Christmas Newsletter for 2016

from Colin and Elizabeth Hicks

Each year we send out a Christmas Newsletter to family and friends.
The text below is a slightly edited version of our Christmas 2016 Newsletter.
Click to download a pdf version of our Christmas 2016 Newsletter (247 kb)

Earlier years: 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000
2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010
2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015

Click to see Colin and Elizabeth's eChristmas Card to You!

"We have seen His star in the East" Matthew 2:2 (KJV)

Colin & Elizabeth

Last Christmas (2015) was spent on board a cruise ship (the Celebrity Millenium) travelling from Hong Kong to Singapore via Vietnam and Thailand. The ship was vast and comfortable. Elizabeth was able to swim most days although one day the waves in the pool were more spectacular than the waves on the sea. The shore trips were very interesting enabling us to talk to our Vietnamese guides personally about life there during and after the war. The holiday allowed us to get sufficient flavour of these countries to whet our appetites for longer visits.

In April Colin & Elizabeth went to Madeira and had a very relaxing holiday even though it meant a lot of walking up and down steep hills. They arrived in time to see a spectacular rally of vintage cars with lots of ladies in amazing fancy dress. However, their return journey was not so relaxing, being delayed by 28 hours, with many hours spent sitting on stairs in Madeira Airport. However, they got a free night in a 5-star hotel in a resort they had not previously visited. Monetary compensation followed!

In late July, Colin & Elizabeth took JJ and Caleb to Disneyland Paris - dreary weather but a good time was had by one and all. The journey south afterwards to the holiday house was enlivened by the car breaking down completely on a French toll road. Fortunately the rest of the traffic was moving at a snail's pace at the time and the rescue made an adventure.

All the family came to France for the August holiday this year including Heather. We were joined for one week by the Toulousian cousins (see photos at right) to add a multicultural slant. This meant learning a French grace to be sung before meals, eating French style starters, as well as main course duck. There were lots of recreational activities on offer at the house so grandparents were pitted against increasingly proficient table-tennis playing grandchildren.

Colin & Elizabeth are still active at Teddington Baptist Church and Colin with the London Baptist Association and the Teddington Society. Elizabeth is still making quilts for Project Linus.

Colin & Elizabeth have been exploring the tributaries of the Thames on their usual Mondays together. So far they have walked the Wandle, the Hogsmill, the Beverley Brook, the Mole, the Crane and the Yeading Brook. It has been quite astonishing how much green open space there is alongside these rivers as they flow through very built up areas of London. Most of the trails are well marked or can be followed from detailed instructions off the web. However, one day this autumn Colin & Elizabeth had to be rescued (soaking wet after an unexpected rainstorm) from a high-fenced wild tract of land owned by Network Rail in which they had got lost while looking for a tunnel under a railway line. Two caretakers from an adjacent college building brought out two stepladders to enable them to escape from behind a triple-locked gate!

Click the photos in this panel to see larger versions in a resizable window

Downhill in Madeira (April 2016)
Downhill in Madeira
(April 2016)

Amandine, Ruth Helen and Eloise (August 2016)
Amandine, Ruth Helen and Eloise
(August 2016)

Eloise, Amandine and Sony (August 2016)
Eloise, Amandine and Sony
(August 2016)
Our family (August 2016)
Our family (August 2016)

Rachel, Richard & Jasper

Jasper (now 19) has finished at the Brit School where he distinguished himself with his final results. While attending the Brit School he lived during the week with Joanna & James but he is now back to full-time living at home. Jasper has joined a local archery club - he started practising while on holiday in France during August. He is appearing in The Wind in the Willows, the Christmas show being put on by the Rose Theatre in Kingston, and after that has the rest of a gap year to fill. The photo (see right) was taken while he was publicising the Christmas show in Kingston marketplace.

Rachel & Richard continue in their jobs. Their house in France is now comfortable enough to live in, with most modern comforts except tv and broadband. Back at home, Richard gets called in from time to time by a local choral society to fill a gap in their bass line.

Rachel has been enjoying attending lots more theatre inspired by Jasper's involvement. They were both thrilled to attend the first public performance of Amadeus at the National Theatre in October, and to see Ralph Fiennes in The Master Builder at The Old Vic. Light relief from teaching.

Elizabeth with Jasper as Toad of Toad Hall
Elizabeth with Jasper
as Toad of Toad Hall
(September 2016)

James, Joanna, Miriam, JJ & Caleb
Caleb, JJ and Colin at Disneyland Paris (July 2016)
Caleb, JJ and Colin
at Disneyland Paris
(July 2016)

Miriam, JJ and Caleb (October 2016)
Miriam, JJ & Caleb
(October 2016)

Miriam (now 15) is working for GCSE exams in summer 2017. During 2016 she has had exchange visits with girls from Germany and France plus trips to Spain and Poland with her school orchestra. She played the flute at her grandfather's funeral (see below) and at a friend's wedding.

JJ (now 12) passed the test for the silver medal of the Royal School of Church Music. He is now head chorister for the boys' choir of Croydon Minister.

Caleb (now 8) has joined JJ in the Minster choir and is working for Grade 2 violin. He plays tennis, dances and has a passion for the Beano.

The Carpenter children often come to stay with Colin & Elizabeth for a few days in half-term holidays when we all have our favourite entertainments: swimming (we have finally graduated to the big pool at Teddington), shopping for Grandma and Miriam, going to the cinema, walking in National Trust properties and, of course, building dams and sailing paper boats in the streams in Bushy Park. The last lot of boats survived the experience as JJ had invented a novel waterproofing method.

Joanna started teaching chemistry in a girls' secondary school in September having completed her teaching qualification (PGCE). During the year she also did training on how to lead Duke of Edinburgh expeditions. This took her off for a week camping and walking in Yorkshire. James was in Canada for a conference at the same time so Elizabeth held the fort with the family, having a detailed timetable of who, what, and when. Even the Carpenter chickens (a 2016 innovation) survived!

James continues his research at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and will soon be giving a much delayed inaugural lecture as a Professor of Medical Statistics.

Other Family News
Robert Carpenter
Robert Carpenter (1929-2016)

Robert Carpenter (James's father) died unexpectedly in May while sailing with friends off the coast of Croatia. He was honoured by the International Society for the Prevention of Infant Death as being "largely responsible for what progress has been made in the reduction of the number of child deaths". His obituary in the Guardian by his sons James, Peter, and David described him as "A committed Christian, ... unfailingly encouraging, gracious and courteous to students, colleagues and friends." We will all miss him greatly.

e-mail and website addresses

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