“November Reflections”

Ten months since I “retired” time has flown by, my days are full but less pressured by 10 or 20 issues a day.  Now it’s more like one or two things at a time, but I still feel busy and productive.

Getting into a routine has been the most difficult thing.  Then again, maybe I don’t need one – perhaps that’s just a thing of the past – the old way.  Maybe I should just let the river of time flow naturally, but it will take some while to learn how to do that.

It’s been a golden time of opportunity to explore new avenues and forge new partnerships:-

Retirement Villages in Spain


Wood Turning

UK Retirement Housing


Initially, a brief and interesting peek into a new world, albeit with a strong British ex-patriot overlay.  The draw of a warmer sunny climate and an easy going lifestyle, accompanied by a whole new culture of working.  There is a definite need to fill a gap in the Spanish ex-pat retirement market, but it’s far from a straightforward transfer of a UK Housing Model, and the economic downturn doesn’t help at all.  It’s a fascinating challenge ??


Writing is in my head – I had just forgotten.  Soon after I went to university at Sheffield to study architecture in 1966, I thought about giving up architecture to become a writer.  A hopelessly romantic notion that I was easily persuaded out of by a very brief conversation with the Professor of English Literature – William Empson.  His lectures were so interesting that they were attended by people like me who were not even on his course – a fascinating man.

So nearly fifty years later – pen-in-hand, we will find out if I can be a writer in a new world of blogging.  Step one – turn on the computer and put down the pen.  Not really, I still prefer paper and pen, but I have no option but to embrace the keyboard and cyber space.  The internet opens up a new universe of information and opinions which are an everyday (or at least every week) treasure trove to be explored.  One of the best things has been linking up with my son Tom who is adding colour to my blogs with his cartoons.  We definitely share the same sense of irreverent humour.  I have no idea where this will lead but it’s good fun and something I think will last.

Wood Turning

I have always loved the look, feel and smell of wood ever since my early childhood days spent playing in my grandfather’s building yard.  I can remember my father with a huge band saw cutting up oak tree trunks that were later made into coffins.  Later dad and some of his brothers would swap their overalls for bowler hats and tail coats and set off in my uncle’s hearse to act as bearers at funerals in Abergavenny.  Several years later I was shown how to use a lathe by my Uncle Den.  He was a very talented carpenter who could turn his hand to anything.  Every year at Christmas he would surprise us with a wonderful beautifully crafted wooden box or piece of furniture he had made.  I wish I had half of his ability.

I had not done any woodwork since I left school but I was inspired to take it up in my retirement by seeing some of the excellent turned work of Bill O’Neil, a resident at Lovat Fields Retirement Village.  Sadly Bill passed away recently but he had set me on a course to take up wood turning which I very much thank him for.  I was fortunate to find Bill Hart in another retirement village – St Crispin in Northampton.  Bill is not only a skilled craftsman but also a very good teacher.  He has given a lot of his time and much encouragement.  Thanks to him I have found a completely new hobby which I very much enjoy, although I feel I have at least six more years of apprenticeship before I can properly call myself a wood turner.

Retirement Housing

Last but not least, I still have an abiding interest in housing for older people and I was delighted recently to be appointed as a Non-Executive Director of Hanover Housing.  They are a long established Housing Association who provide accommodation for over 30,000 retired people throughout England.  They have a very friendly and positive staff team who are enthusiastic about working with their residents.  This is a fresh challenge for me and I will work hard to make a contribution to the Board.

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3 Responses to “November Reflections”

  1. google says:

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  2. Ah! I have found you out, dreaming of retirement, and what one may do? Well as ‘one old bag of wind to another’ i suggest a bleather?
    In ones younger days did you live by a railway line? were you a sad anorak? I was living near appely bridge railway station, and it was my joy to spot a double header belting out steam and smoke on the upline and down line (North and southbound ‘Thames Clyde Express’s’ )as they bustled about their business. (LMS railway stock and as often not the more glamerous 4.6.2’s of the East Coast main line, But every day workhorse 4 4 0’s some named others just plain compound engines.)
    All this anorak stuff from this wind bag, i dreamt romance, then I became a later day teenager and wished to travel, be educated, and all the time be paid at the same time. Here the story gets sad?
    I wished to be an engineer of sorts ( Not a captain with gold braid) {(Not licerisceos allsorts -(Bassett – Loakes?)} Get the joke, anorak humour my fellow windbag.
    I dreamt of polyanesan travels and sand beaches in the pacific, a uniform and girls galoree. I am a sad thing I joined an oil tanker company, saw the middle east and camels plus a few arabs, and nw europe and the meddi,the extent of my dreams.
    However life progressed and then after a normal working life, I came to retirement, and some vision of a future living called Extracare Chartity Trust: Molly and I were hooked, and we are still here today. However some old mysterioud chap named JOHN and his staff provided this vision of Extracare Retirement VIllage living, and then he retired, and became a blogger on Smiles and Grumbles, who one is encouraged to banter and joust with. John’s a good chap, a fair minded windbag, and devotes his time to the elder generation and their well being, and then bloggs on this site to enlight all those who see the LIGHT? or can stand the windy stories he may wish to tell. I have never asked but it must be his birthday soon or soonest, so this scallyway and racounteur wishes to wish JOHN happy birthday, and best wishes and regards to his family.
    By the way the one engine Train spot that got away from me was the unamed streak ( Streaks-These were classified as A4’s) Class W20?- It was a one off experimental engine i think. A greasly 4 6 4 with water tube boiler.
    So John you are not my unamed streak, but I will consult my (Still With Me ) Ian Allen spotters book for a suitable name for you: For the time being a stanley Black 5 the workhorse of LMS between the wars and after WWII. Happy Birthday EMFV?

  3. My own ‘Puffing Billy’ Here we are in our PJ’s looking at the screen. I have that Name for you a Sir Walter Scott Character ‘Hal o’ Wynd. He was a free lancer and a filler in in a punch up between Clan Cameron and Another Clan MC Clay? I cannot make who wonn but the name suggests a good chap to me full of scottish wind. The ‘Locomotive was a the name of an engine A1 Class Gresley Pacific No 60114’ with the LNER,a passenger flyer for all reliable services! So rest easy my friend and do have a happy birthday.

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