After rejecting the £75, £35 and tiny £10 bottles of the same brand he demanded to know the cheapest thing they had in the store.
The assistant reached under the counter and handed him a small mirror. She said: ‘I believe if you look in there, sir, you’ll see the cheapest thing we have in the shop.’
The Bible says that when Jesus came in the stable at Bethlehem he came as the ‘exact representation of God’s being’ … God’s mirror image, if you like. Our prayer is that you find time this Christmas to find the real Christmas in the middle of all the other great things that go on.
Siân and Damien married at the end of May (more of that below) but also both of Gareth’s sisters got married – and neither of those were expected when we wrote last year’s letter!
The first was Claire who married in St Ives at the end of March. She and new husband Dave Walter now live in Braunton, Devon. Youngest daughter Sarah is with them while Rachel and Hannah are in St Ives with their father.
Then Betsan married Steve at the start of August. She managed to begin the day as Miss Hill and ended it as Mrs Hill! Steve is a Methodist minister and within very few days Bee, Steve and Chloe had moved to Crosby near Liverpool where Steve is the Superintendent Minister of a Methodist Circuit. Gareth was thrilled to be asked to conduct the service.
The weddings meant that both Gareth’s sisters moved out of Cornwall within a few months of each other – he wondered whether it was something he said! – and contact is now through Facebook, text messages, phone calls and the occasional visits.
But we all work hard at keeping in touch and, during a holiday trip to Merseyside, also saw Gareth’s brother Mike and his family.
Gareth has had some preaching invitations this year including at Llanyrafon Methodist Church, which his parents helped to build, and at Park Road Methodist Church, Hastings, which meant that we could spend the weekend with Joy’s brother Pete and his family. That included the obligatory dip in the hot tub!
For Joy, the highlight of the year was her 50th birthday which featured a 70s disco. It was lovely to see friends from her childhood and from recent years coming together for the evening.
It also brought her back in touch with Lynny (pictured below), her best friend through the 70s, and they’ve been in virtually daily contact since through Facebook, despite Lynny spending many weeks out of the country.
In April we celebrated our Pearl (30th) wedding anniversary and went to London to see Les Miserables – an amazing show.
Next year Gareth has a sabbatical, the gift from the Methodist Church of three months paid leave. He’s aiming to do some more hymn writing and to try to build a book around some of the hymns he’s already written (you can find them on http://www.cybervicar.com). We’re also looking forward to taking our ageing caravan to France for an extended break.
Before that there’s still plenty to do at work. Joy is into her 11th year on the children’s unit at Treliske Hospital, Truro; battling with a new system for serving food.
There’s also more involvement in village life. We’re firmly established in the Clockhouse Players and rehearsing for next year’s panto with Gareth in the title role as The Wizard of Oz. And there’s pub quiz on Sunday nights.
Both of these are a key part of Gareth’s work – doing church for people who don’t do church – and led up to the pub hosting a link-up with the BBC in the South West for a interactive carol service in Christmas week.
We also now have a LIFE group that meets at our house twice a month and are looking at how to develop contemporary worship in the area. A very successful Alpha group has just finished in a pub in St mawes.It’s been a year of major change for our children in all sorts of ways.
They were married at Llanyrafon Methodist Church on the most perfect sunny day. Gareth had been asked to write a hymn for the day.
They had already made the decision to move back to Cornwall after their jobs in Wales ended around Christmas last year – but while they were with us for the holiday were both offered their old posts back!
So Damien is now Head Chef at The Pickwick in St Issey, near Padstow and in the final six competitors for the Great British Pub food awards 2010. Siân is working on the reception team at The Metropole in Padstow.
They now live in a mobile home in the grounds of The Pickwick.
This time last year Andrew was effectively the number 2 at a kitchen design and suply company on the edge of Plymouth but it was becoming increasingly clear that there were money problems in the company – particularly when Andrew didn’t get paid!
Eventually, Andrew made the brave decision to go and it proved to be wise. Soon afterwards the company went bust.
After a while looking at what he wanted to do he decided to try his hand at his Dad’s old career and is now a reporter at the Cornish Times in Liskeard. He covers Callington but also writes for the West Country Sunday paper The Sunday Independent, which is published from the same office.
Rose is continuing her degree studies in Child Development and also working part-time for the NHS – we don’t know where she gets the energy!
They have booked their wedding for August next year and we are really excited about that!
Rhys is six next March and has been doing really well at school, regularly bringing home certificates for his spelling and being congratulated for his behaviour.
He is having swimming lessons in the same pool that Tom Daley started in – and is eyeing the diving board rather too keenly!Matthew looks frightenly like Rhys did at the same age and loves calling his Nanny and Papa on the phone; especially leaving messages: “Hello! Hello! Hello! Bye!!”