Independence and Inaction

Billed as England's own Independence Day, July 4th was supposed to be a big occasion. As I understand it a few pubs got served with closure notices for failing to adhere to the requirements and a few more have closed subsequently because (surprise, surprise) Track and Trace has identified that people, who have since tested positive, were drinking in them.
In reality it seems that regaining our liberty has all been a bit of a damp squid with most people locally still preferring to stay at home, or venture out only with a mask on which, of course, makes socialising and patronising restaurants and public houses a little difficult.
The Government's coronavirus dashboard suggests that transmission in our district, which was always relatively low, has been pretty much non-existent for a few weeks now and it is, of course, easy to get succoured in to the idea that life is resuming as normal. Easy too to forget your guard and the benefit of that all important 2 metres distance (or i…

All's Well

I don't know why, other than that they make me smile, but it has become something of a convention for me to grow sunflowers at the back of my vegetable plot. Just over a week ago they began to bloom: the harbingers of summer.

It really is hard to look at them without feeling happy. Apparently they symbolise adoration, loyalty, longevity, good luck and even wisdom. Well if that doesn't bring you joy in retirement then I don't know what will.
For me they signify that all is well, or at least they would if the slugs hadn't attacked this one!

An Element of Surprise

One of the great joys of retirement for me has been to avoid, so far as possible, routine, revelling in flexibility and the potential for impetuosity and the opportunities that brings. Sadly, coronavirus and especially the restraints of lockdown have very much brought that previous way of living to a close, at least temporarily.
Somehow, routines have now crept into daily life and, a little like my days in the office, it's once again coffee at 11am and tea at 4pm. Mornings begin with a rigorous trawl of the newspapers online and then a Pilates session  to a YouTube video before pottering in the garden and, every evening, time is devoted to watering plants and shutting up the greenhouse for the night. Obviously there have been unexpected diversions with telephone conversations, walks through and around the village and the excitement of watching seedlings grow, flower and, as now, begin to bear fruit or rather vegetables.
However, and after more than 3 months, let's be honest it&#…


In the midst of the pandemic, the tenants at our rental property decided to flit back to their home country. Obviously it was probably a sensible decision from their point of view but as they left within a matter of hours of booking last minute flights, to say they left the house in an awful state would be an understatement. 
Needless to say it was several weeks before the managing agent could arrange for it to be cleared of the tenants' abandoned possessions and rotting food, as well as given a superficial clean. With the clear lockdown message to Stay at Home, there was little that we could do to assist.
Fortuitously, a month ago, new tenants were found and last week I spent my time between home and Nottingham where the property is located, redecorating and repairing as well as removing several layers of grease from the kitchen. Up and down step ladders, stretching and bending, even my Fitbit was impressed by the effort, especially as I managed 11 and 12 hour days.
The first trip d…

An Annual Introspection

Unbelievable! Six years ago today I left the world of work. It really was a different world and so long ago now that I can hardly recall it.
It has become something of a tradition for me to do a blog post on my progress moving through retirement as each anniversary has come around. A little reflection and a snapshot of where I have reached on my journey around this phase of life.
Looking back, it is interesting to see that a year ago I was referring to an aura of calmness that was creeping in, as finally I felt able to abandon the mad rush to go everywhere and do everything. Little did I realise that by neither design nor device, coronavirus would intervene and force me to slow down regardless. I guess it's lucky that I was just about ready for that.
Retirement: exploration of a new planet or a personal trek in the quest for happiness and fulfilment. I discovered fairly early that, despite my grasshopper approach, it's not as one might imagine a long bucketlist waiting to be tick…

Civic Duty or Not

I have received a letter inviting me to take part in a Covid-19 testing research study. It's being undertaken by Imperial College and Ipsos MORI on behalf of the Department of Health and Social Care and is intended to help the Government work out how many people have the virus in different parts of the country.

The letter actually reads like an invitation to enter a free prize draw: "We have chosen your name at random...Go to the website..Enter your details..If you sign up, we will send you a package.." Until you read the small print on the back and there it is in black and white: "The test...may cause some mild short-lived discomfort."

Now the dilemma this letter poses is, of course, threefold:
1. On the basis that I had a test only last week, will another one distort the testing figures that the Government proudly displays at its Daily Briefing?
2. Knowing how eye-wateringly uncomfortable the test is, could I actually administer it to myself properly?
3. Is it my …

Non-Essential Shopping

Non-essential shops re-opened today and, if the camera doesn't lie, people were queuing outside waiting for the doors to be unlocked. I stayed well clear, so cannot vouch for the accuracy of the reports.
Assuming that I understood the Chancellor correctly, he was actually urging us to get out there and spend in order to save British business and help arrest the economic decline. Yes, he was asking us to visit retail outlets branded as non-essential by the Government itself, in order to buy the goods which they sell and which, therefore, by definition we do not need.
Now that's a message that takes a little digesting. After all the bellicose rhetoric the Prime Minster in particular has been using, I thought, in the spirit of the 1940’s, we were very much required to "make do and mend". Didn't I replace my sewing machine specially? At least it will come in useful for making all those masks we have to cover our faces with, if using public transport to get to the shop…