Christmas letter 2022

News Year’s Day dawned bright and sunny. Covid-19 was still in our midst. Over 100,000 people per day were being diagnosed. But life was safer for the double-vaxed and boosted, and no new government restrictions had been imposed so far.

The year started bright and sunny with a walk with Clare and Tim Bennett at Selbrigg

20 January: A visit by Lotte Cardoe and her daughter – my old school friend – Katrine (same birthday as me) whom I hadn’t seen for around 35 years – was a lovely surprise. Then at the end of January, we caught Covid-19, along with five other members of Holt St Andrew’s church choir. We were all fine!

The dreaded double-line on lateral flow tests
Katharine with Mark’s colleagues: Tom Carr, Elsa Shah and Lynne Roberts

In February “half term” we took part in Gresham’s first choir tour since 2015. We sang in Ledbury, Hereford and Worcester and we sang our socks off. (Mark conducted his socks off!)

Paul, Alistair, Claire, Diana, Amelia

We saw my cousin Diana, visiting from Kenya for the first time since August 2020! Alistair is at Cardiff Uni studying neuroscience, and in a band playing guitar, Amelia is studying conservation at Oxford Brookes and Claire is working for a multimillionaire in several locations!

24 February, the Cold War was restarted when Russia invaded Ukraine.

Sam and Mark – St John’s Chop House

In March we visited Sam Aldersey-Williams and heard him sing at Evensong at Kings. Mark ran the Cambridge Half marathon the next day!

Mark giving it his all!

On 20 March, Gresham’s Choral Society performed Mozart’s Requiem in the Auden Theatre in Holt. GCS was a 100-strong choir and we performed with a full orchestra – supplemented by Gresham’s students performing the solos.

Gresham’s Choral Society performing Mozart’s requiem conducted by Mark

Joanna Markbreiter joined us for a solo performance. She and Colin had arrived the same day to stay for a week before returning to Abuja

Joanna and Colin

Then after Katharine’s new passport arrived we had a lovely few days in Tenerife (thank you Tim and Clare for the excellent recommendation: Hotel Gran Tacande).

Hotel Gran Tacande

Then a packed first week in April: a visit to London to see Robert, Helen and Isabel White (and yes, Mark is a Winter in the language of House of Colour ) and a trip to Worcester to see Hil and Rob.

Hilary and Robert Markland

Then May arrived and with it NNCO’s production of Monteverdi’s Coronation of Poppea. We sang three performances in English on 12/13/14 May at Cley Church and celebrated Katharine’s 60th birthday. Mark conducted the orchestra and played the keyboard and Katharine sang the part of Nero. Helen White came all the way from London!

Katharine sings Nero

June arrived, quite cold for the time of year and with Terry Cross’ funeral on the 1st. Chippenham, St Margaret’s Church was filled to the roof. It was a wonderful service – just missing Terry. In addition to Isabel Cross, it was lovely to see: Robert and Daniel Cross and their families, and many friends including Peter Ellis & Duncan Dalais, Jennifer Wilson, Jan & James Broad, Fiona & Peter Maxwell, Isobel & Paul Mangell with Felix, Louize & James Hurst, Kevin & Linda Porter-Cohen, Sandra & Ian Garget, Wendy & Nick Parsons, and, Nicola and Dick of course.

Nicola and her favourite puppy

5 June 2022: Upper Sheringham Village Hall Committee (Katharine is Treasurer) threw a party in true Jubilee style.

Upper Sheringham celebrated the Queen’s platinum Jubilee in torrential rain on 5 June 2022
Cheers to Upper Sheringham cider
That is what 21,000 steps of dancing to the Glamtastics looks like
11 June Mark and Gresham’s choir at Blake concert at Bracon Hall outside Norwich
19 June 2022: Hindringham Evensong scratch choir on a chilly June evening. Thank you for the abundance of hospitality James and Lenny

July arrived and with it some sun and…

Sarah, Anders, Dobby and the gang visited Southwold
and then Sarah and Anders came to stay with us.
We visited Cambridge on 8 July to see Sam Aldersey-Williams sing at Kings for the last time
On 10 July Elle and Jacob (Old Greshamians) performed a stunning concert – accompanied by Mark – to a packed Cley Church.
Mark in Truro cathedral 16 July

If ever a bride had perfect weather and location for their wedding – it was Hannah Hutchins marrying Ryan on 16 July at Gwennap parish church, in Cornwall. Our trip there included: outbound a visit to Hil and Rob in Worcester, a short stay in Truro, the wedding in Gwennap and inbound: a (long overdue) visit to see my godmother Marilyn Swann in Shaftesbury. Too short by far. We much enjoyed the journey with longtime friend, Sue Hitchcock.

