Friday 1 January 2016

Plans for the new year

Happy New Year, everyone! Welcome to 2016. I wonder what Mother Nature will throw at us this year. 2015 was a very difficult year for gardeners here in the UK. There was practically no Summer at all, an exceptionally mild Autumn and December was the wettest month for ages. It's ironic that knowing our poor record in regard to water conservation, there will probably be a hose-pipe ban in force by about Easter!

Yesterday (December 31st) I noticed this:

Yes, that's right, Asparagus putting up spears already! This shouldn't happen until April. As it happens, that Asparagus plant's days are numbered anyway, because I plan to make some big changes in my garden this coming year, some of which will affect the Asparagus.

So what are my plans for 2016? Well, the first one is to build some more of the new deep raised beds, like the ones I built in 2015.

I'm not yet sure how many I am going to do. Ideally, it should be four, because the old beds are sorely in need of replacing:

However, it may be that some of them have to wait a bit longer, because other plans are afoot, which will affect availability of time and finances...

Maybe this is the time to announce that I am retiring (permanently) from work at the end of March. One of the reasons for this is that I have been finding the physical requirements of my job too demanding. Some of you will know that I have Fibromyalgia, and this gives me lots of problems, like pain in muscles and joints, and chronic profound fatigue, not to mention the psychological symptoms like increased anxiety levels and nervous tension. My job as a IT Service Management lecturer involves long periods of standing up and talking, and the Fibromyalgia just makes it harder than ever. Although I am not yet officially of retiring age, I have decided that it is inappropriate to change to a new profession at my time of life, and I will therefore be "calling it a day", as the saying goes. To be honest, I will be glad to be shot of the early morning starts, the days spent away from home in hotels, and the constant feeling of being "under the microscope" that my job entails.

So, plans are in train for a complete change of routine! Apart from aiming to devote more time to the garden, I also want to devote more time to the family. We have four grandchildren now, and one of our plans is to convert my "study" room into a children's guest bedroom, equipped with a set of bunk beds, so that the kids can come and stay with us occasionally. As long as finances permit, I also look forward to days out with the grandchildren during school holidays.

Finances of course are a big factor in most people's lives, ours included, and with no income from employment any more we are going to have to think more carefully about money. Of course I have some pensions to fall back on, but my income will be halved from now on, so we'll inevitably have to make some adjustments to our lifestyle. It will become even more important than ever for Jane to keep on entering and winning the competitions that she is so good at! How else will be we able to afford a foreign holiday??

However, despite what I have said above, I'm still planning on winning £20 Million on the National Lottery, buying a big stone-built farmhouse in the countryside (with a couple of acres of land, a walled garden and an orchard, naturally!), hiring a staff of gardening "slaves" and putting my feet up. There's no harm in dreaming, is there...?


  1. No harm indeed! I wasn't aware of Fibromyalgia. So sorry to know about this. But getting to spend more time in the garden and with your grandchildren sounds good.
    Happy New Year to you and Jane!

  2. Love the dream, Mark. It's my sort of dream too so when you acquire the £20 million can we visit?

    Both Martyn and I retired early and have never regretted it. I am sure you won't either. Your income may be halved but there is a knock on effect of not needing work suits every year, your expenditure will change in all sorts of ways. I am sure Jane will keep you well supplied with holidays.

    We both retired in March too with the summer ahead of us.

  3. Happy new year Mark - I too suffer from fibromyalgia so know what you must go through. Retirement will probably feel strange to start with and the changes in your financial situation - but you just cut your cloth accordingly. Wishing you peace and relaxation and good health and a productive garden I. 2016.

  4. Welcome to retirement, Mark. It will take a year or two to adjust but it will come. I got retired "early" myself and it was strange at first, but I also saw a big improvement in my health after being removed from the stress of a high tech job, and you might too. That big farmhouse you are buying with your lottery winnings looks big enough for a B&B. Then we will all come and visit you and Jane. Have a great New Year.

  5. Happy New Year Mark! You love to garden, cook and sightsee, so I have a feeling that you will roll right into early retirement without too much of an issue. And now that you will be able to spend even more time in the garden - which is good for the body and soul - I have no doubt that your health will improve in the process.

  6. Happy New Year Mark, I look forward to seeing what the new year brings in your patch.

  7. Happy New Year. I think you mentioned the fibromyalgia once before. Didn't know it was so debilitating. (DOn't know much about it I guess.) Best wishes as you head to retirement. I'm in my 6th year of it and my husband will join me in November.

    Weather is crazy here too. If it continues my garlic will soon start producing scapes.

  8. Happy New Year Mark and I suppose congratulations are in order also! I think crazy weather was happening everywhere this past year, it certainly wasn't "normal" here. Let's hope 2016 turns out better. Your grandkids are going to love visiting you in the new farmhouse. ;-)

  9. A great time of the year to retire Mark, I hope you reap all the benefits of early retirement, Mike is planning to retire early too although it will be another eight years for him. All the best for 2016.

  10. Happy New Year and wishing you well in your retirement, you never know what opportunities may present themselves, all the best for 2016

  11. Happy New Year to both you and Jane. Retirement sounds lovely. I look forward to your new beds (garden) and plans.

  12. Happy New year Mark and happy gardening. I know you will wonder how you managed to work at all once you have been retired for a few months, our days are never long enough and we never get time to be bored. Happy retirement come March.

  13. Sorry to hear about the fibromyalgia Mark, one of my friends has it as well so I know how debilitating it can be. But I hope you will enjoy retirement. And good luck on the competitions, Jan enters them for us! That house with 4 acres sounds nice :)


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