The Lings, 4 Cefn Melindwr, Capel Bangor, Aberystwyth SY23 3LS, Wales, UK.
phone:  +44(0)1970-880-416     mobile:  07974-113-283
e-mails:   website:

December 2015.

2015 will be remembered globally for the horrors of terrorism in Paris and elsewhere, while in the UK we unexpectedly elected a new majority government.  Meanwhile, in the Ling household, 2015 was generally equitable and peaceful with only minor changes.

For John, magistrates’ business ticked over gently, but the bioethical talks have strangely almost dried up and there are no more major writing projects on the horizon – the let-up has been most welcome.  Wendy has found a new intensity in sewing and knitting, mainly for the grandchildren.  A garment for one sparks a call from the other seven, so it has been a year of pullovers, bags, dresses and quilts.

We have long been advocates of palliative care, but it was high time we became more practically involved, so we have joined a newly-formed ‘sitting’ group in Aberystwyth.  John gave some lectures during the initial training sessions and now helps with website updates.  Wendy has signed up as a volunteer respite sitter.  By the way, the overwhelming defeat of the UK Parliamentary bill to legalise assisted suicide was, for us, one of the surprising, but most gratifying, events of 2015.

We have a new bedroom.  When John redecorates he is nothing but thorough.  Everything – carpets, cupboards, wardrobes, the lot – is removed before the modernisation begins.  And we have a new bed – our first for 43 years.  It is so comfortable we feel tired just looking at it.

A routine visit to the garden shed during the summer revealed an unforeseen leaky roof.  Out came all the contents and another major renovation was launched.  The roof now consists of new rafters, purlins and noggins, 11 mm marine ply, heavy-duty felt, thick black adhesive, a bucketful of galvanised clouts and fresh guttering.  Several coats of wood preservative have made it look almost new.

We have had our three regular visits to London.  Meetings in the mornings for John and joint playtimes in the afternoons.  We took in three art exhibitions, Rubens and His Legacy, Inventing Impressionism and Goya: The Portraits, plus a trip to the Wallace Collection and a lunchtime music recital at the Wigmore Hall and then dinners at L’Autre Pied, Wilton’s and Theo Randall’s.  All first-rate.  And we saw The Merchant of Venice – disappointingly in modern dress – at the RSC theatre, Stratford.

We have not ventured abroad this year.  No-one has invited us anywhere, but more to the point, we are not sure we want to travel in our newly-precarious world.  All those fascinating and unseen cities like Damascus and Palmyra, or even Istanbul and St Petersburg, have suddenly lost their attraction.

Have you ever had computer calamities?  We have.  In March, we went for the mega upgrade – our beloved XP was ditched for Windows 8.1, IE7 was exchanged for Chrome and Office 2003 for Office 2013, our faithful old PC and netbooks were replaced, a new modem was installed, John’s website was moved to a different server with a new-fangled HTML editor and then two months of chaos and frustration followed.  The pandemonium has subsided – kudos to our techie friends.  Windows 10 now beckons – oh no!

What a good fishing season we had.  Though the summer weather was dreadful, the fish were plentiful.  In one two-hour trip in Lazy Lady we caught a record 84 fish and a grand total of 168 from just 7 outings.  We are piscatorial to the core.  And we are also dedicated fruit eaters.  This year the crops of red, white and blackcurrants from the garden, plus wild blackberries were bumper, but the Victoria plums were sparse compared with last year.

We both remain largely healthy, despite a few old-age hiccups.  As recommended by Wendy for years, John now wears varifocal glasses, so he can read his notes and see the audience simultaneously – what a boon.  Wendy swims regularly while John has recently taken up running again – as a trustee of the LIFE charity, he has been gently pressed to compete in the infamous Wolf Run [] next June, that is, if his dodgy left knee holds up.

Simeon celebrated his 40th birthday with a family and friends' get-together in May.  We still occasionally find photographs of him in a pram or learning to walk – where have the years gone?  He has satisfactorily completed his first year at Rider, Levett Bucknall as their business development manager with regular meetings throughout the UK.  He still enjoys cycling and buying bike accessories.

