For 2016, which demonstrated clearly that life can still surprise you…

For our beautiful country, whose outermost regions we explored this year.

For steam trains, which continue to enchant me

For our friends, those from the days of our youth and those met more recently, who continue to maintain an interest in us, to put up with us, to tolerate the inconvenience of taking me on their outings

For our siblings and cousin, who keep in touch and remember us

For the parents of our children’s spouses, who share what is most precious to them generously with us

For the beloved spouses themselves who love our children and make them happy, are kind and fun to be with

For our darling children (every blessing be upon them)

For all our grandchildren who are so different and each so full of life and blessed with their own talents (may every hair of their heads be accounted for)

For our own parents, aunts, relatives and friends who have departed before us

For those who may have harboured animosity towards us – may your sins be forgiven you as we hope ours will be

For my partner in life, husband, friend, head of our family, John. Without him, I would enjoy none of these blessings. He’s the prince who came riding; the man of my life.

I am blessed among women.



Carolyn Hulatt left us on 6 December, 2016 after an illness of longer than a year, and our lives are immensely impoverished by her departure.

She was a woman taller than average, naturally blonde and very fair of skin. She was charming and elegant. She had the best colour sense of anyone I know – could recall a colour to its exact shade and her house, table and wardrobe always reflected her style and her artistic ability. Her skill and originality with colour, jewellery and scarves resulted in a harmonious elegance. She was a pretty woman, delicate and feminine, well-groomed. Her domestic skills were excellent and she was a gifted and imaginative cook.

She appeared out of the mists. She was modest in her behaviour so that the breadth of her abilities and talents only very gradually became apparent to you. I guessed that she would be able to write and asked her to prepare something for a meeting, but was still surprised by her cleverness, her word skill, but above all her ability to bring her reader to a tender response. Writing however was not her first love.

She was a singer, and into her singing she could pour all her passion and empathy. She had a powerful, golden, glorious voice and she could silence a room with her opening notes. Quite apart from her technical skill and the natural beauty of her voice, she had the gift, which not every performer does, of delivering her audience into a cathartic emotional release. She sang at the funeral of her close friend, Geraldine Lane; she sang at Elisabeth’s wedding. She accompanied a Nadfas group on a visit to some famous London theatre and their guide, as they stood on the stage enquired indulgently if anyone wanted to try out the acoustics. Carolyn sang, alone and unaccompanied, Ave Maria and the result was apparently spine tingling. I was not present but I heard accounts of this from a wide variety of people. She was a member of various prestigious choirs.

She was a loving and devoted wife and mother, and obtained great pleasure from her grandchildren.

She was a tender soul. She could fight in defence of family or friends, but she was no warrior queen. She lacked the ruthlessness and capacity to suspend emotion for the duration of the battle. She did not lack courage or opt out of any difficulty, but she sustained from such episodes more than the usual damage. Although she could certainly be irritated by people’s behaviour and take action, one never felt that she was truly enraged; rather one sensed her hurt and distress. However, she wasn’t goody-two-shoes either, and could entertain with a wickedly accurate description of someone who displeased her. (Miaow, we used to say to one another when one or other of us dished the dirt on someone who had exhausted our patience, which was both to excuse ourselves from making jokes that were scurrilous and deadly, and acknowledge we were being unkind. Then we would laugh.)

Although not conventionally religious, she had spiritual strengths. Her advice was worth having – sensible, courageous, wise – and she herself conformed to the highest standards in her behaviour. She had a praiseworthy capacity for forgiveness which I admired, having myself to work towards a result which she could produce spontaneously.

Although friendly and approachable, she was elusive and difficult to get to know well. I am conscious here of my inability to produce a description of Carolyn which does justice to her unexpected strengths and depths or to explain just how much or why those of us who cared about Carolyn, loved her.

Carolyn Hulatt was a complex, gifted and subtle woman. She was a tender and gentle lady. She was a delightful companion. She shared my life for nearly three decades and we had many adventures together. I count it a privilege that I knew her so intimately. She was one of the great gifts of my life. She died on my birthday. Godspeed, beloved Carolyn.