Welcome to our Christmas family news blog. Please feel free to browse the stories that made up our year. Much more has happened of course but space and time constrain our storytelling. Enjoy.
Apparently it was our Sapphire Wedding anniversary this year. That’s 45 years in old money. Despite the large number we don’t feel old and whether we look it is down to your judgement.
The event coincided with the end of Alex and Emily’s summer visit to York. Wesley and Deborah had just arrived to collect them to take them home. So we all went out for a meal at Jamie’s Italian. Our waiter gave us the menus and announced that there was no garlic bread! It was met with derision. No garlic bread in an Italian restaurant? What was the world coming to? Was it some kind of punishment for Brexit? Depriving the Brits of an Italian staple food?
Well, we tweeted the shortcoming to @jamiesitalian – after all what does it take? Bread, butter and garlic – none of which should be in short supply at anytime let alone in an Italian eating place.
More worrying was the accumulation of dust in the air conditioning vent above our table. So when the PR dept replied to my tweet we sent them a picture of the vent. Hey presto we were offered a free meal on our next visit! Nice. When we went back (just the two of us this time) the dusty vent was clean. Result.
Wesley celebrated his fortieth birthday in September. One request was to go on a Bleak Walk with his parents in Yorkshire. So we set a date, planned a route round Rosedale and for once hoped the weather would oblige with something ‘bleak’.
Parking in Rosedale Abbey we set off for the start of the walk along the old ironstone railway line. The cloud descended; black cloud. The rain started and bleak obliged us with its presence. Wesley’s wish had been satisfied.
But it didn’t last all day. By the time we reached the cafe at the head of the dale the rain had stopped. The sun shone as we passed the old ironstone mines and loading bays. It was a great day.
The four of us set off from the car park in Studley Park on the first anniversary of Warwick’s death. We took a circular route that would take us through the visitor centre to look at the book of remembrance and then to the place where his ashes are scattered.
It had been raining – a lot. The River Skell was overflowing it’s banks and torrents of surface water were filling the hollows on the roads and the paths we had chosen to walk. Laughter rose as Dad slipped and covered himself with mud. The route was changed to avoid a submerged and impassable riverside path. We were wet but undeterred, arriving under the tree we now call Warwick’s Tree. Silently we remembered and then gave thanks to God for his life and the healing that comes through grief.
Memories of Warwick were and are always good. On a recent visit to to Studley we engaged in some guerrilla gardening and planted snowdrop bulbs under ‘Warwick’s Tree’. They should bloom around the January anniversary every year.
Our plans to convert what was Warwick’s bedroom into a summer room have been slow to be realised. We accepted a quote from one builder – he disappeared without trace. Another builder suggested changes to our plans – they were redrawn – work was due to start in late November – now the start is put back to February 2017. Hopefully it’ll be completed in time for summer.
We recently discovered this photo of Warwick with his Nanny Ashmore. It was in an album belonging to Joan’s brother, Philip.
Restore – the housing charity that provides homes for homeless people in York – has expanded this year. We now have eight houses and six members of staff providing supported accommodation for up to 31 people.
Our fundraising is now a serious business. In June last year we piloted a fundraising race to Chase the Sun from Bridlington to Morecambe on the longest day of the year. A team of about 30 runners ran in a relay across the country – starting at sunrise and aiming to arrive on the west coast before sunset. As you can see from the picture above, they did it with time to spare. The count down clock went with the support vehicles and came out each time we reached a milestone. Next year, on Mid Summer’s Day June 24th, we are doing it again. Knowing it can be done we’re going bigger. More runners are being recruited to donate whatever mileage they feel they can achieve. Each competitor will have a target of raising £500 for Restore and we hope to create two teams battling it out against the course of the sun to see who will reach the Irish Sea first. It’ll be an exciting day.
Last year I wasn’t running fit and engaged in the event as a cycling escort, covering over 40 miles of the route alongside the runners from Bransdsby to Nidderdale. Next year I will be a runner. I have started training and I’m currently pounding out at least 5 kilometres three times a week. Running is proving to be very satisfying – and to my surprise I have no aches or pains as a result; just that inner (and outer) glow of satisfaction that at 67 I can still compete.
The family get togethers happened again in 2016.
In January the four elder Stephensons met for a curry in Coventry. Service was slow but the food was excellent. So was the conversation.
In October the Ashmores were together, this year in Cannock. Not so many of the younger generations this year. At this event we celebrate the birthdate of “Mum”. It’s now ten years since she died. Next year is the centenary of her debut. She was born in 1917. Perhaps we’ll do something special to mark her day.