Christmas News 2000

Cream of Cornwall

Martin and Miriam in bright sunshine at Land's End Having deserted these shores last year to watch the total solar eclipse, we made amends this summer by spending some time and lots of money in Cornwall.

What a lot of weather we had! In brilliant sunshine we walked along the coastal path near Land's End and marvelled at the cliffs and rock formations. A few days later, at nearby Sennen Cove, we had to take shelter from a hailstorm.

Cornwall's biggest theme park, Flambards, was a disappointment for its rollercoasters (Adrian does have very high standards), but scored highly on its other attractions. The night-time firework display was well worth seeing, although the rock band that preceded it wasn't quite as compelling. There was a similar firework display at Land's End a few days later, accompanied by the same rock band who are evidently big in the area (sorry, we've forgotten their name).

In quieter moments we visited a 2000-year old village and went down a tin mine. Adrian entered a treasure hunt type quiz at a stately home near Bodmin and won the top prize for the day, his hopes of riches being dashed when this turned out to be a pencil sharpener.

Miriam's Job News

At the last count I was working at St Stephen's Parish office (our own church) where I worked as a secretary 16 hours a week, from May 1999 till Aug 2000. However I decided that would not be a permanent post for me and started to look for jobs in a health service research project. 

In September of this year I started to work for Birmingham University Dept of Primary Care and General Practice. I am a research associate on a clinical trial to investigate an abnormal heart rhythm in the elderly. I shall leave out the technical medical details but basically my experience as a practice nurse is extremely useful. More importantly, I am enjoying it very much, I feel that to have a job like this is an ambition that I have finally achieved. The only disadvantage is that it is a full-time post and leaves me less time to visit friends like you who will be reading this letter. 

I am also pleased that I have successfully completed a post-graduate diploma at the University of Central England dept. of sociology, studying research methodology. An M.Sc is still a future possibility.

Banting boys accused in bus shelter graffiti probe

Martin and Adrian sitting in a summerhouse whose walls are covered with mosaics OK, we made that up - the photo was actually taken in the Abbey Gardens on Tresco, one of the Scilly Isles. The gardens are full of tropical trees and plants, as well as curiosities such as this summerhouse which is decorated with a mosaic made out of shells.

On another visit to Cornwall a few years ago we spent a pleasant day on St. Mary's, the largest of the Scilly Isles, but had to endure a very rough sea crossing on our return to the mainland. This time we put comfort before cost and went to Tresco by helicopter. The journey was noisy but quick!

Split personality

At the beginning of the year, the school Governing Body of which Phil was a member split into two so that the Junior and Infant schools would each have their own governors. Phil was elected Chair of the Infant governors, but has somehow missed the opportunities for social advancement and personal gain that ought to go with such high office. The Chair's main privileges seem to be to draw up agendas, sign minutes and worry about when the next Ofsted inspection is due.

School switch

Martin finished at Uffculme School in the summer. One highlight of his final year was a stay at an adventure camp, where he took part in such death-defying activities as abseiling and rafting (where the children stayed dry, and the teachers fell in!).

In September he started at Queensbury, a special secondary school in Erdington (north Birmingham). He has settled in well, although we have had to adjust our body clocks a little since the minibus calls to collect him at 7.30 am.

Adrian is hot on Martin's heels and will be leaving the Junior School next year. We expect that he will go to Dame Elizabeth Cadbury School, as will many of his friends. We live close enough to be more or less sure of getting a place.

Beating the bug

We saw in the new millennium in a special party at the Church Centre (temporarily renamed the Selly Park Dome). We organised a Twentieth Century Top Twenty poll which resulted in victories for the first moon landing as Event of the Century, Churchill as Politician of the Century and (just to show we're not biased) Ghandi as Religious Leader of the Century.

Despite the apocalyptic forecasts, we all seem to have got through the year without suffering any particular date-related computer problems. This, of course, is thanks to the skill and dedication shown by software engineers over the last few years. The suggestion that the Y2K scare was a plot cooked up by software engineers to keep themselves in work is purely scurrilous, as any software engineer will confirm.

Pedant's corner

A special Happy New Year to everyone who complained that the world celebrated the Millennium a year too early. Enjoy yourselves - the rest of us will be having a quiet evening in. You don't need to worry about the Y2K bugs, because the good news is that we fixed them all a year early.

The e-tree

If you have an unusual surname, what's the obvious thing to do when you come across Internet search engines? Of course, you search for your own name. One of the benefits of running our website (and, especially, using it to publish our family tree) is that we have been contacted by fellow Bantings, especially in Canada, who have found us by web searches. 

Another email from an enquirer in New Zealand asking for information about Stirchley (our part of Birmingham), prompted us to do some research. We borrowed a book of historical photos of the area, and this led to a visit from the book's author. Our own house was once a stables (although there is not much evidence of that now) and predates almost all the houses in the nearby streets.

This has been a significant year for Miriam's family. Her aunt Ully came to England from Nazi Germany in 1938 as part of a mass evacuation of children known as the Kindertransport. The story is told in a film released this year, Into the Arms of Strangers, in which Ully is one of the people featured.