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Steve, Helen,
Thorpe Hamlet,  Norwich,  United Kingdom

Archive News
(OUR FAMILY BLOG) 

With the advent of social media we have decided to give up on this blog and have archived all the entries here

 

December 2013

Sadly just after Christmas and following a nice day in Norwich visiting us, Steve Mums' husband and grandfather to the children Len Jones died. Len was always cheerful and companionable and will be missed by us all.

Off to the Lake District for a Christmas celebration with Elliot and Kate and her family. We stayed in a cottage that slept 12+ at the Quiet Site near Ullswater. We had a wonderful time in spite of the severe storms and then a wind and rain lashed journey home. Granddad Geoff joined us for Christmas day as his planned move to Norwich has been delayed by paperwork and won't happen until first thing in the new year. Over the last couple of months with lots of hard work and a coffee and cake day that was well and generously attended by lots of our friends, Judith has managed to reach her fundraising target and will leave for Africa at the end of January.

Rachael has returned to live at home while she looks for full time employment here or in Birmingham with Sam.

October 2013

Down to a blustery Plymouth for Judith's Graduation. Although the weather was not great it was easily the nicest Graduation ceremony so far (just one to go now). Granddad Geoff decided to move back to Norwich having found a nice flat near the river.  Judith gets a place on a VSO working party in Lesotho on a programme called Coaching for Hope. She now needs to raise nearly a thousand pounds to cover trip expenses.

Aug 2013

We nip off to Northern Italy for a fortnight in Bologna, and the surrounding towns. Lots of interesting photos including a particular favourite. As well as visiting romantic Verona we also visited the Casa Ferrari in Modena and the magnificent mosaics in Ravenna and some of the other nearby towns.  Colette returns to University her foot having recovered at last.

July 2013

Rachael has her graduation at the Southbank. A beautiful day in prestigious surroundings. Colette is in Belgium au pairing for a French speaking family. Enjoyed her time there but was deep in the countryside so only had the odd day trip to Belgium's more well known towns.

June 2013

The old codgers all head off to London for a long weekend. We walk the river and cross on the emirates cable car with magnificent views on a clear day then off to the west end for dinner and a show at the Black Cat cabaret. A nice weekend and a great time with really nice people.

April 2013

Steve hits the big 60 and had a great surprise dinner party with some friends who  between them all had someone who was 60 this year. So we decided to go to London for a long weekend.

March 2013

Judith hears she has a good job over the summer holidays working with disadvantaged youngsters in the outdoors.

February 2013

Steve starts a new job with working to secure contracts for a local medical consortium. Its a really interesting and challenging post. At last Colette has her operation and is going to be about on crutches and in a moon boot for 6 weeks.

January 2013

Its very quiet when everyone has left to go back to their new homes.

December 2012

Christmas is wonderful with everyone home and a couple of house guests as well. Oliver surprises us by coming back from Singapore the day before Christmas eve. Colette hears that only an operation is going to fix her foot and is anxious to get things moving.  Rachael has new work at a Carting centre and has given up her west end pub job. 

October 2012

Off to the Lakes to visit Elliot and Kate in their cottage in Kirkoswald. We have a great time visiting and walking around various locations although with the incessant rain we do get pretty muddy.

The cottage atop the village stores and post office is idyllic but has got a bit of a ventilation problem that may lead to damp issues (It does).

September 2012

Colette tears a ligament in her leg and is unable to start her new term although she does continue with her theory whilst waiting to hear if it can be repaired with physio or will need an operation.

June 2012

Fed up with the plotting and planning at work that was not helping clients, Steve leaves his job to seek pastures new. (It will take 6 months but its still worth it)

March - April 2012   Off to the far east.

We took the opportunity of visiting Oliver in Singapore to take a long awaited trip to Cambodia and Vietnam.

After an endless flight with a stopover (just a few minutes) in Dakar we flew into Singapore in the afternoon. After a short break to have a shower and freshen up we were off to start our tour of Singapore. First stop was in the amazing Divine wine bar in Parkview Square or as Time out calls it Singapore’s ‘Gotham City’. Devine boasts a fairy who ‘flies’ up to retrieve your bottle of wine from a 12m-high rack complete with silver wings. The (very petite) girl flies up and down on an electric hoist and it’s a sight you won’t see anywhere else. Then off on a walking tour of Singapore by night taking in the Sri Mariman Temple and Boat Quay.

Next morning a quick round of museums. Then off to the amazing Marina Bay Sands complex which boasts the Sky Park a vast boat like structure parked atop three huge skyscrapers. At the bottom is the Science Museum, an odd title and nothing like you will find in South Kensington, however they did have 2 very interesting exhibitions one on the Titanic particularly timely as we visited just a couple of days before the hundredth anniversary of its launch (and sinking), and the other on Andy Warhol. It was really interesting to see lots of his early work so very different from his later more famous artworks. Then up the tower to the top and the terrific views over Singapore from the boat shaped Sky Park. Finally Oliver treated us to a concert featuring Buddy Guy and The Specials.

Our Last day was spent travelling to Sentosa Island (a weird Asian Disneyland) to catch the Cable car across the bay. Very similar to the cable car in Hong Kong but this one also passes through the middle of a skyscraper on the way. Then off to the shopping Malls on Orchard Road. This is either all your dreams come true or a ghastly temple to mammon with endless variations of the same designer brand stores in dozens of different but the same malls. Far more interesting is the giant market at the Mustufa store, where the same brands (not knock offs mostly) are available for a fraction of the price, you just need a map and Sherpa to find your way around a shop that literally sells everything.

Then cocktails before tea in Raffles Hotel, luckily Oliver was paying for drinks that were only a smidgen less than the bank toppling cost of a coffee in St Marks Square. On our way out we came across a square full of dozens of Ukulele players learning western tunes from an accomplished tutor.  We finished the evening at the Clarke Quay watching a film being made of some dancers in the pavement fountains. Next morning pack and off to Cambodia with Helen wiping a tear from her eye as we said goodbye to Oliver at the very calm Singapore airport.

The brief stopover in Ho Chi Minh (Siagon) didn’t look too promising as it was in the middle of an intense tropical storm, however by the time we reached SiemReap we had flown past the storm and landed in sunny weather in the charming and attractive, very asian airport.

Mr That who was to become our TukTuk driver for the next few days was waiting for us and drove us to the Angkor Pearl hotel that we can heartily recommend. Luxury attention and clean pleasant rooms. We are not the sort who choose isolated lux resorts divorced from the reality of the town or even country you’re staying in, so this was heaven. Next day we booked Mr That to take us to the distant but really interesting jewel of a temple that is Banteay Seri. The 20 Km ride past houses, businesses and ‘restaurants’ is fascinating just on its own. On the way back we visited the Land mine museum. This museum supports an orphanage for children who have lost parents due to the thousands of landmines and other ordinance still remaining from the American war against this peaceful rural community. In the evening we took a short walk to restaurant street and enjoyed our first taste of genuine Cambodian food.

We had planned to hire cycles but the combination of the heat, humidity and low cost of hiring Mr That and his hard working TukTuk meant we had a slightly easier time and got round more of the temples that are so different although a common theme everywhere are the Apsaras the beautiful dancers forever entertaining the temple cities rulers and then centuries of visitors. Over the next couple of days we visited most of the temples and enjoyed a banquet and Apsara dancing. The temples are all very different although similar themes appear in all of them.

Undoubtedly the Bayon with its 12th century version of big brother watching everywhere and the main temple of Angkor Wat are the most amazing. The impressive thing was that because the sites are so vast you are never really aware of the very large number of visitors and its possible to be alone even in somewhere like Angkor Wat itself.

The children selling beads and postcards are everywhere, but if you are firm but keep a good temper they wont bother you too much. It's sad that this is a country so poor that they use the US dollar rather than their own currency that only appear as small change. After four days in Siem Reap it was time to leave for Vietnam…

Arriving in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) was a bit of a shock. It is the busiest, noisiest city that I have ever been in. Arriving at the Cat Huy hotel was interesting, the staff were waiting for us (possibly to stop us running away when we saw the alley it was in). Nevertheless it was very comfortable and beautifully decorated and ironically the location meant it was very quiet despite a busy main road in front and a very busy restaurant street behind.

Next morning we decided to get trishaws to get across town, (do fix a price before you start, it can rise alarmingly if you don’t) this was an exciting ride as they weave in and out of the millions of motorbikes on the road. Crossing the road as a pedestrian is an interesting experience as the traffic never stops, you just need good eye contact and walk out into the road, if you don’t hesitate or stop, they will miss you.

