Our usual updates on the year's activities.


Mavis started the year doing some work as costumier for a local opera company who perform at private functions. During this year, that's been less work than she had been expecting - mainly because it seems that the efforts of the people who run the company seem to have been much more heavily taken with their new nursery than with the opera company. Despite that, she did one large piece of work for them, making the costumes, staging and scenery for a production of "The Pearl Fishers". Part way through the year, a chance meeting and discussion led to her starting doing some part-time work (usually a couple of mornings a week) at a local plant nursery - she spends her time either "potting up" or delivering - driving a white Transit...

At this time last year I worked for the central part of BT - BT Group. During the year that organisation became much smaller, and we moved lock, stock and barrel into the new technology arm of BT - BTexact (www.btexact.com). My boss is now the Technology Director for the organisation, and I've widened my role into taking responsibility for setting the technology strategy for BTexact. The change in responsibility also meant that my occasional reminders to my boss of the need for promotion bore fruit in the middle of the year. All I need now is the extra money to go with the extra responsibility...

I've continued to do a number of foreign trips during the year - mainly presenting at conferences. This year's tally was Oslo in March, Nice in May, Washington in June and Marbella in September. I would have been to more places, but the severe downturn in the Telecomms industry meant that a number were cancelled. Oslo was interesting - I spent a morning looking around while it was snowing and visited the Vigelund sculpture park at Frogner, the Thor Heyerdahl museum with the Ra and Kon-Tiki boats and the viking ship museum. All excellent stuff. Nice was warm and French. Washington was hot. I went for walks early in the morning - 5:30 am - and there were already Americans turning up for work! And Marbella was tropical.

Thor Heyerdahl's boat Ra
Thor Heyerdahl's boat Ra

Tinga wonders whether she can drink from one of the ponds
Tinga wonders whether she can drink from one of the ponds



We've not done a huge amount with the house this year - that was last year. The only real activity was decorating the hall. Marks under the old wallpaper revealed that this was the first time it has been touched since 1979!

We did, however, go for a complete garden "makeover". Out went the grass and borders and in came a "stream" running from the top of the garden to the bottom, with the whole of the rest of the area given over to borders and gravel. The complete lack of grass meets with my unalloyed approval, since it cuts the time I have to spend mowing the lawn by about 30 minutes a week.


I went skiing with my brother and our friends Paul and Jennie to Valmorel in January. Not much else to report about that, really, except the realisation that I'm getting older. Mavis and I spent a week in Eire in May - we did a clockwise circular tour starting and finishing in Dublin and taking in the Burren, Kerry and all that. Mavis arranged it all, including booking all the hotels - I can really recommend her tours. Most of it focussed on the gardens and wild-life areas of the country and it was a most relaxing experience. I managed to drink the odd pint of Guinness.

StKevinsKitchen.jpg (43540 bytes)
St Kevin's kitchen in Glendalough on a "soft" Irish day

We had a long weekend in Paris in late June - travel courtesy of Continental Airlines' frequent flyer programme. In previous visits we'd "done" most of the museums, etc., so this time we travelled a little further afield and took the train to Giverny - where Monet painted his most well known series of paintings - the "Water Lilies". And we spent a little more time sitting in bars watching the world go by...

As usual, we also visited the Belgian Grand Prix in Spa. Back to our usual seats this year.

The Water Lilies at Giverny The Water Lilies at Giverny

Phil as "Sir Despard" in "Ruddigore"
Phil as "Sir Despard" in "Ruddigore"


Singing has continued to dominate our spare time. I remain as Chairman of the Ipswich Gilbert and Sullivan Society and was thrown an additional challenge this year when the Musical Director/Producer and Producer decided to call it a day. So most of the year since May has been involved in looking for new people - a significantly non-trivial task.

Our production for the year was "Ruddigore" - and I don't think I've been in a better one. I played the part of Sir Despard - the original Bad Baronet. Mavis made 7 bridesmaids dresses - which sound like hard work, but it's not obvious how hard until you realise that each skirt had about 8 metres of material in it, plus there were the bodices, underpinnings, etc. They took ages to make.

We also sang at Earl Stonham church again this year - in Spring I sang the "Olivet to Calvary" and Mavis sang Pergolesi's Stabat Mater, and in Autumn we sang a selection of well known pieces.

The Family

Mavis's mum - now approaching 87 - has made the step forward of getting her house centrally heated recently - it took a lot of persuasion but she now prefers the warmth. Earlier in the year my mum had an operation to try to sort her back out - it seems a little better, but it's by no means fixed. A few weeks ago my Dad had a very bad time - his remaining kidney seems to have been hit with an infection and stopped working, leaving him very ill until he was sorted out in hospital. He's back at home now waiting to see what can be done after Xmas. His mother is still going - I think she's now the grand old age of 95.

Tinga and Tucker continue to do well - now aged 14. They have very recently been joined by Holly, a refugee. Her owners are good friends of ours through Ipswich G&S and are spending a couple of years in Canada, so we agreed to board her. I don't think it's fair to say that the 3 cats get on well at present. She hisses at them and they reply, but they tolerate each other.

The fish in the aquarium continue to live happily and die occasionally. We've lost our 2 original guppies this year, plus a couple of danios and a platy. We now have 1 platy, 2 danios, 2 Buenos Aires tetras, 5 Cardinal Tetras, a golden Algae eater and a striped loach. Maintaining them in the style they expect continues to occupy a surprising amount of time. The Rudd who were in our outside aquarium were duly transferred to the pond early in the year and seem to be doing well, along with a couple of gold-fish.

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

Phil's sig

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


Mavis's sig

16 December 2001