Christmas Greetings from the Husons 2010

Very best wishes for a enjoyable Christmas and a Happy, Healthy New Year.

Jacky, John, Ben, Susie, Hattie, Sarah and Daniel

2010 News from The Husons.

A quieter year for celebrations this year – the highlight was Hattie’s first birthday – where has that year gone!!?? Two parties – one in London and one in Southwell gathered families (4 generations) and friends together. Only family guests missing were Heather who had to leave early, and Dan who had work commitments.


Back: Jacky, Ben, Sarah, Janet (Susie’s Mum)Front: John, Tony (Susie’s Dad), Ben, Susie & Hattie, Bunty (Susie’s grandma), Sid (Bunty’s friend)

Touch Therapy work continues to be busy – the Probation Service massage therapy work with Substance Misuse clients became a permanent contract so that’s a couple of days spoken for. My job at Arnold Library is yet again ‘at risk’ as more budget cuts bite into opening hours. I’ll hang on until they kick me out!! Voluntary work for Red Cross at Framework Housing and some training, plus yoga, private clients and organising the local therapists’ support group just about sees me fully occupied!

 John and I did our second ‘trip of a lifetime’ to South Africa in January/February – we just loved it so much we can’t stay away – planning again for 2011. Enjoyed meeting up with familiar and yet more ‘new’ relatives and particularly our stay at Kleinmond in the cottage next door to some of the Mathew family (see photo) whom Hayley (cousin John’s daughter) had recently re-joined having been living in England for 12 years.

 Braai (BBQ) at Fish Cottage, Kleinmond, home of Mathew family. Hayley (cousin John’s daughter), Joan (cousin John’s mother), John H, Norton (Joan’s oldest son)

We went on our family ski-ing trip to Ruhpolding in March/April – this time without Ben and Susie (Hattie still a bit young?!) but happily with Daniel. Two adjoining cosy self-catering flats with a hot tub made it very much more familial. Yet again, we met up with Brigitte and Philip who took Rob and children up to (or rather down) one of the black runs.

Brigitte, Sophie, Sarah, Sam, John, Dan, Philip, Rob in our cosy flat (no chalet maid!)

In addition, I have travelled more modestly than in my 60th year!

  • Brighton in April to be a course supporter with Jing (my favourite advanced massage academy)
  • Ibiza (oh dear you think – is she having a mid-life crisis!) with some of the Jing tutor/fellow therapists. Had a surprisingly great time, lovely weather and lots of craic.
  • camping in a very wet Lake District in August with Sam and Sophie, Sarah and Rob
  • Whitby in September with Jenny – what a lovely part of the coast and yummy fish.
  • Aldeburgh with a neighbour in September for the Food and Drink Festival – excellent and more yummy food – are you getting this year’s theme!!?
  • A week in Charente Maritime at a colleague’s lovely converted house in the middle of nowhere – an ideal place to chill out with friend Elaine and enjoy some gourmet French cuisine.
  • London in July and October to see Hattie – and of course, Ben, Susie and Dan


John continues to grab the cheap flights with ‘Ryanair’ …….Bratislava (highlight of his trip was an exciting town tour on a Segway see photo) also a very timely trip to Malta (he missed the worst of our snow!!)  A busy social life, golf and supporting Nottingham Forest keep the little grey cells active!


Ben and Susie have just about finished decorating/alterations to the flat and have put it on the market with a view to moving…. possibly to Southwell – which would be lovely. Susie is enjoying motherhood, so much so that she continues to be a full-time Mum which is admirably rewarded by Hattie being an absolutely delightful and amiable toddler (nearly). Ben’s offices were sadly burgled a while ago – despite very strong doors and alarm system – a professional job, they knew what they wanted and were in and out very quickly. Stop press: they have just been burgled again!! Plenty of witnesses but again a very slick operation and no number plate spotted. Despite that, business is perky and Ben is hoping to keep working remotely for Camber wherever he lives.



Sarah’s Highly Strung (and Wired) String quartet work is flourishing. She is very busy with cello teaching at Trent College, The Elms and private students. Her Youth String Camerata ( is giving string pupils experience in playing in small ensembles – and following an approach from the Age of Englightenment Orchestra they have done a workshop and will perform prior to AoE concert in Southwell Minster soon. She and Rob went scuba diving in Egypt with Trent College for the 2nd year running as tutor/supporters (it was Youth Hostelling in our day if we were lucky!!). Sarah and Rob split up in September but they are both fine. Sarah went to Zanzibar in October to enjoy a great time diving, on safari and spending time with her school friend Kristen who has a hotel out there.

