The Garden Room

Interior Garden Room

Interior – Garden Room

Since Warwick’s death  his room had lain abandoned – looking sad and neglected. At the end of February the builders arrived to transform the bedroom extension into a garden/sun room.

It wasn’t without its drama. The plan was to rearrange windows, add new doors and replace the flat roof. The alterations soon showed up the shoddy workmanship of the original shell. We agreed that most of the walls should be demolished and rebuilt from the ground up.


The builder we had engaged was brilliant. Despite the change of plans he kept us updated on costs throughout and brought the whole project to conclusion only a little over budget. He co-ordinated the team of general builders, electricians, plumbers, joiners and decorators almost seamlessly. When it was finished it was so much better than we had first imagined. Now it is our favourite room in the house with its huge picture window, arched doorway opening onto the patio. We added furniture and rug to make it a really comfortable sitting room in winter and garden room in summer. We could rent out the rest of the house; we spend so much time in this room.

On the wall is a framed Ordnance Survey map centred on Studley Park near Ripon, where Warwick’s ashes are scattered. We’ll always call it Warwick’s room and had he still been alive he would have loved it; but he has a heavenly home now and we are at peace about that. Next month marks the third anniversary of his death.



Meals for the family

Stephensons 2017

Barrie, Ruth, Jan, Mark Stephenson


The first family meal of the year with the Stephenson family met up in Kenilworth.  It was a good evening although Jan and Bill were a little under the weather with a dose of flu.

In October Joan took on the mammoth task of offering to provide the Ashmore Family meal. She wanted to keep costs down and make the event as cheap as possible for the younger families with children. We hired the Burntwood Institute Memorial Hall so that the venue was with easy reach for families that wanted to travel home afterwards.

So with many hands making lighter work Joan set about providing a three course meal with three menu choices for over forty people. The event also marked what would have been Mum Ashmore’s 100th birthday so it was good to have a celebration that so many could attend. Sadly we were so busy not a single photo was taken.



Running his socks off

Barrie in Shelter tShirt

After a year of running Barrie stood at the start on the Great North Run, the half marathon from Newcastle to South Shields, along with 56000 other runners. His time to the end 2 hours 19 minutes.

Preceding this challenge he had contributed 10km to Chase the Sun and run the York 10k, both in aid of Restore. This race as the shirt shows was for Shelter. In total he raised over five and half thousand pounds to help homeless people.

Running has remained a firm commitment in 2017, usually with three runs a week including the York Parkrun on Saturday morning with a steadily improving personal best times. Some of the most memorable runs have been with family members; son Matthew and brother Mark.

Will there be a marathon in 2018? He’s already booked into the Coventry Half Marathon, York 10k and the Great North Run – the Yorkshire Marathon is in October – will he have recovered enough for 26 miles? Possibly.



Back to Madeira

The Miramar, Funchal, Madeira

The Miramar, Funchal, Madeira

We were drawn back to Madeira this spring with a relaxing break at The Miramar Resort in Funchal. Joan swam, Barrie ran, we walked for miles and read entire books (not unusual for Joan but an achievement for Barrie). Last year we promised ourselves early and late holidays but as the year closes we have only taken this one. Our excuse was the arrival of a new baby, but in reality we should have taken a second break. When we stay in York we tend to fill up our diaries with busyness.

Next year we have booked a river cruise in France with our old friends Colin, Rhona, Richard and Jenny. We travel Eurostar to Paris and sail the Seine up to Honfleur on the channel coast and back to Paris. We are assured there will be excursions along the way to explore France by bike and walking away from the river. We have never fancied a traditional ocean cruise but this one with its excursions seems like a manageable option.

Despite not going away we have taken a day off most weeks and escaped to some of our favourite places in North Yorkshire. Fountains Abbey and Studley Park remain our favourite place, but there’s no shortage of places to walk and cycle in this beautiful county. Dales, Moors, coast, National Trust sites and Harlow Carr Gardens – we are spoiled for choice. We have been able to share some of these places with friends and relatives who’ve visited us during the year.

We enjoyed a long weekend in The Lakes for Joan’s birthday and a visit to Wootton Bassett to stay with Derek and Ann (Joan’s sister) too.


Reading at the Railway Museum

Alex and Emily reading on a train Easter and Alex has his photograph taken at various places around the National Railway Museum for a school project. He had to be pictured reading in unusual locations. Emily joined in too.

It’s always good to have our two older grand-children to visit us in York – their mum and dad are both welcome too.

Alex reading as he sits on the front of the museum's largest locomotive

Alex reading as he sits on the museum’s largest locomotive

Next year Alex goes to ‘Big School’

Alex and Emily

Earlier we had been to Harlow Carr Gardens in Harrogate. Lovely day for a picnic.