Thursday, 30 June 2016

and now for something completely different

So its done , Its Thursday but I have been excused and I am glad because I feel emotional sat here and I would be worse if I was there. I was asked what I really wanted as a leaving gift . I said I wanted some way to do the things I had to do wherever I was in the world and to keep in contact. That I wanted something small with a keyboard and a mouse cos I am crap at touch screen stuff . Also my eyesight's not what it was , something light to carry with me. From the moment I said it I thought that was unreasonable and the next day offered 'realistic' options. Well I have had 11 very good years at Gist with great people and they proved it again . My leaving gift is...

and something to transport it in and a customised card with a million farewells what a day.

BUT even better than that , and as good as being able to keep in contact , are a load of videos which my friends have made to say goodbye . brings home what I have given up . We must move on but its good to be able to look back and not regret a moment of it.

Monday, 27 June 2016

End of days

Retirement Thursday !! Many many people have said I bet you are counting down the days ? I explained not , that at my age the days would pass quickly enough and so it is on Thursday I finish in a world in chaos . I have been asked what I will do with my time . This first year will be a busy time so much to do . When I started work the world was an ordered place in which some things were cast in stone and one of those was at 65 you retired. You took what ever pension you were entitled to and either settled to an equable life or you found some part time job to eck out you years. Now retirement is a choice , you have to choose to retire . You have to resign. You have to decide what to do with your 'pot' . The number of people who have asked me how I feel because they are approaching the same time in their life and face the same decisions. They have the same doubts the same worries the same hopes Anyway for good or bad, and like brexit, the decision is made and I must live with it .

I have been throwing away all the accumulated papers from my working life. Course's taken , promotions earned , decisions made good times and stressful  times all there in a bundle of paperwork and it all comes down to a recycling bin . It seemed important at the time.

Brown Paper Parcels wrapped up in string

Contrarywise one of the things I will miss most about Gist (apart from the money) is the people. Everyone says it but they have been and are the best I have worked with. Below is what one friend got me to commemorate my leaving . The real gift here is the effort he put into thinking it all out and getting it.

I am nor quite as old as he thinks I am , but then I am not as young as I think I am either. Often I catch an unplanned glimpse of myself in a shop window and wonder who that old bloke is.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Promise Promises

Nigel Farage  who said we paid 350 million a week to the EU now says its a mistake . He says 'They' made a mistake saying that . He tried to fob the interviewer off by changing the subject . We can believe everything else he promised though I am sure , he has such a nice smile.

Friday, 24 June 2016

We are out

24/06/2016 and at six o'clock in the morning the UK voted to Leave the EUC. There was accusations of scare mongering by the remain camp and promises of the millions given to Europe being spent in this country on the well anything the leave campaign thought would get them votes. They spent the millions several times over and assumed we would still have the millions .
Well now we will see what was threats and what was fact.
It bothers me that Nigel Farage and the types of people who support him have their way and that in General it is the far right across Europe who are pleased with the result. For me it started when Europe expanded expedentially way way beyond the original vision and let in more and more countries whose values were not our values and people in this country felt overwhelmed . So I am retiring into a changed world where some of my hopes and aspirations may no longer be viable

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Suprise Suprise

My wife had for months been saying she was having a garden party . A thing long looked forward to (by her) but unable to happen because she 'didnt want anyone to see the state of our garden'. I cant say I ever understood this as our friends had seen the garden and true friends dont judge anyway. Nonetheless whatever the difference the party was arranged. It turned out in part to be my retirement party. Slightly embarrassing when friends turned up with gifts , cards and mementoes , unexpectedly.
 Afterwards I am always left with the feeling I could have said something better , shown more appreciation , or given the kind of speech that only happens in films and which would express how I actually felt and not the embarresed mumblings I manage on these occasions..

I get the garden ready , we were not trampolining , it is my granddaughters. I now have 2 beautiful granddaughters. One only a few weeks old . If she has the personality of her elder sister I will be even more of a proud grandfather than I am now

 Why an Australian flag ? The Union Jack is in Spain, we only have this. We would have flown both as a mark of past and future hopes and to acknowledge the cosmopolitan nature of my family and it far flung connections
Part of the preparations were to build the dining room table. I take it apart as we don't use it generally. It is an aluminium  and glass construction. There is a central boss to which you attach the arms and legs and on which the glass top sits.

I dropped one of the legs on my foot

This picture does not I feel do it justice , half my foot is bruised. I dont think it is aluminium , it must be reinforced steel judging by the pain it inflicted.

this looks somewhat pathetic , we had more people than this I promise , but they were scattered , my wife incorporated a house clearance in with the general eating and drinking and several guests were sorting through items we wanted them to have (a nes for some of my sons friends).

People keep asking me how I feel about retirement. I find this a little suprising until I think about it. It is a step we all will face one day ,or, it is a decision we will all have to make one day and there are so many elements to stopping work , you are after all voluntarily making yourself unemployed and I am a belt and braces sort of person , down to having extra belts and braces on standby lest the ones I have fail , so how do I feel - Nervous..

