most of our proper walking this year has been whilst we were away on holiday. On Christmas eve we climbed Shutlingsloe hill, as we did at Christmas-time last year. Low cloud, wind and drizzle meant that it was unpleasant and completely without any views at the top of the hill. Boxing Day was a much brighter day and we climbed Shutlingsloe again: it could have been a totally different walk with beautiful views instead of seeing nothing in the cloud. We went down the other side of Shutlingsloe and did a longer circuit. Finally, on New Year's Eve, we climbed White Nancy and Kerridge Hill: a really local walk from Bollington, the next town to Macclesfield.

Holidays

We spent a few days with Graham's father in Cornwall at the end of March. We love to do the coast walks in Cornwall, but that was not an option this year. We did visit the "Eden Project" near St Austell, where Mediterranean and tropical environments are simulated in two huge "biomes". Graham's father had bought a new computer recently (as opposed to the second hand one he bought last year), and we gave him some help with his email and word processing problems.

We returned to Cornwall for a week at the end of October and enjoyed some most terrific weather: Dylys found it too warm on one of the walks that we did, and Graham wished that he had taken more tee-shirts. This time around, Graham's father bought a scanner for the computer, and Graham set it up for him.

Around new year, we booked a holiday in Arran for a week in May. We were looking forward to climbing Goat Fell and the other peaks. However, we cancelled the holiday due to the Foot and Mouth restrictions. There were no cases of Foot and Mouth on the island. Goat Fell itself is in a National Trust for Scotland area which was open, but the peaks outside the NTS area were all closed. We hope to visit Arran another year.

Once we knew that our house sale was going through, we booked up a caravan in Snowdonia for the first week in September. It was mixed weather, but good enough for us to climb Snowdon and a couple of other peaks.

Over the hill

No, not a walk. Graham celebrated his 40th birthday in May. We had some of Graham's family around the weekend after his birthday for a family get-together and a birthday tea. The following weekend we took Dylys' Mum, Dad and Aunt with us to a restaurant we like in Newcastle-under-Lyme for a meal out together. We did not make it one big get-together because Dylys' Mum and Dad were away on holiday that first weekend.






Family News

Graham's brother Phil and his wife Angela moved down from Scarborough to Bude early in the year. We were able to see them on our trip to Cornwall in March. They were expecting their first child in the autumn and we deliberately planned our second trip relatively late in the year in the hope that we would see the new baby. Sadly, Elisabeth arrived a few days after we returned home. We were able to see Graham's sister Wendy and her family in their temporary home in Saltash.

We did quite a lot of travelling over Christmas, due to our having rather scattered family. Just before Christmas it was a pleasure to attend the Golden Wedding Anniversary party of Uncle David and Auntie Jean (on Dylys' side of the family) in Loughborough. We travelled to Solihull on Christmas day to meet up with Graham's sisters and mother. Later in the week, we picked up Dylys' parents and took a trip to the Fens the other side of Peterborough to see Dylys' half-sister and family.

Graham and Dylys' news in 2000


Walking

We like to get out walking, and do not find as much time for this as we would like. We had a decent break over Christmas and managed to do a couple of decent walks in the Peak District:
  • We walked the Frogatt and Curbar Edges on the Tuesday after Christmas: a beautiful sunny day with marvellous views from these cliff-edges.
  • We walked Deep Dale and Chee Dale on Monday 3 January: the walk worked out longer than we were expecting, because near the end we should have crossed stepping stones across the gorge of Chee Dale. This did not look very safe, so we had to turn back and find another route back to the car.
We took some days off work at the end of February and did another couple of walks in the Peak District.
  • One day we did Throwley Moor from Grindon: not the most memorable of walks, rather dominated by the exceedingly muddy tracks.
  • Another day we did a circuit from Longnor, including Chrome Hill. This must be one of our most memorable walks in the Peak District: a beautiful clear sunny day with brilliant views over some of the more distinctive hills in the Peak National Park. Thoroughly recommended.
We repeated the walk from Longnor on Easter Monday, not quite such a bright day, but good walking weather. We managed to include an extra peak (Wheldon Hill) this time around.

