The Year In One 1,200 Can't Be Wrong! Aus Deutschland 10 Years After! Goodbye Ma Getting About: Here We Go Again All Changing? Goodbye Pa Heading North On To Berlin! Clever Or What? Heading South Sounds Muted!
This year was a mixture of sadness and achievement as we said goodbye to Mum Gillatt - May and Dad Strydom - Terry, Noelene graduated, Dawn and Claire moved homes yet again and I walked a long way once more. Read on ..
Just before last Christmas, and after the 2001 4th Estate had been sent, Mum sadly died at the age of 82 after a long illness. She was buried with dad in Runcton Holme holding her secateurs, all ready to pinch plant cuttings from some exquisite garden or other in the next life!
Then in October, again after a long illness Dad also headed for the great race track in the sky, no doubt exacting his pound of flesh from the horses that had let him down over the years! We miss them both terribly and will do for a long time and, remembering their last years, we hope they're in a better place. Noelene's belief in reincarnation makes Terry righteous bookie somewhere and Mum the next Charlie Dimmock!
After five long years Noelene finally graduated, getting a First Class BA Hons. in Visual Arts and no-one deserved it more. Her final project, "Contemplating Space", was a two metre high outdoor room built of stone, ceramic bricks and wood with a grass roof and a camera obscura, which featured in the Bolton Evening News (fame already!) Although she's now fully qualified to be unemployed, she's been completely occupied with the intricacies of setting up her own art practice and has already had work accepted for two exhibitions. Look out Turner prize!
The lucky electors of Bolton's Deane-cum-Heaton Ward were given a real treat this May when they had the chance to vote for John in the local elections. As John O'Farrell would have said "things can only get better" but 1,200 realised how fortunate they were and put their crosses in the right (surely that should be left?) place. Thus encouraged they're going to get another chance next year
As usual we got about a bit during the year:
In July we headed slowly north, me on foot and Noelene by car along the English-Welsh border following the Offa's Dyke Path. About 180 miles and 12 days later I walked into the sea at Prestatyn, footsore and brain dead, along with Harry and Steph who I'd met on the way. One of the most spectacular sights was Hergest Ridge, made famous in the title of Mike Oldfield's second album. You can see the whole story at http://www.gillatt.org/offas - check it out!
Although our visit to South Africa in October was very sad it did give us the chance to see family and friends again after almost eight years. We also managed to make a short visit to the Drakensberg Mountains in northern Natal and that's certainly a place to go back to, preferably with walking boots and a rucksack! Apart from Bolton on a wet November morning they're one of the most beautifully spectacular places I've visited.
Well, in February we went to our friend Gaby's "special" birthday party in Speyer and then again to Germany for Thorsten's "becoming a doctor/housewarming/getting older" party near Blomberg/Cappel in NW Germany. Just as well my German's almost word perfect now!
In March us brave Garstang Ballycottoneers headed for another
date with destiny near Cork for our biannual trip to the 10 mile race. I'll put
my increasingly slow performances down to the bad example set by Neil (Bacardi
Breezer) Lansom or it could have had something to do with the "few pints of the
good stuff" the night before the race! However, we've already signed up for
2004 and I'm preparing for some serious training down the pub!
April and we were in Berlin after a break of 10 years and marvelled at how much had changed. Our visit to Norman Foster's reconstructed Reichstag, especially the cupola, inspired a project that contributed towards Noelene's degree. In August "wir besuchten wieder Deutschland" (told you I was getting good!), this time to Speyer once more, where unfortunately the weather was almost as good as that of this year's English summer.
If 2001 had been one of our best musical years then 2002 represented a bit of a famine. Early in the year we saw, separately, the British folk singers Kate Rusby, Cara Dillon and June Tabor and then some "real culture" with a classical concert in Manchester. Noelene "excused herself" from Roger Waters "In the Flesh" but we had our annual "comfortably numb" experience with the Australian Pink Floyd Show a couple of weeks ago and I believe that the Stones, zimmer frames and all, are touring the UK next year. We'll be there!
...you find, 10 years have gone behind, you! Unbelievable it may seem but we'll have been wed 10 years in 2003. Doesn't time fly when you're having fun! So we hope that you'll join us for a very sober (!) celebration some time this summer, hopefully outside when the sun's shining.
Claire, as ever the itinerant, moved with Carl to a new flat in Bolton as part of the Palace Street Arts Collective and Dawn and Jon upped sticks to the rather upmarket Norden area of Rochdale. We're staying put! However, Noelene has managed to turn a planned £200 redecoration of the living room into a major reconstruction of the whole house!