So, we’re back from the big adventure and other preoccupations, many of them of a DIY variety, have taken its place in the forefront of our minds.
We have re-occupied the house in Brighton that we bought in the early nineties and in which we lived very happily while our kids grew, did their GCSEs and A-levels and flew the proverbial coop. The house itself has been let for the past twelve years and, when we moved back in, it was showing all the signs of having been occupied by tenants who themselves, were bringing up a house full of teenagers. The paintwork has seen better days!
So we have our work cut out for the next couple of months, rehabilitating the house, bringing it back to its former glory and making it feel loved again, if you’ll for give the anthropomorphisation!
But what of the blog, this piece of inconsequential nonsense that has been my constant companion since the 24th June, 2012? This collection of observations that has taken us through the run-up to leaving on VSO, the 16 months in South Sudan, the evacuation from Rumbek, the four month hiatus back in the UK, the twenty months in Papua New Guinea and then the four month slow progress home, culminating with the voluntary incarceration on board the Good Ship Bougainville.
Over the past four years, 33,574 ‘views’ have been recorded on the blog, from a total of 8,383 ‘visitors’. I have written 1,346 posts, including this one, and although there has been a hard-core of die-hard, followers, who have kept up with ever twist and turn of the adventure, there have also been many casual visitors from places as far apart as Mongolia and Angola, with a regular visitor in Brazil who only started following the blog a couple of months ago, but has clicked in faithfully every day since then. I have no idea who he/she is, but I was very glad to see him/her appearing on my statistics every day.
My best year was 2013 with 10,033 views. My best day was 10th October, 2012, when, for reasons I still do not understand, no fewer than 189 people clicked on to nichollsretirementproject.wordpress.com. I also have a huge file made up of the comments that various readers have made from time to time, which were great fun to read.
I have really enjoyed writing the blog over the past four years. Linda thinks that, especially in South Sudan, the job of keeping me sane was shared, pretty much equally, between WordPress and herself. Checking the daily viewing figures has become an obsession but the best thing is that, at the end of it all, I have an electronic diary that covers our lives from the point at which we retired from paid work up until the present. My greatest nightmare is that WordPress, who host the blog, will suddenly go out of business and that the blog will disappear from the face of the internet.
So, as the title of this piece suggests, the question is, what now?
When we were thinking of a title for this blog the best we could come up with was “nichollsretirementproject”, because, at that time, the idea of going on VSO was exactly that. It was a retirement project, a way of easing ourselves out of the security – and to some extent thraldom- of our full-time careers, without having to face the scary that faces most retirees, once they have made their farewell remarks to their colleagues and collected up their “Sorry You’re Leaving” cards; i.e. What happens now?
But, in a sense, for Linda and myself, the real Nicholls Retirement Project is only just starting. We are currently busy getting our house into a fit state to live in, but that is a temporary situation, which should only last another couple of months. And then the real retirement will start. I wonder whether that is something worth documenting.
Already, things have happened that have made me think, ‘Oh, I should blog that.” But the blog has finished, hasn’t it?
Well, no, perhaps not. I know that I don’t have the self discipline to write a proper diary, but there are times when I feel moved to put index finger to keyboard, when things impress me, amuse me or, like the prospect of the UK leaving the EU, make me cross, and the blog is a way of recording these ideas and impressions, so that when I finally descend into my dotage, I’ll, hopefully, have something interesting to read.
So, for better or for worse, the blog will go on, at least for the time being. It might be a bit less exotic, it might have fewer insights into strange foreign countries and cultures and, I hope it won’t contain too many crocodiles and armed robberies, but maybe, as I look around from our new, retired perspective, it might turn into something that some of my readers might find worth the occasional read.
So stand by for “Nichollsretirementproject – the Sequel.”