Dan continued to work with Nottingham Forest until June, when the budget finally ended the secondment. But he was SO lucky to find work very quickly with Millwall Football Club as their Marketing Executive and a room in a house near Canary Wharf with three mates from University. After wanting to move to London for so long it couldn’t have worked out better. He’s very busy with campaigns and projects to move the Club forward off the pitch and is enjoying all the culture of London, when he finds time! He revisited Malia in the summer with some of his schoolmates.

Hattie with her habitual chirpy smile (particularly when there’s a camera pointing!)

Our warm wishes for Christmas and all the very best for 2011.

News from the Husons 2009

Weddings last year – special birthdays and lots of travel this year!Jacky and Hattie

Ben, Susie and HattieHattie arrived on 4th November – a gorgeous daughter for Ben and Susie and I am now proud to have a bus pass and Winter Fuel allowance!

My Touch Therapy work is growing well – I’ve been doing some therapy work with the Probation Service which might become a permanent contract in the New Year. I kept my 10.5 hours in Arnold Library with the last restructuring, but now council cuts and the installation of self-service are putting jobs at risk again. Déjà vu with possible redeployment or redundancy. Still working with Red Cross as a Therapeutic Care volunteer at Framework Housing and TC trainer.

Jacky, John and bronze elephant in cousin Jean's SA gardenJohn and I finally did our ‘trip of a lifetime’ to South Africa in January/February – (some of you may have ploughed through our blog –!). It was i) a sort of ‘pilgrimage’ to where my Grandmother’s 3 sisters emigrated and where Mum enjoyed a year as a 13 year-old with one of her aunts and ii) to see a small bit of this awe-inspiring country. Having no relatives over here I was very moved to meet up with about 25relatives with whom I shared the same great-grandmother. We were spell-bound by our safari trip and spotted lions, giraffes, elephants, warthogs, rhino, crocodiles, wildebeest to mention a few –and I also got to hold a lion cub and stroke a cheetah. We enjoyed it so much we decided it needed more than ‘a once in a lifetime visit’ and have just finalised arrangements to go again next year.

Then we went on our now customary family ski-ing trip to Ruhpolding in March/April – Daniel was unfortunately unable to make it this year as he had a final degree assignment to complete. We enjoyed meeting up with our friends Brigitte and Philip (ex of Southwell and who have a house over there) and some great ski-ing – one very challelunchtime on the slopesnging day in the fog and Rob, ably guided by Brigitte made the big run ‘from the top’.

Since then I resolved to continue to travel somewhere every month as a way of celebrating my 60th milestone. So it was

  • London in May for the Chelsea Flower Show for a 60th reunion with schoolfriends Bev from Switzerland and Dot
  • Krakov in June – a delightful town full of history
  • Nice Jazz Festival to see Melody Gardot in July,
  • Norfolk – camping in August with Sam and Sophie, later joined by Sarah, Rob and Daniel in our ‘tent village’;
  • Marrakech in September – colourful, exotic and hot with Jenny
  • Limoges for lunch (Limousin steaks of course) with John in October (rest of International Luncheon Club (ILC) couldn’t make it!)
  • Aldeburgh with a neighbour in October,
  • London in November to see Hattie at 14 hours old; then Liverpool for mini sightseeing and a massage workshop
  • London a few times in December to see Hattie, be moved by ‘Les Miserables’ and watch Sarah play in a Christmas concert at The Albert Hall.

round the barbecue

John’s done less ‘Ryanair’ travelling this year – but has nevertheless been to Beauvais (ILC) and Dublin (Jacky’s first initiation into the ILC!) for lunch; Portugal golfing plus the family travel mentioned earlier. He’s very much enjoying creative cooking, his social life and continues his lifelong support of Nottingham Forest.

Ben and Susie have been working hard to get the flat decorated and ready for Hattie’s arrival –

Susie passed driving test first time – interestingly in Morden where I took my test! They enjoy a full social life and after a spate of weddings, they are now visiting friends for christenings. Ben’s website design work at Camber and some private commissions are surviving the economic climate very successfully, thankfully.

Sarah’s quartet work continues to flourish with a variety of gigs including an acoustic and electric gig at Worcester Cathedral to set the scene for a Jon Simpson talk. Her cello teaching also continues at Trent College, The Elms and private students. Sarah together with Sian (viola in quartet) founded Youth String Camerata ( to give their pupils experience in playing in small ensembles – they made their debut in May the Minster with Guy Johnston (Young Musician of the Year 2000) doing masterclasses with them. We also saw Guy at Royal Concert Hall with St Petersburg Orchestra and Guy honoured Sarah by presenting her with his bouquet – he was living in hotels while on tour, so not very practical – but still a lovely gesture.

She had a planned operation on one of her kidneys in October which went well, but then got an infection after 6 weeks. She’s back at work but still waiting for further tests.

