In April we celebrated not only Sandie’s 65th birthday but also the fifth anniversary of our retirement from NFER. We wanted to travel, and decided we would have the ‘gap year’ we were unable to have when we were young. This is why we called our blog ‘Ian and Sandie’s Gap Adventure’. But we felt that a year would not be enough, so we would have a gap lustro (Spanish for a five-year period).
Looking back, we realise how lucky we have been to have had so many wonderful opportunities. During our gap lustro, we have:
- Lived and worked in New Zealand, for a year and then a further nine months
- Lived for a year in Ghana doing voluntary work
- Spent five months travelling throughout South America
- Travelled extensively in Australia, South-East Asia and South Africa
- Visited Bali, Tahiti, and the Cook Islands
- Visited Hawaii, California, Florida and New York.
So what happens now the five-year period is up? The travelling will NOT come to a sudden stop – there are still too many places to see! But we’ve decided that it would be good to have a ‘base’ in the UK, to return to between travels, rather than staying in the Travelodge with our possessions in store, Claire’s shed, Claire’s loft or Andrew’s basement!
In February, we looked at a lot of properties. We decided that a flat would suit us best at this time, and made a successful offer at the beginning of March. So since returning from South Africa on 13th April, we have spent a lot of time looking for furniture.
We have also spent time with Claire and family, and looked after the boys while she was on her second trip to Dubai. And we spent three days staying with our friends Jacqui and Roger in Loughborough. As usual, we enjoyed their great hospitality – Jacqui even made another birthday cake for Sandie, including her favourite coffee, walnuts and pecans!
While in Loughborough we went with Jacqui to visit Whatton Gardens – only a few miles out of town, but we’d never been there before, not even when we lived in Loughborough ourselves. The next day Roger took us for walk along the River Soar.
The four of us went out all three evenings, enjoying a variety of entertainment: dinner at the college (prepared and served by catering students), a concert by Hathern Brass Band, and a church barn dance.
We returned from Loughborough via Redditch. We went to look at a dining table and chairs we’d seen on e-bay, which proved to be exactly what we wanted. We were able to combine this with a visit to our friends Jenny and David, who live in Redditch and luckily were free on the day. They invited us to a lovely Sunday lunch, and we were able to catch up on news since we’d last seen them more than two years ago.
The evening after our return to Wycombe, Ian babysat while Sandie and Claire went to the Swan Theatre, to see Midnight Tango, a show featuring Vincent and Flavia from Strictly Come Dancing. The packed audience illustrated the power of television, and the dancing was brilliant of course, but we felt that the attempt to make a story out of it did not wholly succeed.
On Thursday 2nd May we are off to the USA for two months. We had hoped to exchange contracts on our flat before leaving, but this did not quite happen. All seems in order though, so we should exchange soon and have somewhere to live when we return at the end of June!