This year Colin & Elizabeth had some different holidays from those of the last few years. In February they went to Jamaica - their first trip back since leaving in 1973 after three happy years living in Kingston while Colin was lecturing in Physical Chemistry at the University of the West Indies and Elizabeth was giving birth.
This time Colin & Elizabeth spent their holiday in a luxury hotel near Negril in the west of Jamaica. The hotel was amazing with gorgeous gardens and the roads serving the Negril hotels were also amazingly good (although with the occasional pothole).
The Negril beaches were empty when we went there in 1971 but now are dominated by large hotels. The hotels' private beaches had public foreshores which means you might be entertained by itinerant musicians (and people selling ganja and/or sea shells).
In the countryside beyond Negril not much seemed to have changed except that the cars are now almost all Japanese rather than American! Colin & Elizabeth did not get back to where they lived in the early 1970s because it would have taken too long to drive (or be driven) to Kingston. A few days before the start of the holiday, Jamaica declared a state of emergency related to clashes between criminal gangs although that hardly affected the holiday apart from the occasional army road block.
Because the Carpenter family were on sabbatical in Malawi for July and August (see below), the usual family holiday in France was given a miss this year. Instead Colin & Elizabeth went on a river cruise from Moscow to St Petersburg. A very different experience from other recent holidays especially as it was booked just before relations between the UK and Russia took a nose dive in early March 2018. The process of getting a visa felt very challenging. On a personal level, however, once in the country the Russians and British got along fine. The boat (MV Tolstoy) was a wonderful multi-cultural experience with parties aboard of British, Chinese, French and Russians served by Russian staff.
In October 2018, the third foreign trip of the year for Colin & Elizabeth was to New England for a coach tour through the autumn colours visiting New York, Yale and Boston. Sadly, despite the tour guide's best efforts, they saw no moose. Also, strangely, despite Donald Trump's best efforts, there was no national or international crisis to impact on this holiday! Returning home, they were able to see the wildlife they had missed courtesy of the BBC's New England Autumn Watch.
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Elizabeth, Rachel and Colin
Elizabeth in the hotel gardens
(Jamaica, Feb 2018)
Elizabeth in Red Square
(Moscow, July 2018)
Colin & Elizabeth are still active at Teddington Baptist Church. Colin continues his voluntary work with the London Baptist Association and the Teddington Society. Among other things he is working on an Online War Memorial for those who died on active service in World War 1. He is also the Teddington organiser for Christian Aid.
Elizabeth remains Secretary of Churches Together in Teddington (CTT). Elizabeth is still making quilts - the money she raises this year is going to Life's First Cry which is a BMS project helping women in remote Afghanistan villages give birth more safely.
Earlier this year, Colin & Elizabeth finished walking the Thames from Teddington down to the Crayford Marshes just beyond Erith. They then walked the Capital Ring (75 miles) and have just started walking the much more challenging London Loop (175 miles). It is not as daunting as it sounds - you can do these walks in easy sections. Colin & Elizabeth tend to do no more than 6-7 miles a day so the London Loop may take up much of 2019.
This was the year for James' sabbatical which he took by going to Malawi to work more closely with some of the projects there with which he has long been collaborating. James went out to Malawi in June but the rest of the family joined him when school finished. They were there until the end of August living in a house on the edge of Lake Malawi.
On a typical afternoon, the boys swam in Lake Malawi and played football with local lads on the beach. Miriam helped build an extra classroom for a school. They had lots of fresh experiences in a very different culture from the last two sabbaticals which were in Freiburg (Germany) and Michigan (USA).
Joanna is enjoying teaching chemistry to A-level and is now in her third year of teaching.
Miriam (now 17) wants to study engineering at university and has visited several universities this year. But she won't be applying until autumn 2019 for entry in autumn 2020. She plans to take a year off (perhaps working in industry) after completing her A-levels next summer.
JJ (now 14) has moved from the boy's choir of Croydon Minster to the men's choir. He did not have much choice because his voice broke while they were in Malawi!
Caleb as The Lion
Caleb (now 10) had a lead role during November in a performance of the children's opera One of our Lions is Missing with the Beckenham Junior Choir. The photo (left) shows Caleb with his lion's head and his Malawi t-shirt.
The same week as the opera, Caleb was part of the boy's choir at Croydon Minster for a live broadcast of choral evensong on BBC Radio 3.