Christmas in Quito


Mavis and Phil's news from the year gone.


Gilbert the one-eared-cat is a year older and so are we. He's beginning to look his age, though, with a few lumps and looking thinner. He's probably a bit older than we guessed when we adopted him.

Health Report

Phil's heart problem (an ineffective mitral valve) is the same as last year and not giving cause for concern. Otherwise we're both as well as can be expected.

Capuchin monkey in Costa Rica


We pushed the boat out (somewhat literally) and had two significant holidays this year.

The first was to Ecuador, Galapagos and Costa Rica in January. We flew out to Quito, now the highest capital city in the world, at over 9,000 ft (La Paz is no longer an official capital). We spent two nights there, enjoying a tour of the city and then flew to Galapagos (about 850 miles away). We boarded the MV Grace, the boat that would be home for the next 7 nights, and had originally been a wedding present to Princess Grace from Aristotle Onassis. We cruised the islands, landing twice a day using rigid inflatables and also (in a first for us) snorkelling in the sea to see shark, turtles and marine iguanas amongst other sea life. Then back to the mainland and on to the "cloud forest" in Costa Rica. When we were there it was closer to rain forest, and rather chilly. Marvellous bird life. Then to the Osa peninsula on the Pacific coast. A fantastic location and wildlife.

A turtle in the Galapagos (Phil's photo)

Then safari in Zambia in July. We flew to Jo'burg, then on to Malawi then to the east of Zambia - the Luangwa valley. Two different lodges there, then on to another lodge on the banks of the Zambezi before finally going to Kafue in the west of the country. Zambia is not as busy as some of the other major safari destinations, and is unusual in that around 30% of its entire area is national parks, dedicated to preserving the wildlife.

A brief midweek break in Brighton, taking the Sierra Cosworth for its annual run and meeting University friends in their McLaren.




Proving Mavis did snorkel


We continue singing with the Stondon Singers in darkest Essex (just south of Chelmsford, actually). We started with a lunchtime concert in a packed Chelmsford cathedral in February, then performed Bach's St John Passion in the same venue in March, with professional soloists and a professional period orchestra. Then our regular William Byrd anniversary concert in July, in Stondon Massey church, the village where he lived the last 30 years of his life. Then in November a concert of English music, including Vaughan Williams' An Oxford Elegy. To end the year we will be singing Christmas music in Blackmore priory.

We'd not planned to sing with Ipswich Gilbert and Sullivan this year, but were pleased that we were both made Honorary Life Members. However, a surprise 'phone call in early October - could Phil sing Luiz (from The Gondoliers) in three weeks' time on stage? It turned out that the person who auditioned for the part pulled out at the last minute. Luckily I'd done it before and with a little revision and much panic over the moves in rehearsals, it all turned out all right.

Phil continues to work at Felixstowe CAB. Mavis continues to keep the garden in shape (with the help of Pete, our extra gardener this year) and grows lots of veggies - in particular tomatoes - with this year's harvest being just over 60 kg (or just over a hundredweight in old money).


Blue-footed booby

We've now had our electric car - the BMW i3 - for over 4 years and more than 40,000 miles. BMW have now improved the range by a factor of 2 (so should do at least 130 miles) and so we're part-exchanging our current one for a new one without the get-you-home range extender engine. Here's hoping we don't run out of charge…

That's all we can fit in. Wishing you all a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,

Mr & Mrs P E Holmes
9 December 2018

Paddock Hill
Grundisburgh Road
Great Bealings
IP13 6PE