We visited a couple of interesting pagodas and decided to give the reunification hall a miss. Walking round a new city is always a joy (as long as you have a serviceable map) and Saigon is an amazing place to walk around. Despite being a communist country there is a lot of poverty but also a hive of activity. The markets (there is a vast one in the Cholon district) are an amazing hive of activity and seem to have a huge foreign as well as local client base. There are many museums and other places to visit like the Saigon Hilton the prison where hundreds of US military were kept for years after being captured during the war. The War remnants museum is a must visit and deeply moving place, especially if you have any interest in photography or the recent history of this victimised nation.

We took a trip up the Mekong Delta in a boat. Somehow I thought it might be hilly but of course it is a huge alluvial flat delta thousands of miles square. The river is a busy highway, floating market, sewer outfall, source of agricultural irrigation and home to thousands. There are rice paddy’s everywhere and this area is the main rice basket for Vietnam and parts of Cambodia.

Everywhere we went we came across brides and grooms having their photographs taken in tomb sites, museums, parks in fact anywhere that looked nicer than the local registry office. The parks are very busy in the mornings and evenings with huge crowds of people exercising to music, we asked but couldn’t get to the bottom of who the sessions were run by. People also play endless foot badminton and more conventional badminton. On our final evening we went to the circus, bits were brilliant, bits were fun, and bits were weird especially the strange lady and her dogs.
Time to pack up and head for Hue.

Hue is wonderful. We both really liked Hue. The moment we arrived at the Jade Hotel the staff were really wonderful, attentive and helpful, and the room was lovely with the bed decorated with roses and rose petals. The bed… was very very very firm. This is pretty normal in this part of the world but it takes a couple of days to get used to. We arrived in the middle of their International festival so there was lots going on. We walked down to the riverside and watched the entertainments. Some were free on the street and some were ticketed. The hard bit was working out what was on where, but it was an entertaining night.

The following morning the bikes we had hired turned up. They were excitingly and inspiringly branded ‘Asama’. If I had found it on a skip I would have left it there, nevertheless they did work and we then had our best day in Vietnam on them. Cycling along the river a woman on a motorbike ‘picked us up’ and assured us she knew where we wanted to go. She didn’t. Not quite sure still if she genuinely wanted to be helpful? Her English was very good so I do think she understood when we said we were going to a very famous local archaeological site and she said it was on her way. Anyway as I can follow a map I realised we were heading in the wrong direction before she had gone too far out of our way. She got a bit shirty so perhaps she saw some way of making money out of us but in any case we parted company and we got ourselves back on track.

About 12 miles outside Hue is the tomb of the emperor Minh Mang. I believe it is one of the most beautiful and peaceful man made places in the world. There was an occasional drizzle which only served to wash the stones and bring an amazing atmosphere to the place that was impossible to catch with a camera. I really did not want to leave but there were other sights to see and we dragged ourselves away. Refreshed after lunch we visited another amazing tomb that of Thieu Duc then cycled on to see the elephant arena built for elephant versus tiger fights after one got out of hand and the emperor was injured. After a day of cycling on real boneshakers in temperatures in the upper 30s we were exhausted but very happy when we returned to the hotel, only to find they had seen it was my birthday in my passport and presented me with a cake and flowers!

But it wasn’t over yet as we had tickets to visit the Imperial city at night something that only happens every 2 years. It was amazing and along with national dress shows, music, and fireworks there were people in period costume demonstrating and playing court games. I played, I won, I don’t know what I played or how I won but I won a splendid piece of calligraphy made by one of the artists in residence. All in all I don’t think I have ever spent a happier birthday.

The next day we visited a beautiful local pagoda and monastery, the Thien Mu Pagoda. Poignantly this was where Thich Quang Duc the first monk to immolate himself in protest against the activities of the southern government during the war in Vietnam. The bell which was being rung constantly by a monk resonated with a clear but guttural sound that shook your stomach. Afterwards we visited the tomb of Duc Duc which was badly damaged by the americans during the same war. It is an amazing testament to these wonderful, friendly people that they bear few grudges against the nation that decimated their population in the name of securing a market for US goods (OK rant over).

We couldn’t resist returning to the Imperial city in the daylight and had the good fortune of seeing a troupe of Japanese dancers and musicians rehearse. They just seemed to float around the stage without being phased by the high humidity and temperatures. Afterwards we watched some fantastic kites in front of the flag tower, I have no idea how big the flag is but it looks the size of a football pitch, anyway it is really big. In the evening we watched a visually spectacular show and could make no sense of it at all. Afterwards the traffic we had to make our way home in was really busy but we never felt in any real danger even when making U turns in it. The next day we headed off to the airport for our final destination in Hanoi.

(More Pictures for Vietnam coming soon)

Once again the Hotel staff at the Hanoi Holiday Diamond were waiting for us and again the quality of service was suburb and this time a bit softer bed. After settling in we went for a walk by the lake and onto the tiny island temple. We ended up by the water puppet theatre. Having read very mixed reviews we had decided not to bother but as we were standing outside and the tickets were very cheap we decided we couldn’t miss it. It was entertaining and lasted about the right time, but… The seating is designed for Vietnamese people at least two feet shorter than us and it was torture for tall Europeans. There are a few separate folding seats in the side aisles and I recommend grabbing one to anyone over five feet high who is considering going.

The next morning we were off to Halong bay, a sugarloaf mountain range that comes up out of the sea and has created nearly 2000 small islands in an idyllic setting. The small downside is that it takes a nearly a four hour trip to get there from Hanoi, so if we had had more time an overnight on the bay might have been nice, nevertheless it is a remarkable place and despite the very large number of visitors the bay is vast so apart from the docks it doesn’t seem too crowded. There are lots of vast caverns with massive stalactites and ‘mites. In the evening we visited the Market that appears in the roads from the permanent market down to the lake, miles of bargains of every conceivable type.

Our final day was spent visiting the Temple of literature. It’s the oldest university in Vietnam and is still attached to the university. Loads of students haunt the place and have their photos taken together there. A joyful and interesting place, in the centre of a busy city. We walked past the ‘Hanoi Hilton’ the prison that held many American prisoners of war, didn’t feel the urge to visit though. In the evening a meal on a restaurant balcony overlooking the shopping streets nearby. Our final morning was spent walking round and having a final excellent coffee overlooking the city and the lake from the top floor of the highland restaurant. Then reluctantly packing and setting off to the airport for our final flight home back to our gorgeous, wonderful lucky golden cat!!!

January 2012

Everyone has gone away to their various locations around Britain and around the world.  Oliver has persuaded us to visit him in Singapore so now we are planning a visit to him and will probably take the opportunity to visit other places in the far east as well.
 

December 11

 The family are starting to come home for Christmas. Oliver has returned from Singapore for the Christmas holiday bearing exotic Asian gifts. These include coconut spread, which he tells us should be eaten with boiled eggs, a beautiful golden luck beckoning cat (left) and some amazing medicated soap and talc which feel as if you have been kicked in whichever part of the body you apply them to. Elliot and Kate can't join us for Christmas as they are working but we look forward to seeing them for the new year.

Among Norwich Harmony Christmas Concerts were two Singouts for charity.  One for Steves work, Asperger East Anglia when about £300 was raised and another outside the Forum in Norwich were they raised £83.

November 11

Helen and Steve managed to book a bargain break weekend in London and met up with Colette and Rachael to do a bit of Christmas shopping.  Rachael let slip that her boyfriend whom Helen and Steve had not met was free later so was persuaded to text him to meet up for a meal before her parents caught the train home.  Everyone had an interesting time at Leon's Restaurant in Spitalfields.  Rachael is spending time with Sam before she comes home to Norwich and hopefully Sam will get the chance to visit Norwich very soon.

October 11

Helen has been practising furiously with her colleagues in Norwich Harmony for two singing competitions. One for Radio Norfolk and one serious one in Harrogate.  They lost out on the Norfolk Choir of the year award but did very well in Harrogate where they moved up into the first division of Ladies Barbershop Choruses.

September 11

Everyone has gone back to University and the house is very quiet. Moving into their own accommodation and out of Halls resulted in some minor crises, but nothing too complicated to solve. Finally Steve's ankle returns to normal and stops reminding him of the accident in December every time he walks on it.

