26 March 1999

A fresh start and a lot to look forward to

Retirement can be difficult enough to adjust to as it is. But

having to leave your home can mean just more trauma. In

the second of our occasional series on retirement,

Tim Relf visits a couple as they settle into their new house

LEAVING the farmhouse was the hardest part, no doubt about it. Mount Pleasant was the place Peter Cornish came to as an 18-year-old in 1944. The place became home to his wife, Marjorie and in the fullness of time, the place where their children grew up.

"The views are beautiful from up there," says Peter of their old home at Middle Claydon, Bucks. "You can see seven churches."

But they were tenant farmers. So, taking retirement last year, meant moving. The estate found them somewhere else in the nearby village of Padbury. But its been a difficult time. "It was a tremendous upheaval," recalls Peter. "There was so much to move."

With them came some of their prize possessions, not to mention three cats and three dogs. But Mount Pleasant – with its seven bedrooms – was a lot bigger than the new place. And you accumulate a lot of things living in one place for more than half a century. Some of it had to be sold. Some had to be put on the bonfire.

&#42 Track cleared

"At Christmas we had the family here and cleared a track through the packing boxes," says Peter. "I didnt find my saucepans for a fortnight," says Marjorie.

Now, most of the work has been done and life has nearly returned to normal. Nearly, but not quite. Even last month, cardboard boxes were still in the living room, unpacked. The budgies temporary home was still the downstairs toilet.

But things are looking up. Life in a road in a village has its advantages. The pleasant surprise at getting Christmas cards from new neighbours. Shops nearby. Buses which stop outside. The joy too at seeing snowdrops and daffodils blooming, unexpectedly, in the garden. "Its nice seeing all the bulbs coming up," says Marjorie. "I had no idea what was growing there."

The new place is warmer than the farmhouse, too. While the Cornishes loved coming in and warming themselves against the Aga after a long, hard day at work, a gas cooker has its plus points.

Now, nearly a year after packing up farming, neither Peter nor Marjorie have any regrets about getting out. The incessant grind, the ever-increasing paperwork. "I dont miss the milking," says Peter. "I did it for nearly 60 years."

Its just a shame the industry wasnt in a better state when they left. With BSE still in the headlines and farming in crisis, his animals made "peanuts" compared with what they once might have, says Peter. "Who could have predicted the bottom of the market would have fallen out?" Think ahead, is his advice. Put some money into a pension, if its possible.

And, after you retire, remember theres a balance to be struck when it comes to money. Prudence neednt necessarily mean not enjoying yourself. "You cant go mad," says Marjorie. "We dont want to live like paupers but we have to think about expenses that may crop up from time to time. You have to make provisions. But we still want to go abroad on holiday now while we can because there may come a time when we cant."

"Weve settled here," says Peter. Now hes considering putting a conservatory up. The cats do vermin hunting in the farmyard across the road. "Theyve adjusted brilliantly."

Besides, theres so much to look forward to. As Marjorie says: "Life at Mount Pleasant is a closed chapter. Its a fresh start and well do the best we can."