Chapter 25 Retirement is fun
I am settling into this life of leisure although I am never idle and I exercise every morning, I visit the doctor regularly take my tablets religiously controlling my blood pressure and taking daily aspirin and selenium.
Janet my eldest daughter as a birthday treat arranged for me to have a trip in a hot air balloon, the trips are arranged to take off from Ashton Court an old country estate just south of Bristol, we duly arrived for an early morning takeoff but unfortunately there was absolutely no wind in that area, so the whole party drove off to another takeoff site where the wind was more favorable.
We stood around watching the preparation of the balloon for the flight and when it was an upright I climbed in, the basket was big enough to hold six people and with a roar from the burner we slowly rose into the air, the wind was very light and we preceded slowly in a northerly direction, it is advisable to wear some sort of headgear because when the burner is on you have to lean out of the basket to prevent the top of your head being burnt.
After about 30 minutes the pilot was looking for a suitable landing site we crossed the motorway and headed for a field in the middle of a wood, unfortunately closer inspection revealed the field was surrounded by power lines, there was very little wind so progress was relatively slow, we traveled on just above the treetops towards the edge of the wood, we made a very gentle landing amidst the corn stubble, the basket even stayed upright.
The pilot then made the announcement that we were very lucky as a gauge now indicated just two minutes of fuel left, he commented “ we could’ve come down in the trees, but it makes hell of a mess of the balloon”, after a short while the support team arrived and transported the passengers back to civilization.
My youngest son Alan and Allison had got married and I was duly presented with another granddaughter, Georgina, as they were living locally I was called upon for babysitting duty quite often, I was still keeping video record’s of the family’s progress so we have some nice recordings of her early years.
Alan was working in the IT industry and this necessitated them moving to Woking in Surrey, Alan and I spent a few weeks fitting the new house with a new kitchen and then I moved on to the task of fitting a suspended bed in the room that was to be Georgina’s Bedroom, this gave room for a little wardrobe and plenty of floor space for toys and a work desk.
Donald in Freshford was building a garage beside his house, all went well until he tried to put the Double Roman tiles on the roof, because of his inexperience he didn’t realize the necessity of being very precise when fitting the batons, we had to take off and refit all the batons with the exact spacing to fit the tiles as designed.
Alan became a father again with the arrival of a little brother for Georgina that they named Thomas, this made my total of grandchildren up to eleven plus a couple of great grandchildren thrown in for good measure, and I still didn’t feel any older, keeping in fine form and visiting Studland, Scheveningen and Cap de Agde and working on my computer.
My cousin Douglas Edwards from Abergaveny had kindly sent me a hand written copy of all the research that he had done into our family tree, starting from my grandfather’s time and including his thirteen children, my father being the youngest, he in the his turn had had five children and there were now about 700 members in these few generations.
I spent some time inputting the information that he had supplied on my computer and I got to the stage of entering my children’s children when I was distracted by something that demanded more urgent attention, when I have finished bringing this story up to date I intend to look further into the later descendants.
When I first purchased the freehold of the 25 apartments in the two adjacent buildings I soon realized that because of the meagre ground rents managing them was more trouble than it was worth to me, so I handed the responsibility over to a management committee made up of the tenants, quite a few of these tenants were quite elderly and when they vacated unfortunately they were not too careful about who they let their apartments to.
There was a lift in the building which was very small and frequently broke down, we had a few idiots that were prone to vandalizing the property and the whole building was deteriorating, the local authorities demanded a refurbishment program estimated to cost 70,000 pounds, this included a new lift, a new fire escape, an alarm system that included sprinklers and various other fire safety building works.
I tried to get rid of this responsibility but the truth was I couldn’t give it away, I spent some months getting estimates from contractors in an attempt to calculate the liability, eventually the freehold was transferred to my son Raymond to make life easier for dear old dad, by a stroke of luck he managed to find two people that were interested in buying the freehold and he finally settled on a 20,000 pounds purchase price to a local builder.
We were very relieved to get rid of the responsibility of refurbishing a property that was bringing in virtually no income.