August 11
Steve & Helen cycle round Belgium


Following the fun we had
touring the Netherlands by bike a couple of years ago we decided to give Belgium a chance. More specifically Flanders, the northern Flemish/Dutch speaking area.

Packing was relatively easy as we had the Netherlands experience behind us and knew what to leave at home. We set off from Harwich on Friday 12 August on the overnight ferry. This was all very straightforward and as early birds we were at the front of the queue, got trough customs in about 5 minutes. This meant we managed to catch an early train from the Hoek van Holland to Rotterdam where we changed for Antwerp, although the platforms are on different levels in Belgium there was always a lift if you looked for it or asked.

From Rotterdam on it started to rain and got worse as we travelled into Belgium so the first change to our itinerary as we decided not to cycle from Zebrugge and Knoke to Damme but to get off at Brugge and cycle the much shorter distance to Damme. On the way we passed
a working windmill which on closer inspection was hosting a wedding, or at least a photographic exercise, we saw others where the bride, groom and father were having pictures taken with boats or in Antwerp station, we never worked out whether these were on the day of the ceremony (they were all on a Saturday) or just an exercise to get interesting photos.

Damme is a pleasant town and as it was a holiday Saturday there was a book festival going on which was only slightly dampened by the constant rain. We cycled the short distance for our first night staying with Vrinden op de fiets (VoF) members. It was a pleasant house and conveniently only about a hundred yards from a family run Moroccan influenced restaurant. Sadly the rain suited the mosquitoes and that night we were both bitten many times.

Up early and a short cycle back to Brugge along the canal. The route enters Brugge by the Pottererie passing the old monastery and is a very pleasant

That afternoon we saw one of the most heartening sights you could wish to experience.
An oldish man was playing a street organ and so many people were made happy by his entertaining manner and being allowed to wind the mechanism. It’s amazing that in this age of high tech entertainment so much enjoyment was engendered by this 100 year old entertainment, (and the guy who was so charming). Tango in the old fishmarket was the entertainment for the thankfully dry even bright evening. Later on we went to a much publicised free Harp concert which was worth the effort and worthy of a donation.

The next morning we cycled into the centre to see the
Brugse Belofte procession. This goes back to 1304 and remembers and honours a vow made in the heat of battle. Its all very colourful as everyone is in 1300s costume and they take it very seriously. The same day also sees other groups celebrating and is a public holiday. There were some good bands featured in a street concert that went on for 2 days.

The centre of Bruge is a lovely area and if you have seen ‘In Brugge’ you will have some idea of the sights on offer. Without planning to, we ended up visiting most of them. Probably the most interesting is the
Jeruzalemkerk, a private church that is one of the most interesting and different I have ever visited. We visited the famous belfry but the combination of so many steps and a long queue to get in meant that was a thrill to be enjoyed another day.

About midday we headed off for Malgdem where we stayed overnight. On the way having a wonderful picnic in a
small wayside chapel garden. Malgdem has a splendid park with an interesting selection of sculpture.


They are proud of their small town and have a really well produced map in different scales for visitors. Luckily the weather was fairly kind and for these first few days it was fairly bright once the first days rain past.

We had hoped to stay in Eeklo but a town twinning meant that there was no room in any of the inns so that was our lunch stop on the way to Ghent.

At first Ghent which is a very large town is a bit confusing but the centre is compact and beautiful and we stayed with another VoF member right in the centre. Walking around at night is a must because
Ghent is absolutely magnificent at night when the well thought out lighting on the buildings along the canal is magnificent. In some ways Ghent is very similar to Norwich and I was very disappointed that I was completely unaware of a major collaboration project between Ghent & Norwich called Shaping24.

This interesting project is much mentioned on all sorts of literature and leaflets in Ghent but despite some fascinating work undertaken in Norwich it hasn’t come to my attention at all and no one I have spoken to has heard of it either although all the sites are very familiar.

Ducking the rain we visited the cathedral where the
organist was practising and making the most magnificent sound. In the new STAM, the City Museum of Ghent there was a breathtaking aerial view of the city that covered hundreds of square feet.

We decided to catch the train to Brussels as rain was once again falling and it was a long journey. In Brussels we hadn’t been able to find any VoF members in this French speaking area, so had booked a hotel. The Aloft was good value as it is in the European parliament district but as there was a small problem with the room we were upgraded to a suite and it was great.

We did get caught in traffic and ended up cycling down a 6 lane highway in Brussels but there was no real danger as motorists are generally so thoughtful about cyclists that we were given plenty of room an consideration. We found the very safe cycle lane the next morning.

The European commission and
Parliamentary buildings are very impressive and rather sobering as you realise how many thousands of offices there are in these mega buildings.

Over the weekend, again there were more festival events, singing and dancing some in bright sunlight others fighting showers.

Saturday morning in the Grand Place is the time and place to get married and the couples of all genders and denominations and families mix with shoppers and tourists, who love the festive atmosphere around the Grand Place.

A word or two of warning about Brussels. First unless you absolutely love Belgian comic books and speak Dutch just avoid the strip cartoon museum. It’s an expensive way to view thousands of pages of Belgian comic books. There isn’t the tiniest nod to the possibility that graphic novels exist outside of Belgium and the small sections on TinTin and in any other languages are very small, very very small. The other thing to watch out for are very bold and busy necklace thieves. And why the heck do they make so much of the virtually insignificant manikin pis fountain. I suppose because it generates so much income from the hundreds of people (us included) who visit it and its partner the Jennacin pis fountain. Models are available in every substance imaginable.

That evening we enjoyed a rockabilly concert outside the royal palace, just one of many outdoor concerts taking place. We also watched an amazing piece of live art, theatre and music in a nearby square.

The increasing dour weather meant that we abandoned a visit to Waterloo. Still we have to have a reason to go back sometime.

On our final day in Brussels the rain became biblical in proportions. At about 10.00h the cloud was so thick and wide that it completely cut off the sunlight and the city became pitch black. If you put your hand out in the rain it felt as if someone was pouring a bucket into it.

So another cycle journey to Luven abandoned and we took the train instead. Actually this gave us more time in Luven which was great as this is a charming town that’s population is about thirty percent students, so everything is good value and quite lively.
It has the longest bar in Europe (actually many bars) but such a different culture to that on Prince of Wales road in Norwich. Thousands of people sitting down and disussing life, the universe and everything, not getting legless and drinking themselves into oblivion. The university were also responsible for the fascinating gift of a ‘statue’ in the town square.

The Beguinage in Leuven is very large with a splendid church at its centre, although now populated by university fellows and professors as well as some religious organisations it feels as if you have walked backwards a couple of centenaries as you walk around. Even the visiting 12 year old Mormon ‘Elders’ don’t jar too much.

They dance in the park, you can go and join in’ explained our host. Nice idea in fact they are well practised in many different types of European folk dance and the intricate steps meant we (well I) could not consider joining in.

From Luven we resumed our saddles for the trip to Mechlen which is a pleasant town but not really a holiday destination. The next morning we headed off for Antwerp but following advice from everyone we met we headed to Leir to look at this charming small town with the
most amazing clock at it’s heart.

Its quite a complicated journey from Mechlen to Antwerp avoiding the main road but the Knoppe Point system of navigation which with appropriate maps means you can just list the Knoppe Point numbers on the route and follow the list and the signs made it quite straightforward. It’s a brilliant system and much needed in the UK

Arriving in Antwerp we found very welcoming VoF hosts who suggested a couple of places to visit. One is the spectacular
MAS museum and art gallery. The building is a spectacle in its own right and the views over Antwerp are spectacular even on a dull day. If you visit Antwerp dont miss it. The Museum of modern art is an interesting and quite different approach to that in the UK.  The other museums and art galleries are all worth a visit.

More
evening music festivals this time under an artificial starry sky, for our last night in Belgium.

After visiting the vast information and entertainment fair that was hit by pouring rain, in the evening we caught the train back to the Hoek van Holland for the overnight ferry back to Blighty.

Maps for Belgium are not as uniform ,comprehensive or up to date as they are in the Netherlands but the
fietscaart maps by Sportoena are the ones to get.

July 11
Off to Edinburgh for a break and then to Carlisle to see Elliot's Graduation from Cumbria University. There are
some pics here

May 11
Sad news Helens uncle and aunt were due to celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary this month but Jack died just before the celebrations and the plans had to change to a funeral. We went down to the West country for the funeral which was held near Chippenham on a lovely day. Helen & Steve took a couple of days off and visited Bath and Bristol which brought back many happy memories

April 11
Judith is off to Spain to take part in n international sport (in her case lacrosse) festival which makes it into the Daily Mail because of all the 'senseless hedonism' sadly Judith although in the thick of things didnt get to see any of the 'senseless hedonism' but did do quite well in the lacrosse tournament.

