News from the Banfields 2016 (Sue's Xmas Letter)
December 2016


Dear All
This year has been rather unusual, as I've been working more or less fulltime, which was never on the plan and resulted from supporting the medicines management team at Central Manchester Foundation Trust whilst a colleague was on maternity leave, in addition to continuing to work for the community medicines optimisation service. Although I enjoy both jobs, and like the variety, things at home have been put on hold and Martin has been obliged to do more domestic chores. I will be having a break from work in 2017 so we can catch up at home, and do a little more travelling..

We have, nevertheless, managed several trips during the year, starting with our usual winter visit to Ottawa, which culminated in skiing the Gatineau Loppet. Conditions were much better than previously, with Martin finishing the 51km in 5 hours 18 mins and me finishing in 5 hours 42 mins, coming third in my age group!

In April we joined friends in Port de Pollença in Majorca for a mixture of cycling and walking. The limestone hills in the north are wild and rugged but views are excellent and it is a good way to escape the roads crowded with cyclists!




May saw Martin complete his 10th crossing of Scotland on the TGO Challenge. It was my 5th, starting from Strathcarron on the west coast and finishing, two weeks later, in Montrose. Our route took us through Struy to Inverness, then across to Grantown-on-Spey, Tomintoul and Ballater (where the campsite had been reconstructed after the flooding but many properties were still building sites), before heading for the east coast. Wild camping gives some special memories, such as the view of Skye and Rum from the warm sunlit tent at 600m on Bealach Bhearnais.

The Picos de Europa was a new destination for me for a week in July. We used Collett's Mountain Holidays based near Potes. The weather in northern Spain can be variable and after a cloudy start we had several hot sunny days to explore the limestone massif, the Cares gorge and surrounding hills. The alpine flowers were stunning in the limestone areas.

Picos de Europa

Early September saw a return to the Apennines in Italy, to complete the Grande Escursione Appenninica (GEA) with two friends. Cresting ridges at 1,500 to 2,000m for several days, staying in mountain refuges and small hotels on passes, was lovely, with very few people around. A huge contrast to the Cinque Terre which we visited at the end, pretty but crowded.

We've also managed a few weekends away, in Scotland, Kington, Malham, and Center Parcs. An overnight camp with a friend and his two children at Easter proved windier
than the John Gardner Pass on the Torres del Paine circuit in Patagonia and one of the tents blew down during the night! Equally eventful, but in different ways, was a camping weekend with Martin's daughter Kate and the grandchildren to Bolton Abbey in August. We all enjoyed the third day, when the sun came out and stomachs had settled!


J and J

We're looking forward to a quiet Christmas, with Martin's 91-year old mother staying for a few days. We'll be seeing a bit of Martin's son Mike (still enjoying playing and teaching guitar for a living), and Jacob (5) and Jessica (3) who we'll visit for lunch on Christmas day.

Wishing you a very happy Christmas and best wishes for 2017.

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