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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Christmas Letter 2013

This has been a mixed year for us.


In May Stephen’s mother, Edna, passed away.
She had fought ill health all her life.

Stephen’s first recollection of his mum was visiting her in hospital when he was quite young. In the last two years of her life she struggled with the aftermath of a stroke.

The photograph, at right, shows her enjoying her 84th birthday. Those below were taken at her 80th birthday and at Fiona's wedding. (To view a larger version of each photo click on the photo. To close the larger photo click on the X in the top right corner.)

If you click on the slide show it will be paused and the photos will be opened in a new window or tab.
Unfortunately the Slideshow does not appear on Apple devices.
To see the pictures click on this link.

Dad is settled and comfortable in the nursing home, and misses here terribly as do we all.


Another childhood memory Stephen has is the family talking about a French town, Villers-Bretonneux, where his paternal grandfather, Samuel Charles Spencer, was wounded in April 1918, as he fought in WWI. Margaret and I finally achieved our desire to visit the town when we visited Europe (France, Ireland, Scotland, England) this year.
For details on grandpa Spencer's war experiences click on this link

The main Australian war memorial in France is located at Villers-Bretonneux. The photograph at left shows the two major features of the memorial, the cross and the tower.

The photo below (left) is taken from the War Memorial and shows Villers-Bretonneux across the valley.

The school in the village houses a museum and the school yard has a sign "Do not forget Australia" as can be seen in the photo below (right.
We visited many more locations on the battlefields tour, including some where trenches had been preserved, as shown at left.

Margaret and I stayed near the Gare du Nord in Paris and I posted the photo, from our hotel window, shown below (left) on Facebook. I was surprised to find a Facebook message from my cousin, Suzanne Cook, to say that it was the same as from her window. We were all staying in the same hotel! We spent some time together particularly in our favourite bar on the corner of our street (photo bottom right).
Brian, Michaela, Margaret and Suzanne sharing an afternoon drink.
Our hotel was within walking distance of Montmartre.

We visited Sacre Coeur cathedral, and Stephen climbed the stairs to the viewing area, which provided great panoramas of Paris.

Margaret spent some time shopping in some of the side streets of Montmartre.


We broke out trip to Europe with a two day stopover in Dubai. For details click on this link .


After France we toured Ireland, starting in Dublin.

Dublin is an attractive city to walk around, with many historical and cultural points of interest.

The Easter Uprising of 1916 is commemorated by the statue at right, in the front window of the General Post office (middle left) which was the headquarters of the Uprising. Dublin was the hometown of many writers, including, James Joyce (middle right), Jonathan Swift (bottom left) and Oscar Wilde (bottom right)
Jonathan Swift's grave in St Patrick's Cathedral Oscar Wilde memorial
We saw some attractive countryside in our tour through Ireland, including:


We took a ferry to Scotland.

Naturally pipers were everywhere.
Among the many places we visited was Edinburgh Castle.
One of our favourite crime writers is Ian Rankin, whose detective, John Rebus, drinks in the Oxford Bar in Edinburgh. It is a real bar, Rankin's favourite watering hole. Stephen has wanted to visit the Ox for many years, and finally achieved that ambition. The photo shows him drinking to Rebus in the front bar.


After the tour we spent two weeks in Lancashire, based at Philip's house in Preston.

We arrived at about the same time as Philip's bees, and we watched him set up his hive.

We also attended the end of year concert at Hayley's school, and were entertained by two choirs that Hayley is a member of.
A must in that part of the world is the picturesque Lake District.

Thank you to our friend and travel agent Christine Klein for her organisation of our trip.


Margaret turned 70 while we were in England.

Philip organised a party at Jamie Oliver's restaurant in Manchester, where we had a great celebration.


Like most people, have been to many Christmas events, with a few more in the pipeline.

A real highlight occurred at our Village Carols Service when Mark Creasey, Cameron Creasey, Joshua Creasey and Phillip Spencer (along with a Village resident, Rodney Ashfield) provided the music. It was a great contribution to Village life and we were very proud of them.

Here is a video of from event.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year


        Margaret and Stephen


Anonymous said...

Dear Margaret and Stephen,
That has to be the best Christmas letter ever. It might be because I'm in it? No from start to finish it brought beautiful and joyoues memories.

How lovely are the famuly photo's of Aunty Edna. I will always love the photo of Aunty edna and Uncle Aric at fiona's Wedding.

Still cannot believe your room in Paris was right on top of ours. It weas great spendoing the unexpected time with you both. I wonder if their was no
facebook, could we all have
stayed in that hotel, not releasing we were so close to each other?

I find it in
teresting we went to the same cities but saw different sights. I only saw one bagpiper at Edinburg Castle.

great Letter
Merry Christmas
Cousin Sue


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