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In just over a week it will be one year since I retired. As my retirement had approached my already retired friends and relatives warned me I would wonder how I had ever found time to fit in work. Now I half see what they mean. I can't remember an earlier year passing so quickly or in which I undertook so many projects or made so many new friends. But I do know how I fitted in work: I neglected myself (apart from my running) and my home, or more precisely my garden. 

In a nutshell: after one year I feel much better than I have for years and I don't miss work at all. Due to the circumstances in which I came to retire most of my work colleagues had left before I did, so there was no wrench of separation. I haven't been good at keeping in touch. I never have been although with social media it is easy to stay up to date with their news.

I didn't find it hard to move on. My past life is a pool of memories and experiences added to each day; a slowly evolving mould, modified by later experience and refined or mutated with hindsight, that shapes me for today and tomorrow. It hasn't gone and it isn't lost, it's who I am now.

Returning to the past has come up a lot recently. In the context of Brexit, the "out means out" hardliners, when asked if they know what 'out' means, either walk away or reply "Yeah, won't be a problem, we were OK before we joined, we'll be OK again." Few give any further insight into their thinking, but from the few who do, I don't think the "we'll be OK again" is in anticipation of putting in a lot of work to make it OK in the future, but an almost immediate return to the OK of the past, 45 years ago.

I never got further than page 3 of Stephen Hawkins' "A brief history of time" - maybe now I have more time I should try again -  so I risk showing my ignorance of the nature of time but these short conversations have left me wondering: Can an individual, or a country or any other finite body go back into the past leaving everything else to continue on its original course through space and time, or can time only be reversed by some force affecting the entire space time of the universe and everything in it?

Wow. If the latter, it's hardly surprising Brexit is struggling to take shape and collapsing as it attempts to confront the laws of physics without a Tardis. But, I stray into the realm of Dr. Who and the Brexiters would, I assume, argue that they are not taking on physics. They spell it out. It's easy, they want to take back control, reclaim an independent and sovereign state and to conduct trade under bilateral agreements with UK unilaterally in control. "What is so difficult to understand?" they ask. Finally I get it. They aren't taking on physics to go back in time, they just want a virtual reality machine where they can dispense with the reality bit.

Meanwhile, I've renovated and extended my vegetable garden, harvested my first summer crop, filled jars and jars with pickles, chutneys, jams and syrupy fruit preserves and planted spring greens, onions, peas and beans for an early harvest next Spring. The year has passed by in the blink of an eye but looking back it seems to have been endless. Particularly the summer.

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Maps for local walks

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Selection of our walking routes on the edge of the Staffordshire Moorlands. All accessible from convenient public car parks 

Then and now


Tracing the  history of the house from early 1800s to the present day using historical documents and idenitying people who lived here before us


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15 years of family history research available in our webtrees database (over 800 surnames and nearly 5000 individuals) plus a collection of birth, marriage and death certificates.  

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Transcription of travel diaries made during the last 36 years starting with India and Nepal 1981 and including USA 1983, Syria 1993, South America 2000 and South Africa 2014 together with photographs. This is a work in progress as the diaries are transcribed, so check for updates.

Route to the Soul

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Began as a romantic mixture of emotion and practical tips from two young students discovering themselves and life as they recounted their adventures away from home. The Student and her boyfriend shared their passion for each other, travel and their pursuit of a healthy lifestyle. Now the blog is maintained by the Student who studies and works part time on-line while she and her boyfriend continue their travels to explore the world. Her blog focuses on wellbeing and politics affecting the state of the planet & the lives of its inhabitants.

Seeds & Weeds

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We weren't gardeners, we don't even listen to Gardeners' Question Time very often, but we have a large garden with plenty of potential and since I retired at the end of 2017 we have become amateur gardners. We favour the wild, natural look and like the birds, butterflies, frogs and other small animals but we want it to be looked after and we have recently revived and extended our vegetable patch. This section is dedicated to reluctant gardeners in constant fight against the weeds - solidarity among the nettled and scratched - the caterpillars, slugs, snails and multitudes of insects.

Rooted to the Spot

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Magazine style section with articles about life at the Sticks on a theme inspired by Brexit