We managed a couple of walks over the May bank holiday weekend.
  • Firstly, we walked around Stanton Moor from Winster. Not a long walk, but a good variety of tracks, fields and moorland, with a few little climbs.
  • Then we did a much longer walk from Wincle and over Shutlingsloe Hill: a fair amount of "up and down", and some beautiful moorland scenery make this another highly recommended walk which we hope to repeat sometime.
In the middle of May we spent a week in the Lake District: see under "Holidays" below.

For the late May bank holiday we did a walk from Youlgreave to Monyash via the Limestone Way, and back through Lathkill Dale. The walk started showery and a bit miserable, but the day brightened up nicely by late morning. The Monyash end of Lathkill Dale is a stunning rocky gorge and well worth seeing. The rest of the walk is not amongst the most exciting we have done.

For the August bank holiday we did a walk from Tideswell through Tansley DaleCressbrook Dale,High Dale, the Monsal TrailMiller's Dale and Monk's Dale. This is a varied and interesting walk; but Monk's Dale is a long slog over slippery rocks at the best of times, and definitely worth a miss if the weather is poor.

Over the Christmas holiday:
  • Just before Christmas, we planned a walk from the "Cat and Fiddle" near Macclesfield; but we found it submerged in the clouds. So instead we headed into Macclesfield Forest, and from there found paths up to Shutlingsloe Hill and Nessit Hill.
  • We returned to the "Cat and Fiddle" on Boxing day and took a walk up Shining Tor. Although Shining Tor is the highest point in Cheshire, all the land around the "Cat and Fiddle" is high, and it is not a great climb to the summit. As it was very cold and icy, we opted out of the second half of the planned walk around Axe Edge Moor.

Job news

Following a lack of incoming orders, Graham's company announced that there would be a redundancy programme, and in the middle of March he was informed that he was amongst those to be made redundant. The timing was unfortunate because we were planning a trip down to Cornwall to see Graham's Dad at the end of March; and we called this off so that Graham could be job-hunting instead. After a week of intensive job-hunting, Graham returned to work and was told that he could have his redundancy notice retracted.

We were sorry to have missed out on a holiday, but Graham is glad to have avoided a spell of unemployment. He continued his job search, and started a new job with Critical Path , in Macclesfield in August.

Dylys works part time as a ward clerk for Longton Cottage Hospital, a small hospital for the elderly, 15 minutes walk from home. They provide x-ray, physiotherapy and clinic facilities.

Church news

We are members of Park Evangelical Church. Graham has particular responsibilities for being the door man on Sunday mornings, and for leading Prayer and Bible Study home groups twice a month. Dylys is responsible for organising communion. This year, Dylys put her stitching skills to use by creating a new communion table cloth embroidered with the words of Jesus' command: "Do this in remembrance of Me".

As a millennium outreach exercise, the church was distributing the "Jesus" video as a special gift to the households in the vicinity of the church. Although some households did not wish to receive the video, others welcomed it and were willing to discuss it with us; so the project has been worthwhile and satisfying. Dylys was responsible for collating the records from the distribution.

In November, our church put on a Millennium show entitled "Under the Influence", depicting how our country has been influenced for good by many different Christians over the past few centuries. The scripts were largely put together by Bobbie, one of the members at Park; and Dylys did the typing for all the scripts. She played the part of Catherine Booth in the show. The church was packed out for the Friday evening showing, and there was a respectable crowd for the Saturday evening showing, so the whole event was a resounding success.

Holidays

We spent a week in the Lake District in May, hiring a static caravan in Cockermouth. We have stayed in Cockermouth before, we like it very much, and thoroughly recommend it: adequate shopping facilities, loads of places to eat, and rather less commercial than Keswick or the centres in the south of the Lake District. The "Taste of India" Indian restaurant/takeaway is Graham's favourite Indian anywhere: the takeaways are very tasty in comparison to most we have had from elsewhere. "Cheers" Italian Bistro is one of Dylys' favourite restaurants, with a huge varied menu and a pleasant atmosphere.

