This letter brings you my best wishes for Christmas and the New Year. In spite of all the present turmoil in the world we can have a hope which cannot be shaken and look forward to the promise which was given to us at the first Christmas. May joy and peace be yours.
When I set out to write this letter I thought that the past year had been uneventful, but when I looked into my diary I found that quite a lot had been happening. I had to give up driving and sell my van in January because of problems with my eyes, so this changed the nature of what I was able to do on holidays. I had hoped to go back to tent camping, but the unrelenting wet weather put paid to that.
One highlight was a trip to Scotland with my cousin, Joan Hill. She drove and I navigated. We had a very happy time looking into our past and visiting relatives. We looked for family graves - perhaps not a jolly holiday activity, but enjoyable nevertheless especially as they were in interesting and scenic places. I knew some locations and Joan knew others and our travels took us to Bearsden, Largs and Aberdeenshire interspersed with sightseeing breaks in Arran and on Deeside. We were fortunate to have good weather.
I spent a couple of weeks in Cornwall at the beginning of April, having planned to do some walking (and camping). However it was wet and cold. We even had some snow. So I changed plans and based myself in Penzance, which unexpectedly proved to be an excellent centre for seeing Cornwall, and made forays out into the countryside and some of the charming coastal villages. A few days in Falmouth gave me the opportunity to visit the Maritime Museum there and I also went to the Eden Project, which is well worth a further visit.
In May I was lucky to spend an amazing weekend in Manchester. The Presbyterian Church in Taiwan invited past missionaries from all over Europe to spend the weekend together with the Moderator and General Secretary from Taiwan. It was good to see people whom I hadn’t met for thirty years or more and to catch up with what is going on in Taiwan and with present developments under the recent change of government.
I’ve had three short stays in London. One was to visit Joan in her new house when we went round a number of National Trust gardens in Surrey. The others were in connection with a Golden Wedding and the URC History Society Study Day. I think I have seen a lot more of London on these brief trips than I did when I was living there. I recommend a totally peaceful oasis of a backwater off the Regents Canal reached through the Canal Museum and within a stone’s throw of Kings Cross station.
Being secretary of the General Assembly Nominations Committee still takes up much of my time. The ramifications of the URC structure suddenly reveal themselves at unexpected moments and our search for transparency sometimes seems to lead to more confusion. But there are compensations in working in a team and being brought into contact with all kinds of willing participants in the work of the church.
This year I have enjoyed making many new friends in the local Labour Party and often find myself taking minutes of meetings as the secretary regularly works abroad. We have good discussions and social events and did well in the local elections. I had fun marching down the Headrow behind a brass band on 1st May!
With love and best wishes,,