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Chapter 11. Retirement

It seemed to me that the best thing to do was to leave the Polytechnic and let them get on with it. As I was over 60, I could retire on my own free will. So I said: “That's it! I'm going to retire.” I was 64 ½ so, I retired 2 terms early.

It was all very unfortunate, one of the other members of staff who worked in the pharmaceutical side -- the dispensary, the unit operations lab. -- had a very unfortunate time. His wife was ill, his mother died and he had to have a lot of time off. We cancelled a lot of work on radioactivity so that I could go and work in the dispensary which I thoroughly enjoyed. What astonished me was that I used to only come in contact with the advanced students and then with only groups of 6. So I never really made any great contact with the students. I was really very sorry about this. I was making more contact with them when I went into the dispensary to help them with their practical work there.

It meant that my lab got left a bit but was ready to spring into activity if necessary. I'd thought that having once made that break that I might as well leave someone else to carry on. I think what happened was that the physics dept had a key to the lab and went in and took away all the things they thought might be useful to them. It was a joint effort between the Physics and Pharmacy Departments. Anyway the chief technician in the Pharmacy Dept rang me up and said: “Would you please come and help me? I know you're retired but, your lab's in a dreadful mess.” So I went and it was. It was obvious someone had been there. We catalogued the valuable items that were still there

There was an end-of-term party at Christmas. That was when I retired. Traditionally the staff put on a pantomime when they could get their own back on all the students. You'd spend that term thinking of all the little things about the students that you could bring back. I hadn't participated for some time because I forget my lines and I was generally a drag on the proceedings. But I thought, as this was the last one, that I should participate. One chap in the pharmaceutical chemistry dept, a very likable individual whom I liked him very much, played a real dirty trick. His daughter dressed up as a witch at some school party and she'd made a witch’s hat that was a plywood circle with a hole in it to fit your head and the cone on top of that and elastic to hold it on. Well perhaps it was alright for a girl with lots of hair but for me -- and I'd never seen the thing before until the performance -- it stood there on my head for a bit then flopped round all over the place. So quite unintentionally I must have been hilarious; the students rolled around in the isles. I couldn't remember my lines. The seniors called me up on the stage and I was most heartened by the roar that went up, cheers and roars went for some time. I never thought the students had any regard for me. The owner of the hat must have been laughing himself silly. They cast me in the character of a witch, doubtless plotted among themselves.

One of the first things I did on my retirement was to give myself a hernia lifting heavy tables about for the horticultural society. I had a most enjoyable time in the Haslar hospital with no ill effects from it at all.

Then of course we went to California. I enjoyed the midnight feasts (which I called jetlag feasts). I enjoyed it all so much, it's difficult to say which was the best. I enjoyed that trip up the Napa Valley; that was one of the first things we did so it stood in my mind. I enjoyed that very much. Then we went to North California, up the coast to the redwoods. That was quite an experience especially the ranger’s talks; we went to an evening one. That is something you could only do in California, have a slide show in the evening with cocoa. The amount of cocoa you could drink depended on the generosity of the previous night’s audience.

That bird song! We got up before dawn to go on a bird walk with a ranger around Lake Manzanita in Lassen National Park. We stayed in a little cabin on top of the site of the eruption -- it was near the eruption. It was sort of eerie to me. The top of a mountain, Mt.  Brokeoff, was blown off in an eruption. We walked through the thermal area called Bumpass Hell, which was quite interesting.

Then to Lake Tahoe, the lake with the blue water. On the way we came through an area like a prairie and I was delighted to see it. We arrived at the motel at South Lake Tahoe and there was a long line of people waiting for cancellations. We had a reservation and took it with gratitude. On the way home we stopped for a Mexican dinner (in Foresthill).

Another day we went to Old Sacramento and I liked the high board walks. We went to a film show which was showing an old building which was being restored to its original state (it was the courthouse in Old Sacramento). We went to the Wells Fargo bank and the teller was in his shirtsleeves. We sat out in the back garden in mid August when the temperatures were 100 deg. F. Iris wouldn't let us go out in the sun very much as she was concerned we’d get sunstroke, but we thrived. We got out regardless. We did cycle to Davis and went to the Co-op and the plots of gardens. Question - what did you expect of Davis? Warmth and sunshine.

When we reached San Francisco it wasn't all that warm and of course it was hot when we disembarked at Davis. The next day it wasn't very warm because there were forest fires and the smoke was obscuring the sun. I was a bit disappointed. Soon after that, I don't know how I got separated from my shoes but I did. I remember going round the outside from the back door to the front door and the road was very hot and I came in panting. Then I really believed it really was hot. We went to California in August, 1981. I had hoped we would walk in the mountains and we did. And I hoped we would swim which we did -- in the Stonegate Club. We walked round some of Davis on a Sunday morning and that was the time when everyone was gardening and putting their rubbish out for the mid-week collection. It's a good idea and a sweeper comes after the collection. We missed the Davis market; we were sorry not to get there. We got a huge watermelon and have a slide of me holding it. Gordon came a few days after we left.

