The Pig Yard

November 09 - This month has been the start of a new life of retirement for Steve and of course his sudden freedom has also had a significant impact on Jane's life because up until now Jane has felt free do as she wishes whilst Steve was at work and although that is still true there is now a conflict to carry on in this way or to change what she does to spend time with Steve. We shall resolve this in time as we both settle and find how we can accommodate each others need for self identity and space.

As a result of Steve having more time he will be doing a section of his own each month containing thoughts, commentary and general musing on "stuff".

Steve was desperate to get into his retirement and so in the first week he and Dave took time out to walk around Pitsford Reservoir. It was overcast and drizzled from time to time but it didn't stop them setting a good pace and completing the 7 mile circuit in just over one and half hours.

The weather didn't stop a brave sailor taking his dinghy for a quick trip up and back again. There was a reasonable wind and so it didn't take too long to reach the downwind end of the reservoir. Who knows this could be Steve next year once he's decided whether it's something he really wants to do.

The weather has got colder during the month and because Steve has more time on his hands it means he can keep the bird feeders well filled. In the past they might run out and not get filled for a week or two but that has all changed. Not only we get through more bird seed we shall also be using more tea bags now that Steve is at home.

The frequency of tits and sparrows visiting is increasing and we hope that it will become the birds favourite diner during the winter months.

when Dave & Lucie were planning their year in the spring they had an idea to visit Northern Cyprus to decide whether it is somewhere they would like to buy a retirement property. They knew someone who had a property that was available to rent for a week so we suggested that we would come along too. The idea was that it would help Steve to relax into his new life of retirement and also give us some sunshine in the depths of November when the days are growing shorter and the weather can be generally wet, cold and miserable.

For more pictures and highlights click here...

Cyprus is a fascinating island with a history of invasion from various quarters including Venetian princes. It does have a strong Greek influence however it is geographically closer to Turkey than Greece.

In 1974 after some perceived inequalities for the Turkish residents, Turkish troops landed in northern Cyprus and fought their way into one third of the island thus dividing the country in two. Since 1974 the north has not been recognised as a legitimate state and therefore no goods or services are allowed to enter or leave directly to any country within the European Community.

We had to fly into Larnaca airport in southern Cyprus and then get a taxi through the border to the north. The journey between the divided island displays clearly the discrepancy of investment in the two parts. The south has new roads, industry and very modern buildings whereas the north has poor roads and is not far off a third world country.

It is common knowledge that the more accidents occur in the home than anywhere else. One month into retirement and Steve is trying to prove this right. His most embarrassing incident was when, after allowing the ashes to cool for an hour, he then placed them in the wheelie bin. When Jane arrived home from work at lunchtime she looked out the kitchen window and innocently asked why there was smoke coming out of the bin. Panic ensued with Steve filling up buckets of water from the tap and Jane using watering cans to put out the fire.

Of course the wheelie bin was a little misshapen to match Steve's damaged reputation. The wheelie bin has been replaced thanks to South Northants Council and the old bin will be used as a leaf compost bin.

Now the horse has bolted Steve has managed to shut the stable door by finding an old army surplus ammunition box (made of metal) and all future warm ashes will be placed in the box before going anywhere near plastic recycling bins.

Steve says:

This is my opportunity to comment on events now that I've got a bit more time. Firstly retirement is proving to be ok but weird. Nothing I do now is of major significance but of course that is a relative term anyway. What I did as Head of IT at Northamptonshire County Council was nothing compared to, for example, the changes that Sir Stuart Rose (Chief Executive M&S) introduced to Marks and Spencer's (another retiree).

One of the things I vowed to do was to make sure the pigyard web pages went out on time however this is still proving difficult because there's so much to do and of course Jane is busier than ever so her contributions take a while to be developed and included.

Having more time gives me time to read the Times newspaper every day. It was interesting to read the experiences of the writer of Purple Ronnie who goes under the alias of Edward Monkton. He has produced a cartoon that is designed to lift one out of depression - it works for me so try it for yourself by clicking here...

November has been a challenge to get the best from my retirement lump sum and I received poor service from our bank Santander (formerly Abbey) who made it difficult to shift money between different financial institutions on-line. Eventually we achieved what we were trying to do and the bank sent a letter of apology and a hamper so we feel better and won't be moving accounts for the time being.