Rob has passed all his tests for a Detective Sergeant’s post and is now chafing at the bit for the right position to come up – he’s been ‘acting up’ at many stations, so he’s certainly proved his ability. Work on the house is just about complete – moving walls, new bathroom. Their ‘Good Life’ garden has cropped well under Rob’s attentions and the 10 Betty hens give a bounty of eggs regularly.

Sam has started his GSCE’s and is getting glowing reports from school. He successfully completed and enjoyed Bronze D of E and is looking forward to Silver.

Sophie too is doing well at school, got grade 2 cello with distinction (guess who’s her teacher!) and plays in the school orchestra.

Dan graduated in July with his Sports Events Management degree, but then struggled along with many others in this climate, to get a job. He took a well-earned holiday in Portugal with his Uni friends and after a couple of interview disappointments, he was delighted to get a 3 month internship with Nottingham Forest’s Marketing Department which he has enjoyed and given him invaluable hands-on experience, which will hopefully help him in future applications. Hot off the press – he’s over the moon that Nottingham Forest have juggled their budget and found some money to offer him a paid temporary contract until the end of the season – they just didn’t want to let him go. Who knows after that? He’s obviously proved his worth. As one of the 12 host cities for 2018 World Cup, let’s hope we win the bid – that’ll generate more work surely.

Our warm wishes for Christmas and all the very best for 2010.

Saturday 14th February

Valentine’s Day and we are reminded that it’s going to be practically impossible to get a table tonight!! We meet our other guests – a Swedish couple and two Swedish women who are playing golf from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town (one’s a professional teacher, playing off 3). Breakfast is buffet style – no cooked English breakfast!! – but plenty of fresh fruit and juice, hams, cheeses, different breads, cereals. This is a unique place in that the owner doesn’t live on the premises, but at least he did arrive this morning to welcome us.

Friday 13th February

Took myself off for a stroll round the vineyards, drinking in the beautiful contours of the surrounding Overberg mountains.

Yet another of Stefan’s notes on the napkin ring which reminds us of the date – we’re not superstitious and how could anything unlucky happen on such (yet another!) hot sunny morning?

Had a giggle over breakfast with Iain and Margaret – particularly about the coffee pot which had perplexed us yesterday morning. You know the syndrome – one of those insulated pots that are hard to get into! I just managed to find the formula before John felt exasperated enough to abandon the project. This morning he tried again, following my instructions ‘to point the arrow towards the pourer’. We all nearly fell off our chairs when he tried to line up the arrow to himself – well he was the pourer wasn’t he?! It was me not being able to think of the ‘spout’ word!!

Anyway, protracted goodbyes as we all took leave of the B&B and headed off in opposite directions – Iain and Margaret lucky devils are at the beginning of their trip.

Stefan kindly gave us a bag of their plums (Sungold and Letitia) for our picnic. I asked Stefan about Mr Sexwale – who had sponsored the Nelson Mandela statue we’d seen yesterday and whose name I also spotted in a local newspaper. He’s apparently a local ‘bigwig’ who was in prison with Mandela and has since ‘made good’ and is a local benefactor. The newspaper also spoke of concerns about the degenerating appearance of Franschoek – we hadn’t noticed any apart from some demolition work in the middle of town. Apparently the Hugenot hotel and attached buildings was being demolished to make way for another development, but the liquor store tenant in an attached building refused to move, so it had been stalemate for a month, with the hotel part of the complex semi-demolished and obviously an eyesore.

Just as we were leaving I was chatting to a woman whose husband had been over here on business in Durban and they were now combining the trip into a holiday. He works with the R’n’A and had been in Durban sorting arrangements for the S.African Golf Open. Any openings for Dan I wonder? He did say it’s a hard career to get into. Both their children went to Nottingham University (daughter, pharmacy and son, business studies) spanning 7 years consecutively.

On the way to Cape Town I phone Jean and to my delight she’s managed to gather 9 family members together for a picnic on Sunday at Kleinmond where Joan and Val live. They are the widows of Alex and Ivan (who both died last year) respectively who were sons of Mary (one of my grandmother’s sisters) – the daughters being Eileen and Peggy (Jean’s mother) I will get this written down in family tree diagram for us to understand better!

Pass through Stellenbosch – another major wine-producing area – but doesn’t seem so charming as Franschhoek.

Our B & B is at Seapoint – due east of Cape Town and we pass mile upon mile of townships – more dilapidated than most we’ve seen elsewhere.

Tom Tom takes us through a housing estate and we arrive at a very unprepossessing frontage of high wall, double electric doors and single pedestrian door – no hint of what’s behind… and boy is it amazing. It opens out into parking space for 4 cars, the biggest swim pool and terraced sundeck we’ve had so far and a beautifully restored hunting lodge built in 1700’s by Admiral Lord Nelson and classed as a National Monument! It has been ‘renovated and decorated with a gentle hand and great care by Jonas himself’ (the owner together with Marten (from Prague) who we meet the next morning at breakfast).

