If you click on the little
red camera () you should be taken to some piccies of the event!
As in the last two
years were not sending cards again and once more were e-mailing as
many of the Fourth Estates as possible, plus referring our friends to this
As in 2008, the money
we save will be donated to those whose lot is just as bad this year as last
the destitute refugees and asylum seekers in Bolton who are being cared
for by BRASS (Befriending Refugees and Asylum Seekers), Victoria Hall, Knowsley
Street, Bolton BL1 2AS.
Why not help too by
either donating to BRASS or by giving to another deserving charity?
We promise to not be (too)
doting grandparents and bore you, our regular readers, with every poop and pee
of our future grandchild. But there is something really special and exciting
about being in this happy condition for the first time. Claire and
Carl expect Jack William or ???? May (after Claire's grandparents) on 15th
June. So that's well and truly buggered our holiday plans for 2010!
|Mummy To Be!
||Daddy To Be!
I think, for the first time
since Dawn and Claire themselves were born, the prospect of a howling,
screaming little thing (and I DONT mean Noelene!) really does fill us
with unbelievable joy.
I suppose that with
future grand- parenthood comes the wisdom of age and, as you know, I began my
seventh decade in June with my child bride only starting her sixth last
Its GREAT though
bus pass, free prescriptions, free swimming, cheap theatre tickets,
winter heating allowance and many more benefits.
So PLEASE PLEASE make
sure the Tories dont win the election next year or well just be
poverty stricken oldies!
We celebrated The
Bosss half centenary with a paddle in the River Nile and Old Farts
diamond geezers just as you would expect!
In The Nile
I must admit that the idea
of a Nile Cruise wasnt at the top of my agenda but Noelenes dreamed
of it all her life and, to be honest, it was just fandabbydozy. I have to say
that, towards the end, we were suffering from just a twinge of temple
fatigue but it was even more spectacular than we had hoped or dreamed of.
If you ever get the chance or excuse just do it.
As you can imagine
there were just one or two photos taken and you can see most of them at
are four that we particularly like:
|Told You They Weren't That Big
||Fun At Abu Simbel!
|My Queen Of Sheba
||Balloons Over The Nile
- After the anticipation of regularly travelling to Mexico John's two trips to
Queretaro this year were, surprisingly, to be his last as "the powers that be"
decided that no matter how much you know, if you can't speak Spanish it ain't
no good. So I had to say adios to mi amigos Claudia, Pablo, Yarely and many
others, at least for now. But it was fun even if the tequila does give you an
Columbia - My last
trip to Mexico included three days (well, you wouldn't want to stay too long!)
in Medellin and Bogota which, despite their reputation, seemed pretty good to
me. I didn't get lost or even threatened with kidnap; mind you, who would have
paid the ransom anyway?!
Viking Land -
there are some compensations for no longer heading south. How about heading
north?! I must say that the west coast of Sweden and the magic rocks of the
Finnish islands, where beer cans grow out of them, are sights you should all
see once in a while.
|West Coast Of Sweden
|I Could Do With One!
||Magic Rocks - Only In Finland
Iran went there in December 2008 for the first
time and I'm writing this part of the Fourth Estate website late at night in a
hotel on the outskirts of Tehran during a return visit.
has a good word to say about Ahmadinejad and most don't like the clerics
either; there seems to be a feeling that, sooner or late, it'll all boil over
and come to a lot of grief.
the country is absolutely lovely, the people kind and friendly and it's good to
give one's liver a rest from alcohol just before Christmas! One thing that
sells the country for me is that there are no American fast food places - no
MacDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Subway, Dunkin' Donuts, etc; pure bliss as
far as I'm concerned!
So, in my
opinion, Iran has a lot going for it; mind you, I wouldn't want to be a woman
living there and you do get a lot of messages like this when trying to access
websites such as BBC News and even my own Picasaweb photos. They must have seen
the ones of Noelene in the bath!
Here's a rather
spiffin' piccie I took last year (actually it's three stitched
Next Year who
knows. But Nigeria, Pakistan, India and a bankrupt Dubai are on the horizon
along with the very pleasurable job of helping out the Vikings, even though I
don't speak bloody Scandinhoven!!
Some of you might
think that having your mother-in-law with you for three months is just about
the worst punishment there could be. But we were very, very pleased when Merle
left the warm and dry South African winter for the cold and wet English summer
(eh?), spending all of June to September with us.
Being a considerate
smoker, and I would never think of her as anything else, she was often
consigned to her smoking gazebo outside the back door until, towards the end of
her visit, a "mild summer breeze" blew it away!
We took her to the
), the east (Norfolk
), the west (Cornwall
) and even the south (Windsor) as well as exotic places
and events such as Bolton Market and the Mela
. And, as you may know, she cooks one of the finest lamb
curries this side of Rawalpindi; so come back any time Merle!
||Doing It The Hard
|Cornwall with Merle in the summer was the second time wed
been this year, the first, with Goughie and Julie, was to catch up the
celebration of his own diamond geezer birthday a couple of years
ago with a day at Rick Steins seafood cooking school. And didnt he
look pleased, as well as a little tired and emotional, at the end
of his day!
||We continue going to Julies friends cottage in
Wales as often as we can and we'll be there over New Year again. Weve
almost finished walking the Llyn Coastal path, apart from the bits that
arent on the coast and Noelene has decided to show us all how to do it
the hard way, insisting on carrying a huge piece of driftwood along the entire
Awa' The Lads!
Dawn and Jons
diamond pressie for the Old Fart was a day at the National Glass Centre. So, in
November, we stayed on the North Sea coast at Roker, DIDNT get blown off
and John did his thing with lumps of hot glass. It was just terrific, even if
some of the pieces were just a little wonky! The day after, our exploration of
The Tyne made us realise just what weve been missing all these years. The
Baltic, The Sage (aka The Slug), the Millennium Bridge (the one that worked
first time!), the sculpture trails and the river are just wonderful. Okay, it
aint the Nile but its well worth a visit and on the way back
we saw my favorite sculpture of all time - The Angel of The North.
|Wonky But It Works!
||The Millennium Bridge That Worked First Time
|Where's That Going To Land?
||The Angel At Twilight
Finally, in December
we sat outside eating Charos wonderful paella at her and Garys
place in España as she did her Abba Dancing Queen impression!
Musical highlights of the
|Gary Moore at The Manchester Apollo
||and the incredible (and exceptionally loud - as it should be)
30th anniversary full performance of The Wall in Liverpool by the Australian
Pink Floyd Show. We left feeling very Comfortably Numb!
||Finally, without a sign of a finger in the ear we saw folkie
and social commentator Chris Wood at the wonderfully refurbished Band on the
Wall in Manchester.
And weve already
booked to see Tangerine Dream at the Royal Albert Hall next April - COOOOL!!
You've hopefully seen the
links to our photos by clicking on the little red camera () but if you want to see all
of the thousands that we've accumulated this year just take a look at
Hopefully, if we've seen you this year you'll be able spot yourself in one or
two of them!
A very special thanks for
all the good things that have happened to us in 2009 and especially to our
friends and families for their love throughout the year.
A very happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year to all our