Ditton Corner
Ditton Corner

Coburn-Mulligan Gazette 2022

Christmas 2022

Return to California

We Left Our Hearts in Sam Frank's Disco

It was a year of three prime ministers and two monarchs in United Kingdom, and the start of an ominous war in Europe. The world gradually unfurled from the grip of the past two years of Covid pandemic, so we all have a lot of catching up to do in terms of travel and meeting up with old friends - and family as it turns out. We took advantage of the opening up of international travel to take a family trip to the west coast of United States in search of the mythical youngest family member, reportedly ensconced in Santa Barbara, to find out what he's been up to.

Got Our Kicks on Route 101

Helen, Andrew, Alice and Martyn finally tracked down Henry - he's alive and well, and wondering what all the fuss was about. Then it was off on a roadtrip to revisit our old haunts and reconnect with old friends in the San Francisco Bay Area where we used to live 20 years ago. They hadn't aged a bit.

A la recherche du temps perdu

We spent the rest of the year catching up for lost time in all our other aspects of our lives too - visiting old friends, and cashing in those IOUs for events and parties we've missed during the Covid years. Checking our passports for a full and energetic 2023!

2022 - We checked out in 2006 but we can never leave
2002 - Our first visit. It was 20 years ago today, Sergeant Hemant taught the band to play

Finding Henry

We tracked down Henry in his lair, on campus in Santa Barbara.

Henry's PhD at University of California at Santa Barbara is on digital fiction and the structure of narrative. His recent paper at the On the Margins conference was on his project on the Mutiny on the Batavia in 1629, told by six different narrators, now a feature in the Interactive Fiction Database.

The Road Trip

Once we had discovered Henry, we got ourselves a Big Ass Vee-hicle and took off on a road trip to do all the tourist highlights from LA to SFBA. 

The Lettuce Test

Ex-Prime Minister Liz Truss has already been consigned to the bonfire of history. We did our own test for whether she could outlast an iceberg lettuce.

Yup. The lettuce lasted longer.

Fashion Section

Helen's Hats

Helen has been making bespoke hats since 2018, using both traditional and innovative methods – such as 3D printing - to create one off eye-catching designs that are flattering and fun.  She is thrilled to be announced as a finalist in the prestigious US Milliners Guild competition ‘Humour and High Design’.

Hat leads the way out of lockdown

The competition invited entries inspired by the work of the Chicago-based company Bes-Ben, which is renowned for hats with a light-hearted theme – often featuring quirky animal motifs.  Led by Benjamin B. Green-Field, the company raised the spirits of Americans during World War II and the subsequent period of austere conformity.

Helen’s entry Karita, or Is it safe to come out yet? stars a hermit crab tentatively emerging from her shell. It expresses our anxieties for the present and hopes for the future as we feel our way out of Covid-19 constraints.  As one of the ten short-listed entries, Karita went on display in Dallas in March in an exhibition featuring the work of Mr. Green-Field himself alongside celebrated present-day milliners.

Exhibited in New York

In May, the exhibition transferred to New York for a further six-week run – where Andrew and Helen had the chance to see it on show in the Fashion Quarter near Times Square.

Another excuse for millinery

In March, kind friends sponsored Helen for Wear a Hat Day in aid of Brain Tumour Research.  She took advantage of the opportunity to don one of her headpieces to the opening of an exhibition at the Extraordinary Objects gallery in Cambridge - including  Lynne Strover’s lovely silver jewellery.

Silly Season

Event in August!  Yes, it had to be London Hat Week, a seven-day extravaganza of lectures, workshops and exhibitions culminating in the London Hat Walk, when 100 milliners strolled along the Thames Embankment to show off their creations.  Fabulous fun.

Girls Get Sporty

Girls have been out and about at sporting occasions too. At the Emirates, Alice and Helen saw Arsenal beat Man United 3-1. Alice ran the Cambridge half marathon through her alma mater, Jesus College. Then in June, accompanies by old friend Anne Rooney , Helen and Alice headed off to Ladies’ Day at Ascot in June, equipped with a marvellous picnic and some frivolous hats - sportingly modelled by all members of the party.

Helen Writes On

The end of lockdown means that Helen has been able to attend - oh bliss! - Churchill Writers' Groups in person.  Screenwriting with the Talent Campus group continues at a slower pace.   She's also leaned a lot  on verbatim theatre and working with actors in workshops with the scriptwriting group WriteOn, and has published another story, Happy Place, in the Churchill Review.

Solidarity with Ukraine


Vladimir Putin is probably quaking in his boots with news that the Brits are in full solidarity with Ukraine. We flew the Ukrainian flag proudly.


Now please can we have the gas turned back on?


Changing of the Guard


The death of Queen Elizabeth II ushered in 10 days of solemnity and the start of the Carolean Era. Helen was our chief mourner.


Union flag at half mast at Ditton Corner
Helen on the Mall for the cortege pass-by
Alice's new office is a bit grander than most
Robo-surgeon is the future of hip replacements

Alice at Work

After an unsettled first year at the British Orthopaedic Association, Alice is expanding her empire, and growing her team. She is now Head of Education. The team run courses, grants and programmes for orthopaedic surgeons and review poorly performing hospitals to recommend service improvements.

Happy Birthday Risilience!

Risilience celebrated its first anniversary, and the doubling of sales and team. Now up to 60 employees. Despite the tough economic conditions, the climate change analytics offered by the company are still in demand, so large corporates like Coca-Cola, Marsh, and Etsy signed up. Andrew, as CEO, spent much of the year in endless fund raising conversations with potential investors, with only Duncan, CFO, to keep him sane. 

