Well it’s some time since I last posted regularly so I thought dear readers I should update you as to how things are going and the answer, after a few hiccups, is very well. 🙂
Now not having retired before, especially early, once the incredible workload of moving house and furnishing the new one was over I felt as if I should keep busy. That was my first mistake as evidenced in my post “Keep My Toe Dipped In”!
I think that after so many years of getting up early and working for others, I found it almost impossible not to semi-replicate my life in England here in Wales, so agreed to work part-time for an IT consultancy and at the same time run Minecraft kids clubs post school.
Now I’m not denying that the attraction of earning again vs. just living off my multitude of pensions had an attraction, but given the state of our bank balances this was hardly the prime cause for lapsing back into work. Nope, it was the inability not to feel guilty about getting up when I wanted to, doing the things I (sorry Debs, we) wanted to do and when, including doing nothing!
Well, after a very short space of time after that post, my decision to do indeed that for as long as possible kicked in and the past month or so has been bliss. Let me give you a couple of examples.
One of my favourite papers here in Wales is the Abergavenny Chronicle. It’s an old fashioned broadsheet but full of local news & adverts, it was the latter that caught my eye a few weeks ago with a cruise round the UK (plus a short stop in France) visiting a number of places that I’ve always wanted to go including Tobermory, Stornaway (again), Shetland Islands (Orkney), Honfleur at the mouth of the River Seine, Guernsey’s St Peter Port and the Isles of Scilly before arriving back in Bristol.
The QE2 going to New York it’s not, but then this is our first cruise so we’re both “dipping our toes in the water” so as to speak but in a very different way – and together – I think the latter point is key. So from now on my golden rule is going forward, it sounds an interesting idea Peter, but can you do this with Debbie?
Yes – proceed, no – find something else to do!
Using this new “Shores model” Debbie and I took our first trip into London last weekend since the move, to see our daughter Emma who’s studying very hard at Roehampton for her PCGE and seems to be making great progress, we’d not seen her for ages and I am pleased to say the trip was very enjoyable. We also met up with our son Alex and his girlfriend Emily at the end of the day who are in the throws of house hunting together ( 😦 I feel for them!)
It started paradoxically with Debbie and I getting up at 6am and driving down to Cardiff’s Sophia Gardens coach station where we boarded the front of the National Express coach (NX 509) which at £51 return for both of us had to be a bargain. Believe it or not this was the first time we’d been on a coach together too in all our years together – 26 and counting for those that are interested.
The journey itself started at 7.45am and we arrived to park up on the pay and display car park right next to the coach park with 20 minutes to spare. Personally I loved it, apparently within 30 minutes I was snoring away next to Debbie and had to be nudged to avoid upsetting the driver and other passengers. A luxury on the M4 I have never experienced before in all the years of driving up and down its lanes!
We arrived about 11am a bit early as we didn’t have to stop and pick up more passengers at Newport but went straight through. Our driver had a bad cold and could be seen prising open a tin of extra strong mints every so often, tucking into some kind of cake, yawning which I have to say left Debbie a bit more concerned about our safety than I was pleased to be able to relax for once. More to say on that on the return!
After a short wait to meet up with Emma at Victoria railway station platform 7 (after we left a suitcase full of Christmas presents left luggage for £4 at the coach station) we headed off on a bus towards Leicester Square and a short walk into Chinatown for lunch at the Orient London Restaurant in Wardour Street. Very good it was too, lashings of Chinese tea, various dim sum dumplings, spring rolls, octopus and chicken in sweet and sour sauce we just couldn’t eat it all, despite my best efforts…
Gradually easing ourselves out of the restaurant we went back to the Christmas fair in Leicester square and onto (most unwisely in my opinion) a rather fast merry-go-round where Emma sat next to me on a bucking horse, rather incongruously I sat on what appeared to be a chicken, whilst Debbie was safely sat on a steady sleigh type vehicle behind us who took these shots.
During the ride I made Emma laugh but pretending to feel sick, although not too convincingly to myself as I was rather full. The ladies in my life however weren’t stopping at this and proceeded to go on the big wheel, rather smugly I declined and watched them as they disappeared high into the London air from where apparently they could see many landmarks including the Shard.
After all this excitement we decided to walk back across London via Buckingham Palace back to the coach station, pick up Emma’s presents and head for a Starbuck’s coffee shop to meet up with Alex and Emily. One gingerbread latte with cream later (I’m on a diet, just not one that relieves me of any weight) they arrived and we had an emotional reunion where Alex asked for my advice on a property the two of them had been to see earlier & I replied “buy it” sagely…
Our short sojourn into the capital was coming to a close, after some tearful farewells and a promise from Alex to see his sister onto a bus back to her student accommodation, we headed back yet again to the coach station for NX 509 back to Cardiff. Alas this time there was to be a stop at Newport, so our scheduled departure time of 16.30pm for an ETA of 19.55pm was unlikely to be shortened. We headed off on time into the London rush hour traffic, “safely” sat at the front of the coach again to the left of the driver.
This is where the fun began, I really can’t understand how these drivers thrive on such busy road traffic, but ours did it fine with only a few close shaves, but the real adventure was to come on the M4, where the cross-winds from Storm Desmond blew the huge coach to the left and right pretty much up the length of the motorway, only dying down a little as we crossed the Severn bridge into Wales.
Despite this we got back to the parked Galaxy safely and made our way back to Llanfoist. What a great day, but we slept like logs that night!