View From The Conservatory


Well, not really the view from the conservatory. More about what’s been happening in the garden, supported by a couple of photo’s.

We have had a couple of really nice days, blue skies and sunshine that have spurred us on to set about tidying up the garden. Not of course without having a spot of breakfast out on the deck. Whilst we were having our breakfast the fellow below was obtaining his.

PeanutThief

Great Tit

This Great Tit was helping himself to the peanuts. Access had been made very easy due to the large hole the squirrels had made in our “squirrel proof” feeder. Of course I don’t begrudge him the peanuts, I don’t mind that the squirrels managed to break into feeder. My only objection is that I paid good money and that the manufacturer claimed that it was squirrel proof. I guess their product testing didn’t take into account that juvenile squirrels are small and that their head and shoulders could get through the same gaps that birds use. Oh, and that squirrel teeth must be diamond tipped as they can quite happily gnaw through steel mesh.

So back to work. Having finished our breakfast I set about a serious pruning of our apple tree. The level of my attack is such that, for the tree, it is a case of  sink or swim. I’m pretty sure there won’t be any apples this year. But I am sure, assuming the tree survives, that we will be in full production for future years. The label on the tree when we planted it said the variety was Egremont Russet and that the harvest period would be late September / October. Once the tree got into its stride, it always produced hundreds of fruit. Not that we ever managed to harvest many. The local wildlife always got there first.

First would come the squirrels. Did I mention we have squirrels ? They don’t wait for fruit or nuts to ripen. As soon as they can they are there, chomping on the green apples. Again I wouldn’t mind but I noticed they were a bit free and easy with my crop. They would grab an apple, eat half, toss the uneaten half and go get another.

Later, as the year progressed and the fruit ripened, along come the Blackbirds. They like to peck their way around the tree. They don’t eat whole apples either, just peck their way into the core then leave the apple to rot on the tree.

Finally, there are the wasps. Now these crafty blighter’s start on the really ripe apples. They seem to deliberately choose the side nearest the main trunk of the tree. Which means I couldn’t see what they were up to. I have lost count of how many apples I went to pick only to find an empty skin, still retaining the original shape. Hanging like a chinese lantern.

So this year they are all in for a shock. No apples.

Mr Robin, picture below, was very vocal during my pruning actions.

Robin

Robin

I haven’t seen any Robins eating apples but I am pretty sure they enjoy the various bugs on the tree so he was probably berating me for cutting back on his food supply.

So having decimated the apple tree, I turned my attention to cutting back the Jasmine. This was something we planted a few years back. It steadfastly refused to grow where I wanted it to go, ignored the trellis installed especially for it. That is until high winds broke said trellis causing it to hang down. The Jasmine immediately climbed aboard and smothered the trellis. The most amazing thing is that, somehow, a new clump of Jasmine self set about seventy-five feet away from the original plant and set about clambering over everything in sight. Rose bushes, Lavatera, Sweet Pea sticks and the back fence have all been fair game.

The trouble with trimming this stuff back is the way in which it twines itself around other plants. You can’t just set to, hacking and slashing, but have to unravel all of the vines, which can be a bit painful around the rose bushes which are well endowed with large thorns. We also found some sneaky brambles lurking in amongst the Jasmine vines. The spines on brambles are, I find, infinitely worse than rose thorns. Needless to say, I have several scratches and puncture wounds to show for my troubles.

All of my efforts have been overseen by Masher from his vantage point in the bird bath.

Masher

Masher

He’s called Masher as that was his previous function. He is a spud basher extraordinaire. However he was damaging our saucepans, so he was evicted from the kitchen and now spends his time trying to intimidate the pigeons who come for a drink. They don’t seem to care about his evil eye so he has become redundant as a bird scarer.

As I said, we’ve had a couple of really nice days. On the second day I took advantage of the fine weather to start another project, the laying of a base for the BBQ.

I am cheating somewhat, having purchased a few square metres of interlocking plastic shed base. The idea is that having roughly levelled the ground, I will position the plastic interlocking tiles on the prepared ground. Then a cement mix will be poured over the whole, filling the spaces in the tiles and providing a level base for the positioning of patio slabs. That’s the theory anyway. At this point I have levelled the ground and positioned the interlocking  plastic tiles.

Arry

Arry

Also keeping a watchful eye on my activities was Arry the Ant. I think he could tell I was getting a little overheated and offered a refreshing drink of water.

The BBQ base has not been completed, unfortunately, it has rained all day today so the final stage, the cement and laying of the patio slabs has been deferred.

Perhaps tomorrow, for now I have aches in places I didn’t know existed. But I do have a sense of having achieved something. The garden is looking tidier.

