Saturday, April 18, 2015

The final months of my career

So, how's countdown to retirement going?

Slowly, far too slowly, but I'm aware that it will probably be upon me before I know it.

Only 10 weeks to go!!

The painful truth is I am mentally over it. It hasn't been helped by my recent back injury, which has caused me a lot of physical pain as well as lack of motivation to get back to work. I've been back at work for 2 weeks now, although I had to take time off last week due to overdoing it in the garden the previous weekend (something to do with too many hours spent pulling out kikuyu runners) and my physio was quite concerned when I saw him on Thursday with the amount of spasm in my back still. He thinks 2 weeks between appointments might be too long, but if I'm going to go to work, I can't really schedule them at 10 days apart, it just doesn't fit.

At work, I am simply going through the motions. I am racking my brains as to whether, after all the preparatory handover work I have done, I have missed anything. I am waiting for people to ask, assuming there are gaps. But nothing. Then I discover nobody actually believes I am leaving!!

Last week I drafted, printed and signed my resignation paper. I gave it to the CEO's personal assistant.  Next week I will send out a very clear email to everybody telling them that I have officially resigned. Then they can all fucking well get over it!!

I also only purchased six months of medical indemnity cover, so come July 1, I'm no longer insured to be a doctor.

I am sick and tired of the negativity I receive, mostly from work colleagues, about my plans to give up my medical career. Just because they can't see any life outside their work/career doesn't mean I can't. To be truthful I've never clicked with my medical colleagues and have kept friends with very few over the years, mainly because I've never bought in to the culture of "being a doctor" or "behaving like a doctor" or whatever "a doctor" as a thing or entity is meant to be. I've always been amused by people saying to me "you don't look like a doctor", as if there is a special look! I will admit though, using the title definitely opens some doors that are resolutely closed without it.

So how are the retirement plans going?

I have officially engaged the services of a real estate agent and lawyer to put my house in Sydney up for auction in July. I am using the agency who has been property managing the house for the last 18 years as they are local, well known and have provided me with a great service already. Auction date is 25th July, so hopefully soon after that I shall be debt free and cash rich.

Since I am looking at paying a large capital gains tax on selling the property, I'm going to lay low for a year, look at investment options, not rent out my primary home and just chill.

However the travelling begins on 30th June!!

First stop New Zealand. I'm flying in and out of Christchurch, where I'm hiring a cheap as chips car for 3 months so I can have wheels and flexibility. At $1300 for the whole time, including insurance and AA coverage, it's a better deal than buying and then selling a vehicle. My travel insurance covers the excess waiver insurance, so that keeps the price rock bottom. Sure it's not a flash car, but I've hired the Nissan Sunny before, and it's fine for my needs, which are mostly going up and down ski field roads, and I'm quite the professional at fitting chains these days!

In Christchurch I'll be catching up with my friend Yuri, who has found true love with a cute Kiwi redhead and is currently renovating an awesome cottage at Taylors Mistake just above Sumner Beach. I'm going to stay a couple of days and see a little of Christchurch, pop down to Lyttelton Harbour where the original port was and if there's snow, maybe convince Yuri to come riding with me.

If there's snow. New Zealand, especially the Canterbury Region, had a dreadful season last year, and although the long range forecast for this year is more positive, it's not glowing. Sure they had a polar blast come through last week and dump lots of white stuff, but it's still 2 months till the first of the ski fields will be open, and they need a lot more snowfall before they can do just that.

I have a plan A and a plan B, dependent on the snow. If there's snow, then I plan to make my way slowly down to Wanaka, visiting a bunch of club fields en route. Porters, Cheeseman, Craigieburn and Broken River are all options, dependent on conditions of course. Now that I've got my learners plates on the nutcrackers I'm ready to rock and roll.

I don't plan to head to Olympus, as it's just too far into the mountains for a day trip, but it's definitely on the cards for the trip back, and maybe with friends from Japan. More on that later...

After Canterbury I'll head down to Tekapo, and ski Dobson, Roundhill, or both, before heading to Ohau, and then on to Wanaka. Two years ago I purchased an earlybird midweek Chill season pass that allowed me unlimited midweek skiing at all the club fields (except Ohau) but I only used it 10 or 11 times so I decided that if I do ski the clubbies this year, I'll just pick up a 10 day pass in Christchurch as the price is the same yet a 10 day pass can be used any day of the week. Also, the fully inclusive accommodation and meal packages at Olympus are such good value you don't really save money on a prepaid pass. Plus there's the hot tub!!

