La Vita Nuova

Today is the first day of the rest of my life. This is a actually a silly statement, for two reasons: (1) every day is the first day of the rest of one’s life; (2) the first day of the rest of my life was in fact 21 March, but I am still clinging to la vita passata, in which notionally (ho ho) one did not work at weekends.

20 March 2015 was my last day of gainful employment, after 36 years working for the same entity in various roles and at various locations. I had not known it in advance, but 20 March turned out to be full of portents: I can’t claim that the sheeted dead did squeak and gibber in the Cambridge streets, but there was a pretty sizable eclipse of the sun (sadly, not very visible in my immediate vicinity), and a Supermoon; and it was the International Day of Happiness, as well as the Vernal Equinox, which is actually quite a handful of happenings for that personally significant day.

I have been a bit concerned that I might fall into a bit of a slump, mentally and physically: after all, how often, chained to my desk, have I not wished to be on the sofa at home, knitting and watching rubbish television? In fact, not that often, and on the thankfully rare occasions when I was housebound through illness and I was too tired, or my eyes were too streaming, to read, I got mightily fed up with daytime tv. But just in case, I have Made Resolutions for my dotage.

  • Get to grips with Dante (see New Year resolutions passim for the last 20 years or so)
  • Visit one of the greatest Botanic Gardens in the world (a trowel’s throw away, and now with added kingfishers) more regularly
  • Spend more time in London (thank you, Senior Rail Card!), and explore it on the surface, not via the Underground
  • Draw a circle 30–40 miles around Cambridge, and explore it
  • Continue to blog, in this new guise
  • Continue to tweet (@Prof_Hedgehog)

The latter two handles are based on a family joke which (like most) is not worth explaining to the rest of the world, but which means I can remember them as my dotage proceeds. (I quite fancied @CambridgeCrone, which, strangely, wasn’t already taken, but others objected.)

Max hopes that my retirement will mean fewer books in the house – little does he know...

Max hopes that my retirement will mean fewer books in the house – little does he know…

In my previous life, my blogging and tweeting (which I initially took on with a certain reluctance) had the evil aim of trying to get you to buy a product range. I won’t guarantee not to plug similar products in future (indeed, I am doing it already), but if most of the readership ignores my hints as they have in the past, my conscience will be clear. And I will not tie myself in knots so much when I have something I really want to burble on about but which can’t be attached a product, except with quite outrageous tangentiality.

Things got off to a good start when finally, yesterday afternoon, the sun came out, and I planted the gorgeous leaving present which my dear friends and colleagues had so kindly given me, and took photos of this year’s hellebores (it’s a brilliant season for them, as it was for snowdrops), and my annual true portent of spring, the first Tulipa turkestanica.

And when I staggered in, wiped the soil off myself, sat down, and realised that I hadn’t filled the bird feeders, it occurred to me that I could do it this morning. (Now duly done: a pair of great tits descended almost immediately.)

Not only that, but I see there are two books I must add to my wishlist: Naturalists in Paradise, by John Hemming (about Wallace, Bates and Spruce), and a new book, by Ruth Scurr, on John Aubrey – about whom coincidentally, I had planned to bore you in the next week or so anyway! So far, then, this retirement lark is shaping up quite well – and that’s even before I saunter a trowel’s throw away to have lunch in the Botanic Gardens!


Hellebores, 22 March 2015

Hellebores, 22 March 2015

My 'black' hellebore

My ‘black’ hellebore

Phenomenon: I don't buy double hellebores - can this be a natural cross, or have I forgotten a generous present from someone?

Phenomenon: I don’t buy double hellebores – can this be a natural cross, or have I forgotten a generous present from someone?

Tulipa turkestanica - huzza!

Tulipa turkestanica – huzza!

Primroses: another cheering sign of spring

Primroses: another cheering sign of spring

A flower on my wonderful new magnolia, 'George Henry Kearn', about to emerge

A flower on my wonderful new magnolia, ‘George Henry Kearn’, about to emerge

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