1998 in the Holmes household

Last year’s story was dominated by our getting married. This year is much closer to "business as usual", with tales of holidays, work, hobbies and "family". And so – on to the story.


This year’s summer holiday was spent in Italy – 2 weeks in Rome, Florence and Venice. The hotels were excellent, the train transfers perfect – in fact, there’s little that could have been improved upon. I suppose it was rather warm – frequently around 40oC, but there were always the air-conditioned hotel rooms to return to. We made great use of the public transport in all the cities – buses to get around Rome and Florence (as well as visiting the outlying places of Villa d’Este and Fiesole) and, of course, the water-buses in Venice. We took far too many pictures to even give a representative sample here – but I thought you might like the view out of our hotel room window in Venice.


I went skiing twice in the Winter – to Meribel in the French Alps in January and to Saas Fee in Switzerland in February. Mavis came with me to Switzerland. She wasn’t too well and has pretty much decided that skiing isn’t for her. However, she had a great time exploring the delightful town and surroundings (and posing on the slopes!) whilst I learnt improved "mogul-bashing" at ski school.

I again went to the Belgian Grand Prix with Chris Pollard. Those of you who watched it will recall that it was a little damp (British understatement). Luckily we remembered our waterproofs – rather better than the guy who spent the time in his T-shirt. Brrrr. Again, those who watched will remember the incident of Schumacher smashing into the back of Coulthard’s McLaren in the rain. Bearing in mind that around 50% of the audience is German – Coulthard wasn’t too popular!


Mavis and I continue to sing with the Ipswich Gilbert and Sullivan Society. This year’s production was "The Sorcerer", together with "Cox and Box" as a curtain raiser. Mavis played the part of Constance and I played Dr. Daly, the Rector. The story is as tortuous as is traditional in G&S, but all ends happily, with Mavis and I pairing off. Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of us at that stage of the show.

We were also both involved in the Stradbroke Light Opera Group production this year (together with Steve, my brother). Stradbroke is a rather smaller company than Ipswich (something of an understatement – Ipswich G&S budgets around 20,000 per show – Stradbroke is in the 100 range!). As a result of the size of the society, we agreed that we wouldn’t be able to put on a full show, so I cut "The Gondoliers" down to around one hour, cutting out 2 of the principal parts on the way. In the event, it all worked well, despite our usual last minute panics.

I also completed my music A level this year. It’s actually rather hard work – the "finals" involved a 15 minute recital, a composition lasting around 15 minutes (with a recording of it), 2 exams on aural comprehension, a harmony theory exam and one on musical history and understanding. However, I managed to slog my way through it and was delighted to get a grade of ‘B’. The teacher for this year wasn’t as good as last year’s, so I’d been expecting a ‘D’. Now all I have to do is get back to using some of it.

Mavis has been hard at work in the garden, as usual. The borders are now pretty much weed free (although we’ve got some tenacious ones around here) and the shrub planting is looking wonderful. She also made a foray into vegetables this year, and the potatoes and tomatoes were more successful than she dared imagine.


Mavis has been working as hard as ever – possibly harder. A new head at her school who likes to get all the paperwork done has meant more work at weekends and evenings, and the long trip to and from school (around 35 miles) is a drag. We’ve therefore agreed that she’ll retire at the end of this academic year. It will have been her 30th year of teaching and is a good time to give up.

My interest this year was looking after my boss’s job for just over a month while he was on a special assignment. Looking after an engineering centre of about 1,000 people with a turnover of around 60 million was actually quite good fun. I was rather sorry when I had to give it back.

The House

Not much change this year, but we have great plans for next. We’ve decided to convert the loft to living area (it’s really quite large, so the conversion will give a big resulting area) and we’ll need to get the central heating sorted out before that happens. We might even be able to accommodate guests when we’ve done!

The Family

Unfortunately Tog died this year. He was just 16. I’d watched him get more and more infirm, including blindness and incontinence. The end came early one morning when he fell into bad fits and I had to take him to the vets to have him put down. I was very sad and still miss him. However, Tinga and Tucker continue better than ever – their personalities appear to have blossomed somewhat now Tog has gone. I hope we’ll get some other cats next year.

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,


6 December 1998

Mr & Mrs P E Holmes
Paddock Hill
Grundisburgh Road
Great Bealings
IP13 6PE