Hannah and Ryan – on their covid-postponed wedding day
19 July – Serengeti Plain OR Sheringham Park on the hottest day of the year. 38 degrees

24 July – Mark was focused on the annual Holt Festival. He organised St Andrew’s Festival (a series of lunchtime recitals) which included NNCO soprano, Catherine Joule, great friend, Lynne Roberts, on French horn and Mark on the organ. All recitals were well attended. On 29 July Katharine visited Chippenham to attend Paul and Isobel Mangell’s party “Sous le Tente!” Again – it was lovely to see Chippenham friends.

That week we were fortunate enough to get tickets to hear Tenebrae sing at Cley Church. Mark also attended a memorable ENO concert also at Cley Church with VIP guest HRH Prince Charles.

August arrived and started with a quick visit to Tewkesbury for two Evensongs and to see Hil and Rob. Then we tried our first-ever staycation to try and catch up with friends and enjoy the weather!

We saw Alistair and Amelia for a lovely picnic on the beach

We saw Nigel Jenney and Lukie Simms with Tim and Katie Ambler, then Dick Girling and Caroline McGie, then Robin and Rosie Waters with the fabulous Esme. We saw Russell and Anne Starkie, then James, Lenny and Jimmy Thomson. Extending the staycation we saw Adney and Angela Payne with Moira and Hugh Aldersey-Williams and sang for Theo Crowder at Halvergate House. With Georgie, Katharine visited Annie and Chris Hitch at Minsmere.

The Waters’ gorgeous new puppy

At the end of August, Katharine made a quick trip to Sweden to see Sarah and the gang. Anders was standing as a local counsellor which was very impressive.

Counsellor Klerkefors
Sarah and Dobby training – the real downward dog

On 3rd September, we attended the marriage of Isobel White and Mike Shipley. It was a wonderful wedding held at St Thomas and St Stephen’s Church, London SW2. Mark played the piano, (Einaudi) and organ (Widor’s Toccata). It was a great opportunity to see long-standing friends (Robert and Helen of course) and the White/Whittle clan: Jo and Ian (Robert’s sister and brother-in-law) Bertie and Sue Whittle (Helen’s brother and sister-in-law and his two girls) Jilly and Chris (Helen’s younger sister and their two girls). It was also lovely to see LJ and Richard Walton, Angela Bawtree and Rosemary. We stayed with Phil and Claire Lean which was a real treat (with the added bonus of seeing their daughter, Emily).

The new Mr and Mrs Shipley

The next day, Katharine caught up with her long-standing friend and neighbour from Manville Road, David Collins, and great friend, Beth Pollock and her talented son and daughter, Tom and Grace.

My old front door – 60 Manville Road, London, SW17 8JL
Visited the wonderful Rowena Gardner in September and then…
On 8 September 2022, Buckingham Palace announced that HM QEII had died.

On 10th September, it was lovely to see Jeremy, Marion and Veronica Woolf in Oxford for lunch.

Another wonderful Gresham’s concert at Holkham Hall – choir conducted by Mark!
And then it was us! 29 September in Cley and again in Burnham Market on 23 November

On 9th October Mark celebrated his birthday and on the 10th we had the pleasure of seeing Tim and Sally Smales for lunch.

North Norfolk Chamber Opera decided on its next production: The Tales of Hoffmann and Katharine secured the role of Niklaus. Rehearsals continue apace.

Then on 15 – 20 October, Mark went on a second choir tour with Gresham’s – this time to Malta.

Maltese church where Gresham’s performed.
And meanwhile, Katharine made a lovely new friend while she was celebrating Nicola Bourne’s 60th birthday party in Fordham on 15 October 2022
Photo caption “In the garden when you get back!”
We then had a lovely three-day break in Cambridge at the end of October and enjoyed three Evensongs

Katharine should have travelled to Hyderabad in November to attend a conference for St Francis Leprosy Guild but the agency issuing visas for India didn’t give a visa or return Katharine’s passport. The waste of time, money and opportunity was a huge disappointment. Surrendering her passport also meant a trip to Istanbul with Colin and Joanna was cancelled. It is hateful to be at the mercy of incompetence and zero accountability.

Katharine passed her Grade 8 singing in early December and by then, Christmas preparations had started in earnest. There was a myriad of concerts conducted by Mark given by Gresham’s choirs, the Iceni Christmas Choir, St Andrew’s church choir, Elle Oldfield, Hindringham Evensong choir, Cley and a series of organ recitals.

Mark with Schola at Fishmongers – one of a multitude of Christmas concerts and services

Hil and Rob came to stay for Christmas. Hil and Katharine (with Lynne Roberts conducting a brass ensemble) sang at Cley St Margaret’s and then at Midnight Mass and on Christmas Day at Holt St Andrew, all conducted by Mark.

Then we ended the year in Gran Canaria. Happy New Year!

Gran Canaria – 31 December 2022
Katharine works for St Francis Leprosy Guild as Trusts and Communications Manager – a role that she loves.
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