Shadows on the ground of people waving

Annual news 2020

A year of three halves

First half: Fuerteventura

"Phil and I had a week's holiday in the Canary Islands with beautiful weather, beach walks, a cold dip in the hotel pool (just the one!), and the opportunity for Phil to practise his Spanish. This was a welcome opportunity for a break, especially with hindsight!" - Miriam

We took a rare but - as it turned out - perfectly timed winter break in January, making our first ever visit to the Canary Islands. We walked through sand dunes, along a rocky beach, through a barren landscape with only goats for company and among the restaurant-seeking crowds of night-time Corralejo.

Inland, we learned about the island's past in a museum created in a collection of old houses. At La Oliva we viewed beautiful local artwork and then walked down the road to a historic country house which, in England, would have been surrounded by formal gardens but here sat among a barren volcanic landscape. Old churches and windmills added character to the whole island.

There are more photos from our visit to Fuerteventura on this page.


Miriam standing under a pergola

In the grounds of the Museo del Arte in La Oliva


Ducks taking off at Lifford Reservoir

Lifford Reservoir became a favourite and accessible place to visit

Second half: (sort of) lockdown

While citizens of many countries were almost literally locked in their homes, we were mercifully free to roam the local area. While nature thrived in the fine Spring weather I took to my bike to go ever further along river paths and canals and to visit parks and woods, some of which I had not even known existed.

"I took the opportunity to concentrate on improving my health, walking more, losing weight, and after about 10 months I’ve reached my goal weight, do regular aerobics, and I can walk 5-6 miles, my blood pressure and blood sugar are at normal levels and the heartburn and aches and pains have largely gone – hurrah!"

Although so many things came to a total stop in late March, church didn't, and suddenly I found myself on the digital front line as Sunday services were replaced by prerecorded videos. At the same time the only way to produce music was by means of a virtual choir. Add to that the demands of getting everyone set up for videoconferencing, plus the launch of a new website which had to be hastily rewritten to suit the new circumstances, and I found myself busier than ever.

The church as a whole adapted quickly to the situation and our well-populated YouTube channel (Christ Church Selly Park) is evidence of the wide range of people who made creative contributions during the year.

There are more photos of Brum in lockdown on this page.

A small waterfall on Merritts Brook

Waterfall in Manor Farm Park: the water eventually flows past our house

Phil and Miriam standing by an obelisk at the top of a hill

A day at Beacon Fell Country Park

Looking down on Rydal Water surrounded by grass and wooded hills

View on our circumnavigation of Rydal Water

Third half: On the road again

"Phil, Martin and I enjoyed 2 weeks in self-catering accommodation in Lancashire during the summer. This turned into a walking holiday as so few indoor attractions were open, but the weather was good for almost all of the time. We drove to the Lake District for 3 of our walks, and the rest of the time explored around Lancaster, Clitheroe and Morecambe."

The easing of restrictions made it possible to enjoy something like a normal summer holiday. A high-level circuit of Rydal Water and journeys into the Trough of Bowland in East Lancashire gave fine views of the countryside, and we visited several places around Morecambe Bay in varying weather conditions (Eric's statue did not, unfortunately, bring us sunshine).

There are more photos of our stay in the area on this page.

What we've missed...

There isn't space to list all the regular activities that have taken an enforced break since March, but we are grateful to be healthy and well connected and to be able to keep ourselves busy. Anyone who is trying to run a business or educate children, who has no Internet connection, or is especially vulnerable to the virus, has had a far tougher time than us. We have played a small part in helping to keep the local economy going by ordering numerous takeaways (we have an excellent and ever-growing choice).

There have been many compensations as life online has created new possibilities. We have held regular video calls with both our extended families, which have made it possible to link with relatives in Germany, Argentina and even Kosovo as well as Leicestershire. Kings Heath Spanish Club has extended its reach to include participants in Spain, and I have attended other events and conferences which have achieved a truly worldwide reach but at the cost of the personal interaction of a physical event.

Holding up a cheesecake to a laptop running a Zoom session

Birthday celebration, 2020 style

"We are able to be in a bubble with my mother, so I’ve been visiting her a couple of times a week lately. Her short term memory is poor, but physically she is able to do her own shopping. She has reluctantly given up the car, but the opportunities for her to go out currently are very limited, as for all of us. Her 98th birthday highlight was a Zoom conversation - her first ever - with my brother and 3 of her nieces and nephews."


The wooden cross outside Christ Church decorated with foliage and bunting

Celebrating outside: Christmas decorations outside the Christ Church building

Church change (again)

"Church continues with a regular online presence and various groups meeting online through the week. Though the building is now open for limited use, it doesn’t feel anything like normal! Thank God for Zoom and reasonably reliable internet connections."

September saw another pivot as Christ Church Sunday services restarted, though with many restrictions. The introduction of livestreaming meant more new technology to research and put into operation - and, fortunately, a growing tech team to plan and manage it all.

Garden growth

"I decided to take on the garden, which seems to have lost its lawn and become seriously overgrown, so since July I’ve been digging up weeds galore, and planting shrubs, bulbs and flowers, making paths out of weatherproof boards. I might even resurrect the pond, as the liner is still around."

"This has been an opportunity to exercise my design ideas, perhaps grow some vegetables and hopefully create a colourful outlook which is a pleasure to sit and look at! Still a lot more to do at the moment, but the progress is obvious."

A duck on the River Bourn

Local wildlife: the River Bourn flows right past our house

A bright rainbow over a park

Double rainbow over Hazelwell Park

Photos extra

There are more photos taken this year on our Photos 2020 page and my Instagram account.