Three years ago today I retired, hung up my boots, cantered merrily off the corporate carousel. I have never busier.
talking about my impending retirement to a fellow member of the CHAT group which I founded once upon a time and admitting that I was just a little worried about my future life suddenly stretching out before me, empty and unstructured. She laughed at me. Had
I not worked out yet, she asked me,that my life might change but I wouldn't. So if I was busy now, I would surely keep busy in retirement. The issue was not "if" but "how."
So it has proved to be - and today I proved the point by spending the morning in celebratory mood with the members of the Birdy Group up on Highdown Hill with the swifts darting, the swallows swooping and the larks - oh, yes, indeed - the larks ascending.
It was practically the nearest to Heaven you could find yourself on a Monday morning on the first day of June.
Lovely Linda picked me up at 9.45 a.m.
Usually she has two other passengers besides me - Scottish Christine and Brave Pam - but today it was just the two of us. In fact at least five of our number had called to say they would not be able to join us Up On The Hill. Nevertheless there were still
nine of us on our early summer amble.
It seemed to me that even the birds were celebrating my special anniversary, performing their own thrilling sky ballet just
for me. How do larks fly so fast and so high while all the time managing to sing their hearts out for our delight? It would be like me running for the Pulse bus and carolling the Spanish Folk Song at the top of my voice. As in, an Impossibility.
We stop for coffee and cake at the Highdown Tea Room, securing a table outside where we can watch the birds feasting on the well-stocked bird tables. Blue tits, great tits,
a robin standing guard, Mr and Mrs Chaffinch and a canny Jay sweeping in with a bold flash of colour to grab a tasty morsel on the wing. I tell my fellow bird-watchers what I am celebrating and they all raise their coffee cups to me in mutual approbation.
It is an unexpectedly special moment.
Four of us, loath to see an end to our lovely morning, decide to pay a visit to beautiful Highdown Gardens while we
are here. One of the Jewels in Worthing's Crown, these Gardens are - and completely free to visitors. They are glorious at this time of year and the Lovely Linda agrees with my suggestion that next year this visit should be part of our Highdown Walk.
We hear a song thrush, high in the trees above the famous Chalk Garden - he refuses to show himself but is prepared to entertain us with his glorious song.
the way home in her car, Lovely Linda tells me about the proposal she plans to put forward at Saturday's Convenors Meeting. She wants to know if there would be any takers for what's called The Discovery Challenge - a kind of Duke of Edinburgh scheme for the
Over Fifties. The four challenges are the same as for the D of E and you can work towards Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards. Apparently Prince Philip gave the scheme his blessing on the proviso it wasn't billed as the Duke of Edinburgh Awards for Geriatrics.
Perish the thought!
Now I think this is just the challenge I am looking for as I saunter into my fourth year as a supposed Lady of Leisure.
It's not as if I have anything else to do....