We had set our hearts on climbing some mountains, but the weather forecast was awful and we did not dare do anything too adventurous, although the actual weather was rather better than forecast.
  • We arrived in warm sunny weather on a Saturday, and explored a bit of Whinlatter Forest before finding our way to the caravan.
  • As Christians we like to keep Sunday special, and joined in the worship at Little Broughton Evangelical Church close to Cockermouth morning and evening. In the afternoon we explored around the visitor centre at Whinlatter Forest.
  • On Monday we went to Coniston and climbed the Old Man of Coniston, a walk which we first did three years ago. The variety of terrain, the tarns that we pass, and the spectacular views from the summit on a clear day make this an excellent walk.
  • On Tuesday we intended to climb Great Gable from Honister Pass, but because we failed to find the start of this walk and the weather was deteriorating, we did a little circuit around the Dubs' Quarry and cut the day short.
  • On Wednesday morning we did a very pleasant walk through Sowther Pass from Mungrisdale Village. In the afternoon we made our way to Thirlmere Water and started to climb Helvellyn, but we turned back after getting drenched in the heavy showers.
  • On Thursday we returned to Whinlatter Forest. We found the Spout Force waterfall, and then climbed Grisedale Pike. Disappointingly, the clouds were down upon us when we reached the peak, so we missed the best views.
  • On Friday, with the weather forecast still dubious, we did a flat walk around Crummock Water, and also found the beautiful and impressive Scale Force waterfall.
Having missed out on a trip to Cornwall in March, we managed to spend a week with Graham's Dad at the end of September. The weather was mixed, with some heavy rain and showers in amongst the warm sunny spells. We managed a couple of decent coast path walks. Graham's Dad bought a second hand computer whilst we were there, so Graham spent time setting it all up.

Family News

Graham's brother Phil was married to Angela in Scarborough on 1 July this year. It was a great family occasion, and with Scarborough being a good distance away from the rest of the family, many of the family opted to spend more than a day there. We travelled to Scarborough the day before the wedding, giving us a pleasant afternoon to look around the town and sea-front. We spent that night in a hotel along with Graham's mother and her friend Pat. With the time being close to Dylys' birthday, we had a birthday evening out along with Graham's mother and Pat. Sadly, the Italian restaurant to which we would have liked to have gone was fully booked, but we had a pleasant meal at the Brewer's Fayre instead. The following morning, we had a walk along the cliffs. Then in the afternoon the wedding took place at Ravenscar Country Hotel a little north of Scarborough. We travelled home when the reception formalities were complete.
Our niece Rebecca, whose premature birth was reported in last year's journal, celebrated her first birthday in October. Graham's sister Karen and her husband Andy organised a big family party at their home in Solihull. We joined in, and Rebecca received lots of presents.

Graham and Dylys' news in 1999


Church

We are members of Park Evangelical Church in Stoke on Trent. Every 18 months or couple of years, the Home Prayer Groups are reshuffled, so at the beginning of the year Graham took charge of a new group. This year, the groups have been meeting twice a month: once for a prayer meeting and once for Bible study.

Graham has been teaching in Sunday School for much of the year, but dropped that responsibility when the classes changed for the new session in October. Dylys still looks after the communion for the church.

Moving ...

We live in Stoke on Trent, but as Graham has been working in Manchester since November 1998 our house is for sale and we are trying to move to Manchester. Graham would like to be close to work, and church is important to us both; so we have occasionally spent a Sunday in Manchester, visiting churches morning and evening, and touring the housing areas in the afternoon. However, we can make no firm plans in Manchester until the house looks like it is selling.

... or not?

We wanted to sell the house this year. Instead, the prospect of selling was compounded by a multiplicity of problems. First of all, we had a garage break-in in May - fortunately only a few tools were stolen, but it was very disconcerting. Secondly, the adjoining house to our semi has always been something of a mystery - it has been extended in several directions to be very much larger than the original house, and is in a bad state of repair. Furthermore, there have been a variety of people living there, none of whom we have really got to know ... until the summer when a group of teenagers in an upper room were throwing items out of their window into our garden, and laughed at us when we tried to reason with them. Not recognising any of the lads, and finding the behaviour contemptuous and bewildering, we called the police. We learned that one of the lads really does live there, and he was not able to exercise proper control over his younger friends. It was an embarrassing introduction to our teenage neighbour. But the most disturbing problem started soon after that: a number of lads started taking short-cuts through our garden. They threatened Graham with violence when he caught up with them and confronted them. After that, they continued to take their short cuts, sometimes several times a day, and banging on our doors and windows as they did so. We called the police several times, but we were told that they could do nothing as trespassing is a perfectly legal activity in England and Wales. Well ... do you fancy buying this house?

