Dear u3a friends. I have spoken to some of you but not all – so hopefully this will explain my ‘disappearance’ from u3a and Carmarthen.
After six years of living on my own I decided, with the help of my children, to formulate a strategy for my final years. I considered my options having witnessing the lives of other older people in a similar position.
After spending time during lockdown staying at my daughter’s house in Ealing London and considering whether I could adapt to an Ealing life style, I made the decision to move. After forty years of living in and around rural Carmarthen this may sound strange. So how am I finding it?
Moving house, we were told, is like having a baby. I expect the ladies will strongly disagree – it is certainly always an upheaval. I had already downsized following my last move from the home my wife and I had shared; so many joint possessions had already gone. It is still surprising how much I had held unto!
The move to a two-bedroomed flat in suburbia meant travelling light. The flat, five minutes from my daughter and partner’s house is on a main road and bus route, with a zebra crossing outside. So no parking. The week before my move, at the end of March, I sold my car on Facebook. A car in London is not necessary and very expensive. Public transport for the over sixty-fives is free and very good.
The two-bedroomed ground floor flat and small garden was purpose-built with others at the turn of the century. On the opposite side of the road is a primary school and a Roman Catholic lower school. Further down my side of the street there is a big Academy secondary school that opened this year. It is in a modernised majestic Regency building. I like people and children and I love looking out to see all the movements to and from school. My neighbours are very pleasant – above me there is a couple with a one year old.
Getting all the utility services was a bit of a nightmare. Fortunately I had my children to lean on and without their help it would have been a struggle. Broadband always a problem. Of course life, owing to COVID, is still far from normal. Things will be easier after Monday 17th May. As an older person with some health issues, I needed to organise a doctor. This was difficult due to the epidemic, with the surgery virtually closed – so prescriptions had to be organised by email or phone. This was true with a consultation as well.
So how do I spend my time? I could and will rejoin the local u3a which is quite big, having over two hundred members and many interesting groups. They are in the same position as Carmarthen U3A – they can only zoom for the most part. I will wait until the autumn before joining.
I walk a lot more than I did in Wales. There are some wonderful parks close by. I walk through Lamas and Walpole park to get to the main shopping area of Ealing Broadway. There are also three other big parks close by. The history of the parks has evolved from the mansions of the rich, many of which have been bought or bequeathed to the Council for public use. Beautiful gardens, ornamental trees and lakes make them a haven for wild life. The Brent canal runs by Boston Manor Park and has plenty of waterfowl activity. The parks have play areas and sports for the young and a quantity of public seating which I really appreciate these days! This is something Carmarthen lacks.
The main supermarkets are in the shopping area – two Sainsbury’s small versions are walkable. A large Co op is very close, but with an array of small shops close by, I really do most of my shopping in them. Being one of the most ethnically diverse areas of London ,the shops offer a huge range of food. A Polish shop is my nearest, next to a traditional butcher. Then a small parade with Indian, Asian and an off-licence. A bus to the main Broadway runs every ten minutes.
I’m hoping to make use of the opportunities here, spending time in central London. Owing to the present restrictions it has not been worth going – so my trips out have been mostly catching a bus to Kew Gardens and Richmond. Both places are interesting and wonderful at this time of the year. Next week, I will be at a theatre one evening and the following week going to an exhibition at the Royal Academy.
There will be no foreign travel for me this year as far as I can see. Wales will be the only place I will be going to.
This is a place of great convenience. There is a constant stream of delivery vans. I have turned to Amazon frequently. There is every type of meal you need delivered to your door. Fresh food is coming to the streets constantly. Ocado will send a courier with food within two hours of ordering it! Of course you do need money to pay the extra delivery charge. At the top of the road, should I feel lazy, there’s pizza, fish and chips, Spanish Tapas, Chinese and Indian takeaway. So life is very much different for me!
I do hope Carmarthen u3a will start up again and maybe have some fresh ideas and ‘new blood’. Once upon a time I was that ‘new blood’! Even head office seem to be reviewing their role and their strategy and considering the future of the organisation. A challenge also for Carmarthen!
Mike Perry, former member of Carmarthen U3A