stepping stones of truth

A journey along the path of life - the stones can be rough, smooth or even wobbly!

Friday, October 17, 2008

These precious days : free time

Last week, we visited a house and gardens that were built in 1588 and have been lived in by the same family for nearly 300 years!

Sadly photography is not allowed inside Montacute House, but the long gallery (where the ladies could take gentle exercise by strolling) runs the length of the house - 172 ft - the longest in England, and has wonderful views from its position on the top floor.

The guidebook says of Montacute House "Honey-coloured Montacute House is one of the glories of late Elizabethan architecture. Offered 'for scrap' in 1931, Montacute was rescued for the National Trust as one of its first great houses. It has been filled with furniture, fine tapestries and a collection of Tudor and Jacobean portraits on loan from the National Portrait Gallery. Montacute was built in the last years of the 16th-century by Sir Edward Phelips, as a symbol of his rising career."

Peeking through the stone balustraded wall into the gardens in front of the house, well - behind really, as it changed around somewhere in its history. Now its behind the house as there is a new drive up to the other side, the "new" front facade.

Elegant lawns and herbaceous border, still looking good in October



Symmetry on the cedar lawn.

Lovely honey coloured Ham stone glows in the afternoon sun.

And because we are members of the National Trust, we get into all these wonderful houses and gardens free. They usually have excellent tea rooms and restaurants. Must try to get out and visit more - but many of the houses are closed during the winter. I had been to the garden before and made a special effort to go on a day when the house was open with its brilliant and helpful band of guides in each room to point out the best things and explain hidden history. Well worth it!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

These precious days : how I finally retired

I am a retired person, finally.

This comes after the most dreadful year in a job I wasn’t suited for and had no qualifications for, but they wouldn’t make me redundant. So I had to wait a whole year till the next round of redundancies.

If I had just retired then and there, eighteen months ago, I would have lost 25% of my pension for ever because of leaving “early”, so I hung in there. But still they would not include my job in the ring of redundancies. But eventually I was cheaper to let go than the poor person who hadn’t got a job in the restructuring but needed one. So I could retire on grounds of "efficiency". This is local government after all. But with no golden handshake or redundancy hand out, just my full pension entitlement now (its only tiny but at least I didn’t lose a quarter of it for life)

However there were still hold ups, because this could all only happen after the person who would lose her job had a months' trial in my job. Daft, but they were doing it by the book, - the only trouble there was no book and they were making up the rules to cover their backs.

During her trial (after giving her a good hand over with loads of helpful notes) I took annual leave to be with Edie when she was only two weeks old, lovely. However Management wouldn’t let me take unpaid leave for the rest of the time! The union advised that I go off with stress – no problem there. I wouldn’t have managed to carry on at work during the last year if it wasn’t for the fact that I can meditate ! Seriously.

As you can imagine I left quietly, with no leaving party or speeches. I just don’t think I could have smiled nicely. However friends gave me a card and flowers last week quietly, and cash totally £50. How good was that? The colleagues were really nice. Most librarians are.

The only good thing about that job was that I had an office of my own. I almost miss it. Almost.

Can you see my mouse mat? Calligraphy by Thich Nhat Hanh " Breathe - you are online" and a bowl of cherries. I wasnt being ironic, I just enjoyed snacking on fresh cherries! And my Iona calendar to keep me calm too.

And photo of Kyoto on the wall with image of a small silk painting of Glastonbury Tor in blues...

The wallboard with inspirational calendar among some mundane stuff and definitions of stress!

These posters even brought a smile to the faces of Management when they came to go out and saw them "Warrior Librarians!"Love it and the scowling one "Why you should fall to your knees and worship a librarian!"

And the view out of the window (shame they had to cut down the pine trees). I personally got all the office new-to-us desks (including this one) as a nearby office was being refurbished and they were throwing these out! Our old ones were the same vintage as the building - 1960s. Honestly.

Previous to this last year, I had the best job in the world doing all that web stuff and exciting e-reference things, cutting edge librarianship. And then, rather than make me redundant and pay me to go, which I wanted, they put me in charge of health and safety, budgets and library buildings (a job which no-one wanted and isn’t usually carried out by a librarian but an administrator), which are all things I loathe and if which I have no knowledge or experience. I cant forgive that really. One's last position in a working life should be where one can be excellent in a job and be confident, not be struggling every day.

However, on to nicer topics! I am enjoying doing all the things I used to squeeze into evenings and weekends, only not rushing and relishing the freedom. I am so lucky. My first actual day of retirement occurred when I was on the first day of a zen retreat in Nottingham led by Thich Nhat Hanh ! A good omen I think.