Anne also turned 40 in October – she had a girlie 70s pyjama party to celebrate.  Her part-time work is with a church in downtown Birmingham.  She is still learning new musical skills with her violin teacher.  After she completed several cycling courses, she won a new hybrid bike.  This year, the family spent 10 days in Carcassonne for their summer holiday and opportunity to enjoy all things French.

Esther (12) is now in her second year at Lordswood Girls’ School – she has settled in well and receives good reports of hard work, with art her favourite subject.  French is now one of her subjects, much to her mother’s delight.  She had a sewing machine for her birthday, but has yet to produce that sparkling evening gown.  The violin is still going strong and she is working towards her grade 4.

Rachel (10) will probably join Esther at the same secondary school next September.  She is a social hub at her primary school – that is nice for her, but she is (very) easily distracted in lessons.  The guitar is still going despite the erratic practice.

Naomi (8) is the sweetly bonkers granddaughter, who is also readily side-tracked at school.  She won a medal for completing the national summer reading challenge – six books in six weeks.  She can now swim in the deep end of the pool as well as dance like any crazy pop star.

Ben never has enough hours in the day.  He is frequently frustrated by the adverse weather which delays or scuppers his field trails for the development of new forage grasses, legumes and grain legumes.  His hobbies include chopping wood for the fire and watching football.  The family happily recall their last Christmas in warm, alfresco Australia.

Glenda continues to work part-time at Cysgod y Coed, a nearby old people’s home.  Now the girls are soon to be both at school, she is looking out for new employment possibilities.  Baking, shopping, taxiing and so on, fill the rest of her days.

Tiana (6) is the conscientious student at school and she enjoys books, reading, bird-watching, sewing with Grandma, dancing and playing in general.  She was a singing camel in her recent school concert.

Gwen (4) now wears the cutest glasses.  She still attends a nursery class, Ysgol Feithryn, but from January she will join Tiana at the infants’ school full-time.  She enjoys colouring, baking, dollies and singing, and she is the family chatterbox.

Christopher is making good progress with his futsal business [] – he is getting more bookings from schools and football clubs and has recently taken on two assistants.

Anna continues to manage the Ryman household and is constantly tired with (not ‘of’) the educational demands of their three home-schooled children, plus visits to various children’s groups, swimming lessons, and so on – a recent and persistent frozen shoulder has not helped.  And she must be feeding her children well because they have all grown between 5 and 7 cm during the last six months.

Mia (6) is now temporarily Miss Gappy having lost at least two front teeth.  She is mastering swimming, money, ballet and tap.  Her maths is good, though her reading is somewhat slower.

Joshua (4) attends the Woodley Baptist Church preschool – he is the oldest in the class and really enjoying it.  His other pleasures are colouring – he won a competition prize a couple of months ago – football and play-fighting.  He remains serious and intense, but his vocabulary has improved vastly and he is always keen to look at books with adults and to keep the conversation going.

Caleb (3) still has the most wonderfully woolly, Einstein-like hair, a chipped tooth and the warmest of smiles.  He likes apples (up to three a day) and play-fighting (with his siblings) and he regularly attends a wiggle-waggle dance and music group.  In contrast to Joshua, he is innately light-hearted.

Mum (94) was doing well until she toppled over in June and broke her ankle.  She has recovered well but her mobility has declined, though she is determined to improve it.  She now has a home help three times a week.  We are spending time with her this Christmas in Reading.

You can see the 2015 pictures of ‘The Lings at Christmas’ on John’s website [].  Click on the yellow, moving marquee in the top left-hand corner of the front page.  There you will also find a rare picture of all seventeen of us together.

Every year in the UK, the Christmas season is unofficially started by the release of the TV advert from the shopping giant, John Lewis. This year’s commercial was about a little girl sending a gift to the lonely ‘man in the moon’.  It was clever marketing – witty and sentimental.  But it was theologically way off beam.  The truth is this: the Christmas gift does not go FROM this world, but comes TO this world.  ‘For I have come down from heaven’, ‘For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost’ and ‘I have come that they may have life’ (John 6:38, Luke 19:10 and John 10:10).  Yes, indeed, He has come to us.  He is Emmanuel – God with us.

And we wish you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year!


John and Wendy.