RRB

That Robin Again

Oh and something else, people keep asking me how I am enjoying retirement. Well over the last couple of days I have come to realise that I am liking it just fine. Being able to do stuff when you want to, being able to sit out in the sunshine having breakfast or lunch on a weekday seems to good to be true. But after all, that’s what I worked 38 years for.

 

It’s All Ours


Whooohooo !!! As of today we now own our home. What I mean by that is we have paid the final installments of our mortgage. This is just about a year ahead of the target date and all made possible by retiring and grabbing my pension pot.

Of course, that’s not the whole story, as we are having the conservatory rebuilt and there are staged payments to be made on that. So I suppose we only really own the original bricks and mortar, as built by Barratts.

Earlier today I spoke to the bank to confirm the last payments had been received and was informed that we would get a letter of confirmation sometime next week. The disappointing news is that we will not be receiving the deeds to our house. Modern times and everything is handled electronically. The bank just informs the Land Registry that our mortgage has been paid and the title is formally transferred into our names. Still, I suppose that means I don’t have to find a safe place for such a valuable document, or have to pay for its safe keeping by the bank.

My wife got very excited knowing that the mortgage has gone but for me there is just an immense satisfaction and a sense of relief knowing that I haven’t got to make that huge monthly payment any more. Knowing, also, that the only regular call on my monthly pension is going to be the utilities, council tax and normal living expenses. All other expenditure will be entirely voluntary.

I think we might crack open a bottle of something cold and sparkling to celebrate. Let the party begin.

Work Lag


We are all familiar with the term “Jet-Lag” and many of us have experienced the effects during our all too short vacations in distant lands. This is where our body clock insists on waking us up at our normal home country times despite the fact that we are currently the opposite side of the world. Worse still it prevents us from getting to sleep after a full day doing touristy things.

Well I have discovered a similar effect now that I have retired.

No matter that I don’t have to get up to go to work. Despite the fact that we have disabled all alarm clocks and the alarm functions on phones and computers.

My body clock is insisting that I wake up at 07:00 every day and, since I am one of those people who cannot stay in bed once I am awake, I am typically up and about by 07:30 which was my normal time to rise when I was working.

I have tagged this effect as “Work-Lag”

Many folks have said the effects will wear off.  My sister retired quite a few years ago and she is still waking before 06:00 every day. There is always an exception that proves the rule. Some folks have suggested that the inability to lay-in is a form of guilt. Well we can discount that one after over 45 working years.

I am looking forward to the day when I can have a guilt free lay-in.

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.

The Wild Ride Has Started


I have retired.

I am now un-employed.

My last day in the office was Friday but, I guess officially, I didn’t become truly un-employed until midnight last night.

Today is pension pay day since my old employer pays on the 6th of the month and the pension is continuing thst theme. So I was glad to see that the money has gone into my account.

You may think that I shouldn’t be surprised but you would not believe how difficult the HR and Pensions folks made it for me to leave.

I have one last work related task to do and that is to attend a farewell lunch / buffet at the clubhouse today.

So not too onerous a task, he says with a huge grin.

And then its on to the wild ride and the rest of my life.

And So The Journey Begins


One of the major topics of conversation during the latter weeks of 2014, for me at least, has been retirement.

In June of this year I will achieve the grand old age of 63. This is significant, as that is the target retirement age defined in all my company pension bumf.

I started with the company back in July of 1977. This is also the year that I got married. So, when I retire

  •  I will have been employed by the company for 37 years and 11 months.
    and
  • I will have been married for 37 years and 6 months

1977 was a momentous year. It was the year I left the comfort of working for the MOD where I had worked for the previous 8 years. Starting first as a Fitter & Turner Apprentice in the training center at Flathouse Quay, then as a qualified Fitter & Turner working “afloat” in HM Royal Dockyard, Portsmouth. Finally, after a 6 months training course at Priddys Hard, as a Ratefixer Planner based in RNAD Frater, Gosport.

After an acrimonious year I left to join IBM as a Technical Analyst. I had no idea what one of those was, but it really didn’t matter. So long as I was out of Frater. Later that year, Christmas Eve, I got married at Portsmouth Registry Office. And here we are 37 years later, still together, and about to embark on a huge adventure.

Today, I received notification of my pension start date. Rather, I got asked the question, am I going to retire or carry on working.

I, of course, have responded that I am going to retire. The next stage of my life journey is definitely underway and I feel like I am just reaching the top of the Pepsi Max Big One.About to plummet down towards Blackpools Pleasure Beach.

Whooohooo !!!