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I will begin with a couple of thank yous.  Thank you to everyone who has kept in touch with me and kindly asked how I have been during the past few months.  Thank you to all of you who have continued to follow my blog despite my not having written much all year.

We have had quite a busy year which, as you know has included having our old conservatory demolished and a new room built at the back of the house.

During the building works in the spring

Building has begun!


Elinor continued attending art classes three times a week at Wensum Lodge in Norwich until mid-summer and was also interviewed by and accepted at East Coast College to start a Level 3 Art and Design course which began in September.  Richard and I share the driving, taking Elinor to and from college in Lowestoft.  There is no direct public transport between where we live and where she studies; it is quicker and probably cheaper for us to drive her there.  In the autumn we took her to three East Anglian universities that run degree courses in the subject she wishes to study.  They all held open days and we were able to tour the colleges and listen to the tutors speaking about the subjects they teach.  Elinor was able to speak to these tutors and ask relevant questions.  We visited Suffolk University in Ipswich, The University of the Arts in Norwich and Anglia Ruskin College in Cambridge.  She is currently applying to all three and has filled out her UCAS form and paid her fee.  We now wait to see if and when she is called for interviews.

Because we still have no rector for the eleven churches in our benefice we have had to become more involved in the running of the benefice by attending more meetings and in taking some of the services.  Richard took a few services in Rumburgh church during the first half of the year and I took a couple in the second half.  We have attended fund-raising events such as coffee mornings, sales and quizzes and have tried to be as supportive of the other churches in the benefice as we can.  As well as being on the cleaning rota for Rumburgh church I have been doing most of the cleaning at St Margaret South Elmham church all year as there has been no-one well or fit enough there to do the job.  All cleaning is done voluntarily as most of the churches do not have the funds to pay for a cleaner.  As St Margaret has discovered, even when money is found to pay for a cleaner, no-one wants to do it as many local people are afraid to enter these old churches on their own.   All of our churches are medieval buildings needing constant work to keep them from falling down.  This past summer, with its lack of rain, we have found cracks appearing in many of the churches in the benefice.  Some of these repairs have been attended to but we at Rumburgh are still waiting to see when and if ours can be done.  We also have lost a number of glass panes from our windows which meant that birds and insects got into the church during the summer and cold, wind and rain is getting in this winter.  The window repair job will cost about £1000 and we will have to find the money from somewhere.  We have an on-going problem with bats roosting in the church.

Rumburgh church decorated for Harvest Festival. You can see the cracks above the East window.

A closer view of the cracks above the window

Another crack

and another.

The floor tiles are disintegrating.

I visited Alice in February so that I could see her act in ‘Sense and Sensibility’ as I mentioned in a post at the start of the year.  I drove to Kent in March to make a long overdue visit to my sister who was not at all well at the time.  Richard has visited Manchester a couple of times to see his brother, his nephew and his family.  I travelled to Liverpool for a couple of days in June to re-visit old haunts and to see a dear blogging friend who made me very welcome indeed.

The Liver Building in Liverpool seen from the Mersey ferry in June

Richard, both girls and I spent a week on the Isle of Wight in July and then Richard and I spent a week in the Peak District in August while Elinor stayed with Alice in Sheffield.

Looking out to sea from the Isle of Wight in July

The Peak District in August

We visited my dear friend Wendy and her family in August and then, before we knew it, it was the beginning of term and we were driving to Lowestoft three times a week.

We celebrated my brother’s wedding to Helen in May and Richard, Elinor and I visited Pensthorpe Natural Park for the day in June to celebrate our 24th wedding anniversary.


We have all had to attend many medical appointments.  I take my mother to the eye clinic every five weeks and despite having eye injections because of her macular degeneration she has almost completely lost the sight in her left eye and the sight in her right eye isn’t too good but it is stable for the time being.  She also has cataracts and glaucoma.  Her arthritis is painful and she can no longer stand up straight.  Her pet cat died in the summer while we were away on holiday and she misses him very much.  I am spending more time with her.

Richard had a hospital appointment for a procedure at the end of May during which he had to be sedated.  During this procedure it was discovered his pulse rate was irregular and faded away at times so the investigation had to be abandoned.  Since then he has had a number of tests to see what was causing this problem and the specialists were very puzzled for some months.  Of course, Richard was quite anxious all this time not knowing how serious the problem was and wondering if he would need an operation or not.  A couple of days before Christmas he received a letter telling him the latest test had shown that the problem wasn’t as serious as previously thought and he would just be needing a course of statins.  This made us very happy.  The test for the original problem for which he needed sedating is no longer needed either!

Elinor has scoliosis and has a trapped nerve in her spine which has caused part of her leg to become numb.  The problem appears to worsen during the winter months when she gets cold.  She has been having physiotherapy to see if anything can be done to ease the situation.  Nothing so far has made a difference.

My rheumatoid-arthritis is still in remission, which means I have had no flare-ups for some time.  My joints are quite severely damaged, especially my hands and feet but I am used to this as I have had it for many years.  Unfortunately, I have now got osteo-arthritis which is causing yet more damage to my hands and feet.  As everyone knows who has osteo-arthritis, there is nothing that can be done for it except pain relief and eventually joint replacement if appropriate.  I also know that the best thing that can be done is to keep using the joints and keep them moving.

After many years trying to get a full-time job Alice was at last successful and began working at Manchester Metropolitan University in November.  She now has a challenging job as befits someone with a doctorate but has to commute from her home in Sheffield to Manchester each day.  There are regular problems with the trains and she often doesn’t get home til very late.  However, once she is on the train she can enjoy an hour’s reading which is a great pleasure to her.  She will be receiving her doctorate at a graduation ceremony in a couple of weeks time.  She and her partner, Phil got married on 1st December.  They organised the event themselves and as they couldn’t afford a big wedding they only invited very close family and friends.  There were eighteen of us all together and the wedding was a Goth-themed one.  We had a wonderful time and we all got on very well together.

Alice and Phil

Alice and me on her wedding day

Alice and Elinor

No photos of Richard, unfortunately!

We couldn’t get to church for Advent Sunday as we were returning home from Alice’s wedding that day; my brother and Helen took Mum to church.  The following Sunday, the 2nd in Advent, I took a Morning Prayer service at Rumburgh and on the 3rd and 4th Sundays in Advent, I took Mum to church at her church in the town of Eye.

The Advent Crown on a table in our new garden room

Our Advent Crown

The view from the garden room. Apologies for the reflections in the windows.

Another view from the garden room

We have had a very nice Christmas.  We attended the Carol Service at St Margaret South Elmham on the 20th of December and Richard organised and ran our Carol Service at Rumburgh on the 23rd of December.  Richard, Elinor and I collected Mum and took her to Midnight Mass at Eye church on Christmas Eve.   She came to us for the day on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.  We had friends visit for coffee on the morning of the 28th.  Alice came to visit on the 27th (on her own as Phil had to work) and was due to go back home on the 29th but when we got to the station we discovered that there were no trains running to or from Norwich due to signalling failures.  She had to return here for the night and eventually got home the following afternoon.

St Margaret’s church at the carol service

A frosty view from the garden room on Christmas Day

I think that covers everything!  I hope I am able to get back to blogging some time soon though, of course, I cannot promise to be any better at it than last year!

May I wish you all a very happy, healthy and successful 2019.