Newsletter Alan and Beryl for 2015

 The year started off on a sad note with the death of our son-in-law, Francesco, in Ottawa. He had been fighting a battle with liver cancer for some time but had not been able to work since October. He finally succumbed on January 2.

We removed most of the rosemary hedge we had planted 15 years ago, the job was finished by our neighbour David and his garden maintenance company as it required a back hoe to dig out the old plants and as it was alongside the pool a small machine handled well was needed. Once the old hedge was out the ground was cleaned up, soil replaced or augmented, and pink oleanders planted. To our surprise, they all took and even flowered during the flowering season! A watering system was called for which needed installing and this led to a rebuild being necessary to the water distribution system (valves and pipes) for using well water for garden watering., carried out by M. Thomas. Shortly after, Beryl had the idea of switching the location of the bird bath and the fountain, which David and his men efficiently did for us. He also brought in and spread 20 tons of white stones on the parking area and around the front of the house, as it was getting muddy in places.

              I put together a new computer to use for reception of the EUMETSAT weather satellite data which I receive, as they were changing the format of the signals from DVB-S to DVB-S2 which meant a new receiver was required and the data rate would increase. This change had potential for problems but the changeover was made relatively painlessly, helped by an Internet forum where all users could share what was being done.

              We had our Hungarian friends (Tommy and brothers) in in April to make some changes to the kitchen which greatly improved the counter space at the cost of moving the oven to the other side of the door. We also took the opportunity to take a short break with a trip to Bordighera across the border in Italy, and stock up with Prosecco and other items.

              The pool gave a share of problems in the first part of the year, the main pump failed (again) and I bought a larger one certified for sea-water, which necessitated a rebuild of the plumbing as the pipes were in different alignments. The chlorination system gave problems, I changed the salt cell which did not have much effect but eventually found that the power supply of the chlorinator was faulty and on replacing that everything was fine. The first swim took place in early May with the water at 24 degrees C. Since then everything has functioned well and we used the pool until mid-October, with the temperature at 29C, helped by the pool heater!

              The big occasion of the year was the birthday. Beryl’s sisters Pam and Kay came from Florida and London respectively with their partners, niece Sally and partner came from Florida, and Caroline and the girls from Ottawa, so we had quite a house full. Caroline and Anna and Julia stayed with us, but the others were accommodated in a rather nice B&B in the village, and we ran a shuttle service to pick them up and take them back each. During the whole time the weather was marvellous, lots of sunshine and warmth, for which we were duly grateful. We had an apero for our friends here to meet our guests, everyone went out to a local restaurant (Aioli) for dinner on the birthday , and the remainder of the time we ate well at home, dining on dishes prepared by out talented ladies, washed down by excellent local wine.

              After the excitement of the birthday, we had a few weeks quiet before more visitors arrived. Ann, Gordon and Chris Marwood spent a week with us in early October, when Gordon and Ann went back to Canada but Chris took the opportunity to visit Avignon and surrounding areas, returning to us for a few more days afterwards. In between, our friends from Ottawa, Shawn, Paul, and Camille, spent a few days with us during which time they put on on a noteworthy curry dinner evening, attended by a number of local friends. We had time for some technical discussions and enjoyed catching up with news.

              Since then it has been a normal autumn here, the village is quiet, dinner parties with friends, visits to local restaurants and catching up on jobs and ideas are the order of the day.

              Heathwise, we have had our share of colds and similar, but nothing serious I’m glad to say. Beryl has had some problems with aches in her neck, the result of an old car accident when we were rear-ended in Turin, which have led to her having a big MRI scan and she will see a specialist later this month.

              Time to wrap this up and to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and all the best for 2016. With love from Alan and Beryl.