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 2014.

A new book, two cars, a kitchen and a visit to Poland sum up 2014. Well, of course, it has not been quite that simple, or that unfilled.

John has, at long last, seen the publication of his latest book entitled, Bioethical Issues – Understanding and Responding to the Culture of Death. It came out in March after a hectic month of online discussions and amendments with the publisher, copyeditor, graphic designer and typesetter. So far it has received some splendid commendations and reviews. You can check it out on Amazon – there will probably be an eBook version next year. Writing is in his DNA because he has just started his fourth book – topic and title are so far secrets – no, it’s not a sci-fi novel nor is it a detective thriller.

Writing on bioethical issues for his website and various organisations has been maintained – it’s been a busy year with topics such as same-sex marriage, ‘three-parent’ IVF and sex-selection abortion in the Commons and assisted suicide in the Lords.

Speaking engagements have continued, especially since he never says ‘No’ to any invitation. This year they have been as far apart as Aberystwyth, Birmingham, Bury St Edmunds, Leicester, Liverpool, Leamington Spa and Wolverhampton. Besides these, there were regular committee meetings in London and Leamington Spa.

Wendy says that little changes, month by month. She is right – much of life is routine. But she has continued her grandmotherly duties of childminding, knitting, quilting and sewing. This year she again harvested a huge crop of red, white and blackcurrants from the garden, plus wild blackberries, and a bumper picking of Victoria plums, as we have never seen before. Reading, Sudoku and Wii Fit exercising everyday and swimming every week are a firm part of her routine.

In mid-September, we flew to Katowice and then drove to the Bielsko-Biała region in southern Poland where John gave sixteen bioethics lectures over nine days. There were two Saturday conferences, two Sunday sermons, several church gatherings and a public meeting. Physically, it was quite a strain, but his voice held out until the end. We have a soft spot for the Polish people – their country was literally wiped off the map of Europe for 123 years, followed by the Nazi pogrom. It is therefore not surprising that many, especially the elderly, have a sad demeanour. But they translated, listened and fed us so well – John put on nine pounds with their non-stop tasty cakes, breads, jams and meats. Our schedule finally allowed us two days of rest in Kraków – a beautiful city.

It does not happen often, but this year we swapped both our ten-year old cars for newer models. How cars have changed in the last decade, everything is now automatic – wipers, windows, lights, the lot. Our new diesel Renault Mégane has no ignition key and is currently doing 67 miles to the gallon.

The other grand enterprise this year was installing a new kitchen. John last did this 35 years ago! This time it was a total transformation from the floorboards up to the ceiling. And John did the lot with a little help from an electrician and a friendly local builder. Double oven, ceramic hob, soft-close cupboard doors – how kitchen design has changed in the last three decades. Wendy is very pleased with the end product.

The fish catch from Lazy Lady was poor. The summer weather was so dreadful that we managed to go out only five times and caught only 14 fish – it was our worst season ever. But a few hours at sea is always fun and those occasional fish tasted doubly good.

Our regular trips to London continued. This year we visited the Treasures from the Royal Archives and the Castiglione: Lost Genius exhibitions at the Queen’s Gallery, Henri Matisse: The Cut-outs at Tate Modern and The First Georgians again at the Queen’s Gallery. In the evenings, we ate at Brasserie Chavot, Le Caprice and Boulestin – at the latter we met some people from Christie’s who insisted that we had a sneak preview of their upcoming Impressionist’s auction – their sale made £111.6m. In February we took the Birmingham family to see the RSC’s Wendy and Peter Pan at Stratford – it was superb.

Simeon has a new job with the UK-based Rider Levett Bucknall, ‘an independent, global property and construction practice with over 3,500 people in more than 120 offices.’ His office is just a few doors away from his previous employer. His initial assessment, ‘It’s different.’ And he still cycles to work.

Anne enjoys her part-time administrator job at a city-based Anglican church. She also does some French tutoring. As respite, she sings in her choir and has taken up the violin again with some one-on-one lessons. This year she got her dose of Gallic medicine when the family had a summer holiday at Saint Jean Monclar, in the Alpes du Sud region.

Esther (11) has made the big move up to secondary school, Lordswood Girls’ School. She has a 30 minute-walk to get there and seems to have settled happily – new subjects, new friends. She has begun to blossom as a young adult and is enjoying the solitude of her single bedroom, away from her silly sisters. Her violin practice is going pretty well too.

Rachel (9) is as crazy as ever. She once wanted to be a nurse, but now she wants to be a teacher because she has realised that they get more holidays. Her guitar playing is continuing even if her practising is not.

Naomi (7) is as noisy as ever. She enjoys school and her teachers enjoy her as a well-behaved little student. She swims, mimics and plays with her dolls. She shows no interest in playing any musical instrument!

Ben continues to work in the Public Good Plant Breeding Research Group at Aberystwyth University. He now heads a little team and so has new responsibilities. His DIY skills at home are growing as he recently plumbed in a new kitchen sink. His three chickens have now euphemistically ‘gone’. The family has just flown out to Sydney to spend three weeks with Glenda’s sister – Christmas dinner on the beach and all that!

Glenda works at the local Cysgod y Coed residential home for a night or two each week. Like most mums of young children she is busy socially and driving the family taxi here and there. Ever industrious, she is also a champion of online shopping.

Tiana (5) started full-time at the Llanilar Primary School in January. She took a little time to adjust, but is now thriving there. She is frequently awarded ‘The Star of the Week’.

Gwen (3) has recently started at Ysgol Feithrin, a Welsh-speaking nursery, for three afternoons a week. She is a chatterbox in either English or Welsh.

Christopher initially launched his business this year, teaching Futsal with a friend, but more recently has gone solo. Like many start-ups it has progressed slowly, but he did win a Reading Council contract in the summer. And, as word of mouth spreads, he is winning new customers.

Anna is just as busy as ever with her ever-hungry, ever-demanding family. Sleep can sometimes be elusive for her. Each day is packed with creative activities, walks, library visits, shopping, church meetings, visiting and so on. Motherhood is the greatest privilege!

Mia (5) continues to be homeschooled with all the restraints and freedoms that brings – it’s education anywhere and anytime. She and Anna often meet up with other groups of homeschoolers in the Reading area.

Joshua (3) is now attending The Little Owls Pre-School – recently graded by Ofsted as ‘outstanding’. He loves it. But he also loves his running, rough and tumble and football.

Caleb (1) is the smiling explorer who has just started to walk. He has the longest, curliest, gingery hair you have ever seen – sweet.

You can see 2014 pictures of ‘The Lings at Christmas’ at Click on the yellow, moving marquee in the top left-hand corner of the front page.

Christmas is Incarnation time. God in a womb. It is a mystery, almost beyond our comprehension. ‘Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body …’ (1 Timothy 3:16). Amazing!

And we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


John and Wendy.

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