Saturday, 19 December 2015

Graham and Dylys' news in 2015

All change for Dylys

Perhaps the defining event for us this year has been Dylys taking early retirement. She has worked for the Information Commissioner in Wilmslow since 2001, initially as a temp, but very quickly taking up full time employment. We planned a holiday in May, and Dylys made arrangements to finish work in time for the holiday. Since the holiday she has found opportunities for voluntary work in the charity shop of the local hospice, and in our local hospital (doing quite similar work to that which she was paid to do at our local cottage hospital when we lived in Stoke on Trent). She has also joined “Open the Book”, a group which takes Bible stories into local schools.

Waters and bicycles 

Graham started his current job with Waters Corporation in Wilmslow in December 2014. Initially we travelled to work together by car, and Dylys would usually catch the bus home, as she finished work earlier than Graham. The Waters office is around ten miles from home, and Graham has appreciated the opportunities to cycle into work once or twice a week over the summer months – something which was not really viable with his previous job.

Kitchen facelift

We have thought about a replacement kitchen for a long time, and this was a job that Dylys said that she would like done before she finished work in May. We ordered the kitchen in late 2014, and it was fitted late January / early February this year. It really was not the best time of year to be without a kitchen, and the whole process took around three weeks due to a snow event and one of the contractors having an accident (not in our home).

Old kitchen ...
... New kitchen

Up, up and away!

Dylys was given a good send-off from the Information Commissioner in May, and she was presented with a voucher for a balloon flight. Balloon rides are subject to appropriate weather: she had to book a date and then phone at 11pm the night before to find out whether she had to get up very early for the morning flight – this happened six times before her flight finally took place on 20 October, and she floated over the countryside around Nantwich.

Church

It has been a busy year with Bethel Baptist Church, as we are only a small church, our previous pastor retired in 2014, and we are still working our way through the challenging process of identifying a new pastor. Graham was appointed an elder of the church in May, giving him particular responsibility in this task. We have had one candidate preaching several times this year, and the church may be making a decision in early 2016.

We are both involved in running the Conversational English class which takes place in the church lounge on Thursday evenings. Dylys is usually present at the monthly service that the church holds at Harry Lawson Court – a local retirement complex.

Some time away

We have enjoyed two excellent holidays this year. We had a week in North Wales in May – yes we did get to the top of Snowdon, but no we did not get any views because the summit was in the clouds. Then we had an amazing bright, warm, summery week near Hadrian’s Wall at the end of September and early October. We were also part of a family gathering long weekend in Somerset in August, to mark the 80th birthday of Graham’s Dad.


Hadrian's Wall
Hadrian's Wall



Sunday, 13 December 2015

Graham and Dylys' news in 2014

Church

We have been kept especially busy in our church this year. The Pastor retired in September, and so we are currently “in interregnum”, looking for a new Pastor. In the meantime there is extra for the rest of us to do. Graham has welcomed the opportunity to lead several Sunday evening meetings this year, although it is quite demanding in time to prepare. He has also picked up overall responsibility for the Conversational English Class which takes place on Thursday evenings, and in which Dylys is also involved. Dylys was elected to be a deacon at the church AGM (she has served previously, but took a few years off when her last term of office came to an end). She takes responsibility for preparing communion, and helps out with the church cleaning.

The aforementioned English class is aimed at people from the local community whose first language is not English. The current students are all migrant workers from different countries in Eastern Europe. It is disappointing that we do not have more students to justify the effort that we put in, but those who do come along are extremely appreciative, and have become more proactive in requesting topics for study. Most weeks we use formal worksheets, but the intention is to stimulate discussion and help our students gain confidence in their spoken English.

Holidays

Our main holiday this year was in the Lake District - on a caravan site which was literally carved out of the hillside in the middle of Great Langdale (the road to our caravan was on a 30 degree incline, and there was a digger parked on the vacant caravan slot opposite us). Despite some mixed weather, we had some great walks; and with the caravan being strategically located, we never had very far to drive to find those walks. We had a very memorable walk from Tilberthwaite - we parked the car close to a row of cottages and a slate quarry, and although the parking area became quite busy during the day, once we had climbed past the quarry area and crossed a stream, we did not see another soul until we had completed the circuit. All that remote gorgeous hillside scenery was just for us on that day.

Dylys approaching the waterfall
at New Dungeon Ghyll, to
capture a video on her smartphone
Fantastic walk, whilst the rain holds
off  (near Elterwater)


We also made a family visit down to Cornwall in the autumn - the weather was excellent and we managed several nice walks along the coast and on Bodmin Moor - all around the fascinating rocky outcroppings on Roughtor.

Work

Graham started a new job in December. For seven years he has been working for GPC Computer Software in Cheadle, developing systems for taxi businesses. He has moved to Waters Corporation in Wilmslow, developing healthcare laboratory systems. Graham had been looking for a move, Waters provides a new challenge with better benefits, and it is also rather closer to Dylys’ place of work for the past 13 years - the Information Commissioner’s Office, also in Wilmslow.

Home

We have recently indulged in a new washing machine and a new freezer for the kitchen. The new washing machine sounds like a very modest light aircraft, and replaces the old one which was sounding like a Boeing 747. We had learned that the old freezer was consuming £120 electricity per year, and economics dictated that we replace it.