Annual News 2021

Towers and tunnels

"Phil, Martin and I enjoyed a two week holiday in Kent, near Faversham, staying in a self catering cottage on the site of a hotel in lovely grounds. This gave us ample opportunities for seaside walking, seeing Canterbury Cathedral, the underground railway tunnels at Ramsgate, and the Turner gallery in Margate." - Miriam

The Kent coastline is long and full of interest, ranging from the traditional resort of Herne Bay to the shingle headland of Dungeness. At Pegwell Bay, we paused at a replica Viking longship above the now derelict hoverport where, some 40 years ago, I departed and returned from a trip to France.

The Ramsgate Tunnels, originally built to bring railway passengers from London directly to the beach, are now a museum recalling their second life as the town's World War II air raid shelters. Closer to where we were staying, a craft market seemed an appropriate extension to Whitstable's traditional harbour, while the town of Faversham is expanding towards the sea through a series of modern developments.


Canterbury Cathedral viewed between other buildings

Canterbury Cathedral

Miriam, Martin and a lighthouse on the shingle at Dungeness

Standing tall on the shingle at Dungeness

"We met up with my brother Steve and his wife Linda for a day in Dover, though the authorities decided that the castle was unsafe to visit due to very windy weather. However, we went back on a later day, enjoyed walking around the ramparts and having a birds-eye view of the cross-Channel ferry services."

We are as guilty as anyone of having passed through Dover in the past without stopping for a closer look. Among many notable events in the town's history, the Dunkirk evacuation was masterminded from the Castle.

Our visit to Canterbury included the obligatory (and enjoyable) tour of the Cathedral and also a pleasant walk along the River Stour where we caught snatches of commentary from the passing tourist boats. Kent's other city of Rochester was well worth a visit, with a High Street full of old buildings and fine views from the Castle hill.

We visited several inland locations which helped to justify Kent's title as the garden of England, in styles ranging from "formal" to "cottage". A late afternoon stroll around the old village of Tenterden was made all the better when we finally succeeded in our primary aim of buying ice cream.

There are more photos from our stay in Kent on this page.

Looking down over a beach with writing embedded in the sea front and steps

Poetry on the seafront at Sheerness, one of several stops on the Isle of Sheppey

Video of a Christ Church service on a laptop screen

Our holiday provided a rare opportunity to watch a Christ Church livestream rather than to run one

Church multitasking

Once again adaptability proved to be a vital skill as Christ Church gradually shifted from lockdown mode to something like the pre-pandemic way of operating. Services in the building restarted after Easter, and most other events from September onwards, including the Friday morning café-style Coffee Mates which Miriam runs. The resumption of live singing in services brought my career as a music video producer to an end, but we still post edited (by me) video recordings of services each week.

The whole church received a huge boost with the appointment of our new vicar, Ben Green, after a period of vacancy that had extended over two years.

Living history

"For my mother’s 99th birthday we went to a golf hotel in Cheshire, with a day out at Trentham Gardens. We were joined by Steve and Linda and my cousin Gill. The weather stayed fine if a little chilly (it was mid November), but the hotel was comfortable, helpful and gave us ground floor rooms all close together."

"Another highlight was the book publication of the translation of my grandmother’s letters relating to before and during World War II, chronologically arranged with my grandfather’s diary of his time in Oxford (1938 to 1946)."

It's several years since the publication of the German original of "Living in Two Worlds", a collection of letters between Miriam's grandparents during the war years. While her grandfather was able to come to England - on just about the last train before war broke out - her grandmother did not get a visa in time and remained in Germany, encountering increasing difficulties until eventually she escaped to Switzerland. The English version is available from retailers from mid December 2020 but we were able to obtain copies direct from the publishers, Cambridge University Press.

Miriam's mother, who came to England a few months before her father at the age of 16, entered the 99th year of her remarkable life, remaining in good health and enjoying the birthday celebration.


Hanna sitting at a picnic bench at Trentham Gardens

Birthday girl: Hanna's 99th birthday at Trentham Gardens



Lady Godiva: now surrounded by eateries instead of grass

Miriam in front of Buckland Manor

We stayed at Buckland Manor to celebrate Miriam's birthday

Miriam by a tree with a view over Kinver in the background

On the trail at Kinver Edge


Days out

Coventry's reign as City of Culture prompted us to pay a couple of visits to the city where we both once lived, but at different times (indeed, we lived literally round the corner from each other, but several years apart). It was hardly surprising to discover some major changes in the city centre, and we felt like time travellers comparing the current buildings with our memories. A huge university building in which Miriam once studied has completely disappeared, some streets are now partly pedestrianised and the grass that once surrounded Lady Godiva's statue has been replaced by an arcade of eateries. We were pleased that the Cathedral remains as inspirational as ever, and the city as a whole retains its sense of history.

We celebrated Miriam's birthday with a couple of days in the Cotswolds, grateful that Adrian had passed his driving test a few months before and so could bring more family members to join us for a special lunch. We visited Snowshill Manor, notable for its extensive gardens but also the extraordinary collection of objects that fill the house.

For much of the time, though, we stayed local. There's a collection of photos of Brum throughout the seasons on this page. And... there are more photos taken this year on our Photos 2021 page and my Instagram account.