Tetbury: On The Way To London

Last week, Long Suffering Wife (LSW) and I attended a social and shopping event at her place of work near Tetbury. It was nice to be invited (albeit, last minute), fun, and good to meet some of her work colleagues so as to put faces to names.

This week, LSW has shuffled her work hours to the start of the week so we can slip up to London for a couple of days. We’ll be staying in my previous Barbican flat while Eldest Son (ES) is away on a work trip to Helsinki.

I’m looking forward to that. I’m also looking forward to going to one of our favourite restaurants tonight (Campania), seeing old friends tomorrow, and then breakfasting at The Ned on Friday. Saving up our eating-out entertainments for these short bursts in London sounds good to me!

Meanwhile I have been dropped off in Tetbury while I wait for LSW to complete her final shift at work (and write this post) before we can leave for London.

View Of Tetbury From the South

Tetbury is a old wool market town. Today, it buzzes with antiques shops and (mainly) attractive, independent outlets. The main streets around the market house are lined with lovely aggregations of old houses and the town centre exudes a feeling of wealth.

Tetbury Church and Market House

The town is surrounded by pretty, rolling and well maintained countryside. However, there are some new and large housing developments on the edge of the town. They look well built and neat but are all faux Cotswold stone, small windows and packed in. Fortunately I found other vistas to enjoy with frosty ground below and clear blue sky above.

Walks Near Tetbury

Passing a few rather aimless hours in and around Tetbury has been very relaxing. Now on to London…

Getting Moving Again

The anti-climax since the trip to Australia via stops in Singapore and Hong Kong remains palpable. I miss the almost daily imperative of having to get from one location to another and to ‘tick off’ the sights. I just haven’t got fully back up to speed in getting to grips with the more mundane things in my retirement routine yet.

I am starting to get the to-do lists moving again but what has struck me in the last two weeks has been how fortunate I was to be able to retire in summer when the weather was much less of a constraint (and excuse) than it is becoming now. Also, a brief spell of illness last week reminded me of how lucky I have been to have been fit and well through the last 5-6 months.

In reality, I have no excuse not to get on with as much of my plans and to-dos as possible. I must, for example, restart my Italian for Absolute Beginners. I’m hoping I haven’t forgotten all I learnt in the first three units of the course!

I have been keeping up attendance at local music events. In the last week or so LSW and I have paid a couple more Sunday afternoon visits to a local bar (The Vault) which hosts a series of singers and small bands each week. We also made it to a venue we hadn’t tried before, the nearby Ruskin Mill College, and saw The Nordic Fiddlers Bloc. These are a triumvirate of fiddlers from The Shetlands, Sweden and Norway. They sustained a full evening of quality fiddling with a remarkable variety of styles and considerable talent. It was intimate, foot tapping and fun and I’ve signed up for more events of this type.

Ruskin Mill College - Nordic Fiddlers

Nordic Fiddlers Bloc Explaining Fiddles At Ruskin Mill College

Next week, LSW and I are in London for a couple of days. That should help shake me out of my relative torpor.

Managing the 1%

When Long Suffering Wife (LSW) and I were preparing for our recent holiday, and while we were on it, we relied hugely on the internet. We used it to guide us on which motel, apartment or AirBnB to rent, which restaurant to try, what sights to see and how to get to all these places. We were even able to continue our routine of doing the daily Guardian Quick Crossword together albeit this was on an iPhone in rooftop bars, coastal cafes or craft beer emporiums rather than with a pen and paper over a cuppa in our kitchen as per our previous norm. Like so many other parts of life, the internet has transformed holiday making.

View From the Great Ocean Road

Gratuitous Picture from the Great Ocean Road (Just Because the Trip was so Marvellous)

Google Maps made it so easy to plot our drive around Northern New South Wales and along the Great Coast Road but it was especially useful in getting us to places we were interested in in the cities we visited. Youngest Son (YS) showed us around most of Brisbane so Google Maps came into its own for us most in Melbourne.

It wasn’t all plain sailing however. For the first day or so there I found myself constantly questioning what Google Maps was telling LSW about which way to go. LSW was getting the direction consistently right using the internet and my Geography Degree sense of direction was getting increasingly frustrated. Finally, on the second day in Melbourne, I worked out that I was always wrong because I had forgotten that the sun was in the north not the south. Doh!

The other main challenge was managing the level of battery in our phones that we used to access the internet for all sorts of purposes during the day. My challenge was particularly acute – though self-inflicted – as I used my phone to keep my position in a couple of computer games up to date and tried to capture Asian-only Pokemon. LSW did allow me to use her remote charger but you can imagine that I got little sympathy. Either way, we both spent much of most days checking battery levels and wondering how long the last 1% would hold out.

I think we will transfer our holiday mode of operation to our next trip to London. Rather than rely on increasingly out of date memory, we will use the internet more to guide us to the best places for breakfast or the top 5 things to see now and so on. That may uncover some surprises even after 40 years of living there.

And I’m putting a remote phone charger on my Christmas present list!

Post-Holiday Lull

It’s been about ten days since LSW and I returned from our trip to Singapore, Australia and Hong Kong. The logistics of our holiday were such that we changed location 17 times in 27 days. There was almost always something significant planned for the next day – either a move to the next place or a bit of interesting tourism or both. The holiday flights and accommodation were pre-booked and so there was no option but to get on with it. Fortunately the plans all worked out perfectly (until the train returning us home from London was delayed – typical!) and the holiday turned out to be tremendously exciting and enjoyable.

Since our return, it has taken a while for me to get used to the lack of imperative to do anything. It has almost felt like retiring for a second time.

It was such a joy not to have had a mountain of work email and meetings to attend following the holiday. But the absence of any tasks, meetings or instructions set out for me on my return felt almost as strange as it had done when I first retired from work in July.

That is not to say that I haven’t done quite a lot since returning. I got back just in time to see Forest Green Rovers win and have seen them play twice more since. LSW and I have increased our understanding of our community by attending meetings on the local town’s climate change action plan and the local council’s housing strategic review. We have sampled the local pub’s Curry Night (very yummy) and I attended the village Men’s Night (and acquired my first hangover in months).

LSW and I also went to the newly opened The Marshall Rooms and saw an interesting and impressive band called Syd Arthur. The venue has a long history – apparently the Beatles played there in the 60s – but has required a complete refurbishment. It is part owned by Keith Allen who lives locally and is famous for his roles as Sheriff of Nottingham in the film of Robin Hood and in Game of Thrones. It’s great that he is investing his success back into the local community.

Syd Arthur at The Marshall rooms

Syd Arthur at The Marshall Rooms

Slowly, my routines are falling back into place as they were before our holiday. The daily walks into Nailsworth are autumnal now of course, but still very pleasant. The availability and digestion of the Guardian in hard copy and completion of the Quick Crossword with LSW has resumed its place in my day.

Above Nailsworth

Layer of Wood Smoke Over Nailsworth

Also, Christmas is coming. That will bring a new diversion and dimension as our sons return to us. I’m looking forward to that but also think that LSW and I will have to start planning another trip soon!