February 11
The cast is off and now Steve is walking with 2 walking sticks. The physio is very hot on the exercises and practising walking properly.

January 11
Its very quiet when everyone returns to university and in Oliver's case he has left for a six week placement in Singapore. Luckily with e-mail and Skype its easy to keep in touch with everyone.

At last Steve can walk on the cast with crutches, he's much more mobile and back at work.

November 2008

Sadly Helens mother Ruth died in hospital on the
10th of November 2008 just 4 days short of her
80th Birthday.

She will be greatly missed by the whole family and
especially by her husband Geoff.


December '10

Steve has broken his ankle, well actually dislocated his ankle and broke his fibula. This meant 3 days in hospital, followed by moping about the house and working at home till Christmas. Still it was enlivened a little bit when Anglia TV asked him to appear in an item about the difficulties posed by the bad weather (clip here). All the Children are now home from their various university courses so we have a happy Christmas house full.

The really snowy weather has meant Steve's broken ankle has felt like being under house arrest as it has been rather dangerous to venture out.

November '10

A quiet month, Steve has been busy preparing for the charity AGM at the end of October, and working with Helen decorating Colette's room. Helens dad visited in order to see cousin Adam in a play at the Maddermarket theatre.

October '10

Our turn to plan the Freewheelers cycle ride and having always travelled out in the country we decided to do a city run. It worked out fairly well except for the BBC event in the Forum which stropped traffic and filled the city with thousands of parents and children at 10:00 in the morning on a Sunday which we didn't expect. Jean, Helen's friend from Australia came to stay for an enjoyable couple of weeks. It was really great to catch up on news and get together again.

Just a couple of weeks into her nursing course Colette managed to break a big toe (playing football in the halls corridor and a couple of days later sprained her ankle so badly the hospital thought it was broken and had to spend some time in a moon boot and crutches.

At the end of the month Helen went off with the other members of Norwich Harmony to Llandudno to take part in the Ladies Barbershop convention and competition where they did very well improving on their last score.

September '10

So we got all three girls off to Uni, did have a little bit of bovver as Steve managed to fill the diesel car up with petrol. This of course had to be pumped out and the fuel delivery system cleaned out. This it seem is a three shilling job and of course you lose the tank of petrol as well.  Plymouth has changed a lot since Steve was there in the 70's although the old flat on Haddington Rd hasn't changed a bit!

August '10

Brilliant news Rachael & Judith both got the universities of their choice, especially good news when the media are reporting that thousands will not only have problems getting their first choice but will have problems getting a place at all through clearing.

Nice to have everyone at home before Helen and Steve set off on their summer hols.

Click on the links for the Photos. - Italy on our own, with a week in Venice and another in Rome. Off with Ryanair and no hassle or delays as we did manage the 10kg in the miniscule suitcase. We knew we were going to die when the bus driver from the airport to the island answered the second mobile on the motorway but he did manage to keep the bus on the road and we arrived after that stunning trip down the Grand canal to find the hotel we booked even better than expected.

It was very central just a dozen meters from busy St Marks square and all the staff were delightful. Although it didn't have a restaurant you really wouldn't want one when just outside the door are loads of bars and restaurants and eating breakfast in the street is much more fun.

We did a lot of walking as we visited the many museums, galleries and churches covering about 35 miles in 6 days. We did catch the Vaporetto and motoscafo a couple of times and when we went to Murano but nowhere is very far to walk. For a low cost treat you can catch a gondola (Traghetto) across the Grand canal for 50c.

If you visit Venice the best way to beat queues to the Doges palace is to buy the 'secret itinerary' tour ticket, the tour is quite interesting and you have the opportunity to visit the rest of the palace afterwards. The Peggy Guggenheim Gallery is interesting and thought provoking as is the new modern art gallery in the old customs house. This has a statue of a naked boy with a frog outside that has its own policeman to guard it!  We felt that a surfeit of Madonna's made the Accademia less interesting.

Steve is pretty good with maps and directions but we still got lost at least once a day in the fascinating back streets. Since its only a mile or so wide you can't stay lost for too long but it can be a bit frustrating when you find you were only a hundred meters from where you wanted to be having wandered about for 30 minutes.  It rained for a while on a couple of occasions but it didn't last long and it still made Venice look interesting.

Murano is worth a visit but totally dedicated to selling you glass (actually everyone in Venice wants to sell you something or other). Yes we did have a cup of the most expensive coffee in the world in St Marks but you only have to do it once a lifetime. We were sitting next to people drinking champagne at prices that would settle most peoples mortgages so we didn't so feel quite so guilty then.

A week passed very happily and so off to Rome on the train, a comfortable and fairly quick journey. Another nice hotel who were happy to cope with a wheat free breakfast.  So much to do and so little time. Since we had visited many of the churches and the Vatican on previous visits we concentrated on classical Roman history and people, here at the Trevi Fountain.

The best day was probably visiting the Capitoline museum, Trajans market and deciding to call it a day we took the metro to St Peters for dinner and an evening walk when we discovered that Castel St Angelo was open till midnight. In the cooler evening the trip round was fascinating and the views of Rome by night from the top were brilliant. Walking home we found ourselves by chance backstage at a Queen concert (actually a tribute band but they were great fun). a pretty memorable and enjoyable day, the only frustration was only having my phone camera with me that evening.

We spent a very hot day in Tivoli visiting the very badly signed and staffed but really interesting site of Hadrian's Villa. There is a wonderful restaurant opposite the bus stop back to Tivoli/Rome where we had the best and cheapest salad in 2 weeks in Italy and the staff really tried hard to make us welcome and be helpful.

On the last evening someone decided they had had enough of the noise etc from scooters parked in the courtyard of the flats next to the hotel and set them all on fire. The final day we visited a couple of well known churches and then had lunch before travelling back to the airport and another stress free flight back to the UK.

While we were away Judith went to Cambridge & Nottingham, Colette had a w/e in London whilst Rachael went with friends to Carcassonne and Oliver delivered some specialist kit to the Netherlands for his work. Busy busy busy.

July '10 First day of the month and Rachael & Judith are off to the prom with their friends click for pix and then off to Dublin for a week.

June '10 Off to see Elliot in Penrith. We had also planned to walk a big section of Hadrian's wall but Steve ricked his ankle a couple of weeks before and so we only ended up walking about 15 miles out of the 30 planned. However we did walk the best and most spectacular sections of the wall and the weather was pretty kind to us. Steve was delighted to visit the Mithreanum at Bracolita as he went to school with a Roman/Celtic temple buried beneath the school playing field and had wanted to see what it may have looked like ever since. Meanwhile Colette got a small taste of the university life spending the week with Elliot.  Came back to the confusion caused by decorating the lounge and hall and spent the weekend clearing up and cleaning the carpets. Still nearly done now.

May '10 A difficult start to the month as the girls out in the Clio managed to write it off. luckily without involving anyone else or hurting themselves or the friends with them. So now we search for a new cheap car. Meanwhile the heating in the lounge has, after many years, finally been replaced with some proper radiators that will give of enough heat to work properly. Helen, Colette, Rachael and Judith all ran the Race for life and had an enjoyable time.  Mid month we found a low cost hatchback so everyone is mobile again.

April '10 Steve is much engaged at work as the 'chief exec' has stood down and he and a colleague are taking over the role between them. Meanwhile Helen has started her new job and is enjoying it. Luckily we had decided to miss a trip to Nerja in Spain mid month as some of the group never made it out there because of the Volcanic Ash and those that did had to wait some time to get home.

March '10 Oliver gets his first ticket in his new SAAB! Colette, Rachael and Judith all get offers of University places. Rachael gets her own show on Future Radio. She is very good and a natural presenter. In the competition she runs with her co presenter she has been winning in her choice of music. Steve has been busy at work dealing with some difficult issues and Helen has been training for her new job that will start in April (still based in the same school). Colette has returned to help out at the Hewett with Judith backstage on West Side Story. It was very good.  Colette is also volunteering at a local day centre and has secured a job at the N&N University Hospital. Rachael has a new job at a bar/restaurant in the city and seems to be loving it despite the longer hours

February '10 Helen and Steve are getting the bedroom redecorated and have pinched the twins room to sleep in which was fun for a couple of days but is wearing thin after a week, still the work is progressing well and it will all be over soon. Mid month Oliver has bought his own car, a SAAB which looks pretty good.