We have a fruit picnic in our courtyard and then decide to walk to Cape Town’s renown Victoria and Albert Waterfront having been told by very giggly Zoleka the housekeeper that it’s only a 20 minute walk. One and three quarters hours later we arrive hot and exhausted!! We gulp down a beer and see the swinging bridge in action, and are quite disorientated by the crowds having come from the relatively unpopulated eastern Cape.

A very refreshing dip in the pool and drive to Mouille Point to try Wakame that has been recommended. Can’t park, so I go into the restaurant to see if they have a table. They’re full but she reluctantly offers us a terrace table, but it just seems all too hectic and noisy so we drive back towards B & B for Theo’s, which was also recommended, a steak house with its own butchery. Steaks priced at Ladies (250g), Medium (350g) and Large (450g)!! I start with lightly battered whole baby squid with skordalia (very very garlicky mash) and based on the waitress Janice (who’s travelled 6 of the 7 continents) I opt for the medium fillet. SO tender. I have my first Amarula since being here – a liqueur made with a native fruit – that a friend introduced me to years ago and which I enjoy on rare occasions.

Thursday 12th February

Woke to clear blue skies so took another walk around the vineyards. The clouds have lifted from the mountains and the contours are so clear.

Breakfast in the courtyard – smoked salmon or bacon omelette – a refreshing change from full English! Stephan been busy again with his printed notes – our napkin is wrapped in a paper detailing the weather, wind, sunset for the day.

Booked into Boschendal – the country’s oldest vineyard – for wine tasting and tour.

Groot Drakenstein prison – where Nelson Mandela was freed from after his long incarceration, mainly on Robben Island – is not far off our route. It looks easy on the map and we were doing well, until John asked how far it was. So I concentrated on trying to find the prison on Tom Tom’s database, but it seemed not to be included. In a while we reached the N1, which was far beyond where the prison was supposed to be. So we backtrack to find it not far from the point where I took my eye off the road to look at Tom Tom. Sometimes human ‘Tom Tom’ is preferable?

The statue of Mandela cast by my cousin is awesome – all the more so because of its backdrop against the mountains. I felt very moved.

Off to Boschendal – a commercially owned vineyard – where we tried to match our allocated 7 taster glasses against the descriptions. A bit of fun really  – and realistically we can’t buy any to carry back to England, so we’re not serious customers!. Went on the tour which Iain (also called John but only at work) and Margaret were also on, so in between the rapid fire commentary about wine-making, we had more amusing and interesting conversation with them.

Then on to Haute Cabriere – another vineyard, but this time family-owned by Achim – whose party piece is to chop the top of the bottle (complete with cork) off with a sabre rather than the more boring way of using a corkscrew. We didn’t witness that as we just had a light lunch there rather than do the tour. Delicious mussels and tempura prawns with an estate sparkly (his speciality) in the cool cellar. A bit of excitement as helicopters arrived and took off with the more affluent customers ‘dropping in’ for lunch! (takes the meaning of John’s International Lunch Club to a different level!)


The temperature has risen and risen to an alarming 34oC!! The car registered 40oC at one point!.. and then we have a text later from Sarah to say there’s been more snow in England!


A wander through Franschoek – a delightfully well-kept town where every other shop is a restaurant! I browsed round the shops a bit and met John back at Traumerei café where they cool you down with a very fine mist spraying from the umbrellas and surrounding walls – very welcome in this searing heat.

John then led me to the Bordeaux St art gallery where he’d spotted one of Jean’s African native sculptures. We went inside and saw another – a ballet dancing pair called Pas de Deux – priced at a cool 110,000 rand – about £8,000!! Then back for a cool-off at B & B.


Freshen up and then off to Reuben’s which has been highly recommended. We ate in the courtyard and it was a very different and informal affair compared to last night. It was quite noisy with lively music playing and not at all the elegant experience of Grande Provence. My food was delicious, but John wasn’t so taken by the experience. Whitebait/Springbok tartare with oyster fritters and caper sauce and quail stuffed with grapes, and a herb couscous/blesebok.. I had to try the quail having seen so many running around the countryside – it was tender and tasted similar to chicken. John offered to take a photo of a group nearby and later one of the blokes offered to take ours. Turned out he was English and had lived in Mapperley and worked in Nottingham five years ago.


Back to B & B where yet another love poem awaits us – this one a letter from Beethoven to I don’t know who. I asked Stefan in the morning and he said it had been used in two movies – ‘Sex in the City’ and Immortal beloved’ with (I think) Gary Oldman and Isobel Rossellini – haven’t seen either, so must look them out.