Ruth's Christmas Newsletter 2008

It seemed to me that the New Year seemed to start with a whimper, rather than a bang, which is perhaps a good thing, when all's said and done. Bangs can be uncomfortable things. Christmas 2007 was, as usual, at Mum and Dad's house in Somerset, and the family had a very nice break. Early in January I had a nice walk at the local NT property, Wicken Fen, and took the photo reproduced here. On the return part of my walk, the grass track started off looking only damp, but got wetter and wetter and wetter until I was hopping between drier patches amongst the pools. Inevitably I finally stepped into liquid mud to my ankles! Once I reached the boardwalk I took off my now squelching boots and went sock-clad back to the car, to much amusement of those I passed. In February SJP was putting on its next play, the classic "An Inspector Calls", which I was helping as front of house manager. It went down very well, both in audience numbers and in the satisfaction of all concerned. The May play was rather last minute we were intending to put on another but couldn't cast it, so we ran "No Time For Fig Leaves" instead. It is a story set in the 1980s in which a biological weapon has killed all the men. The women in the script take on posts in government, etc, until two men turn up, saved by an isolation chamber... The story is essentially a comedy and the audiences (and cast) loved it. Our next play is Blithe Spirit. Work at Global Graphics carries on, and on several occasions people have said that I'm doing a good job, which is very nice, but I still feel frustrated at how much more could be done, and how much of what is done could or should be done better, if only the resources were available to do so. Spring was marred by a surprise round of redundancies, which not only made everyone nervous but also made everyone's workload higher and it wasn't low to begin with. I've just finished creating eight data sheets for the products I do, something that several people thought should be done by our marketing people but despite pushing many times they haven't done anything for over two years. I finally gave up waiting. Also in the late spring we discovered that Dad needed a heart operation - we weren't sure at first, but tests revealed that a bypass was necessary. By the summer it was all arranged, and Jan and I joined Mum and Dad on the way to the Bristol Royal Infirmary. We stayed for several days near the hospital while Dad had the op. It was a very stressful time for us all, but thankfully he emerged from the hospital in one piece and is now well again. I couldn't attend the church Holiday Club this year because of work. It was called "The Pirates of Cherry Hinton" and also for the first time held at a local school. With a very different arrangement of facilities we weren't sure if it would gel, but it was soon clear that it was fine. I dropped in a couple of times, and made the closing ceremony, which showed just how much work had been put in and how much fun extracted! In September I decided to spend most of my remaining leave to attend the latest WoTUG conference in York, followed by a trip to the Lakes. The conference, at the York Marriott hotel, went well and with a good number of old and new faces. In times past we used to shack up in the University accomodation and use their lecture facilities... then the Uni's cottoned on and got all commercial on us, and so now it's cheaper and easier to find a suitable hotel. Progress what progress? I've been to the Lakes before, but never to the western edge, so I'd booked a hotel in Nether Wastwater for a few days, meaning to do some light rambling and photography and a visit to Barrow. I first became aware of Barrow at school and have always been curious of its history, rooted in railways and shipbuilding. My curiosity was partly satisfied, but I managed to visit on the day both museums were closed! I enjoyed a trip on the famous light railway from Eskdale to the coast (originally a mineral line, converted in 1915 by Basset Lowke to tourist use, which must make it a first). The weather was however very wet, which not only made fell walking dangerously slippery but also made photography largely pointless through poor visibility and very dim, flat light. The autumn weather did get here in the end; October was a glorious if cool time in which I almost got enough sun! And suddenly it's nearly Christmas... where did all that time go? My best wishes to you all, and have a very Happy Christmas.