After seven months, I finally have a routine – of sorts. When we first arrived in France and started to settle into a new way of life, one of the things that was hardest to adjust was our waking up time. It all started off well, with jumping out of bed at a reasonable hour (for retirees) and getting on with emptying out the boxes that were strewn all over the house. Making the place presentable for our first visitors was paramount and we achieved most of what we wanted to do by the time they arrived on the doorstep in late October. Not perfect but acceptable. After that, the rot set in. As we had done so much in the first couple of months, we had that invisible ‘Didn’t we do well’ sign hovering over our heads. Jobs slipped and we suddenly realised that it was often midday before we actually managed to achieve anything that wasn’t heaving ourselves out of bed and having breakfast.
“Enough!” we cried. It made sense to have some of the morning to do be able to go out in, since the shops almost all shut between twelve and two, and many – including our bank! – are closed on a Monday. We quite liked having some time in the house and garden, as well, so we have actually started planning what to do; I have a list. (I may have put one or two things on the list after I have done them, just so that I could cross them off. Psychology is a wonderful thing!)
All this is well and good but, in order to do all these wonderful things, we have to be up and about. To this end, an executive decision was taken. Rather than ignoring the alarm and never putting it on unless we have to catch a ferry to the UK, we now have three different times set; Monday to Friday is 7.30 am, Saturday is eight o’clock and Sunday … the alarm is off! Unless, of course, we have decided to go out for the day, in which case it will be set to go off but, probably, around eight-thirty. This routine has been working well now, for a few weeks and we are able to get much more done. (Having had some of my health issues sorted out had made a huge difference as well, but that’s another story.)
So. The alarm clock is not my master but my slave and I won’t let it forget that fact.
Today I received an email from an old school friend. Our families had lived a few streets away from each other when we were little and we started school at the same time in the infants at Crowland Road, in Tottenham. We went right through until we left at age eighteen from Skinners’ Company’s School for Girls. Seven of us actually went on to secondary school together but I am only still in touch with three others.
The email contained a photo. It is of our two mums sitting on a beach – almost certainly Westgate-on-Sea, in Kent! – and they look so happy it brought tears to my eyes.
They were such very good friends and that showed on both their faces.
I have vivid memories of the close friends my mother had. Some were from way back, when she was a slip of a girl, and others more recent. It is inevitable that there will be some friendships made at the school gate but she had only two firm ones and, of those two, this was the closest. It was rare that mum wasn’t at home at lunchtime or when I arrived back from school in the afternoon but, if that was the case, this lovely lady was one of the people I was most likely to go to until I was picked up.
My grateful thanks to someone who thought to send me this photo. It has stirred up memories that had lain dormant – happy memories, that I am now glad to relive.
When I was seven or eight years old, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. Nothing, other than the facts that I would always have my doll, Rosalind, and my parents would always be there for me was a greater certainty. Sadly, Rosalind became a distant memory quite quickly and, as we all know, parents aren’t as magical as we thought when we were young. Luckily, I still have one who I treasure.
When I started teaching, it was the culmination of my dream and I have never regretted it. Even after a break to raise two children, I went back to it, as though drawn by an invisible force. Eventually, I had to let go. I was no longer the twenty-odd year old who had all the energy to work and play – now I had to make time for the playing.
So I have time on my hands and my son – who knows things – suggested a blog on what it is like to be a Modern Retiree, So be it …