Alan’s Newsletter for Christmas 2012


Hi friends,

            Its getting on for the end of November so time to write the annual newsletter to let you all know that we are still around and what we have been doing. To cover the health aspects first, we are both in good shape in general, duly taking the pills prescribed by our doctor. However, about a year ago I found that I had lost my sense of taste (a very serious matter!), and it turned out that this was due to the thyroid not working. That, in turn, was caused by a massive dose of iodine coming from a drug I was prescribed to reduce heart arrhythmia. Doctor’s cure was to prescribe thyroxine, a drug to stimulate thyroid action. On my own bat I gradually reduced the intake of the iodine-containing drug, and between the two I eventually got my taste sense back. Beryl has been fine but is now undergoing cataract operations for both eyes: the right is successfully done and the left will be done in a week’s time. Both of us have been spending a lot of time with the dentist, repairing old fillings, building bridges and I even had a couple of implants. A lot of this is a legacy from the war.

            The year started with Beryl’s trip to Florida to see her sister Pam. This did not get off to a good start as her flight out of Nice was delayed by a strike of baggage handlers and so she missed her connection in Paris for her flight to New York. She was put up for the night in a hotel in Paris but with no baggage (that had gone on to NY) she was not so enamoured of this as she might have been. She caught the same flight the next day and arrived Ok with no further adventures, meeting up with Pam in West Palm Beach.

            While she was off in Florida we had a spell of cold weather, unusual for here, with snow which stayed on the ground for a week. This delayed my annual pruning of the mulberry trees. Just after Beryl returned we had a very welcome visit from Shawn Charland and Paul Pulsifer from Ottawa. While here, Paul cooked a superb curry dinner for us and several curry-loving friends – quite an evening!

I bought a smartphone from a new cheap Operator (‘Free’) so as to not get too far behind with the technology, but have been slow in making use of it as my life does not revolve around contact all the time with friends. On this topic, I downloaded and installed the beta of Windows 8 and played with it, long enough to discover that I disliked it intensely and would not be using it. I am very happy with Win 7 and will stay with that. Beryl is enjoying her Kindle e-book reader and we got another one for me later in the year; I can also read the books on the smartphone which is handy. Around this time, I sent a DNA sample off to the Genographic Project to follow up my interest in genealogy and was duly informed several weeks later that my male ancestry was haplogroup R1b1a2(M269). (if anyone is interested, put that into Wikipedia and you learn all about it and where we came from).

            In March our family arrived from Ottawa for a spring break. Of course the girls wanted to use the pool, and did even though the water was rather chilly. After a week they all left for Ferrara in my Lexus to visit their old haunts for a week, then back for another week with us, joined by Francesco’s old friend, Marco, from Barcelona. By this time the pool water had warmed up a bit. Then, all too soon, it was time to return to Ottawa. Here, it was Corso time again and Beryl was pulled in to help with the decoration of the ‘char’ that our quartier was entering. Happily the day of the procession was sunny and warm.

            April was distinguished by a visit from a childhood friend who I had not seen since the 1940s, Monica, who had lived with her mother in a flat above us at 5 Earlsfield Road for several years. She and her husband were visiting friends/relations at Sainte Maxime, and came over for coffee and cake and a chat. Apart from this pleasant interlude it was spring cleaning and garden organizing time, so were quite busy. In May we took a few days off to go to Bordighera, a little Italian seaside resort just across the border, which has the merit of being only about 2 hours drive away. It also has a nice street market on Thursdays. It has many fine mansions built by English residents in the early 19th century with wonderful tropical gardens, most are now hotels.

            June announced summer proper and was warm, even hot towards the end. Lots of social activity, gardening (planting flowers), enjoying the pool, etc. July was a hot month, as expected here, day after day of blue skies and sunshine and virtually no rain. We attended a Soupe au Pistou put on by the village parish and held in Place Foch, together with a group of friends, and it was an excellent meal and a great evening. Then it was Beryl’s birthday and to celebrate that we lunched at a restaurant at Les Arcs called Le Logis du Guetteur, located in an ancient chateau on the top of a hill in the village. Fabulous views and an excellent lunch.

            August was as hot and as busy socially as July, and we enjoyed a return visit by Christine Marwood (Gordon’s sister) from Perth, Australia. As she has been here several times before, there wasn’t much call for sightseeing, so we could enjoy chatting, eating, and drinking. September cooled off a little but was a very nice month, and we took the opportunity to visit Camogli again and while there, make a visit by ferry to St. Fruttuoso, a 10th century monastery, accessible only from the sea. On the way back, we stopped off at Bordighera as being Thursday we could go to the street market and buy some tassels, which Beryl needed.

            October was notable was the long awaited re-visit of Shawn and Paul, and we were delighted to welcome also Larry Conway (a former colleague) and his son Kevin, a Toronto chef. We had a great time, including another memorable curry evening with Paul aided by Kevin and Beryl doing the honours. After they had returned, I installed a pool heater that I had bought to deal with the times when visitors want to use the pool but it is rather too chilly.  When our anniversary came around, we decided to celebrate by going to Bordighera for lunch, as we had found a particularly delightful restaurant there, and so as not to have to rush back afterwards, we stayed the night in the same hotel as before and returned in comfort the next morning (after a quick check of the street market!).  At the end of the month our friends Julia and Martin Wilson were down for their last visit to their home here which had just been sold, and they stayed with us for the last night before driving back home to the UK. It was nice to celebrate the sale, but tinged with sadness that they will no longer be our neighbours.

            Now it is the run-up to Christmas, looking out the Christmas lights, buying special food, attending and giving parties, planning what to do and where to go and so on, getting in and stacking firewood for the fireplace, putting the pool in winter mode, cleaning out ditches, pruning stuff in the garden, and so on. We hope all this will give us a smooth run through with no dangers of floods. Very heavy rainfalls seem to have become a feature of the weather, and of course, the UK has suffered a lot from the same thing this year.

            That is about all the news from here and we wish all our friends a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and good health with it.

Love from Alan and Beryl