A year in the life: aka life after e2v

Last December I marked my anniversary of ‘signing on the dotted line’, to leave work, after more than 33 years at e2v.

Today, 7th April, is the first anniversary of my actual leaving day. It therefore warrants a retrospective thought or two on my gap year(s)/retirement/change of direction.

As you can see, I am still somewhat struggling with a comfortable description. It isn’t retirement in the sense of entering the ‘autumn’ of life, sitting back and watching the grass grow. It also isn’t really a gap year, or years, as it is a new future, not a pause in the status quo. That was really just a holding description, and a way of avoiding the lengthy questions around “retiring at your age, what will you do with yourself?”

So, ‘change of direction’ is closest, but also perhaps the wooliest. Come back next year (or before, please), to see if I have settled on a description I am truly happy with. Or perhaps it doesn’t really matter.

In the same way as I didn’t set rules or boundaries (or even a description) for my ‘change of direction’, I also didn’t set specific goals or objectives. That was my corporate world.

Having said that, it doesn’t mean I don’t make lists of things to do. I like lists.

Breaking rule no 1, I did set a simple goal to make sure that every day we were at home something on our plate came from the garden. It could range from frozen fruit for breakfast in the middle of winter, to a full meal when the garden is at its most productive. This we have succeeded in achieving. This year coming there will be more veg than ever.

A year on, I am told I am not yet fully house trained. I still have a habit of ‘disappearing’ good cooking bowls for use in various non-cooking related activities. However, no cooking utensils have been harmed in the making of any items this year (at least none that have since been discovered).

Whilst I have read 20 or so books in the last year, these have been in snatched moments. What I haven’t yet learnt how to do is sit down and properly relax. It really isn’t in my nature and I am not sure it ever will be. I can live with that. What is in my nature is to learn new practical crafts and skills, especially those on the ‘danger list’. This year has been no different it that respect, particularly with hot glass work.

What I have become is a Radio 4 listener. Previously, I only really saw the radio as a source of music to accompany driving. Johnny Walker on a Sunday afternoon is also not to be missed as an accompaniment to making Sunday dinner. Now the radio has become a source of interesting informative programmes (and some great comedies) on Radio 4. Dare I say it, I am now an Archers fan and I say Rob deserved all he got.

So here I am. A year on and perfectly happy, in fact more than that. Without a doubt it was the right decision for me to leave e2v. ¬†Adjusting to a life outside of the corporate world has been surprisingly smooth. That doesn’t make the previous 33 years I worked there anything but rewarding, exciting and developing of me as a person. I continue to be in contact with friends there (see you for lunch next week) and I wish them and e2v every success for the future. In my talks I have, and will continue, to hold e2v up as an example of UK manufacturing at its best and a great place to start out, through their excellent apprenticeships.

Yesterday I took another look at the wonderful memory book given to me on my leaving day. It means such a lot to me. The effort that went into putting it together, gathering and collating thoughts from my e2v friends and colleagues around the world, was to me very touching and it continues to be treasured. Thank you.

In finishing this post I come naturally to the unfailing support from my wife, from making the decision to leave, to everything we have done together over the past year. We now have even more time to learn new crafts together, next week are going to ‘Flame Off‘ to learn more about hot glass.

I am feeling a need for a natty way to finish this post, an appropriate sound bite, a witty sign off. Sorry, can’t think of one, too busy, have a metal bean frame to build and there’s a bronze statue with a broken foot awaiting attention, oh and a book to read if I get the chance.

Come back soon, I’ll be here, and do say hello in the comments as you pass.