Highlights of Risilience's Year in Pictures

BBC Click


If you want to know what Risilience does, or are wondering what you do with a 'digital twin', then the BBC have made an explanatory feature in their BBC Click technology series.

Sustainable Dettol

In the feature, available to watch here, they profile how Reckitt, a client of Risilience, is reducing its carbon footprint among other measures, by using more sustainable ingredients for their products, including their flagship product Dettol. The video shows how they use the Risilience software platform to analyze the potential financial benefits from the changes. Just beware of the eyebrow close-up.



BBC Click - link to the video
Filming at the Reckitt headquarters in Hull

Life in High Wycombe

Alice and Martyn are now well settled in their house in High Wycombe, and much to Alice's delight have installed a cat - Misty.  They are enjoying being close to Martyn's family, babystitting the Niblings (mini relatives), and trying to dissuade Martyn's dad Brian from climbing ladders with a chainsaw.

Red Kites Over Ditton Corner

Red kites are magnificent - the largest raptor in England, with nearly 2-metre wingspan and distinctive forked tail. Nearly hunted to extinction in the mid 20th Century they were successfully reintroduced in southern England and Wales in 1990s.

Ranging into the Fens

Sitings have always been special, but if you want to see a 'cast' of thousands then visit Alice and Martyn in High Wycombe. They have extended their range each year. So it was with great excitement that we welcomed them to Cambridge as they flew over the house.


The growing range of the Red Kite
Spot the birdy

Shrinking Cities

Helen's 4-yr RE-CITY project came to an end this year, with a final conference in Kaiserslautern, Germany.  Helen chaired a panel of Advisory Board members and was thrilled to have the proceedings instantly sketched for posterity by a graphic artist.  Project results include the Handbook on Shrinking Cities, including Helen’s chapter on Carbon mitigation for shrinking cities, published by Edward Elgar in October.

Sports News

Finally Got Our Big Day Out at the Emirates

For Helen's birthday treat in May 2020, we reserved a box at the Emirates Stadium for the Arsenal Liverpool match. Covid put paid to that. And the year after. So 2022 was the year we were able to celebrate Helen's <cough> tieth birthday with friends and family. Good things come to those who wait. Helen's treat extended to seeing her team, Arsenal, beat Andrew's team, Liverpool, 3-2.

But Not the US Open

Got all excited to get tickets to the Arthur Ash stadium for the US Tennis Open, then found out the timing of our visit wasn't going to work. So improvised with a seat in front of the telly instead. Oh well, definitely going to do it next year (probably).



Best seat in the house, literally

More Sports News

Back to the Big Sporting Fixtures

Following the lifting of Covid restrictions (remind me what that was all about?) we enjoying getting back to the big stadium atmosphere. Fixtures we managed to get to included the other Arsenal vs Liverpool match - Alice and Andrew slummed it with the rowdy visiting Liverpool supporters (and a few days later Andrew tested positive for Covid [so that's what it was all about]); the last match of the season, Liverpool vs Wolves with Andy Greene and pals (so close! Chasing Manchester City for the title..) and the traditional Man United Liverpool rivalry fixtures. Nothing beats the atmosphere (and viral load) of a big stadium.

Catching Up With the Brians

Catching up with the Websters and the Greenes, now that we are allowed to co-mingle.

Sutton Who?

The old University gang we call the Codger's Club (not so ironic now, huh?) got back together, unmasked apart from the Anglo Saxon helmet, with a visit to Sutton Hoo as our excuse for a good social. An amazing archeological phenomenon. And that's just the eight of us.

Return of Bumps & Carnage

The University Bumps river races have been held every year since 1887, without interruption despite wars and crises, until Covid. The races resumed this year after two years of suspension. It was chilly weather, but an eventful four days of rowing carnage, loudly cheered on by spectators with their picnics.

Back to the Fringe

The Edinburgh Fringe resumed, after a couple of years of pandemic suspension, so together with Simon and Anne, we enjoyed a welcome return to shows, songs, and bafflingly obscure performances.

Up to the Dales

Our friends Suke and Stephen – long resident in Australia - cunningly selected the Derbyshire Dales for their wedding in July, with a stunning country-house location.  Helen was roped in to provide late-night floristry services for that authentically casual English Country Garden look for the bridesmaids’ bouquets.



And in Other Pictorial News

The ubiquitious iPhone was always on hand to record the memories of the year.


William and Di at the Bumps

Di Haigh



Di Haigh, inseparable from William, died unexpectedly during the year. Di had been a constant bright light in our community and a highly creative spirit and teacher. Her work as an architect, notably in her restoration of the Royal Festival Hall, earned her many plaudits, including an obituary in the Guardian. Di's memorial will be in April 2023.



Jean Fisher, in her hatted finery

Jean Fisher



Jean, mother of Hazel, passed away peacefully in February. We were fortunate to have seen Jean the day beforehand, when she visited us in Cambridge with Haze and Roger. Jean took Andrew in to her household during his university days, and was always the magnanimous hostess for any waifs and strays who would benefit from her magnificent Sunday lunches.

Susie - always smiling

Susie Van Oosterom



Susie, partner of Nigel, was a wonderful - and tolerant - friend to us all. Her laughter was infectious, and her hospitality was boundless. We enjoyed our long meals, and longer walks, with Susie and her family. She passed away peacefully in hospital surrounded by family and friends.



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