After several hectic weeks it was certainly strange, but also every welcoming, not to have any urgent tasks to perform or awaiting key decisions to be made. In fact we were at the stage where all we wanted to do was ‘hit the road’. However, this week saw me ‘on the road’ for four days but not in the ‘Big Momma’ but for my last ‘official’ work related commitments.
Fortunately, although I no longer had my own car, I was able to use Shazza’s car for my first trip on the Tuesday. Although she does now tell me that is not her car but ‘our‘ car, which, interpreted correctly in Shazza speak actually means it is now part of ‘Jeeves’ duties to wash and valet it !! Tuesday was an early morning departure followed by a very long day and by the end of that day I was glad to be back in the comfort of the Motorhome. After a very nice evening meal I settled down to watch the England v Ukraine football World Cup qualifier match on the TV. Shazza had been out shopping during the day and had bought some fruit, some very sumptuous looking ‘victoria’ plums. I commented on how nice they looked compared to the normal one’s that she usually purchased, she informed me that she had got them at a bargain price of two for £3 !! Well you may call me ungrateful, but I felt the need to make a small comment about how we were about to commit ourselves to a grocery budget and no matter how sumptuous this fruit looked, I did not consider two plums at £1.50 each to be that much of a bargain !! I was a little taken aback by my beloved’s response, “No you stupid F****R” she exclaimed, “Two packets of 6 plums for £3”. To say that I was a little shocked at this verbal assault would be a massive understatement, my shocked facial expression must have given some indication of that shock to the extent that ‘Madame’ spent the next five minutes rolling about in laughter ?
The following three days saw me having to be parted from Shazza for a couple of nights as my final ‘work’ commitment took me to South Wales. Fortunately, my last ‘official’ duty would be spent with a one of my long-standing work colleagues and very good friend John which albeit somewhat coincidental, was a very fitting way to finish my career.
Until quite recently, our small team had consisted of Eric (the ‘boss’) John, Jeff (who himself had retired twelve months earlier) and myself. They had all been subject to my many ‘dreams’ over a considerable length of time, from retiring and buying a property in France, Spain, Malta and Crete to becoming a fulltime liveaboard on a Narrowboat on the UK Canals or a Barge on the European Waterways. However, they all knew of my love of Motorhoming, whether they wanted to or not, and were subject to many, very many hours of me rattling on about our many trips in both the UK and Europe. So, whilst my decision to retire sooner rather than later came as a bit of a shock, the decision to sell up and tour Europe wasn’t. John was my moral conscience, he would ‘
grill‘ question my rationale, the practicalities of it all and quite often, after a copious amount of JD & Cokes, my state of mind in his unique style such as ‘You must be stark raving mad boyo’, did I mention he was Welsh ! However, all of my colleagues, other than now referring to me as the ‘Gypsy’ who was coming out of the closet ! actually are very supportive and encouraging and told me ‘how brave’ (interpreted – Stark Raving bonkers) I was to go and live my dream.
It was during the last couple of nights away that John and I, over a couple of nice evening meals and just the one or two JD & Cokes, reminisced about our last 11 years working together and then the conversation turned to the point when my decision to retire was made. In some ways it was a bit of a surreal conversation as it made me realise that we all have dreams. Sometimes these dreams are really just ‘fantasies’ which in reality could only materialise if your numbers came up on the lottery or you were fortunate enough to inherit a large amount of money from a long-lost relative that you didn’t know you had. We concluded that Fantasies are just ‘escape’ mechanisms in your mind, and that dreams, although they could become a reality, could only happen if you actually did something to actually make them happen. Here we were, Shazza and myself that is, both with very good jobs with very good salaries, topped up with the income of a military pension. We had a nice four bedroomed ‘detached’ house that was well furnished. We each had newish cars and a nice luxury Motorhome in which we enjoyed two or three trips away each year, one of them being an extended four week trip touring Europe, as well as numerous short and long weekend trips. We also enjoyed our ‘All Inclusive’ 5* hotel holidays to many exotic locations, surely we had it all ? Some people would give their right arm just to have a small part of what we currently enjoyed and yet here we were about to give all of that up to become ‘technically’ homeless, live permanently in a plastic box on wheels and do it on just a fifth of the income that we had been used to ? The lifestyle we had enjoyed though did come at a cost. The cost to the limited time that we actually spent with each other, quality time, the cost to our Health, Sharon was certainly suffering with stress, serious stress and I could see a physical and somewhat drastic change in her. So for anyone looking at our lifestyle from the outside our lives may have appeared to have been luxurious, in reality, that luxury extended to no more than seven or eight weeks a year. The nice house, the furniture, the cars and the Motorhome were in reality just material possessions.
So we dreamed a dream, to give up our very good careers, sell all our worldly possessions and go and have a ‘Big Adventure’. Dreaming it is one thing, turning it into a reality is quite another and to do that we needed to ‘make’ it happen. This was not a decision made on a whim, we had dreamed the ‘various’ dreams for six years and had finally chosen the dream we wanted to pursue, two and a half years earlier. But, after all the research, all the planning, the dream was still only a dream. Obviously we were more than a little apprehensive, we questioned if what we were considering doing was actually logical and practical and whether we were actually ‘insane’, we would both be committing professional suicide and so we continued for several weeks to ask ourselves searching questions. Initially the plan was for me to continue working for just another three years, I actually enjoyed my work so that was not an issue. I was unsure as to how long Shazza could keep going but we decided that if we at least had a target date that would be sufficient to keep us motivated. But soon it became apparent that Shazza would not manage to last that long so we re-assessed the finances and brought the date forward to the 31st March 2014, well that was based more on Pensions and Tax as opposed to just being a finger in the air sort of thing. So the decision was made and the date set. The only fly in the ointment would be the effect of the recession on the house prices, the lack of mortgages available to buyers and subsequently whether we could actually sell our house at a reasonable price. We did not have a clue what its current value would be or how long it would take to sell. We had heard horror stories about properties being on the market for over twelve months and still not sold, there were houses in our immediate area that had ‘For Sale’ notices up for months and still had not sold. We made the decision that we needed to at least get some sort of valuation conducted, not put it up for sale just yet but get an idea of what we could expect to sell it for. For regular readers of our blog, the rest is history as they say, although the intention was to let the Estate Agent just provide a valuation we ended up putting the house up for sale and selling it within 16 days !! So the turning of the dream into a reality has arrived a little sooner than we had anticipated but we are now less than two weeks away from starting ‘Big Mommas Great Adventure’. There is a knot in our stomach’s, and we would be lying if we did not say that a small part of that is still ‘trepidation’, however, the biggest part of that knot is one of massive excitement and we really cannot wait now to get on the road and start to ‘Turn Our Dream Into Reality’………..
So fellow dreamers, do not let anyone rush you into making what is a life changing decision, but remember that a dream remains a dream unless you actually do something to ‘make it happen’ !!