Happy New Year!
We didn't manage a 1994 newsletter. It was a busy year, full of change. It exploded in activity after August. Lez left work and became a student at North Warwickshire College, Nuneaton, taking 3 A-levels in Maths and Music (practical and theory). Andrew continues at the Bookshop. In 1994 he backed out of Sunday School and youth away-weekends at Hollycroft Church and stopped playing violin in the worship group and at Stapleton Sinfonia. In 1995 he re-ordered our finances and rediscovered cycling. Lez has found College to be hard work, and rewarding, and has settled into a routine, punctuated by term holidays, templing work and a June holiday. The winter term is so musically intense that we often forget which day it is! We both approach 1996 exhausted but happy.
Lez has been able to teach clarinet and oboe. One clarinet student achieved grade 2 (merit). Lez has progressed well musically and has passed flute grade 4 (distinction), Theory grade 6 (distinction) and Piano grade 2 (merit), Oboe grade 8 (merit) and Oboe advanced certificate (B/B). She has performed with 2 orchestras on oboe, with (Warwickshire) County Clarinet Choir, college concert band, county wind band on clarinet and county flute choir on flute. She's also looking after the county Eflat (baby) clarinet and alto (big brother) flute. She has some cor anglais reeds, and they have seen active service. So far on the modular maths course she has 3 modules grade A with 3 to do. We also borrowed a large sum, now repaid, at the start of her course to buy her a good new oboe. Lez has applied under UCAS to several universities for the next academic year. Her final exams in June 1996 loom ever closer!
In summer 1994 he passed Theory grade 3 (distinction). By Autumn that year he reached grade 4 standard, but didn't take the exam. Everything changed, life moved up a gear. Packing lunches, shopping alone, collecting Lez from college at 8.30pm. A 40% drop in income. An Oboe loaan. A piano in the house, a gift from Andrew's parents. Lez struggling with homework. Cheques coming back. Cooking. Cycling to work on an old bike. The bollard that he just didn't see. A Somerset away-weekend on Autopilot. September 1994 was difficult. 1995 saw him taking control, ordering priorities. The car sowly died in August 1995. Currently he's cycling to work most days, very fit and tired. He is rising to this challenge.
We went to Reeth with Lez's parents. Lez had a musical retreat, Andrew rode his BSA over hairy bridleways, and decided to buy us both helmets! We took the ark (our tandem) and the car for two consecutive summers to a farmhouse at Cary Fitzpaine, Somerset. Many National Trust properties and much to see. We would like to return.
Andrew sold the car for scrap in August 1995. It was dented, had strange electrical problems and the clutch failed as the MOT loomed and the insurance was due. We just couldn't afford all this on top of running costs. It left us with 58,000 recorded miles, but ahd done nearly 3 times that. Now our income began to exceed our spending!
We now rely on bikes. This year we have gained another bike! We decided that Andrew needed a lighter bike. Lez acted and bought one for £20 as a surprise birthday present. It took Andrew a month to repair it. It is a beast! Together they ahve travelled about 3,500 miles. Lez cycles to college. We've worn our several tyres (one after just 50 miles), used three books of patches and five new tubes. We've been given two panniers and have bought three new ones. With careful packing we can (usually) get our weekly shopping onto both bikes! Both the BSA and the Raleigh now live in Leicester, and Andrew is open to offers, if you want to buy one!
Trips, outings and competitions
We've won competitions taking us to Coventry Transport Museum, a meal for two at the Holiday Inn, Leicester and an evening of music and fireworks at Coombe Abbey. We have had our annual Christmas tree runs (on the ark). We've both enjoyed cycle trips along the Ashby Canal towpath. Andrew has discovered a quiet country lane a couple of miles from home, currently being dissected by a new road. We've been to Lichfield and tried some crepes. We heard Die Fledermaus in English and La Traviata in Italian. We have disocvered Little Chef Hot Chocolate. We've cycled to Arbury Hall, with it's miniature canal system, and had a guided tour. We discovered(!) Snibston Discovery Park on a bank holiday monday. We laboured up the Tissington Trail, Derbyshire, on the ark in wintry conditions. We found our local (Derbyshire) National Trust house, Calke Abbey, and took Andrew's Parents there for a visit. We've cycled to Bosworth Battlefield for ice creams and to Shenton Wharf for picnics. Lez saw Les Miserables in London. We went to Bosworth on the ark for a Christmas fair and tested our waterproofs.
Andrew has completed an economy light-bulb project, with most light-fittings in the house, and has discovered that the most expensive type smash very easily. Our bikes now have air horns fitted. The kitchen has a roller blind. Lez has sung in Haydn's Creation at a local church venue. We've changed our mortgage to an interest-only type and cashed-in our endowment policy. The garden has been organised, and we had a beautiful display this summer. We've discovered that eh phone can be cheaper than the post for short calls, however great the distance. Our neighbours had a new roof and we had several sheets of our conservatory roof replaced and our leaky guttering repaired as a result. Grayhame has wired-in an electric heater in our front room, and fitted switched fluorescent and spot lighting to our roof space. Andrew has used a credit card to put a decorative border up at his in-laws. Andrew has disarmed a car alarm at 2 in the morning with a hammer, a screwdriver, a spanner and lots of determination, to a warm round of applause.
With best wishes
Copyright © 2000 Lez Bullwer