(c) 2015 Emily A Le Tocq
If last year was the Bumper Edition then this year may well perhaps turn out to be the Brief Brief.
Sorry. Tempus really does seem to Fugit, as I have noted elsewhere on this blog, especially at this time of the year, so all good intentions of producing this annual communiqué during a spare moment in early December have now dissipated. Indeed that spare moment (on Sunday 6 December, between 02:34-02.36 AM) sadly had to be assigned to marginally more important matters of state (catching some shut-eye) and now having made it to sunny Sussex – where we are celebrating Christmas for the first time in over 25 years in the UK with Judith’s family (and yes, it is uncommonly warm, although those friends reading this in the southern hemisphere may disagree that 12°C qualifies as warm) – I find my current agenda replete with things like weddings, shopping, driving, buying presents, wrapping presents, eating, drinking, shopping, drinking, wrapping presents, playing the piano a little, checking emails very occasionally (thanks to poor wifi), eating, shopping, driving, buying presents, eating, wrapping presents, catching the odd train, shopping, eating and drinking. Oh, and shopping. And did I mention buying presents. Also wrapping them. And shopping.
Do you get my point?
However I did take note of some highlights from this year in the form of photos and so, with your indulgence, forbearance and absolution we intend to use these as a means of sending you a brief pictorial Gazette Guide to the Year that was 2015 for us Le Tocqs.
In no particular order, here we go…
In a world which seems more unstable and uncertain at the end of 2015 than at the beginning, it seems I spent too many occasions writing in books of condolence and sending messages of solidarity and sympathy to people who had suffered at the hands of man’s inhumanity to man. On a sobering note, here’s hoping 2016 will buck this trend. Here, I’m signing the book of condolence at the French Embassy in London after the Charlie-Hebdo attacks in January.
Many inter-governmental agreements signed this year. This historic one was signed in Cherbourg between all Channel Islands (Iles Anglo-Normandes), the French region of Normandie and the Département de la Manche (County nearest the islands).
Really privileged to visit Washington DC in February and to attend the National Prayer Breakfast at which President Obama was one of the key speakers. With increasing religious tensions in the world such initiatives which, whilst hosted by followers of Jesus, gather from a wide religious and political spectrum, are proving to be extremely important.
Whilst we were in the USA in February we paid a short visit to our dear friends Gareth and Raye Forsey who have recently moved from Connecticut to near Portsmouth, New Hampshire. We arrived to around 12 inches of snow; a similar amount fell over the weekend we were there, making travel quite, er, eventful! A 2 hour flight turned into a 10 hour train journey! The welcome from the Forseys, Poes, Ashbys nevertheless was as warm as ever!
A very white White House viewed from one of our meetings in DC
We’ve certainly had some incredible weather this year: this is Guernsey’s St Saviour’s Reservoir in February
We’ve had some fabulous friends to stay this year! Really enjoyed a weekend with Nick and Sue Moyler at the end of February. Nick also has excellent taste in headwear.
I met this charming senior citizen during a visit to London for a conference on civil rights and liberties, it being the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta. She seemed to know quite a bit about Guernsey. Really nice digs too.
I like a balanced argument. Evidence for the positives of global warming: a day on Cobo beach, early March.
Made several trips to the classy city of Edinburgh this year, all far too short, as it’s full of so much to see. Best visit was probably when Judith and I were invited to attend the Royal Military Tattoo in August courtesy of the Royal Navy, which was just splendid and something we will remember for a long while.
“Sarnia Cherie” – Sarnia Dear, is Guernsey’s national anthem. Grace kindly embroidered the first verse for me in Guernsey French which now hangs in my office.
Emily – now in the second year of her degree course at Bournemouth Arts University – paid a few visits home to spend some time with her old folk… and to see the cats! Here she is with Chanel, who as usual has found another naughty place to sleep in.
Un vrai ami des Iles Anglo-Normandes, et surtout de Guernesey et de moi-même, Jean-Francois Le Grand, Senateur et Président, a pris sa retraite cette année. Néanmoins, je prévois que nous allons nous rencontrer souvent.
Wouldn’t be worth much without a few Cobo sunsets thrown in eh?
Judith and I acting suitably silly in support of Rob, the Guernsey Weatherfox, in the great Guernsey Dancefloor Challenge
Here’s another Cobo sunset…
Lucy and Luke have had a good year job-wise, both moving to work for companies and in teams which they really love and find rewarding (in more ways than one). The frustrating hunt for a home of their own continues, but in the meantime they have entertained and hosted loads of friends from all over and found plenty to do with their multiple extra-curricular interests. Here is Luke looking rather canonical.
Chanel positioning herself for Eine Kleine Kat Mewsik (she prefers Mozart to Bach…)
When you get really into the countryside in Guernsey (‘to the West’ that is) you meet with helpful road signs like this one.
Brussels has been much on the agenda politically this year. Although Guernsey is not fully part of the EU, we have many bilateral agreements and are affected by the UK’s decision-making. Brussels is a great and grand city and is always a pleasure to visit.
Jersey & Guernsey have a representative office in Brussels which is becoming increasingly important for hosting conferences and meetings to improve our relationship with member states of the EU.