January '10 Quiet after Christmas with everyone at home.

December 09 Elliot has to speak up on behalf of students in the Lake district when financial problems hit his university.  Mid month Judith gains the FA referees qualification and can now referee proper football matches.

In December we went to Paris to collect Colette. The weekend we decided to go was the weekend all the Eurostar trains broke down, however as we were travelling Eurotunnel it seemed worth trying as they started to sort out the backlog once the Eurostar trains stopped running. However the roads from Norwich were very icy, the windscreen washer froze up and once across the channel after only an hours delay the temperature really dropped and we drove all the way to Paris on black ice, not an experience I want to try anytime soon. We did get to stay a night in Paris and to see some of the people Colette had met in her time there. Then AAhh a flat tyre with a big hole and a bill of nearly £200 for the replacement. Then back to Calais on icy roads, do some shopping at the Carrefore where the carpark was a solid sheet of every bumpy ice. Still at the tunnel there were no delays because the stopped Eurostar trains meant the Eurotunnel trains were all on time with no holdups.  We have grandad a lift from Basildon to Attleborough on the way back and decided the M11 would be the best route, wrong, it was travelling very slowly for miles and miles with nothing at the front when we reached the end of the problem. Finally made it back at Midnight Christmas Eve! Nice relaxed Christmas though.

November 09 At last Judith has been passed fit and her Knee is getting back to full strength. Just 2 days later she sadly had an accident when a motorist opened her door in front of her. Luckily it was the bike that the full force of the accident and she suffered little harm.  She is currently undertaking the FA referees training.

October 09 Not too busy and Steve & Helen manage to get away for a relaxing weekend in Cambridge. Taking our bikes made travelling around very easy and enjoyable.

September 09  The twins start their last year at school and are busy choosing universities which means we will have four children at uni all together! Colette continues to have fun in France and has made many new friends from across Europe who are also au-pairing in Paris.

August 09 Helen and Steve take a cycling trip around the North Holland area of the Netherlands. It really was great fun and we had a wonderful time   Click here for an outline of our journey which covered just under 300 miles...

July 09

At last the kitchen and bathroom are finished and life can return to normal, we are too exhausted to do anything else!

June 09

Oliver has been to Amsterdam helping to run his companies stand at a major oil exploration exhibition.

Meanwhile the house is in chaos as we clear everything in the bathroom and kitchen into the lounge whilst the new floors and then the kitchen and bathroom are fitted out. It will end one day but we are getting a bit fed up at the moment.

Judith is recovering well and only occasionally uses a crutch to help her get about.  Helen has had Offsted into the school but it all went reasonably well. 

Rachael continues to work at Cafe Rouge and like Judith has already started on her A2s work having completed her AS exams.

April/May 09

Elliot has been voted Vice President of the student union, a paid job that will mean he will take a year off study and start his final year in 2010. 

Colette has decided to remain in Paris for the rest of the year and will be doing more work with the children. Her plans for uni are temporarily on hold as she continues to improve her French, visit museums and art galleries and generally have fun in France.

Judith has a new Saturday job as maintenance person on some new flats nearby but she will soon have to take a break when she goes into hospital. Judith had her operation at the end of May. Good news the op went well and she is now hobbling around on crutches with a massive support round her leg which nevertheless is better than a plaster cast. 

The new boiler is in and up and running, it's great to have really hot water on tap again as well as better heat round the house. We were lucky that for the days the boiler was out we had pretty good weather.

March 09

Judith had a great time in Barcelona although the weather was not particularly good. Then bad news, her knee has not recovered from the accident last year sufficiently well for her to do any sport so she has to have an Anterior Cruciate Ligament reconstruction and that means a couple of weeks on crutches, and then a year off sport which is devastating to her.

Steve & Helen went on their first cycle ride on the middle Sunday of the month with the Bicycle Club and it was glorious. The sun was really hot and it was really nice cycling through the spring Norfolk landscape.  Colette continues nicely in France with a number of visitors having been over or going soon.

February 09

Good and bad news for Oliver and Judith who were both scheduled to fly abroad the day the snow bought much of the UK to a halt.  Oliver just made it out of Birmingham a few minutes before the airport closed, so he did manage to get to the Lapps winter market in Jokkmokk in Sweden (photos here). Sadly Judith didn't get away to Barcelona and was very disappointed. However she will be off later in spring so all is not lost.

Our 18 year old boiler is giving us problems so we are looking at a replacement however the cold snap means delivery and installation will take about 3 months!

January 09

Big move - Colette is off to France to work as an Au Pair in Fontenay-aux-Roses just  outside the perepherique  to the south west of Paris.  She is enjoying the new experience and is helping the families three children to speak English. She has made friends with other Au Pairs and local people and devotes her weekends to soaking up Parisian culture.

2008

December 08

December was hectic and sad. Steve had a silly accident which had him on crutches for a couple of days and reduced mobility till past Boxing day. The excitement of getting ready for Christmas with the whole family including Helen's Dad who came to stay with us. Nevertheless when the holiday came it was very enjoyable.  Then it was time to say goodbye to Elliot who went off to a winter sports session in Scotland before returning to work for his degree in Penrith.

November 08  Sadly Helen's mother Ruth died in hospital on the 10th of November 2008 just 4 days short of her 80th Birthday. She will be greatly missed by the whole family and especially by her husband Geoff.

November 08

Just before the sad death of her mum Helen heard that she had won the Cath Lake Cup for the most improved person in the Norwich Harmony Ladies Barbershop company. Pic here.

September 08

Helen starts work in the brand new school built to replace Thorpe Hamlet Middle School.  The new building is great, very spacious, with lots of light.

August 08

Off to Seville with the girls. We spent a great couple of weeks in a city centre hotel and explored the city and the surrounding countryside. It was hot (it reached 45C) but very enjoyable. Halfway through the holiday it was the festival of the Virgen de los Reyes which meant a very early morning to watch the Virgin process around the city and a late evening at the bullfight. The girls decided they would visit the Bullfight and although they didn't 'enjoy' it, they did find it an interesting experience. Photos here

Sadly shortly after we returned we heard Helen's mum had broken her leg and had gone to hospital where she remains not very well and discomforted by the metal work keeping her leg bones aligned.

Meanwhile Judith has discovered that she has damaged her anterior cruciate ligament which means many weeks of physiotherapy. Great news for Oliver, he starts his fulltime job at Guardline in Great Yarmouth in the middle of the month.

July 08

So much has happened over the last few weeks. Judith and her team with the help and support of their coaches have set up a new football team Thorpe United Ladies Football Club and won their first 2 matches. Then disaster Judith had an accident on the pitch when another girl kicked her knee instead of the ball. Instant pain and a serious injury. X-rays look serious but we are still awaiting a scan to discover if she will need one or more operations. She is gutted that she may be off the pitch for 9 months or more.

Meanwhile Colette is currently in Australia (via Dubai) having a great time travelling around on her own. Last week she climbed OVER (not across) Sydney Harbour Bridge and she is currently skiing in the mountains before heading off to Alice Springs and Uluru (Ayers Rock) and finally to Perth.

Oliver is in France travelling around with friends in a car all over the place. Meanwhile Elliot is working running all sorts of outdoor sports events with Active8 and Rachael is working again at Cafe Rouge.

April  08

Judith and her team won the girls football cup ending her final season as a girl very satisfactorily, although injuring her ankle and sitting out the second half was a great disappointment. Next season she and her team plus their colleagues in the Norwich City 'Greens' will be forming a new Ladies Club.

Meanwhile Rachael has started Kickboxing and is thoroughly enjoying it. She is also delighted to be back working at Cafe Rouge. Colette is planning a journey to Australia to meet a school friend and visit old friends in Perth.

Earlier in March Collette and Judith worked as backstage manager and stagehand on an ambitious stage version of the Golden Compass.

Elliot has returned from Egypt with a diving instructors certificate and a bit of a tan. Oliver continues to go gliding and enjoys both flying and ground crew work.

Steve has finally got around to brightening up this website and giving it a crisp new look, and Helen has been for a look round her new school that is being built over the road from the temporary school she is working in. At the end of April her singing group Norwich Harmony made it through the preliminaries and will be singing against the best in Britain in Harrogate later in the year.

