In 2011 Jaqui and I will both reach the milestone of 60 years of age. Recently we have had an increasing feeling that our lives are drifting along, mainly under the influence of forces outside of our immediate control. In retrospect, we feel that we have not made the best of our early retirement nine years ago. This is about to change. The Porters are going walkabout!
In 2011 we are moving to the Island of Malta. We expect to be there for at least 2 years. After that our plans are flexible. We may stay there for longer but our current thinking is to experience life in several countries before returning to the UK. Nothing is decided yet beyond 2013 but our itinerary could be something like:
- 2011: Malta
- 2013: Spain
- 2015: South America
- 2016: Antipodes
- 2017: North America.
The essence of the decision is very simple: if we don’t do it now we’ll never do it.
We moved to the Midlands in 2009 to be close to Jaqui’s mum who was not at all well. Thankfully her health has improved to the extent that we feel comfortable setting out on our new project.
We will however be keeping our Midlands house on, unoccupied, in case we need to return at short notice. The house will be available for use by friends, especially those visiting the UK from abroad.
Another piece of good news is that Jaqui’s mum has been cleared to fly, so we hope she will be joining us for some of each year.
Despite two major downsizing exercises in the last five years, we still have far too much stuff. In our walkabout we will be limiting our total possessions to less than 50Kg in weight. This means that we will be renting furnished accommodation abroad. Currently we are looking for a villa with a pool and sea view which we hope will be an attractive place for our friends to come and visit!
Before we leave we will complete a further massive reduction in what we have at home. Currently, in addition to the contents of our house, we have a 21 foot container packed full of furniture and equipment. We are ceasing our two most equipment-intensive hobbies, caravaning and canoeing, with immediate effect. The caravan and canoes, and all the related materials, are being sold and the container discontinued.
This still leaves us with plenty of hobbies, including music (harp and concertina), bridge and long-distance walking (me walking, Jaqui as base camp). Jaqui’s folk harp will be shipped to Malta as soon as we have established our new residence.
Currently we run a home office with two laptops, a terabyte of network-attached storage, printer/scanner/photocopier and several filing cabinets full of paper. Additionally we both run blackberries with a full data plan and full synchronization with Google apps. We also have 2 Kindles and an iPod Touch. I spend a minimum of 30 hours a week on the computer, much of it in voluntary work supporting various websites and other admin activities.
We will be leaving nearly all of this kit behind. We will be limiting ourselves to two Pay-As-You-Go mobile phones and one lightweight Apple product such as an iPad or 11” MacBook Air. We will not have an Internet connection at home (either in the UK or in Malta) and will be dependent on occasional access to public wifi. This will enable me to make a complete break from intensive web-development work and spend more time out-of-doors.
Kingston the Cat
Kingston is an important part of our small family and will be coming with us to Malta. He has already had his rabies injections and will soon have his pet passport, enabling him to travel within the EU.
Freemasonry has been a source of great pleasure and inspiration to me for many years. I have taken on many ceremonial and administrative responsibilities which, although time-consuming, I have found very rewarding. In 2008 I was greatly honoured by appointment as a Grand Officer by the Grand Master, HRH the Duke of Kent.
However it is also fair to say that my Masonic commitments have played a role in preventing us from making the best of our retirement in other areas. I will be ceasing my active involvement in UK Freemasonry as early as possible in 2011. I will be handing over all my current roles and responsibilities, including web development and webmasterships, in a planned manner but with minimum delay. I will be retaining membership of my various Lodges and Chapters but will not be attending.
As it happens, I am a Past Master of Union of Malta Lodge No 407 and, as a result, have Masonic friends in Malta. I may therefore occasionally visit the English Lodges still working in Malta.
On our eventual return to permanent residence in the UK, I will re-engage with Freemasonry but, to be frank, probably never to the same level as before.
We hope to be resident in Malta by April 2011. There is a lot to get done over the next couple of months in terms of logistics, finances and handovers. We are off to Malta for New Year to get the ball rolling over there.