Last few days

Things are pretty hectic as we try to ensure we have completed everything. The departure day is approaching rapidly – 3 days left to finish getting organised! We are making progress though, Roger’s car has gone back, mine goes on Saturday after which we will be ‘wheeless’ for the first time since our late teens- feels very strange to lose that independence. His house has been completely emptied, decorated, cleaned and occupied by the first tenants. IMAG0525Mine has been stripped of all my lovely geegaws, the liking for which Ben doesn’t share, so they’ve been packed up into the loft along with some of my more valued items for safe-keeping. We are hopefully doing our last charity shop drop-off today, along with the final wash and ironing. Packing will start in earnest now that I have a little space in the spare room to spread out. The wills and powers of attorney are also to be completed when we’ve found somewhere to print out the 50 pages of documents as the printers have departed.

Still managing to squeeze in some final goodbyes as well. Roger left Birmingham on Monday after celebrating James’ birthday along with Joe which was quite a wrench; kids are meant to flee the nest, not the parents. I’m looking forward to a final farewell tonight where I’m meeting up with an old friend in Holmfirth and her new ‘beau’. The only problem is that she might not recognise me with new glasses sporting quite different frames and I acquired my cold climate functional haircut yesterday – short, very short! I should have sold off the shed tresses for hair extensions as the floor was carpeted with them.

More leaving

IMAG0522It doesn’t get any easier to say goodbye. Despite the fact that we are running out of time, only 10 days before our own little Le Grand Depart, we are arranging further farewells with those we had already met with for this purpose. This does help to defer the inevitable wrench but also makes our diary incredibly full, but we will be a long time without our old friends so are trying to cram in as much time with them as possible.IMAG0524

Since our previous post I have abandoned my T’ai chi group of 6 years and was treated to a shorter session and little fuddle on my final evening. I would like to think that I will continue to maintain this very beneficial exercise regime but have a sneaking suspicion that it may fall by the wayside much to my physical detriment. I have also attended my ex-colleagues premature Christmas dinner which they kindly brought forward and allowed partners to join. This has been a festive period ritual for more years than I care to remember. I think I would have struggled to have known that they were meeting without me at that time of the year.  Au revoir mon amis.

Leaving friends and colleagues

IMAG0516Whilst I had my final day at my current employment last week, my leaving ‘do’ was this week. I had a superb evening amongst some fabulous people, some of whom I had worked with for fifteen years. When I looked around the table at all the familiar faces laughing and having fun I realised what a close knit group were are. Maybe it is the nature of the work whereby we are dealing with such raw emotional reactions to the massive but uncontrollable life event of others which brings us so close together. I don’t think I shall I ever experience that closeness and teamwork to that extent again; I have been very fortunate but life moves on.leaving do

Thank you to everyone who came to see me off, I’m sorry that some of you were unable to make it but your thoughts and wishes are much appreciated. I think our new colleagues will be somewhat different and it may be a challenge to view them as such and not as surrogate children as they will primarily be of the age of ours and their friends. I’m sure we’ll be corrected if that becomes too overt. At the risk of repeating myself, you are an amazing group of people doing such a special job. It has been an absolute pleasure to work (& play) with you. I hope we keep in touch and will meet again in the future and whilst preferably not in a professional capacity, if necessary I would be very relieved.  Take care my friends.

Hibernation

IMAG0504The veg patch has been put into hibernation although it may not be waking up next spring, it could be many more or even possibly not at all as I don’t actually own the land; I loan it from my very accomodating neighbours. We have covered the beds in an attempt to prevent rampant weed growth and only just stopped short of dumping shovelfuls of compost onto the freshly dug soil. Isn’t it always the case that the earth has never looked so wholesome than when I’m not anticipating planting anything.IMAG0505

I couldn’t find enough old carpet to cover all the unused beds so had to resort to the bright blue tarpaulin which will look like a tiny garden swimming pool from the lightpaths overhead. During the clear out we actually managed to reap a few straggling berries and a couple of rogue carrots and radishes. The major crop and biggest surprise were some hearty lettuces. I guess we’ll be having that we’ll known winter specialty – lettuce soup (with carrot and radish)!

The Jackson farewell gathering

So. Last weekend was the goodbye/Christmas gathering for the Jackson clan.

After travelling down to Mum & Dad’s on the Friday night for a fish “n” chip supper, Gill & I went to my brother Martin’s on the Saturday morning to prepare the evening meal. We’ll have 16 guests each night in the chalet so we were taking the opportunity to have  trial run of our recentry received menus. Our 2014/15 menus hadn’t arrived by the beginning of November so we had prepared a full menu (2 canapés,  appetiser, main (meat, carb & veg) & pud!!) based on the 2012 menus. Then, the day after our menu creation – the new menus arrived – so we started again!

It took a while longer than regulation time to prepare the dinner but – in our defence – we were i) setting a relaxed pace and ii) doing everything together (no vomit reflexes please) so that we could learn the recipes and techniques.  But after a mere 5 hours we were ready to wow our guinea pigs.

Kofkas with mint dressing and mini baked potatoes with cheese & Worcester sauce for canapés.IMAG0489

Smoked salmon on focaccia (home made) as the appetiser.