Sarah and I went to New Zealand in 1983 when Sarah was 18 having just finished her 6th form course and her ‘A’ levels. We flew via Bombay, somewhere in Australia (Perth), somewhere else in Australia (Sydney) then to Auckland, N.Z. Dave met us there. He had a great big sign up. We nearly had a disaster there. We were all chatting to Dave and we forgot to change our money, so when we wanted to get on the bus to go to the internal airfield we hadn't any money to pay for the bus so we couldn’t get on it. Sarah rushed back to the Cook Centre and changed a cheque and we got the next bus.

 From Auckland we flew to Whangarei and spent some days with Bob and Heather. Then they drove us to Auckland and we stayed some days with Dave. Then we flew from Auckland to Christchurch. We did our tour, came back to Christchurch, and flew from Christchurch to Rotorua where Bob and Heather met us. We went to the Maori craft establishment and had our Maori feast, a hangi. Then we went to stay with Kay and Brian and after that we went by bus north to somewhere (Brynderwin Turnoff) near Bob and Heather’s farm. They had taken their girls there to catch a bus to go to a church camp of some sort. We spent two more days with Bob and Heather before they took us back to catch the plane.

We were in N.Z. 3 or 4 weeks - not long enough anyway. We felt we must do something, although Sarah and I would have loved to ramble round the countryside and around the farm. They took us everywhere, we saw lots, it was marvelous.

We used to have a caravan. When we first went to collect it, we were supposed to look over second hand ones although I had suggested that we rent one for a fortnight to go to a Quaker conference just north of London. Anyway we looked at these caravans and this beautiful 10' 6"long and 8' wide one and we fell in love with it. So we bought this caravan complete with awning and we took it on its first trip to the New Forest. It was supposed to sleep 4 inside. There was one double bunk at the front end and a bunk bed and a single bed underneath it. Sarah slept in the bunk bed but she never felt safe. We had that caravan for quite a long time.

The last big holiday was when we and Sarah towed it up to Scotland and Sarah and Daphne hadn't long completed their driving tests. It was when Sarah was 18 in 1982. All 3 of us took turns driving and we towed it with our car (Austin Allegro) which was automatic so Daphne could drive. We virtually went non stop. We started off at about 6 p.m. and it took about 36 hours. Somebody had advised us that it was easier driving at night when there wasn't much traffic about and that was true. There were a few large lorries and they are always so polite and always flashing when you’ve passed and it was time to get back into the lane. We went to Resipol, near Fort William on the west coast. It was marvelous weather for the fortnight and we didn't have a spot of rain and it was absolutely beautiful. The rest of the country was having a heat wave. We stayed in one place and went out for days exploring. Tess had a marvelous time while we were away and when we came home; we thought she was worn out but she had the sulks. Andrew and Gwyneth stayed here with Grandma while we were away and when they opened their car door she leapt in and wanted to go again.

We kept the caravan for a while but we weren't using it very much. We took it to Horsham for a week when I retired, it was in February and it was quite chilly. Daphne went round visiting all her old friends and we had fun. It just sat in the front garden. David had the loan of it in Kidderminster when he started teaching and didn't have any accommodation.

He soon got a house, a lovely house with a huge walk-in cellar which was originally used for coal and he kept his wine down there as well as various bits of wood and other odds and ends. The house had lovely rooms. Daphne went and stayed there for a week and helped him paint it before he sold it. He first taught at Bloxham just north of Oxford in a Catholic boarding school. Then he felt it was a bit too glamorous and he got this job at Kidderminster. Bloxham wasn't a local education authority establishment, s it didn't count as his one-year probation. He had to do a year somewhere in the national system to complete his diploma. He did that at Kidderminster and he stayed there for more than a year after his probation period. He then went to his present school, Archbishop Tennyson in Croydon. He had quite a good write up because he was visited by the minister of education who was visiting the school and they wanted the minister to sit in on a lesson and it was David's lesson. It was reported in the Times Education supplement and they got the names wrong and the school in the wrong place.

Sarah didn't like working at school and it was a struggle to get her to do her homework. She was given various letters and reports to give to us and she didn’t bother and when she left we found the whole pile in her room. She took her A levels twice and got the same results. She had two terms off then she went to Wolverhampton and got her diploma of education. She then got a job with the local authority in Sandford near Wolverhampton. She was quite happy, except she got pregnant. Eric was born in Wolverhampton. Daphne went up to Wolverhampton when Eric was 2 weeks old and helped out. He was only 6 weeks old when David and Lucy were married.

Eddie got a post in Lampeter and they had to go to find somewhere to live. They were hunting high and low and the University was very good and they allowed them to use some accommodation in the University. They liked the last house they looked at and that was the house they moved into. It was a lovely bungalow. Eric was only months old when they moved. So Sarah and Eddie got to Wales and Wilfred was born there.

Then they moved to Guildford and they had a nice house except any minute it was going to fall to pieces as it was built on a very steep hillside and the foundations weren't adequate. There were cracks all round the walls. It was owned by an Arab family. Then Eddie got a job in Ipswich and Albert was born there. Sarah is studying for a BA in Social Sciences and hopes to eventually get a Ph.D. There used to be lots of social worker jobs and she hopes to get one of these.

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