Natalies Newsletter August 2003
  Dear Friends,

Late as usual, but this time for a very good reason – I have been waiting to give you all some great news of proposed short tours in many other countries, following the wonderful German and Austrian tour this year.

So many people have thanked me for their winning bets that Roger would be back on stage within three years – I wish they had let me have a percentage! So before I bring you up to date on the enormous Whittaker family, I will give you all Roger’s planned concert and record news.

At the moment, a tour of Ireland is planned for February 2004, followed by Canada in March into April. Most of the summer will be at home, but hopefully a tour of Scandinavia will follow in the Autumn The Spring of 2005 will see Roger back in Germany, with plans in the making for an Autumn tour of the USA. As soon as the venues and exact dates are set, they will be announced on the main menu of the Web site Those two years of "Retirement" showed Roger how much he wanted to write again, the touring having taken up so much time that he had neither the energy nor the inspiration to create. But as I said in my last letter he had wonderful time to help me with the rebuilding of the house, the moving etc., and discovering the joys of cruising the Shannon River, that runs past the bottom of our garden.

I am digressing into the ‘home’, not business news! So next we go on to the news of recordings and new album releases. Roger had recorded a "Live in Berlin" album (in German) which will be available after Christmas, but before that there will be a new German Christmas album.

Now I know that all the English speaking friends are upset and neglected by the lack of new material for them, but hold on…you are not forgotten! Roger is actually recording a new album as I write, with most of the songs written by himself and I will be taking it to the "Powers that Be" to plan releases in various countries, with Ireland being the launch, as he will be on tour here first! Hopefully other countries will follow suit and you can all hear the new material.

Apart from the new albums, BMG are planning a series of new compilations of so many songs , and whistling items that have been deleted from the current catalogue over the last years. Roger and I will be working with them closely to comprise a special set.

But most important of all is a final album entitled ‘BY SPECIAL REQUEST’ We are setting up a ‘voting box’ on the Web site for you to give you own Top Thirty best loved Roger Whittaker songs. We hope that as many of you as possible, from all over the world, will send us your requests so that it will truly be …. By special request! There are many other extras in the pipeline but until they are firmed up I can’t say too much, except we are planning a TV special that will also be available, after initial broadcasting, on DVD in 2004.

In the meantime Roger will be guest appearing in a series of special Christmas shows in Germany, which will be announced in the "Concerts" box of the Web Site. …I cant believe we are already planning Christmas I know that there are few programmes left from the German tour, (if you collect Roger memorabilia), and are available from Semmel Concerts, Nicole Letterst, Am Muelgraben 70, 95445 BAYREUTH, Germany or contact Nicole on e-mail - I believe the cost is 5 Euros, plus postage etc., so it would be best to get in touch with her direct as she has the weight and size information.

There will be a new programme in English available from February, on sale in concert venues, but also by mail order for those of you living in countries where he is not appearing. I will let you know in plenty of time As to what has happened in the family since I last wrote, the great excitement was Jessica and Ben getting engaged on…Valentines Day, here in Ireland, and the wedding will take place locally. No we are not inviting "Hello" magazine or any of those publications! It is going to be a really traditional but intimate affair with just family, godparents and very close friends – so that means 60 Whittakers and O"Briens before we even start with Ben’s family and friends from all over the world!!!! In other words ‘intimately’ chaotic in true family style.

So that is taking place at the end of May, and is followed within 7 weeks with Guy and Mette’s wedding in Denmark, and two weeks after that, our 40th wedding anniversary! When the children asked if we were going to have a party I nearly fainted. "Not after all the other celebrations" I said "I hope your Father will take me away on a long cruise!" but I have seen a wicked twinkle in Roger’s eye, and whispering amongst the children and him, so I fear that a "surprise" is in the offing…..just as long as I don’t have to do the cooking.

While Roger has been ensconced in his studio, I have spent the spring and summer, in between the business and office hours, working like a demon on the garden. As I told you, this place was previously a sheep farm, and except for a tiny patch of formal garden near the front door, the rest was fields and a an overgrown semi-walled garden. Well, I can tell you I have lost 23lbs. in weight (I could do with misplacing another 40!) digging, pulling and cutting back. I have created one Japanese Maple raised corner (which, you will find out, was a good move) I have cleared the old orchard, except for the 5 or 6 trees still bearing fruit, and planted 300 yards of espaliered apple, pear, and fig trees along the sun facing wall of the walled garden.. We had to get some very strong fellows to remove tons of old ivy, and then the bricklayer to repair the damage the ivy had done.

The foundations of the old "vine’ house were still visible, so a specialist firm called in to recreate an Edwardian vine house, which is overflowing with tomatoes, peppers, herbs, peaches, fig and apricots – next year I will be trying to re-create the actual vine pattern to help keep the sun rays to an acceptable level. It is such a sun trap that even with automatic shading it gets really hot.

I still have to complete the old Victorian greenhouse near the main garden, but hopefully that will be finished in time for planting for Winter salads herbs, and cuttings, aided by ‘Daylight’ lights and heating. It will also give me somewhere to get the sunlight so needed in the Irish winters.

All of the children except Lauren and Doc and the two small ones (Imogen and Alistair) came over for visits with Jessica and Mette comparing wedding plans, and the boys escaping from the topic, as fast as their legs could take them. We had a fantastic birthday three days, boating up the Shannon and staying at a wonderful small hotel at Lough Ree. I have to say the food was some of the best I have had anywhere in the world, and I definitely put back a few of the 23lbs. previously worked away.

Our children and grandchildren also came to meet the two new additions to the family – two delicious bulldog puppies, called Rough and Tumble (now known as Titch as she is so much smaller than him) We had such sadness when our beloved old Max died in June of a stroke. It was like losing a member of the family, and we phoned round the world to tell the children. They all cried with us.

His sister Millie, was beside herself with grief. She kept waiting at the top of the stairs at bedtime, to see if he was following, then crying quietly to herself. She was so depressed that we decided to risk getting two new babies. It was a wise decision as they romp endlessly, wearing each other out instead of pestering her, and yet she can be with them as an Seventy-seven year old aunt, to chastise or help when they need it. She occasionally tells them to ‘mind their manners’, but on the whole she has been an angel in accepting them. They adore her. They are, however, at 16 weeks, into everything, chewing anything in their path, to see if it is edible. I found myself having to put wire around so many of my plants that normally one doesn’t think of as poisonous, but are to puppies, and as I said, thanking the heavens that I had some inspiration to put the Japanese Maples in the raised bed, otherwise the trees would have been "pruned’ to death by now.

I had better finish now, and go and clear up the ruined bits of the garden. Then enjoy a romp and a cuddle with the little monkeys, and take a shower to get rid of the new seasons perfume - puppy breat.

Roger is really looking forward to seeing so many of you again. Keep writing - we love you letters - I run the weekly print outs for Roger to read when he finishes in the studio. I wish I could answer them all Take care of yourselves, and if I have any new news by Christmas I will update you, as will all the guys organizing the proposed tours and albums, so you have plenty of time to organize your seats and travel plans. All our love Natalie and Roger

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