Chicken in lemon, garlic & thyme with dauphinoise potatoes and fried red pepper & green beans for the main course and

Chocolate brownies on a bed of warm chocolate sauce topped with vanilla ice cream and drizzled with strawberry coulis to round off!

The only problem was that four of the guests failed to arrive. In appalling weather Dad (84) had hit a curb and punctured both near-side tyres. One Mobile Phone between them that didn’t contain any useful numbers, all they could do was call the RAC who wouldn’t help because punctures were not covered on Dad’s breakdown cover. He could pay to extend his cover but they wouldn’t accept cash and none of them had a credit card with them! So – they got a taxi home!

Minus Mum, Dad, brother Dave and sister-in-law Alison,  those left standing (Joe, Kay, James, Martin, Gill & I)  tucked into a meal for 10+! And although I say so myself – very good it was too. We then had a rattling good time until the small hours!

Sunday, after a hearty breakfast of bacon sarnies, we visited Marilyn (my elderly aunt) in her new (very nice) nursing home; had an abortive trip to the driving museum in Gosport to drop off a replica model of the diving chamber used by the navy (under the supervision of Gill’s Dad) where the man who said he’d be there wasn’t!  A quick cup of coffee with Dave & Alison in their flat before a quick last visit to Mum & Dad’s for final farewells!

It was really quite strange to be saying “goodbye for 5/6months” even though it can often be that long between visits home. But, as Martin summed it up on Sunday – there’s something a little more final about being in a different county. Previously we were still  “there” and now we won’t be.

And we’re one step closer to leaving!

Last day

view from my cupboard/office

my cupboard/office and ‘view’

Yesterday I finished at the hospice where I’d worked for 15 years; almost the longest I’d done anything for in my life (apart from breathe!) But it wasn’t just the end of a job, but also the end of a career and the beginning of a new life. Whilst the latter is so exciting, which tempers the wrench, I don’t think the termination of my vocation has fully filtered through. Leaving my wonderful friends and colleagues (you know who you are) has been the hardest. Fortunately my leaving ‘do’ is next week so I will see many of them then – now that will be hard, but at least it will be aided by wine, which could result in free-flowing tears!IMAG0485

I may have mentioned that I wont miss the commute but yesterday’s sunrise even managed to make a wind turbine marginally less objectionable than usual! I think my commute and view from ‘work’ maybe about to change beyond recognition.

 

Cook/menu book

We have received our bible, our catering guide for the season. all the menus, recipes, adaptations and food hygiene information to see us through to the end of April. It has arrived just in time for us to practise on our guinea pigs, oops sorry I mean family and friends. We are a little relieved to see that nothing appears to be too complicated on reading, application may reveal an alternative conclusion. That is apart from replacing normal with gluten-free flour for puff pastry – ha ha, I can’t wait to see that one.

last commute

the joy of the M1 from my 2 year diversion!

the joy of the M1 from my 2 year diversion!

The last day of this commute!!! The last day of trying to negotiate the bottleneck that is Emley. I can’t quite understand why I give way to the oncoming traffic there in the mornings, appropriately as the cars are parked on my side, but have to do the same again in the evenings when I have priority. Are drivers more courteous in the mornings or are people in more of a rush to get home than to arrive at work?

I thought I was going to escape the dreaded winter windscreen scrape and the dilemma of whether to use de-icer or not. Despite this clement autumn we have reached November before this was required, just at the same time as our resort in the Alps had its first real dump of snow – yippee!

Crude oil prices have just been discussed on the news. It feels very strange to realise that we wont need to worry directly, about the cost of petrol as, for the first time in over 30 years, neither of us will own a car. We are unlikely to even leave the village for 5 months, bar nipping up the valley to the next resort, also covered by our ski pass.

Journey in

IMAG0402My penultimate week at this work and the journey is almost a pleasure, particularly on a beautiful sunny autumn morning just after the clocks have changed. It is half term and the traffic has just disappeared. That isn’t to say it is any safer as I was nearly taken out on a roundabout by a Landcruiser which didn’t seem to realise it was in the left turn only lane and cut straight across my passenger side wing on a single lane roundabout. Normally I’d just offer loud insults at this type of occurrence but not this time. I have recently become aware of how physically intact we will both need to be to accomplish our first goal so any kind of injury could cause significant problems; I certainly don’t want any musculo-skeletal damage from idiot selfish drivers. When we went for a walk a couple of weeks ago I do remember hesitating before I jumped down off a stile onto uneven ground. A badly twisted ankle or worse still, fracture, would be a disaster, more so if it happens before we even depart. We will need to be very careful with our health, both on the slopes and off. Fortunately I seemed to have lost the invincibility complex of my youth and now look at black runs with a degree of trepidation and feel no loss of face to choose an easier route.

Leaving ‘do’

DSCN1459It was Roger’s work leaving ‘do’ this weekend which marked another significant milestone although he doesn’t actually finish for another week. We attended a tribute night at a Birmingham hotel which had been a popular Christmas party venue previously. I’m not sure if it was the quality of the acts or the nature of the event but we had migrated through to the bar well before the close of proceedings. It was lovely to see all (bar a few) of his current staff as well as some of those DSCN1458who had already moved on and despite no obvious tears it must have been very flattering to hear the good wishes and thanks from them. I think breakfast may have been more emotional if it had not been for a number of delicate heads. But despite the reason for the function he will see them again this week so Friday may be a different matter.