Feb 08

Helen receives her Counselling Certificate at the University of East Anglia pic here

Jan  08

Colette is featured on the UNICEF website. Just before going away to Barcelona Colette had a piece of artwork that she had done for UNICEF put onto the main page of their website  http://www.unicef.org.uk/youthvoice/index.asp
 and featured again here
http://www.unicef.org.uk/youthvoice/news_item.asp?id=142

Elliot is back off to Uni and then is going to Norway to do some ice climbing followed by a session of diving in the Red Sea.

2007

December 07

Good news Steve has been offered a really interesting post at Asperger East Anglia to help improve services for people affected by Asperger syndrome. He will be starting at the beginning of January.

November 07
Oliver is now working at ASDA as a Home Shopping delivery driver whilst searching for a permanent career. Steve is still hunting for a permanent job meanwhile he is working for Tesco rather than sign on. He is also undertaking computer repair and set up work. Elliot is enjoying his course and continues to do well.
September 07
A busy month as we attend Oliver 's Graduation at Chelmsford Cathedral on a beautiful sunny day. His degree was presented by Alan Titchmarsh the University patron. Two days later we are heading up to Penrith to settle Elliot into his new University course in Outdoor Education.
August 07
The guinea pigs have moved to a new house a short distance away where they are very happy. Rachael was finding her busy school and social life were making it more difficult to look after them properly and a friend with grandchildren was keen to help out.
Helen and Steve walk the Wherrymans Way and cycle the Peddars Way in small chunks, and appear to have narrowly avoided a traffic cops fixed penalty that wasn't actually their fault, anyway because it was completed incorrectly.
Meanwhile Elliot and his friend Daisy cycled the whole of the Peddars way and Norfolk Costal path in 3 days. This includes a long walk to Hunstanton to fix the derailleur that got damaged in a fall (And no the shop Fat Birds Can't Fly didn't have anyone cleaver enough to fix it). Finally a shop in Sheringham bodged it for him to finish the trip and get home where dad was able to fix things properly.
Elliot also went to Barcelona with his friends, Rachel went to Crete and Colette went to Sheffield with their friends.
July 07
Oliver is approaching Paris, you can see a map of his progress here. Sadly Colette's Trip to Paris has been stymied because her friends Passport application got lost and did not turn up in time. He is going to write up the trip in detail when he gets home and we will put it up here when it's done.
Steve's job at EACH has finished and he is now seeking a new post that can utilise his skills and also put something back into the community.
Meanwhile Oliver is well into his trip by bike around Europe...
I'm in Eindhoven at the moment so far we have been to Rotterdam, Dourtrect, Breada, Tilburg, now we are here. Last night me and Dave camped in a park (discreetly), the night before that we camped at a proper site, and tonight we are staying in a B&B but it's more like a hostel, and with no breakfast.
Met many nice people, and only been mistaken for Germans once.
Maastricht was lovely. Then we left to Liege in Belgium, which was not that nice, Dave broke his back wheel and we had difficulty getting another one.
Then leaving Liege we went wrong, and went to Huy, we were so tired we get the train the Bastone we got there at 22:30 so we went to the pub then camped at the back of the station. In the morning (Sunday) we went to the war memorial for the battle of the bulge. Then cycled to Ettelbroke which was really hard, it took us one and a half hours to bike 5k up hill then about 45mins to do 11k down hill, but when going down hill tractors and the head winds would slow us down to 16MHP but in ideal conditions it could/should of been 25-28MHP. We are finding it hard with all our luggage going up hill, so we might have to cycle as far as we can for the day then get the train
Got the train from Ettelbroke to Luxemburg (city) which is 44k, for €1.5, and got a cheap hotel where we stayed last night and will be staying tonight for €120 for both of us for 2 nights. In Trier now in Germany for a day trip
The rest of the log will appear soon... ...honest!

Oliver
Sadly the chain that operates Cafe Rouge has decided not to employ anyone under 16 anymore so Rachael has lost her Saturday job until next year when they have said they will re-employ her.
May 07
Its nearly mid year and this year the Norwich City Canaries (now renamed Norwich City Ladies and Girls) haven't been so lucky, losing to West Norwich in the cup final. Colette has finished her AS's and is planning a holiday with her friend Lauren in Paris and Oliver is planning a Rotterdam to Paris cycle ride. He has completed his final year at Uni having had a really hard time from his landlord.
Elliot got his expedition leaders qualification and having led a couple of D-of-E expeditions, has decided to go off to Uni in Penrith to study outdoor education. Not he assures us in his brothers footsteps. In the meantime he is working part time at Iceland and Active8, an outdoor adventure organisation.
Easter 07
Rachel and Judith have completed their fortnight's work placements. Rachael worked at Cafe Rouge who have since offered her a Saturday job which she is delighted with, and Judith worked at the Thorpe Hamlet Middle School.
January 07
Just before Christmas Steve secured a job setting up a new marketing communications and media section at EACH. He started work in Quidenham in Mid January in a post which would end in June. Luckily only a couple of days of snow made travel anything other than straightforward. He also joined some of Elliot's friends in an exhausting but enjoyable weekend of walking in the Lake District
2006

19 Dec 06

In a whirlwind of activity our two French exchange students Clothilde and Hugo spent a week with us. Their language skills not to say Hugos unicycle and juggling skills impressed us greatly.

Colette has now been working for Tesco on a Sunday for some weeks, Elliot is hoping to start a Duke of Edinburgh's Award scheme at Jarrolds and is still studying hard , just like his brother Oliver in Writtle.

October 06

Oliver is now settled in Writtle to finish his final year at Uni.  and Has  recently returned from visiting a friend in Norway. Well we wrote off another car, not our fault this time a girl in an unfamiliar company car ran into the back of us!  Judith is Captain of the Norwich City Girls this year and in the 1st game of the season the girls won about 11-0 but I may have lost count. There is a new website for the girls football team here. Steve & Helen have joined a cycle club and once a month go for a long(ish) cycle ride around the Norfolk countryside, alternating with long brisk walks in the winter.