 Not my granddaughter but my friends granddaughter , the ladies of my house consider it impolite to be on time , my daughter her husband and my granddaughters are yet to arrive. Below the proud Grandfather of the grandchild that was present.


Harry inspects my clearing up

Saturday, 11 June 2016


Just found out Spain is the epicentre for gin production and consumption.Not only that but there are nearly twenty types of gin on sale in most Spanish Bars and accompanied by a variety of mixes. Apparently the spanish are such dedicated gin drinkers that they are happy to experiment to find the ultimate gin experience.This has passed me by. I have never entered a spanish bar and thought this is a gin palace , here is a bar dedicated to gin and all things gin related. I cant even recall a Spanish person or any person apart from me having a gin. I , if pressed would say that the bar staff looked slightly suprised when asked for a gin.
I had beleived gin to be an archetypal british drink , in fact I would go further and say a English beverage. We have G&T , Pink Gin , Gin and Ginger beer , even gin and ginger ale (see Travelbetter for a gin trip around the Bombay Gin Distillery ) so I am surprised.I will in due course fetch up in spain and I will investigate this story very closely and in as much detail as I can.

Couldn't wait until I get to spain so I googled it. All true . Apparently they love to experiment with mixers.  G&T and star anise is one combination , garnish is also a big thing there they use peppercorns and mint and nutmeg , they serve it with lots of ice in balloon type glasses and brew 30 types of there own . Even tonic the drink of empire they seem to predate us on and the wife of the consul of Peru fell ill and was revived with quinine. They love or prefer fever tree tonic. How have I missed all this ? What was I doing in each bar , why was the supermarket not overflowing with gin and gin related products , I am agog (not that white ORC in the somewhat mangled Hobbit franchise) but open mouthed in wonderment . I calls for investigation ..

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Old world new world

This follows on from our day on the Chagres . Whilst waiting to board the boat we did this 

not this

but this

and saw this

its blurred because I was in such a rush afraid of missing it

A clearer picture a native hunter and in the back ground a cruise ship

Chargris River

We took a trip

There into the forest bordering the canal. there is a sloth hiding in this tree

I think the guide was sayin you can make everything you need  from this plant and you can  eat it something like that I was more distracted by the soldier ants marching by

That dark thing by the sandbank is a crocodile. I said it was a jungle and don't forget the canal and all those ships are not to far behind me whats that about civilisation and one meal , mind you on a cruise ship a meal is the main reason some of these people go. At least that's the way it seemed to me .

I think there is a line of soldier ants behind this plant , cant think why I took the picture otherwise

This may not look much but this is one of the most evocative pictures I have ever taken. The first attempt at the canal was the scots of all people , more an overland route than a boat trip. Fast forward a few hundred years and the French had a go. Ferdinand de Lesseps of Suez canal fame . For many reasons one of which was malaria the attempt failed the company went broke de Lesseps ended up in prison and here is the worst bit  - thousands died trying to dig the canal. The reason this picture is so evocative is because the bit of water you can see through the trees is the end of the French canal thousands died to get here and then it stopped.

more ants probably

a jungle trail


and onto the river , there were monkeys in the trees screeching and chattering 

and I was enjoying myself 

but it began to rain

Not unnaturally it being a rain forest it began to rain

Our fellow travellers complained , they demanded for the trip to end and to be taken home. Only my wife and I the only  Brits on the trip wanted to go on ,

we were out voted , we made them wait whilst we chatted to the locals which annoyed the other tourist as they were afraid they were missing lunch (honestly) so we had to go and it was a great shame. I think they thought it would be like a Disney tour and when they had to walk and get wet they moaned. I still find it unbelievably that you would pay for the canal trip , pay again to see one of the worlds great rivers , to have all that history all that grandeur and to want to go because its raining. They (everybody else on the tour and there were 3 buses)  complained to the Captain !! Next day he came on the Tannoy and said I have had complaints that it rained on yesterdays tour , its a rain forest , it rains , get over it , two  lonely Brits were heard to cheer .
Thing is though I wont ever do this again and because of a selfish bunch of overweight spoilt brats we had to miss out, I should have complained.

When we got back we couldn't get on the boat until it was at a place where you can board so I took these pictures to show how tight it all was

if I ever win the lottery , an event looking ever less likely , I will take another cruise only this time I will have one of these cabins.

We see some friends , before the cruise we weren't friends , we didn't know each other, we were all on the same table for dinner and we became friends. Really good company. The thing is and although its a boat for someone you know to be standing on their balcony looking out just as you are walking along the canal in the middle of Panama in a jungle on a journey you have looked forward to for months is somehow strangely exciting and unexpected and I don't know why .

followed by the it is them moment 

Just to show how steep the slope the tugs climb

see told you it was close but even though we could have stepped on board we had to join the boat later

we get closer

It looks doesn't it like some grand hotel and its frontage and not a canal with a boat going through it.