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December 2008
Dear Family & Friends,

The winds are blowing, rain is lashing down and the trees are losing their fabulous coloured leaves this Autumn rather quickly! The Christmas season is upon us again, though it is difficult to get really into the spirit of things with all the global money problems. We are sure that the worst is yet to strike us all over the next year or two. The boom bubble has necessarily burst as it was bound to, but the knock on effect of job losses and slump in house sales will affect so many people. Perhaps making do with a less commercialised and expensive Christmas time will make us all more appreciative of our friends & families and the more important personal time we spend together.

Hotel Kramerwirt at Irschenberg, Miesbach, Bavaria We have not had a particularly sunny year, again, so are hoping for a return to normal next year. We decided to visit Bavaria and the Alsace in June this year. Both areas deserved a good exploration but we had to keep the layers on and did not have really warm sunny weather until the last three days of a three-week break. John had visited Miesbach the year before when the Tewkesbury Brass Band went on tour there. He was so taken with the region that he was determined to take me there and explore more together. It proved to be better than he had cracked it up to be!

We returned home to find a new friend of ours dying in hospital and immediately piled in to help with a bedside vigil, comforting her husband and then helping with the settling of some of her bequests. This has blighted our summer and seems so unfair. She and her husband had got out of Zimbabwe less than three years before having lived there for 44 years, and had just got settled and beginning to enjoy life a bit here. However God takes and He gives --- we became Great Auntie & Uncle twice again in October. Our nephew & Swiss wife produced a son, Jason in Switzerland, the first of the new generation to carry on the Warner family name. The second was a little girl, Alison to our niece and Australian husband in Sydney, sister to 2 year old Michael.

Bronwen piecing Alison's baby quilt My quilt designing and making time has been fully taken with providing each newborn with a play-quilt which was great fun to do. I am also in the middle of a local quilt design course, and have other ongoing projects which grow by one block a month hopefully to culminate in some items "in progress" to hang at our Group Exhibition next March. I have recently handed over the group treasurer's job and have been made vice-president instead! (This usually leads to being President, so I've been warned). We had a great weekend entertaining a coach-load of German Lady Quilters who visited the big international quilt show in May. Our trip to Bavaria started a week later and we spent a couple of days in their leader's area (The Black Forest region) on our way and they entertained us right royally.

In September John & I went to York to visit the ancient St Anthony's Hall near the Minster. This was part of the Bluecoat school in the past and has recently been restored and leased to the UK Quilters Guild for their headquarters where, among other things, they can store, restore and exhibit quilts from as far back as 1718 to the present day. It's a great place for such a venture and harks back to ancient times when the walls would have been hung with tapestries for warmth as well as a balm for the eyes. It doesn't seem possible that it was fifty years ago when Bron went up to Nottingham University and met John who had already been there for a year - but seven of us from those days did meet at Rothley Court in Leicestershire for an informal re-union lunch and to catch up on news. We had done this a few years ago at a University Alumni day. The years just fell away!

A couple of American friends who had spent time as neighbours in England over ten years ago on an exchange posting (the reciprocal posting to ours in Colorado) re-visited us from their new home in California -- so again much reminiscing went on and endless talking. They really enjoyed looking up their favourite places again, many of them established long before the U.S.A was founded! Then followed two weeks of reasonable pre-autumn weather and we seized the opportunity to re-work the garden - BUT - Bron has had a "gyppy" back for a number of weeks and John has never been able (or wanted!) to garden. Luckily we managed to find a super gardener to do the work for us. He's an ex-surgeon who found his career too stressful and is much happier pottering about with plants. He took up and split lots of plants, dug all the borders and then re-planted according to instructions. Thanks to his efforts our garden is not now a source of worry to us as being too much to cope with.

Tewkesbury Remembrance Day Parade Whatever the weather conditions there is always a lot of hot air being blown by John and his cronies on their brass instruments! The school/community band celebrated their 40th anniversary in April by putting on a concert with the Fine Arts Brass Quintet to include a specially commissioned piece "The Malvern Chase Suite" in our theatre. The band rose to the occasion and performed brilliantly. They had never taken over the theatre before and I was extremely proud of John (trombone), daughter Kate (tenor horn) and son-in-law Gavin (conductor & tuba). John is now busy with the other half of the family, Martin (Euphonium) and sister-in-law Christine (also tenor horn) rehearsing with the Tewkesbury Band for their Christmas concert to be given two nights early in December at Tewkesbury's Roses Theatre. Just for good measure John got roped in to join the Chase school orchestra for the school's end-of-year musical production "The Boyfriend". It seemed unreal sending him off to school with a packed lunch and a flask of coffee for several day-long rehearsals on a Saturday.

John, encouraged by Bron, signed up for TWO brass band summer schools this year - a week by the sea at Swansea followed by a second week at Bromsgrove. Kate & Gavin also went to the Bromsgrove course. A great time was had by all I believe, certainly the end-of-week concert at Bromsgrove was most enjoyable. All three of them have put their names down for next year's Bromsgrove course by which time John will have celebrated his 70th birthday in January!! Can't believe it.

We haven't planned yet how we're actually going to spend Christmas this year but I am well ahead with advanced preparations; Christmas cakes & puddings made, and also cards. However I have been motivated to act early because I have got to have an aberration on the cornea of my right eye taken off (I inadvertently poked my own eye with my thumb one night whilst asleep!). Hopefully the surgery will heal flat without aberration and not impair my vision. I'm not looking forward to that much as you can imagine.

We are looking forward to a big family get-together in London on 20th December to celebrate John's Auntie Lily's 90th birthday (going on 45!). She is amazing, on the go all the time, exactly like her Mum who died aged 104! The eight of us (me John, John's three brothers and sisters-in-law) will also have an additional get-together to discuss the new generation, now three in number. Many photos will be passed around no doubt, together with grandparently anecdotes. As for next year we haven't decided whether to travel to Northeast USA, and possibly Canada, or to Europe again for our main holiday. It could be that the recession will be so dire that we'll have to stay at home. Fortunately we have a lovely home in a great part of the world so that wouldn't be too much of a let-down. However it would be nice to continue to be adventurous and do something new whilst we still have the get-up-and-go to do it.

We wish all of you and yours the very best this Christmas Season and hope that you enjoy a happy and healthy New Year despite the economic woes.

Much love from John & Bron.

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