When I retired I bought myself a new car -- a Renault and I thought: 'That will do me now till I no longer feel able to drive' ---- I have had four cars since then!!! My feelings about retirement were a bit mixed. A bit sad and just a bit depressed at the thought that I wasn't really of any further use at my job, in data processing, and felt that I was a bit too old to start a comparatively new career, at the age of 62, in the Audit office. I really had no immediate plans about what I should do in my retirement. I was reasonably fit and, I think, mentally alert as well. Elspeth was still working part time at the local post office, so there would be some days when I would be left to my own devices.
On the other hand I was delighted to be free from the discipline of having to get up every morning at a certain time, travel to Glasgow, back home latish, with not much free time in the evening, and at last be able to do things when I felt like it, but it wasn't really quite like that. I very soon found out, after the first flush of freedom, that the discipline of being in a job was a good thing, and if I wanted to survive retirement I would have to impose my own discipline and not let things just drift along. I joined the local Bowling club, and although I wasn't a particularly good bowler spent many happy afternoons and evenings on the bowling green and also played the occasional indoor game during the winter months. I was able to do more in the garden and look after it a bit better than when I had less time for it. Then, of course there were all the DIY jobs which required doing round the house. My Church work intensified and I soon found that the days weren't long enough for me.
While I was still working we couldn't visit St Monans as often as we would have liked, my mother still lived there and we both had many relations and friends to visit. After I retired I thought perhaps we would go back there to live, but by that time many of our friends and relations had gone, and Sandy and his family had moved to Fairlie. So we stayed put, just to be near our grandchildren. Of course we were able to go through to Fife a bit more often, which we did, but we found that as time went by we knew fewer and fewer people. Although we knew most of the children of our contemporaries, we didn't know their grandchildren or their great-grandchildren. In addition there were many 'incomers' who we didn't know at all. So after my mother and Elspeth's sister died we make a visit just about once a year.
So we continued to live in our council house and eventually purchased it. We made many improvements to the house and landscaped the garden; this took up a lot of our time. Eventually small things, which perhaps go with age, began to overtake me. I had an occlusion on my left retina, which disturbs my vision. Then I had a prostate operation, quickly followed by two hip replacements at one-year intervals. Suddenly I found I wasn't so active as I used to be. My DIY jobs became a burden as I couldn't focus on small objects properly, I had to give up bowling, and the garden was beginning to be a problem instead of the joy it once had been, my back being weakened by osteo-arthritis.
I had spoken, on occasions, about moving to a flat half jokingly and half in earnest, but couldn't imagine life without a back door and a garden to potter in. However during Christmas 1996 when the family were all together, Elspeth and I were persuaded to take the plunge and arrangements were made to purchase this flat at Fairlieburne. We put our house on the market, and it was sold within two weeks of its appearance in the solicitor's window. The flat was cleaned, decorated and fitted to our requirements and we moved in, in April 1996. The flat is situated in the grounds of the old Fairlieburne Hotel where we used to attend all the various dances and functions and overlooks the site of the former hotel. Not only that, it commands a lovely view over the Firth of Clyde to the Cumbraes and the Isle of Arran.
The only blot on the landscape was the pier of the ore terminal. This was built for discharging iron ore, from very large ore carriers, to the steel works at Ravenscraig, Motherwell by road and rail. That part of the Clyde, between Millport and Fairlie is very deep and can take the largest of shipping at any state of the tide. In addition a steel reduction plant was erected, but never used and there was a site where oilrigs, or oilrig parts could be built.
The block of flats stands in what at one time were the gardens of Fairlieburne House and there is a large expanse of grass to the front of the building, with several flower borders and fruit trees, and, while a gardener is employed to look after all this, I find that I can potter in the gardens, as and when I feel like it. This compensated, in a small way for the lack of a garden of my own
To keep myself active, in mind if not in body I bought myself a computer and that, combined with plenty of walks along the shore, I now find once more, that time never hangs heavily on my hands. And no regrets about moving to a flat! The Computer is responsible for this bit of nostalgia. My family, who always try to keep me on my toes, bought me a modem for my eightieth, and the challenge, which I took up, to enrol in the Open University on a computing course. I am now (1998) embroiled in the throes of Object-orientated technology!!! Once more finding the days aren't long enough for me.
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