The Lings, 4 Cefn Melindwr, Capel Bangor, Aberystwyth SY23 3LS, Wales, UK.

phone:  +44(0)1970-880-416     mobile:  07974-113-283

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December 2018.


First things first.  Christmas 2018 hinges on that very first Christmas, aka the Incarnation.  Christmas, and indeed the whole of Christianity, finds its meaning primarily in the Incarnation – it’s the reason for the season.  That first Christmas brought about the momentous changes from Old Testament to New Testament, from Sinai to Calvary, from law to grace.  The Incarnation is the hinge of our current festivity.  So we hope you celebrate it properly and fully!


Next, and a close second, comes Wendy’s health.  She is doing pretty well.  The mini-stroke of September 2017 has had no observable repercussions unless some old-age memory loss counts – but we’ve both got that.  In January, she was seen by the brain experts in Cardiff – they recommended aspirin and nothing more – a treatment regime confirmed by the neurosurgical team in Bristol.  However, her heart is another matter.  Since the summer her micro-vascular angina has been playing up.  Increased chest pain and breathlessness have been the recurring and unwelcome symptoms, though they can be readily controlled by additional drugs.  She has an investigative cardiac CT scan booked for later this month.  What becomes of the broken hearted? so sang Jimmy Ruffin in 1966, and John Ling in 2018.


We are being ultra-careful guarding our health in the run up to this Christmas.  The last two we have spent in bed with ghastly colds.  So this month we are travelling little, eating sensibly and sleeping lots – minimal stress and nominal strain.


Last year it was The Big Makeover – renovating and redecorating the hall, landings and bathroom.  This year it was The Big Clearance – long overdue, we bit the bullet by sorting, then saving or shedding 40 years of household 'stuff' including toys, clothes, electronics and pure junk, even John’s first fishing rod and reel, that he bought when he was ten years old, went.  We were (fairly) ruthless.  Then John’s final act of DIY 2018 was to paint the front half of the house’s Tyrolean finish walls – two white coats, mostly off a ladder.  It’s the back half next year.  So DIY in the Ling household has not yet become Don’t-Involve-Yourself.


In March, we were cut off for four days as deep snow blocked our main route out of Aberystwyth.  In the same month we lost one of our car keys – its replacement cost an eye-watering £217.83.  That won't happen again.  Then our local garage gave us a taste of the future by lending us an eco-friendly, electric Renault Zoe.  It was a little weird driving a two-pedal, silent car.  But it was impressive – how the humble milk float has advanced.


The summer heatwave reached a peak of 39ºC by our backdoor.  The garden suffered.  Much of the soft fruit shrivelled and the lawn turned brown, but the Turkish figs and Bramley apples thrived.  We eat the latter stewed for breakfast and dinner every day – strangely we never tire of them.  Gardening is a swings’ and roundabouts’ activity.  So is fishing, though this year we landed 138 fish from 14 trips out – we’ve just eaten some of the mackerel for dinner and it’s still gorgeous.


In October, we celebrated Wendy’s 70th birthday.  The senior gals treated her to a jolly spa weekend in Cardiff and we spent a few days at The Grove in beautiful Pembrokeshire.  We visited Narberth (pretty town), Laugharne (Dylan Thomas’ old haunt), St David's (Britain’s smallest city) and we walked Stackpole Quay, Barafundle Bay and Broad Haven (arguably the most beautiful beaches in the UK, even the world, some say) and Pendine Sands (home of several land speed records).  It was all just lovely.  Roll on her 80th!


John has had a quiet year on the bioethics lecturing front, though the reading and writing have continued apace.  Bioethical issues never stand still – genome-edited twins born last month, whatever next?  To get to one of his London meetings he caught the 05.30 milk train from Aber to London to arrive at Euston at 10.13 and returned on the 15.43 train to arrive at Aber at 20.20 – a new adventure and thankfully not a daily occurrence.


Wendy has maintained her handicrafting – sewing, knitting, drawing, painting, mending and patchworking.  And we both continue to be involved in the local hospice organisation with Wendy giving respite care to three people, one of whom has recently died.


And we have been out and about.  Romeo and Juliet at the Royal Shakespeare Company's theatre at Stratford-upon-Avon was thrilling, gripping and at times frightening.  We enjoyed a free concert at St James's Church, Piccadilly by the Solem Quartet (Haydn and Bartók – wonderful), the Charles I: King and Collector exhibition at the Royal Academy (OK, a bit dull) and dinner at Bentley's Oyster Bar & Grill (nice, but overpriced).  We also went to the Courtauld Impressionists: From Manet to Cézanne display at the National Gallery (OK, but we’ve seen most before) followed by dinner at the Cora Pearl restaurant in Covent Garden (an imaginative and sparkling menu).  And we have taken in two concerts by the National Orchestra of Wales here in Aber, including a cracking double bill of Beethoven’s First and Fifth.


The Lings (Birmingham) have moved back to their original church in South Birmingham.  They holidayed this summer at St Ambroix in France.  Simeon is now travelling frequently within the UK and further afield including Israel this year.  Anne is well into her French teacher training course at Birmingham University and has been enjoying her teaching practice placements.  Esther (15), Rachel (13) and Naomi (11) are now in the same secondary school – they all seem happy and generally enjoy the 30-minute walk together there and back.  Their favourite subjects at school are respectively French, citizenship and PE.  They spent an action-packed week in August with us – we even managed to climb Snowdon!


The Lings (Lledrod) enjoyed some holiday in Lanzarote this winter – it was warm and relaxing.  Ben now leads the seed production and certification team at IBERS and inevitably has more responsibility – he loves it.  Glenda is now assistant manager at Llwyn yr Eos pre-school in Aberystwyth.  Tiana (9) is currently keen on unicorns and Gwen (7) is a dab hand at Dobble.  This week they are performing in their school Christmas concert – unmissable as ever!


The Rymans (Reading) spent summer holidays camping in France, Germany and Switzerland.  Christopher is still enjoying coaching futsal with youngsters as well as teaching health and fitness in various schools.  Anna has a full schedule home-educating their three children, now including Caleb.  Mia (9), Joshua (7) and Caleb (5) are as chatty and fun as ever.  Fashion and football are high on their respective lists of interests.


Mum (97) is doing well in her care home in Reading – it’s become much more convivial so it’s now more difficult to contact her on the phone.  Because she is now wheel-chair bound she missed going out, especially to church, so a couple recently changed their car to a Fiat Doblo that takes a wheel-chair making Mum mobile again, sort of.  We thought that was an act of remarkable generosity.


Remember, Christmastime is Incarnation time.  Christmas marks the Son of God in a womb.  Christmas is the Christian hinge, theologically and historically.  Rejoice!!


And so we wish you a Blessed and Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

  John and Wendy.