If there isn't much snow by 1st July, then I'll use Plan B, which is to head over Arthur's Pass to the West Coast and do some walking and sightseeing on my way south to Wanaka. Both times in the past when I've tried to head over to the West Coast, I've been stopped by landslides. The road repairs on the Haast Pass have only recently concluded, after being closed fully for 10 days and partially for 18 months, after the tragic landslide in 2013. That was when I was over there last.

Once in Wanaka I'll be working at Wanaka Bakpaka, cleaning rooms and doing evening reception, and skiing Treble Cone in my spare time. The other reason for having wheels. This is a work for accommodation deal so no cash changes hands meaning no income to declare to the tax man.

I'm hoping to do a little backcountry skiing this winter, maybe a snow safety/avalanche awareness course and I might even go heli-skiing. Will just need to see how life, and working at the hostel, pans out.

Later in the season I plan to head back north and spend another week around the Canterbury club fields, hopefully with a crew. A few of the gang from Japan are interested, we'll just have to see how the weather holds out, and if we can get a posse together. Already one down with Kathy having torn her ACL and heading to surgery in May. And Ken isn't answering his emails.

I fly out of Christchurch September 30 (for some reason the airfares all went up in October so you take the best deal) and in to Sydney. Here I'm also hiring a car for 2 weeks and visiting my friends down in Wollongong and Kiama/Gerringong, heading down to Canberra to visit family and go to a school reunion, and just chilling for a while. Usually my east coast visits are somewhat rushed, so it's lovely having the luxury to spend a bit more time. This is the joy of retiring and not having date commitments, and being able to find a really cheap flight back to Perth for well less than $200 carrying 35kg of luggage!

Back home I'll say goodbye to my house sitters and settle in for a spring and summer in Geraldton. There'll be house chores to do, a few more home renovations and then March 15 I fly out to Bali. At this stage I haven't actually decided where and for how long I'll be in Indonesia, but I'm thinking a minimum of 3 months. Just Air Asia advertised these really cheap flights, so I bought a one way ticket!!

So I guess I'll be hunting for more house sitters.

What fun!!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Devilish Mischief

February is usually hot as hell, with a good string of 8-10 days in the high 40s. But not this year. Seems the devil went on holidays. Not only did the mercury not even hit 40 for the entire month, they even got rain. And on the night I returned home we had a massive storm and 62mm in one hour!! (average annual rainfall is 400mm if you want to put that in perspective).

Needless to say, the garden looks magnificent!!

It's green!

There are papayas galore. Dragonfruit ripening and still more flower spikes developing. Rocket everywhere....

Cucumber vines

Just lush as.

The mango tree looks really happy with lots of new growth, but the trunk still needs to thicken up as it's as weak as.

Back from holidays, the devil decided to play games. Nasty games.

Mid March we had a cyclone come through. Same day as Cyclone Pam was destroying Port Vila in Vanuatu, little Cyclone Olwyn snuck down the west coast, wreaked havoc up in Carnarvon (they had no water or electricity for 3 days) but was a complete fizzle by the time it got to us. Phew!

A week or so later, and we got hit by a freak storm with really scary swirling winds and huge hailstones. Enough to fill an esky and make a few dozen margaritas!

It ripped my shade sail to kingdom come, tore my TV aerial off the ridge cap and scared the bejesus out of me.

And then it has continued to rain almost every day for the last week. It's still warm though, which means it's quite pleasant, and a perfect opportunity to get out and do a bit of weed whacking whilst the ground is nice and soft. Except for the flies....

This is awesome lovely weather, but so not normal for this time of year. It's 2 months ahead of schedule.

My garden, aside from having to recover from an absolute beating from those huge hail stones, is loving it. Lots of new asparagus spears coming up. Snow peas sprouting, tomato plants powering, new eggplants fruiting (Freddie's plant is winning) and the dragon fruit is putting out its fifth set of flower spikes since December. Yum yum!

Who knows what the next month will bring?