July 06
At the end of July in what must have been one of the busiest weeks of the year, Judith and Elliot (and Helens sister in law) all appeared in the local newspapers. We went to Sandringham to see Elliot and his friends get their Duke of Edinburgh's Gold award. Elliot really worked hard for this and it was a pleasure to see him receive it from actress Claire Goose. The pictures are here. Only 24 hours later Colette was off to the Hewett School prom, meanwhile Judith who was in the paper featured as one of the Norwich city girls football team, cycled to and from the Norfolk Show and had a great day. Both Judith and Rachel have had good school reports with Rachel getting some amazingly good marks. Finally at the end of the week the Middle school fete that Helen has been organising for weeks had a wonderful day of sunshine and was a great success.
June 06
Here we are in mid June 06. On the 17 June Steve had the book he has edited called Eating Disorders: Helping Your Child Recover published, there is more about it on the EDA (now Beat) website. On the same night Judith won the Norwich city canaries players player award for the third time in as many years. Oliver is home for the holidays having worked at the local middle school for 3 weeks to complete his first 2 years work at University. He has tired of the North and is going to complete his third year at Writtle (Chelmsford) part of the University of Essex.  Colette is finishing her GCSE exams and now we wait with baited breath for the results.
April...
Colette's exchange visit was a great success and we will be hosting her exchange partner in October
March/April saw Oliver off to Slovenia leading an expedition as part of his University course and Elliot went off to Derbyshire as a leader on a Duke of Edinburgh's award expedition. Rachael & Judith have just come back from a trip to Belgium and Colette is planning her visit to France on an exchange visit.
Steve and Helen had a great time in Amsterdam in mid February with Jack and Annie Wilton who wanted to celebrate her big birthday in style.  The weather was cold and snowing when we arrived, but it made for an interesting visit with plenty of excuses to snuggle down in a coffee bar or restaurant.
2005
Life is never dull! At the beginning of December, Rachael had an accident when a car pulled out in front of her bike and she was pitched over the bonnet, breaking her helmet which saved her from serious injury. However she landed on her chin which got a nasty graze but it's  healing up pretty well.  Rachael recovered fairly quickly but poor Judith had to have a day off to recover from the shock. Meanwhile in Carlisle, Oliver got his arm broken when he was assaulted by a nightclub bouncer.  M'learned friends are sharpening their quills as it looks as if he will be making a serious claim for compensation.
Helen had her big 50 birthday party in mid October so gets 2 bites of the cherry as her actual birthday wasn't until the 21st. She had her own site for the party and it was great fun with lots of old pictures of Helen and great entertainment from Elvis aka Mark Reilly.
Unfortunately in September Elliot had his bike stolen but it was insured so not too much of a problem just really inconvenient. Meanwhile Oliver has got himself a job at Centre Parcs so he does have some income.
Very sadly we have been to Chichester to the funeral of Steve's childhood friend and best man Steve Goodridge. Steve died on Sun 31 July '05 after a long fight with cancer. Steve G was always interested in hotrods, fast cars, motorcycles and art and one of my earliest memories is his soap box kart which was always faster and sleeker than any of the rest of his school friends could build. Memories include racing around the old bowling green outside the scout hut on one of the scooters Steve G owned well before being old enough to drive one legally. Through adolescence Steve was plagued by cramp in his legs and would alternately amuse and annoy us as in the middle of the night he would suddenly leap from his bed/sleeping bag with cramp and hop round the room.
David, Meg, Vanda, Steve Goodridge, Anne, and
Steve Bloomfield, outside the science room at
St Helena's school around exam time 1971
Steve was a talented artist from Primary school days and was impressing his teachers even then. He will be sadly missed and it does just seem so unfair that someone so talented and with so many diverse interests was taken so early by cancer.
~ ~ ~ < > ~ ~ ~
We had a number of good days out over the holidays and you can see the photos here. Helen is especially proud of completing the Go Ape aerial assault course in Thetford forest. Photographs here.
It's holiday time and everyone is back home, Oliver's Fiesta gave up the ghost on the way to the south coast and had to be written off, he now has a Honda and it looks pretty good. He did get some labouring work at the Chapelfield development but it finished after 6 weeks and he is looking for more.  He does have a second job at a local Hotel working in the kitchens at weekends. 
We now are the proud owners of an eighty year old piano and after much family exertion have installed it in the lounge where it is enthusiastically if not always fluently played by all the children. We had a piano playing visitor the other day who confirmed that it really can play something other than chopstics!
Elliot began the year by writing off the family car, but actually in a weird way did us a bit of a favour because we were able to get a car with better spec than the hurriedly obtained replacement for the last write off!
Immediately afterwards Elliot left for a month in Australia staying with friends near Perth. He had a great time and enjoyed the experience so much he is considering going back as soon as possible.  Nevertheless he is working on his business studies, determined to get into retail management.
Oliver is progressing well in Penrith and is getting better exam results than he ever got at school.  He has also been potholing a bit of a mixed pleasure apparently. He is now back at home for the summer break and seeking employment.
Colette has been to 2 guide camps, and Duke of Edinburgh's award practise and final hike (led by Elliot who was working with the School D of E team leaders). 
Judith continues doing well with Norwich City Girls but they have not had an easy ride this year and have not come out top this time. She has also been doing well in the trials for the County Netball team and is now on the team and along with Rachael is starting on a busy athletics season. 
Rachael has been developing the enthusiasm she shares with Judith in the drums and is looking at ways she can develop this with like minded friends and plays in a band.  In early march the Hewett put on an excellent production of Midsummer Night's Dream and Rachael worked on the stage set and props as well as helping with make up on the performance days.  She has now taken up piano lessons.
Steve was very busy preparing for and then attending the International Eating Disorders Conference in April where EDA had a stand.
Helen is now working at Middle school as a pupil mentor and is relishing the challenge this presents as well as considering where to develop this work in the future.
We now have an albino chipmunk as well as a conventionally coloured one and the guinea pigs continue to flourish.

