Early Days

Yesterday was the first day (officially) of my retirement. However, it was not totally disassociated from work, as there was to be an official luncheon. The IBM Hursley clubhouse had put on a beautiful spread for the buffet and I thank them for that. There weren’t as many attendees as might have been, had I retired a few years earlier. During last week I had already had a number folks say that they wouldn’t be able to make it due to work commitments or vacation. On the way out to Hursley I received a couple of texts from folks who would not be attending for a variety of reasons.

The main reason though, I think, is that due to the companies “restructuring” over the last few years I have out lasted many of my colleagues. Although the department in which I worked numbers over 150 folks, I have to say that I don’t know many of them and I’m guessing most of them would say the same of me.

During my thirty eight year career I have worked with many people spread across the whole company both in the UK and globally. While company restructuring (redundancies) will have seen off many of my UK colleagues, the recent shenanigans with the company pension scheme saw quite a few more leave or lose their benefits. More recently my working from home will have removed me from my local UK colleagues memory banks. And so latterly, but for a small core of UK-based folks, most of my work has been with people based in the US and Mexico.

I always find these kind of events to be a bit odd.  Some folks find it awkward speaking to colleagues about to leave. Perhaps some are a little jealous that the retiree has found a way out. For some it may be that their workload has increased as a direct result of the retirement.

Still, it was nice to exchange memories with those that did turn to. For some of them, I was already an “old hand” when they began as new hires. For at least one a black cloud settled in when he realised that after eighteen years he still had another twenty to go based on my time served, the realisation that he hadn’t even reached half way.

I have experienced many things during those 38 years. Been part of the explosion of computer technology. When I started there was no such thing as a personal computer. My career started working with display products where we saw the introduction of colour “dumb terminals”, the introduction of terminals with a microprocessor which allowed for “multiple partitions and scrolling”. Think windows before Bill G got started with Microsoft. Later I moved onto storage products where disk drives were huge and driven by washing machine motors. The first product that I worked on was a 850Mb drive which was around the size of a large suitcase, was a two-man lift and mounted in a rack. Back in the day, during a presentation on disk drive technology I remember someone stating that the target was to get costs down to $1 per megabyte. That was the target and recently I saw that the current costs are around $0.0000317 Now there are solid state drives and mechanical disk drives that you can put in your shirt pocket. Storage was where I finished last Friday.

Just one other point regarding my 38 years. I started at Hursley in 1977 and my first office was on the second floor of C Block. After having offices in just about every building on site, as well as two assignment stints down at the Havant manufacturing site, I have ended up back in C Block. One floor down. So 38 years and just a change in altitude.

From a technological standpoint I wonder if the next 38 years will be as dramatic for the folks that come behind me. I don’t understand the media excitement generated by the next iPhone or iPad and it  just leaves me cold. I guess it is not so physically obvious now, as technology marches onwards.

For me, retirement is both the end of an era and also the beginning of a new one.

Blenheim Revisited – The Inside Story

About a year ago I posted about our visit to Blenheim Palace, about our picnic in the grounds and posted a few snapshots from that day. Well we have been back, specifically to view the inside.

So I present for your delectation a few snaps from Saturdays exploration.

Starting us off is the head of Winston Churchill, possibly England’s greatest Prime Minister.

The Great Man
The Great Man

Some of the youngsters out there may not realise that Winston Churchill was the inventor of one of their current favourite favourites, the”onesy”. Of course it wasn’t called that back in the day. I present for you the “SirenSuit”

Churchill's "onesy" or SIren Suit
Churhills “onesy” or SIren Suit

Invented during time of war, designed to be pulled on over your bedclothes and worn when you had to dash to the air raid shelter.

Beautiful Dress

Below is the bedroom in which Churchill was born. Given the grandeur of Blenheim this room seems rather cosy by comparison.

Bedroom where Churchill was born
Ornate Clock
Frieze – Just one small selection of many
This small section is just a sample and this image cannot do justice to the skill and craftsmanship that went into creating Blenheim
Organ Pipes – belonging to the Willis organ, at the north end of the Long Library. It was installed by the 8th Duke in 1891 and is the largest privately owned organ in Europe.
A selection of ceremonial robes
I’ve forgotten what this is, but it is impressive
A Closer View
One of many statues looking down on the Great Hall. Carved, I believe by Grinling Gibbons
Windows – Great Hall – Blenheim Palace
Windows & Statues – Great Hall – Blenheim Palace

After touring the house we had a spot of lunch on the terrace, overlooking the water gardens.

Lunch on the terrace – Water Gardens at Blenheim
Water Gardens – Blenheim Palace
Water Gardens – Blenheim Palace

As luck would have it, our visit to Blenheim coincided with a Mediaeval Tournament which was taking place in the grounds to the South of the palace. We strolled across the lawns, being buffeted by the quite strong winds that had blown up. The tournament was a jovial affair, presided over by King Henry

King Henry VIII - Jousting at Blenheim Palace
King Henry VIII – Jousting at Blenheim Palace
Success – One ring captured
A little more difficult this time. The ring was tossed into the air, rather than hanging from the pole.
Acknowledging the applause
Starting to the gallop
Have at you sir !!!
The Salute
On my way !!!
A little bit of swordplay
A dastardly knave sent packing
Lap of Honour
Lap of Honour
Lap of Honour

After the excitement of the tournament we returned to the palace. New this year is ‘Blenheim Palace: The Untold Story’ an audio-visual trail through the history of Blenheim. It seemed a little disjointed at times but was very interesting although the theatre room left us a bit perplexed, not sure what they were trying to convey.

After a beautiful visit we set off for home but not before stopping at what is becoming a favourite of ours. The White Horse at Ampfield where we had a lovely meal. I would like to make a personal recommendation and that is, should you ever visit The White Horse, choose the Faggots. That is if they are on the menu. They are made by the butchers in the nearby village of Hursley. They are delicious and very filling.

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