Health

In January Dylys succumbed to the flu bug and had to take over three weeks off work. Fortunately she got over it, and Graham managed to avoid it.

Holidays

We spent a weekend away in Sheffield in late February, staying in a Forte Posthouse hotel as we are still using up the loyalty card points that Graham accumulated down in Cardiff when he was working for ABB. We had an excellent couple of days Friday and Saturday walking in the Peak District (along the River Derwent at Hathersage, and over Mam Tor at Castleton). On Sunday we revisited a couple of churches in Manchester, and had a look around the housing areas in the afternoon. Whilst wandering the streets, we got soaked in one of the heavy showers: a reminder of just what good weather we had on the preceding days.

We went back to the same hotel for our wedding anniversary in April. Just as well we did not go on the Friday morning as we did in February, because it was very wet on that day. Saturday was dry and we had a good walk from the village of Hope. We also visited Speedwell Cavern: a boat trip along old lead mine shafts into the hillside to the underground cavern. We cannot recommend Speedwell Cavern: there is nothing special about the cavern itself and there is nothing to see on the boat trip; so if you are in the Peak District you should save yourself the expense.

At Easter we spent a week in France with our friends Alex and Debbie Hardstaff who are working with France Mission at a village called Allamps near Nancy. Alex was best man at our wedding in 1996. In autumn 1997 they moved from Stoke on Trent to Allamps to work for France Mission by renovating an old house for use by youth conferences, etc. We experienced driving on the wrong side of the road for the first time, and appreciated more fully what a difficult task Alex and Debbie have taken on.

In June, we took Dylys' Mum and Dad with us down to Cornwall to spend a long weekend with Graham's Dad. We had some decent walks and saw some excellent sunshine (coming home a bit sunburnt). We had a good family time together. In November, the two of us had another long weekend with Graham's Dad, and we were able to do some good walks in what was excellent weather for the time of year.

In September, we spent a week in a caravan near Fort William, hoping to do some hill-walking. Unfortunately we were restricted by the rather wet weather (and made a successful claim on the wet weather clause in our holiday insurance!), but we did manage to climb Pap of Glencoe. On the way home, we spent the weekend at Livingston, where Graham used to live and work. We had a very pleasant weekend with Graham's friends from Livingston Free Church of Scotland. It was a communion weekend, which meant that a few more people than usual were present. 

Motoring

Graham bought our Nissan Micra new at the end of 1992, so it is now seven years old, and the miles have really clocked up since Graham started work in Manchester. We are conscious of how petrol has gone up in price over the past year, and suddenly at the time of a service in the spring the car started doing many less miles to the gallon. We have not resolved this problem, despite taking the car back to the garage which performed the service, and to an authorised Nissan dealer. We would like to hang on to the car until we have moved to Manchester, but we anticipate it may become necessary to change the car before then.

We can pinpoint the fuel economy problem to the time of the aforementioned service because we have always kept a log of the mileometer and the amount of petrol purchased at each refill. Since we also started logging the brand of petrol purchased, we have concluded that not all petrol brands are the same. We get more miles to the gallon out of Elf, which makes this brand cheaper even if Esso or the supermarkets are selling at a penny or two a litre less. So we would commend anybody to keep this kind of log if you really want to save money on petrol.

Three weddings and a funeral ...

In March we saw our friends Phil and Jenny at Park Evangelical Church married in the church. In May we saw Dylys' cousin Trevor married to Melanie at Ipstones (a village near Cheadle, Staffordshire). In July we saw the wedding of Graham's sister Wendy to Kevin at Quorn.

In April we attended the funeral of Dylys' Uncle Ken. He had been terminally ill and it was expected. The events of April and May gave us opportunity to catch up with many of Dylys' relatives.

... and a birth

Graham's sister Karen and her husband Andy were expecting an addition to the family in the new year, but Rebecca arrived three months premature on 11 October. She was in intensive care until a week before Christmas. Over Christmas we had the pleasure of seeing her in a home environment.