Back to the top

2004
We had a great Christmas and enjoyed ourselves enormously. Just before Christmas Elliot passed his test (just after Christmas he wrote off the car!) and very shortly he is heading off for Australia.  Oliver is enjoying his course in Penrith although the gales and winds in early Jan made life less pleasant.
During the first weekend in November we became the proud owners of two juvenile chipmunks, Chocolate and Hobnob. The two female chipmunks are the latest addition to our menagerie and Rachael is very proud of her new pets. Steve is pleased to see them housed in the new cage which took nearly three days to build as it has to be pretty large and have an 'airlock' to ensure they don't escape when you feed them.  They are undoubtedly very cute and also very lively!
Oliver has started his university career at UKLAN and is enjoying it although it does rain a lot!  Elliott travelled up to the Peak district to walk 50km as part of gaining his Duke of Edinburgh's gold award, has started his management training programme and now works one day a week at Jarrolds as well as Iceland. 
The summer was very busy Colette, Rachael and Judith were away at Guide camp, Oliver has been to Benidorm (The police are not pressing any charges and the bruises have healed up), and Helen and Steve had a wonderful if busy holiday in Barcelona. Meanwhile Elliot has been working hard earning lots at Iceland while Oliver prepares to move to university in the Lake district..
We have Just played host to Lara Petres the Spanish student that Colette stayed with around Easter time. It was a very busy week and Lara was a an excellent guest that will always be welcome to visit us.
Thanks to a thoughtful Fathers day present we are now connected to Freeview and have the choice of at least three shopping channels all day every day. Seriously though it worked very straightforwardly and everybody has benefited from the additional channels.
Norwich City Girls emulate the division one Premiership team and take the Norfolk girls cup at the cup final on Saturday 24th April. Not only did they win the cup but it was Judith who scored the only goal with a magnificent kick from about the halfway line!  As a result of this and some other great moves Judith has again been named Players Player of the year for a second year in succession. a fantastic achievement.
This Spring, the girls have been to Guide camps twice since Christmas and Judith was a ball girl at Carrow Road mid March when Norwich beat Gillingham 3-1. In April Colette went to Spain on an exchange trip with the Hewett School. She stayed near Sagunto in the same region as Valencia with Lara and her family.  The trip has reinforced Colette's decision to learn Spanish, so that she can return and do the girlie talk thing with Lara and her friends.
Oliver has decided to go to University in Penrith which happens to be exactly 300 miles from Norwich by Road. Elliot is keeping his options open and Helen and Steve are busy at work and it seems at home as well.
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2003                                 
Living on a hill we are never concerned about floods, winds yes,  but it would need over 150 feet of water to reach us.  However in the first days of the new year we were much struck by one of the highest levels that we have seen on the Wensum in a very long time, and this can only mean misery for those living on low ground.  
Both Oliver and Elliot are well established in their weekend jobs at Tesco and Iceland respectively, although the hours are sometimes a little tiring. Meanwhile they are continuing to study for their 'O's and 'A's (honestly).  Perhaps as the result of a 'dare' Elliot has had his head shaved resulting in a dramatic 'new look'. Colette  has just taken to the slopes at ski school, so far no injuries, our fingers are crossed!
In Switzerland the girls moved into a wonderful chalet in the mountains for ten days. they climbed the Jungfrau and sung at the top, visited a talented wood carver and an Ice Palace amongst many other activities.
Rachael did very well in a pets portrait competition in June. She won a prize for her picture of the Guinea pigs and helped win a prize for her school as well.
Over Easter Colette spent a week camping in the Lake District with friends from School. The trip which was organised by the Hewett School meant that they had to fend completely for themselves including making all their own meals and cooking them.
Rachael and Judith are both delighted to have been in the team that beat the rest of the Norwich School Girls Five-a-side football teams in a knockout tournament with Judith getting all but three of the goals and Rachael in goal only allowing two in during the whole tournament. In the meantime with her Norwich City strip on Judith made it through to the Norfolk County Semi Finals, sadly the ultimate trophy slipped from their grasp, but it's still a tremendous effort. For her part Judith was awarded the Players Player trophy! At the end of August, Judith has been selected to receive special coaching at the football 'Centre of excellence'.  Judith also took part in the Norfolk County games as well as lots of other activities including Cricket.
In December Elliot returned from Russia and an exciting visit to Moscow and St Petersburg, At the beginning of December Oliver had an accident which wrote off the car, so the following week was spent choosing and buying a new one. In the same week Steve was away for a couple of days at a conference, Helen had a school governors meeting, and Rachael learned that she had won a prize to design a mosaic wall decoration for the new Surestart building that's just opened in Thorpe Hamlet. Elliot was preparing to leave to leave for Russia and Colette was rehearsing her part for the Mikado.  This excitement packed week also saw Steve becoming Stephanie for the day when he and all the staff at EDA took part in a Dress Up Day.
In November Colette visited the world war one battlefields in Belgium.  Steve organised a 41 Club visit to the new Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital and came away very impressed with pretty much everything except the poor transport provision.  Elliot and Oliver have both been working lots of overtime, and Colette took part in her very last BOP dance display at the beginning of December. All the girls have joined the new Girl Guide choir and so far are enjoying the new team and new songs. Norwich City Girls have an unbroken run of victories much to Judith's delight.
September saw us all back from our various holidays, Oliver in Newquay then Amsterdam at the end of July, Colette, Judith & Rachael in Switzerland with the Norfolk Guide Choir and Steve & Helen in Amsterdam at the beginning of August. Sadly Elliot has had to wait until Christmas for his visit to Russia.
Amsterdam was great and a fantastically relaxing and fun holiday. Oliver went over by train with a group of friends and stayed in a couple of youth hostels (Bob's was the best), Helen and Steve flew from Norwich and stayed in a very nice hotel (the 'Clemens' and yes we can recommend it) just behind Dam Square. We had one of the most relaxing and enjoyable breaks that we have ever had. Amsterdam is everything you expect and more... Walks; canals; shops; churches; trams; walks; restaurants; bars; cafes; walks; coffee shops; museums; art galleries; markets; walks; parades; gay pride; street parties; prostitutes; sex; walks; cannabis; pickpockets (not us this time!); cats; and yet more walking.
Steve took his pedometer and recorded that we walked over 40 miles in the week and enjoyed all of it despite the record temperatures which, just like the UK were in the 32-35°C range all week. There is so much shade everywhere that the sun does not have to be a problem at all, and of course many shops, art galleries and museums are air conditioned.
The highlights were probably the Van Gough Museum which has a broad range of pictures from contemporaries as well as so many of Van Gough's, the red light district which is just fascinating, and in complete contrast the Bible museum! There just weren't any low points at all except perhaps the heat.
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2002
Having completed his 'AS' level exams Oliver has now started his run into'A' levels at City College. This March he has been away in the Lake District on a Geography field trip, and in June was an extra (soldier) in 'The Lost Prince' to be broadcast early next year. Oliver has been bitten by the model car racing bug, and is building his second car, which he races on Sunday evenings. Having passed his driving test theory, he was very annoyed not to pass the practical driving test he took in early August.  
Elliot and Colette both did well in their SATS. Colette's school year started well and she is now House Captain and Leader of her Girl Guide patrol as well as a member of the Guide Choir singing all over the place. Sadly she missed out on a trip to the Netherlands last year because of the Foot & Mouth problems which prevented them travelling.  Colette is now a member of her school council with special responsibilities for the playground and playground safety, she has also started wearing glasses for the first time. Elliot is well into his GCSE courses and is already getting good marks.  In March he took off to the American 'Wild West' for a History field trip (in my day a trip to Colchester castle was the big history event!), and then in April was off on the first of 2 Duke of Edinburgh's Award trips. Elliot now has his 'D of E' Bronze Award and is looking forward to tackling a Silver Award. In June he did 2 weeks work experience at Iceland in the City centre and was invited to go back for Saturday work. He's very pleased about this as he was quite keen to drop his paper round but needed the money.
Judith is a member of the Norwich City Girls football team, and both she and Rachael have both been away on a residential week at Wells next the Sea in North Norfolk. Both Rachael and Judith are now Girl Guides, and together with Colette all three girls have taken part in BOP (Body Of People) dance presentations throughout the year.
Helen (now a governor at the Middle School) is in the lucky position of having both the headmasters of both schools that she works in, fighting for more of her time to support youngsters with learning difficulties. To relax she goes to Yoga (often with Colette) at least once a week.
Work is always busy for Steve, March saw him in Rotterdam for an interesting conference on obesity issues, so you can expect to see less of him soon! Newcastle upon Tyne was the venue for another conference at the end of June, my how we travel the globe!
Oliver is currently doing his final year of 'A' levels and Elliot his final GCSE year. Colette is now well established at her new secondary school and Rachael and Judith are well into year 6, that's SATS year, so we will be exammed out by this time next year. Judith's football career is developing well, having scored the first goal of the season for the Norwich City Girls team (as well as plenty more subsequently) and being named as woman of the match for her role in a school match in mid November. So far (Feb 03) the Norwich City Girls team are unbeaten this year and Judith earned the accolade 'awesome' from her coach.
Introducing the children to the delights of Paris in the summer seemed like a pretty neat idea. They get to see some of the world’s most famous cultural (and commercial) works of art and architecture, and we get a romantic holiday (we had found the Hotel that we spent our honeymoon in on the internet and had decided to go back for our break).
The hotel Roubaix was much the same, run on a family basis with friendly and helpful staff in the centre of Paris.  It was good value for money 25 years ago and it’s good value now, but nevertheless very clean and friendly.  We told the owners, who haven’t changed, about our honeymoon, and on leaving they gave us a bottle of champagne for a belated 25th Anniversary present! The hotel was just round the corner from the Metro, a Monoprix store the Pompidou centre and a small park that was perfect for picnic teas.
Luckily we had already walked up the Eiffel Tower when Steve really got into the swing of things by falling over, spraining an ankle and breaking a rib on the park bench, which luckily broke his fall!  This was swiftly followed by having his pocket picked on the Metro and then falling over and spraining the other ankle!  Following that Helen had a run in with a 17th century, stone bollard in Momartre. It all sounds disastrous but actually apart from having some impact on the romantic aspects of the holiday it really just resulted in outbreaks of hysterical laughter by the rest of the family.
The children enjoyed the adventure and were pleased to have eaten in restaurants in some of the poshest addresses in Europe including the Champs Elysees, the Eiffel Tower, and Momartre. Sadly although we visited the Moulin Rouge they were disappointed that despite the tickets at £40.00 each to get in, we didn’t take them to see a show.
Over the fortnight we saw most of the sights Paris has to offer including the 'Paris Plage' the beach that was made by the Seine and made the news around the world when visitors bought Paris to a halt, the Pere La chaise cemetery, the Arc De Triumph,  the Louvre the St Martin canal, Monets garden at Giverny about 50 miles from Paris as well as the Paris call girls and the trinket sellers at the Trocadero.
Oliver decided to stay at home to feed the guinea pigs and fish. He had a great time, and apart from throwing barbeque for his friends (saves clearing up the kitchen), he managed to do a personal 'life laundry'. This resulted in a couple of black bags of rubbish and one could certainly notice the difference! He kept the house clean and tidy, and also remembered how the washing machine worked. He is available to house-sit for a consideration if you are looking for someone. We were all delighted when Oliver passed his driving test in mid November 
In early September 02 we visited the 'Bodyworlds' exhibition in Brick Lane in London. I'm not sure about any claims that it is art, but it is fascinating and was probably the most interesting morning we have spent in a very long time. There is more information about the exhibition and the 'plastination' of cadavers on the Bodyworlds website.
The Christmas break already seems a distant memory even though we did have a lovely break and recharged our batteries ready for the new year. If you missed our Christmas message you can still catch it here.
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2001
In the middle of 2001 Steve helped take a Middle School group to London for a visit to Tower Bridge and the London Dungeon. Everyone returned safely and Steve will be completely recovered quite soon
At the end of July '01 Elliot received a French Award, Colette was presented with the Headmistress Award for contribution to sport and whole school life. Rachael was presented with a prize for a poem and illustration that she had had published, and Judith became the fastest girl in her year in the whole of Norwich at the Norwich schools athletics meet, she is also a member of the Norwich City Girls football team
We had an enjoyable if damp family holiday on the Thames in a narrow boat  in August '01 and got back to learn that Oliver had obtained the GCSE's that he needed with pretty good grades, and he has now started his 'A' level course at City College.
.Steve and Helen celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary in September2001. They managed to escape for a 25th anniversary weekend on their own in Oxford. 'We had a really enjoyable time, spoilt only by the problem of finding anywhere to park the car. Oxford have come up with the wonderful idea of fining you £40 if you leave your car in any carpark including the park & ride for more than 24 hours! For a city that relies on tourism this seems to be a bizarre and somewhat arrogant attitude towards travellers who for any reason cannot use the railway. If you're thinking of going to Oxford in the car be warned'!
Thanks to everyone who celebrated our twenty-fifth anniversary with us on Sunday 16 September 2001 (Yes we do know the actual anniversary was the 4th!). We had a great day of celebration at ‘The Cottage’.  It was really good to see members of our family and so many friends with their own families, many of whom we had not seen for some time. Thank you everyone for some wonderful memories, splendid cards and marvellous gifts. To see us 25 years ago click here!

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Christmas page 2002 
Christmas page 2003
Christmas page 2004

 This page updated 24 September 2017