Holy crap! I never thought I’d last this long. Sixty-five years and still on the right side of the turf, and the law.
So by way of an introduction to Bruce Barnes, ex UK and now Canadian Citizen. When my good mate and comrade-in-arms, Tony Talbot asked me if I would like to contribute to the ffUP "View from Abroad" pages regarding some snippets of my personal experiences on retired life, getting there and living it, I jumped at the chance. Personally, I am loving this time in my life!
Over the coming weeks, I look forward to giving you a greater insight into a a country that still remains a bit of an enigma on the world stage. Feel free to ask any questions as we go along. For those of you of the same vintage, I will try to avoid words like, old, aged, senior, etc. in much the same way the PGA Tour changed “Senior-Tour” to a much kinder “Champions-Tour”. Anyway, for those of you who are retired or considering retirement, new endeavour, or skill, I hope you find my weekly post, of mild interest at least.
OK, so where do we live and why did we chose to live there. Our home is in Edelweiss, (I can hear you singing the Christopher Plummer song version from The Sound of Music as I type. Bet you never knew he was Canadian), near Wakefield a very small town in Quebec, which is 40 minutes from the capital of Canada, (Ottawa). I golf and ski, (not at the same time) so there’s no surprise that I’ve settled down in a place surrounded by ski hills and golf courses. In fact, my house is on a ski hill. https://www.sommets.com/fr/montagne-de-ski/sommet-edelweiss/ .
So why Edelweiss, why so isolated? Well the older I get, the more I crave a more and more "us time", and given there are not many people around here we get a lot of time to do our own thing. Allied to the aforementioned fact, I love and have always loved sport, and we are surrounded by a natural habitat that lends itself to a great outdoor activities, whatever the weather. The seasons change rapidly which I like, no messing around with slushy Spring or Fall, its full-on freezing -30c to hot, hot 30c in the summer. Today is a hot one, 30c ish. With seasons coming and going consistently we can plan around food provision, energy costs, holidays and all of the rest of the stuff that life throws at you knowing that we are going to be there or thereabouts with our $numbers at the end of the year!
We get lots of it. . . . . Bears, Deer, Coyotes, Wild turkeys (very wild if you shoot at them) and Racoons, lots of Racoons. As people have tended to stay indoors during the current pandemic, more creatures are venturing out into the empty spaces. I suppose it is much the same with the UK, However, where you have the occasional fox in downtown suburbia, we have a bit of a coyote problem, wild canine types who are rather partial to eating small dogs and even medium size dogs. Two more local hounds were killed very recently in downtown Ottawa. The two guilty coyotes, offering up no plausible defence, were captured and put down, but there’s more of the hungry critters out there, so it is a continuing issue. Bears however are no problem. . . . . they just try to get into our bins then crap on the road in front of our house as their way of saying "Thank you", or "Leave more food out next time".
I served for Eighteen years In the British Army, eighteen years in the Canadian Forces, four years with an engineering company and small venture with my own company. Now at the age of 65 I have decided to take it easier and pull down the monthly pension payments owing to me. Am I 'truly' retired? I describe myself as semi-retired because I have one of those minds that continually yearns to do stuff. I am lucky in that my health is good, no doubt helped by my active sporting lifestyle over the years, aided by the the old man's genes and a little slice of luck. In short, I do not want to vegetate, that is not my style; and I have been lucky in that occasional opportunities have cropped up to do occasional work. It is recognised by a few organisations over here that us Senior-Pros have a huge amount of knowledge and experience to offer, and we are relatively cheap. At this time in my life, I can do cheap, I don't need to earn a fortune.
So, for my first POST on the subject of having a blast in retirement let me give you a warning. . . Golf . . . if you haven't tried it, is an evil game, that messes with your brain like the first girlfriend you ever dated. I had been forewarned, but what should I do with all this spare time available once I am retired, Anyway, simply put, It was down to a good friend who has been trying to get me to try golf for ages. He invites me to his Golf club for a "quick 18". At the first tee he hits the ball cleanly 240 yards down the fairway, Now ultra competitive me thinks, "Ha, I can do that, it looked so simple." 5 minutes, and three swings later and an embarrassed Bruce Barnes realises it ain't so easy. Crap, why can’t I do that. It seems simple, ball is not moving, its teed up, everyone is being respectfully quiet while you address the ball. So, it must be the clubs, they probably don't fit me or maybe I need golf lessons, yes that is what I'll do, I WILL get lessons, crap. . . . . I’m hooked.
I started playing golf when I came over to Canada in 1991 just after the 1st Gulf war, I was 37 and naively thought. . .hey, if I get really good at golf I can join the “PGA senior tour” when I’m 50. It seemed so far away, 50, the thought of being 50 was so way out there, I thought I’ve got so much time I’m so young. . .sadly no, time just rolls over you like a very fast dumper truck. Anyway, having reached the magical mid-century age, surprise, surprise, I didn’t get invited to join the “senior tour”" However, that 50th, mid-life-crisis year was one to remember not only for a really nice surprise birthday party but also because I bought my first Harley Davidson motorbike. I still have that bike 16 years later and runs as well as the day I bought it and I am still a God when astride my steed.
One has dreams that may be unrealistic but dreams are good things to have. I keep striving to get better, doesn’t matter what at, just get better. I learn something new every single day, I love it. Finally, and before I sign off, wherever you are in the world, stay safe, enjoy your loved ones while you can; and whatever your aspirations, don't just think it, DO IT NOW, life is so short.