Our normal update on Liza, Mavis's mum - she's now 97 going on 98. Her eyesight is still just about good enough for her to get around and to watch TV. The UK Snooker Championship is currently her main focus, but she's also a keen Formula One fan, as well as a wide variety of quiz games and antique shows. No cooking or soaps though
Gilbert-the-one-eared-cat remains fit and healthy, albeit with a bit of a limp from a front leg. A recent fight means that his sole ear now has a distinguished cut in it.
Phil is continuing his BA (Hons) degree in Music at Colchester Institute. He did well enough in his recitals and exams for them to let him back for a second year. His major options are performance (i.e. singing) and composition. He sings with 4 ensembles there (see below).
He also continues to volunteer at Felixstowe CAB on his day off from college. He supervises the running of the advisers on Wednesday morning and does a couple of appointments in the afternoon. The variety of the work is always challenging - debt, benefits, relationship problems, consumer issues, wills and power of attorney - you mention it, we get it.
Strictly no holidays this year, because of the need to keep Liza looked after. However, right at the end oflast year we managed to spend 4 nights in a Martello Tower in Aldeburgh, taking Liza with us. It's a marvellous place, run by the Landmark Trust. As we arrived, filming for George Clark's TV programme "The Restoration Man" was just ending. There's no communications or TV, so we spent the time listening to music and reading. It's mostly on one floor, with a central "atrium" and 4 rooms off: two bedrooms, lounge and kitchen/toilet. The domed nature meant that the acoustic was brilliant, and Mozart piano sonatas or early vocal music on CD filled the space. We had friends to come and view on a regular basis, and one party included 3 people who had just tagged on - I thought they were Mavis's friends, but they'd just seen her real friends cross the drawbridge and followed. They were rather surprised to get the full tour and tea.
We discovered (by means of water pouring down the inside of the windows) that the roof leaked by the solar panel. Our local friendly roofing expert was called in and discovered that 2 tiles had been left off under the panel when it was installed and the company that installed it has now gone bust. Turned out getting it fixed was a bigger job than expected.
We both still sing rather a lot. Mavis joined Phil in the G&S on stage for this year's Mikado. She also made a number of costumes, including Katisha's kimono which was then sold to the costumier for the Buxton International G&S Festival. She took the design from some Kimono silk bought from Japan and then recreated it with appliqué and over-painting on plain silk. She then stitched the whole lot from scratch. She also did the make-up. That's Monday and Thursday evening accounted for.
We both sing with the Stondon Singers who perform mostly unaccompanied mostly early music (i.e. before 1600). They meet in mid-Essex so it's a 130 mile round trip, but we both get a great deal of enjoyment from it. That's Tuesday evening.
We both also sing with the local benefice choir at Christmas, Easter and special occasions. That's Friday.
Phil sings with college choir, college chamber choir, a barbershop ensemble and a 21st century music group. He occasionally plays the triangle with them too. He has a concert tonight as a "jobbing" bass. I count that as 8 sets of music currently on the go.
Mavis's new sheds and greenhouse have kept her busy. We were self sufficient in potatoes for a while this year, and she contributed a large variety of chillies and tomatoes to the local plant sale.
Phil has had less time for bird photography, but still likes to snap the odd one. He is pretty involved with some free music notation software called LilyPond, and currently produces all the software builds and the website. Oh - and we watched the Tour of Britain come through the village.
That's all we can think of. Wishing you all a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,
Mr & Mrs P E Holmes