Sue and Martin's Christmas 2012 letter
December 2012

Regular readers of our ‘Postcard from Timperley’ will be aware that we have enjoyed another fairly active year.  For the vast majority who can’t or aren’t inclined to keep up with Martin’s frequent ramblings on those pages, but may be curious out of passing interest, here’s a brief summary of our year.

As usual, we spent time in Ottawa with Ken and Helen, cross-country skiing in Gatineau Park.  Most of this was very leisurely, taking advantage of the many 'lunch' cabins, but after Sue had left Martin took part in the Loppet, a one-day 50km ski race, with Ken and Susan & Roy, our friends from Connecticut.

Sue, outside Shilly Shally cabin in Gatineau Park

Sue had returned home for a weekend in Reykjavik, stimulated by her mother’s wish to see the Northern Lights.  Sadly, the lights were not visible, but a good time was had by all.  Fresh snow fell on Friday night, making driving to Geysir and Gulfoss waterfall quite an adventure!


At the beginning of April, as a departure from habit, we spent a week in Kent, in a converted stable building next to an oast house.  Whilst snow fell across the rest of the UK, we walked in the Kent and East Sussex countryside, which was as dry as a bone, and visited several National Trust properties, including Bodiam, Sissinghurst and Scotney castles, where the spring flowers were lovely.


Bodiam Castle
At our Nigg Bay finishing point on the TGO Challenge

May saw both of us take part in the TGO Challenge, a backpacking event across Scotland.  As backpacking is out for Sue, a route was designed from Ardrishaig on the West coast, to Aberdeen on the East, with accommodation arranged every night (some with friends – thank you!).  It proved a very sociable way to cross, despite some long days between beds!  After three days, the West coast suffered a day when a month’s rainfall fell, but we were rewarded with the second week bringing sun every day and seeing shorts and t-shirts (and kilts for the Scots!) worn.

Our final annual South West Coast Path trip coincided with Diamond Jubilee celebrations and while London got a soaking, we just got chilly, blustery weather.  After 15 years or so of walking for a few days over the second May bank holiday, the group completed the 630 mile route on the outskirts of Poole.  From the Dorset hills on a moonlit night, we saw several of the bonfires and firework displays that celebrated 60 years of QEII.


Durdle Door, Dorset
On the E5 in the Dolomite Mountains

Our ‘big trip’ this year was walking European route E5 across the Alps from Verona to Lake Constance, over 5½ weeks and through Italy, Austria, Germany and Switzerland.  It was 37C at the start and, unlike the UK summer, fine weather continued.  Happily, our weekends off in Bolzano and Solden coincided with the short spells of poorer weather!  Gillian Price’s guidebook and the ‘normal’ route go from North to South, but we reversed this.

In Italy, the signposting was excellent, but on entering Austria, suddenly route-finding became more difficult (as did the language barrier!).  Three days ‘off route’ in the Lechtal Alps were particularly enjoyable, due to stunning Alpine flowers and isolation, and we even found Martin’s entry in a hut log from 1980!

On nearing Lake Constance, we were helped by Markus and Wolfgang, Austrian friends who live in Dornbirn. Thanks folks.

The view from Hanauer Hutte

Our final trip was in September, with Ken, Susan and Roy.  We walked the GR54, or Tour of the Oisans, in the French Alps.  By now we were due some bad weather, and during two weeks, all seasons were present!  It was surprisingly quiet in this part of the Alps and there were some great gites in the villages.  We travelled home on our 10th Wedding Anniversary, for Sue's brother Paddy’s wedding the following day.

A snowy ascent on GR54

Paddy and Kate

Between trips Sue has been gainfully employed, fulltime until October.  After that, having accepted a zero hours contract, she is again an NHS employee, and continues to work around 3 days a week for the Central Manchester Community Services team.  In addition, she is editing an interaction database for a consultant at Wythenshawe Hospital and continues to audit hospital Medicines Information services in the North West.

Meanwhile grandson Jacob continues to grow fast, and is as jolly as his parents. Martin’s son Mike continues to teach guitar students from home and play gigs in various bands; whilst ripping out and replacing bits of his house.

We have again been saddened by the faltering health or circumstances of a number of friends and relatives, and wish them better times in 2013; we can report that Sue's parents and Martin's 87 year old mum are all in good form despite a few setbacks and we will be seeing them during the Christmas period.

Please feel free to keep in touch with us next year by visiting the ‘blog’ at – comments are always welcome. A programme for 2013 will also soon be uploaded to this 'topwalks' website.

Happy Christmas! And Best Wishes for 2013.

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