Pension Plans

Oh dear. It has been a shamefully-long time since my last post. An even longer shamefully-long time than the last shamefully-long time between posts. Of course, there are reasons aplenty for this most recent lapse in output, but I can at least happily confirm that death from sugar-starvation was not one of them.

Since writing the last post, I have spent three-plus weeks in England, doing grandmotherly and motherly things, and partaking of the oft-overlooked benefits of city life. I also spent a considerable few hours of my time in Derby viewing houses. Yes – shock horror – I have pretty much decided that I can no longer resist The Call of The Grandchildren, and that to be the active, hands-on sort of granny that I long to be, I actually need to Be There.

Luckily for me, the realisation that I totally relish the chance to provide day-long childcare for my offspring’s offspring at every conceivable opportunity has coincided with Simon’s Coming-of-a-Certain-Age. A week ago he celebrated (yes – we actually did celebrate) his sixtieth birthday. He is now officially a pensioner. And – more to the point – he now gets his pension. When we toddled off to the local restaurant for a delicious lunch, and polished off the remainder of the day with a bottle of bubbly, we were not simply commemorating the birth of my Significant Other. We were celebrating the successful completion of his most recent Five Year Plan.

Simon likes to have Five Year Plans. When he was 50, he stated that he fully intended to cease working at the age of 55, one way or another, and move on to an altogether different lifestyle. He kept this goal clearly in mind as he patiently navigated his way through the intervening passage of time, and then, in July 2006, he gave notice of his intention to resign with effect from 31 October – a week before his 55th birthday. He is indeed a Man of His Word. Of course, I’m not really a long-term-planny sort of person. I’m more a sort of wishy, drifty-but-generally-lucky sort of person. I didn’t have a five year plan, but I did have a Simon, and a most definite disinclination to work any longer than I absolutely had to. So as soon as he told me he thought we ‘could manage’, I resigned too – and the rest, as they say (somewhere), is history

The next Five Year Plan involved all sorts of careful thinking and financial planning (Simon), and wishing and hoping (me) and house-selling and budgeting (both of us – in our different ways), to ensure that we could survive the income-less gap until his pension became payable. So the celebrations last week were as much a big sort of joint “Phew!” that we had made it to this point without going bankrupt, as they were a shared sigh of relief that he had managed to stay alive long enough to reap the paying-out rewards of his 32 years of paying in.

So, here we are. One more of Simon’s Five Year Plans successfully tucked away under our collaborative belts, and another rising Phoenix-like from its happy ashes as I write. I’m not entirely sure what Simon’s next FYP will look like, but at the moment it seems that it will involve the purchase of an all-singing, all-dancing, two-dog-accommodating motor-caravan, the seeing of European places both known and unknown, from the Arctic to the Mediterranean (including France many, many times), more frequent visits to children and grandchildren in various locations, re-acquaintance with the conveniences of English town life, the joyous exploitation of the free bus pass (which he will receive in July 2013 – so long as he can demonstrate he is resident in England at that point), and a continuation of his relationship with animals. In his own words he intends to ‘go everywhere, but not be isolated’, because he will (of course!) ‘use technology to maintain his links with the world’.

Hmmm…. seems to me a bit like he is planning to have his cake and eat it. He fancies an itinerant lifestyle, but with the advantages of a home life full of cats, dogs, chickens and bus-passes. Luckily for him, I see my imaginable future involving quite a lot of Being There, for children and grand-children alike. So I guess I might as well Be There for the animals too, and do my best to keep the home fires burning to provide a warm welcome for my itinerant husband when he returns from his Odyssean travels. And if I can find someone to animal-sit occasionally, I might even join him sometimes in his travelling adventures.

But, as always, there’s a Bit Of Stuff to get through before all that imagining becomes reality. Most obviously we will have to find homes for our ten lovely llamas, and sell our French house (to someone who is happy to take on a contingent of barn cats and whatever chickens are still surviving at the point when we take our final leave). And we will have to find a house in Derby that we both like, that is on a good bus route into town but also walking distance from some basic shops, and is not too far away from where my grandchildren will be living, and that works for two big dogs who need lots of playful walks, and (at least) three house-dwelling, field-wandering cats who are used to living in the middle of the countryside. Oh, and it will need enough space to park a motor caravan, a big garage or similar to store Simon’s ever-growing accumulation of tools, and a big enough garden to grow fruit and vegetables, and maybe keep a few chickens. And some green, natural views from the windows would be nice. And not a lot of busy-town road noise to disturb the peace. And all for no more than we can possibly afford using Simon’s lump sum, and what his bank will lend us to get us through to the end of his next FYP (by which time we will hopefully have sold the French house in order to pay off the bridging mortgage).

But that’s just the easy stuff. A more daunting prospect is the total character transformation of the dogs that is required before they can happily move to England. Specifically they need to learn a) how to go in the car, b) how to travel in the car without being sick, c) how to not chase any moving cars that pass within 300 meters of them, d) how to not bark at every person/dog/cat/vehicle/postman that passes by their window/front door/garden-gate, e) how to walk on a lead without pulling me over whenever something (ie: anything) chase-able appears in their line of sight, and, finally, f) how to live and travel quietly in a motor-caravan, and not climb slobberingly all over its sleeping residents at night time. And of course we will need pet passports and all the accompanying paraphernalia that is necessary to allow our quintet of pets to enter the Promised Land.

Ah! I do so love having a dream.

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