Lioness up a tree


Mavis and Phil's news from the year gone.


Taking note of the different situation this year, we've decided to change the style of our newsletter into a diary of the year.

The Year

The year started very well. In early January we flew to Nairobi for a safari trip to Kenya and Tanzania. The difference about the flight was that Phil had found an amazing deal on First Class travel, which he managed to keep secret from Mavis until we boarded the plane. She was a bit surprised when we turned left as we entered the plane rather than right. Very nice it was too. Fancy pyjamas.

Our Tanzanian guides (Kakae and Ernest)

Our time in Africa was similar to previous holidays in the two countries. The main difference was that it was a great deal wetter, which made some of the locations inaccessible by the 4-wheel drive vehicles used by the guides. It was quite common for one of the trucks to have to tow another out of the mud. The longer grass also hides the smaller animals and birds. It was still great to revisit three of our favourite camps and meet the people we know there, as well as trying out two new camps, which were both fantastic. Mavis donated some of the silk scarves she had painted to the charity run by one of the camps we visit. Details can be found on the Nomad Selous blog.

Obligatory photo of tomatoes



When we got back we resumed our normal activities - silk painting (Mavis); Citizens Advice (Phil); singing with the Stondon singers (both). Obviously that all changed in late March. We were due to sing a big concert on March 21st with professional vocal soloists and orchestra, but we cancelled that with three days' notice. We had hoped to rearrange it for 2021, but 2022 is now looking more likely.

Silk painted cheetahs






Citizens Advice in Felixstowe closed its doors, and a fortuitous decision to get a professional company to run our 'phone system (instead of me) meant that we could quickly reconfigure it to forward calls to the helpline out to our home 'phones. Bizarrely it was quite quiet with the 'phone lines, and a morning "on duty" tended to be quite boring. We decided we would offer to help with what is called "national overflow" calls - that is ones that had waited too long for another bureau to answer. To say that's rather less boring is an understatement - the second you finish a write-up and make yourself available again, the 'phone will ring. But also somewhat strangely, our bureau, which is tiny in Citizens Advice terms, generally sits in third place in the number of national calls handled.

Our planned July holiday gorilla trekking in Rwanda was postponed. Hopefully 2021.

The village plant sale was cancelled, but we sold quite a few tomato and chilli plants to locals we knew. We cut down on our number of tomato plants and so only harvested 33kg this year.

Cheetah brothers up a tree

No University re-union apart from a Zoom call.

We restarted singing rehearsals (socially distanced) in late September and stopped them again in mid-November. We're singing a "carol service" (recorded, no congregation) on December 15th, with one rehearsal beforehand.

We postponed our holiday in Kenya and Tanzania planned for January 2021 because the Government advice is "only essential travel" and so our insurance wouldn't have covered us.

That's about it, really. Wishing you all a very merry reduced Christmas and a Happy New Year,

Mr & Mrs P E Holmes
13 December 2020

Paddock Hill
Grundisburgh Road
Great Bealings
IP13 6PE