I ended my annual state of the nation note last year with the hope that the following year's tale would be rather happier. Well, I can say without any fear of contradiction that it will be. It all started in January (as years often do) when I suffered from a cold which kept me off work. I spent a while lying in bed and thinking - and one of my main thoughts was that Mavis and I were getting on rather well, but the system of her having to leave her house and drive over to mine at weekends was distinctly unfair on her, and that I ought to think of how to improve the situation. Why not get married? Why not indeed - I couldn't think of a reason. So my next problem was how to pop the question. In true romantic fashion I trapped her while she was in the middle of unloading the dishwasher whilst cooking a soufflé. I think it's fair to say that she was somewhat gobsmacked at the suggestion. We celebrated that evening by having a bottle of champagne with the soufflé - and that meal has remained one of our favourites ever since.
We then set to thinking about dates, locations, etc., eventually settling on July 26th, getting married in Woodbridge registry office and getting a local hotel to sort out all of the reception arrangements. People kept asking us if we were panicking yet - to which we always said no - it all seemed pretty straightforward, really! Slight panic on the morning trying to get Mavis' hair sorted, but the rest ran perfectly. The hotel did a lovely job; the photographers got some smashing pictures without being intrusive and we met more friends than we had time to talk to. We eventually turned in at about 10:30, whilst the party was still in full swing. Our "preparations" we disturbed a few minutes later by a knocking at the door. I rushed around trying to find a towel to cover my requirements, trying a number of other unsuitable things (including the bath mat) before finding one large enough. It turned out it was the receptionist with our complimentary bottle of champers. Brave girl!
The summer holiday for the year was, of course, our honeymoon. We started by going to the Lake District, staying in the Wasdale Head Inn, one of the more remote hotels in the area, surrounded by Scafell, Gable and Pillar. Quite magnificent views and walks. We then paid a visit to Islay, the island responsible for my favourite whisky. We again spent the time walking (although we did stop off for a brief look round the distillery!). Then on to Skye, and finally back via the North York moors - fitter and fatter.
Earlier in the year, I'd decided that Mavis would enjoy skiing, so we booked a week in a chalet in Les Deux Alpes for the February half term. I think I'd forgotten how much I'd come to be familiar with the feeling of my whole body hurting for the week. She was less keen on that sensation. I'd guess her view of skiing could be described as ambivalent - she liked the sliding bits, but was less keen on the falling over bits. We'll see if we can find something cheap this year to try it out again.
I also spent a fortnight in Colorado skiing with my friends Paul and Jennie Collins and Chris Pollard. Sleeping arrangements were interesting - to make the price reasonable all 4 of us shared a room the first week, with Chris and I in a double bed. We felt rather like "Morecambe and Wise" sitting up reading, in our dressing gowns!
Just to complete the set, I also paid another visit to the Belgian Grand Prix, again with Chris. Most of the fans there are German, with the few others being Dutch. The noise when Schumacher grabbed provisional pole had to be heard to be believed! It was also difficult to believe how much support Verstappen got!
We both continue to sing in the Ipswich G&S concerts. In our annual production (HMS Pinafore this year) I played the part of Captain Corcoran. We sold over 95% of the tickets for the show, and received excellent reviews. I was also responsible for the production and musical direction of Stradbroke's version of Trial by Jury in August this year. Yes, that was 4 weeks after the wedding - and yes, I was feeling slightly stressed! I'm continuing with my Music A level, having come top of the class in last summer's Grade 6 music theory. I felt very smug.
Work for me this year has been very similar to last. I now have a new boss, the last one having left to join another company, but otherwise much is the same. Mavis got promoted to Head of French at her school, having taught there for 23 years - just recognition at last. She was also responsible for the school production of "Smike", which involved getting more children than I could count, all in the age range 10 to 13, to sing, dance and act. An excellent production.
We both now live in what was previously my house in Great Bealings. Mavis has been attacking the garden and decorating with gusto. She has always wanted a garden that she could impose her thoughts upon, and my distinctly rustic one has been ideal. She's dug up enough weeds to fill a skip (not that we did - the bonfires were fun tho') and regularly comes in tired but with her eyes shining at the change she has effected. She's also decorated the bedroom and her study - although I did help with putting the borders up!
All of the cats still survive. Tog (coming up to his 16th birthday) is obviously very old, but he eats with enthusiasm, even if he is too blind to see his food. Tinga and Tucker (both 10½) are much as they always were, if perhaps a little fatter.
I think that's all for this year (it must be - I'm at the end of 2 pages). Love to you all.