It was a historic year for so many reasons; the top one for the Channel Islands was almost definitely the 70th anniversary of Liberation from Nazi occupation. The weekend of May 9th (Guernsey’s Liberation Day) was filled with commemorative and celebratory events, amongst which was a Royal visit from Sophie, Countess of Wessex
It was great to accompany the Duchess as she met some of the older generation who were alive during the war years. I introduced her to my Dad’s brother, my Uncle Stan (now 90 years old) “Hello Uncle!” she quipped!
Grandad, Peter – Judith’s Dad – celebrated his 78th birthday in Guernsey this year (here’s Emily presenting him with a special cake). Unfortunately, it’s not been a great year for Peter. He spent several weeks in hospital over the summer with a failing heart condition and other complications. Judith spent a proportion of her annual leave visiting him or helping to care for him at his home along with her brother Ian especially. As I write he is in hospital again, but we are hopeful he will be allowed to be with us for Christmas day itself.
The lovely lady Le Tocq all dressed up to meet the Countess. Her hat (couresty of Ollie & Grace’s wedding last year) makes ‘deux bises’ rather tricky. However you can pick up Sky News very well.
This year saw the rebadging of our Cadets and reserves as the Royal Guernsey Light Infantry, the previous official name of the Guernsey Militia pre-disbanding in the 1930s.
Guernsey’s Lieutenant Governor Air Marshall Peter Walker – seen here at the inception of the RGLI – sadly passed away suddenly in September. He was well loved locally and still had a year to serve in office.
Mont Saint Michel was the fabulous backdrop for a CI-French conference on cooperation. It will also serve as the start for the 2016 Tour de France!
Well used to being interviewed nowadays for various media. Here’s a selfie with Richard at Island FM.
We’re very grateful to have three such delightful and different daughters! Here’s a pic of a proud Dad!
The Island Games (a sporting event which brings together dozens of island communities from all over the globe) was held in Jersey this year. We spent a fun weekend there staying with our great friends Ian & Dionne Gorst (Ian is Jersey’s Chief Minister) both of us being a tad competitive of course!
In July Church on the Rock hosted a conference which also brought together friends from our closest Newfrontiers and New Ground church in Rennes, France! Here are Henk and Eunee, part of the New Ground team, from the Netherlands, speaking at the event.
Lots of Ambassadorial visits and hosting this year. This is a meeting with the Ambassador at South Africa House London.
Two of my favourite girls
We had a glorious summer this year and whilst we spent a couple of weeks of it in la belle France, we are so lucky to live in such a beautiful island, and never need much of an excuse to dine watching the sun go down at Cobo. Did I mention the sunsets…?
We celebrated our 29th Wedding Anniversary in Nimes courtesy of some very kind friends.
Another anniversary this year was marked by the unveiling of this dramatic sculpture commemorating the 140+ allied air servicemen who died in action in Bailiwick of Guernsey waters and whose bodies have been never recovered.
The Battle of Britain week was celebrated in Guernsey as usual this year with a fabulous air display including the Red Arrows, seen here from Castle Cornet, St Peter Port
One of the significant highlights of the year must beyond all doubt be “Judith’s Great Adventure” or as we sometimes refer to it “Judith Pulls It Off”. Those of you who know Judith well are aware of her “I don’t do adventure” stance on anything more exciting than a merry-go-round. Even that… well, say no more. Strangely therefore, when I picked her up from work during Battle of Britain week and said “I’ve been invited to go for a spin in a Sea King chopper, you can come too” expecting that the latter half of this phrase would be ignored or dismissed with quick laugh, you can imagine my surprise when Judith replied with “Okay”. So it was that this surreal experience continued with the Royal Marine in charge stating “You’re going to be dangling your legs outside over the edge – is that okay with you?” with Judith again replying “Okay”. So here’s the photographic evidence. PS. Maybe the hunky young Marine helped…
Said Sea King helicopter, just back from Afghanistan, with bullet holes to prove it
Judith’s feet (on left). Not sure what happened to her shoes!
Said feet dangling over Perelle on the West Coast. Gives a new meaning to “Island Tour”
Towards the end of the year we found ourselves yet again with Paris in our thoughts and prayers
With Sir Lockwood Smith, New Zealand High Commissioner
Getting a bird’s eye view over Guernsey along with a press reporter as I venture up via a crane to put a star on Guernsey’s Tree of Joy – Europe’s tallest illuminated Christmas tree
With other heads of Government and Ministers at the British-Irish Council in London
2016 saw the first Bailiwick of Guernsey Council which brought together political leaders from Sark, Alderney and Guernsey to discuss matters of mutual concern.
So, apart from that… we also enjoyed a week’s break in Jamaica early on in the year (Judith and me that is!) We managed to camp for the church weekend (along with two thousand others) at Ashburnham Place, Sussex, at the end of August. To be fair to Judith, this was also quite a feat for her, as “Judith doesn’t do camping” was also a family maxim. Judith moved slightly… in terms of her job that is, and now works for the ENT department at the MSG (Ear, Nose and Throat consultants at Guernsey’s Medical Specialist Group for those of you who struggle with TLAs as I do) (Three Letter Acronyms, that is). I also managed to fit in lunch with the judges at the Old Bailey, an operation on my toe, and a trip to Dublin’s fair city.
Therefore, without further ado… there it is, briefly, for 2015. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all!