My employers were having yet another reorganisation and all the new jobs were up for grabs. It seemed like disorganisation to me, as I couldn’t see anything I identified with and felt I had reached the end of the road. I spent the weekend tramping Bodmin Moor to decide my response and came to the conclusion that I wanted out. Three years later that’s exactly what happened.
Early retirement seemed like a dream come true, it was like being on honeymoon. I had the freedom to follow what I had always wanted to do, although I wasn’t exactly sure what that was.
I celebrated with a few days of hill walking. I never felt more stimulated than when amongst the hills and mountains of the Brecons, the High Peak and especially the Lake District Fells. My wife and I followed this up with what we called ‘our trek,’ touring up the west side of Great Britain as far as the Isle of Skye, across to Edinburgh and back down the west side via Lindisfarne, Nottingham, Cambridge and calling at friends on the way. Thirteen different beds in six weeks! We both became involved in Christian voluntary work, especially me. I found it very fulfilling and thought it was what I was made for. Year by year, the involvements grew and snowballed until it was almost like working full time again. Then things began to change.
I suffered a heavy bout of ‘flu and just when I thought it was over, I was hit with another virus infection that just wouldn’t go away. Eventually I decided to go for a walk with a local group of ramblers to work it off, that had always worked in the past, but came back absolutely and totally exhausted. Our doctor examined me and after blood tests said he thought I had post viral syndrome. I asked how long does that last? He smiled – I like our G.P. – and replied with just the hint of a shrug, “a year?” I was handed a leaflet on my way out. I felt numb and realised I was own my own.