56 Years Ago Today…

On July 10th 1965 John and I were married. Such a happy day. Many of our guests stayed with local friends in the village and nearby. The tiny local church of All Hallows, in Ringmore, South Devon, was packed to bursting. It was a joyous family/village occasion.

The only thing that didn’t go quite to plan was the fact that overnight we had the first rain after a three-week heatwave. Barnford, our family home, was opposite a farm which brought its cows in for milking twice a day. The hard-packed manure on the lane between Barnford and the church turned overnight into a very perilous slime. All morning every fit male guest staying locally was to be seen in morning suit and wellies, wielding hoes and shovels and any manure-clearing instrument to be found, trying to clear the road. Not totally successfully…

Photos of my father which should have portrayed gleaming pride, show instead a very determined and anxious man leading a very nervous bride to the church over what in effect was a skating rink. We arrived safely but my poor Uncle Kim did not, so the flowers in the church were definitely no match for farmyard smell. Selfishly I was relieved it wasn’t me in my wedding dress!

After the service everyone walked through the faint drizzle to the reception, which was in a marquee in the Barnford paddock. Friends from all over – including Ireland, Northern Rhodesia and Somaliland – had come and it was all very jolly.

Except after what seemed a very short time the MC insisted we left early as was the style in those days. We were packed off to the Clarence Hotel in Exeter (now sadly no longer). Everyone else stayed on for a party which lasted into the night and was reminisced over for many many years, leaving John and me feel rather out of the story.

What a lot has happened since then. After a honeymoon in what was then Yugoslavia we set sail for three years in India. After that we did such a lot. Inevitably we had our trials and our triumphs over the years, created wonderful memories, met and made some wonderful lasting really good friends and had our three children which I feel must be our greatest achievement!

As you all know, John died last September. This September his ashes are to be buried in the Ringmore churchyard where my parents already are and where I shall eventually be.

Meanwhile, today is the first time I have spent the 10th July without him. It does feel very deeply sad but i have so much to be grateful for, and such wonderfully supportive family and friends. Thanks to them/you all I am managing quite well. So instead of looking back and grieving for what I have lost, most of the time I can look forward, thankful always for the love and happiness we did enjoy together for nearly 60 years.

By the way, sorry about the photo.It was a photo of a photo of a photo… (Gone are the days when i could just ask John to produce one.)

Remembering John Today

November 27th…

For many years this has been a special day in the F-S/Hall/Cragg world.

Today would have been John’s 81st birthday. John loved birthdays, as many of you will remember: presents and happy gatherings meant such a lot to him and he was quite charmingly shameless enjoying his own quite as much as anyone else’s.

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John F-S Update and Thanks

Raising a glass to John 8pm Thursday 8th October 2020

There’s not much to be cheerful about these days. Covid-19 strengthens its grip – Tier 2 for Derbyshire Dales as from last Saturday night, lockdown from today Thursday 5th November, winter approaches and the days ae getting shorter… and as far as John’s immediate family and friends are concerned, the gap he leaves seems to get wider.

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John

I’m afraid I have some very sad news. After several months of acute pain and ill-health met with great fortitude and dignity, John slipped away very peacefully on Saturday 19th September 2020.

He had been suffering from Discitis, an infection of a disc in his spine. He received wonderful care from everyone on Elmton Ward, Chesterfield Royal Hospital, and we kept thinking and hoping he might be turning the corner, but sadly it was not to be.

I am writing this in great haste with no time to tell you more. I will later.

There’ll be a Cremation Service at Chesterfield Crematorium at 10am on Thursday 8th October 2020 to which we can invite in theory a maximum of 30 people. It means, practically, more like about 10 or 12 and no legal opportunity afterwards to celebrate together the passing of a great friend and family man.

With all the increasing Covid restrictions it is proving very difficult to arange the kind of send off we would’ve wished for John, a man who had had a very full and interesting life with very many friends, colleagues and ex-pupils.

No singing, canned music…The only compensation is that the service will be streamed so that anyone unable (or perforce uninvited) to attend will be able to watch the service. We don’t yet have the link but when we have, if anyone would like me to send it to them please send an email to fsfamily20@gmail.com

There will be a notice tomorrow, Saturday 26th September, in both the Times and the Telegraph, thanks to the Old Bramcotian Society who have submitted it on our behalf.

And I will write more later when I have more time. Meanwhile, here is goodbye from him…

Farewell from John

Coping Under Lockdown

Almost exactly four years ago, April 15th 2016, we moved into Crown Cottage, here in Winster. It was the 14th house we had viewed, and the first that we had both been completely smitten with, and possibly in many ways the least suitable for a couple approaching old age. Heart ruled the head, and how happy we are that it did…

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Heartfelt Good Wishes

What remains of Sara and Derek’s garden, Ulladulla NSW

Two decades of the 21st century have already passed.

After all the jollity and happiness for lucky souls over Christmas, as we take down the tree, the cards and the decorations I think we must all be entering 2020 possibly with some excitement and rather more anxiety about what lies ahead for us all, both politically and generally, and in Australia.

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Leaving India, Again…

John and his ‘leavers of 69’ pupils, over 50 years ago

Completing the circle, half a century later

John and me and the leavers of 1969

When we left India in April 1968 we imagined we were leaving for good. John’s three-year contract with the Cathedral and John Connon School in Bombay had come to an end and he had been offered another teaching job in the UK. We had thoroughly enjoyed our time in India, but were now, complete with baby (Ruth) embarking on the next stage of our lives.

Little did we think…

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