Thursday, July 16, 1998

This is why we did it

My name is Rosemary Fretwell. I was a school teacher all my working life. My husband's name is Colin Fretwell. He was an electronics engineer all his working life. We have lived in Bognor Regis, West Sussex, since 1968. We have four children, born between 1968 and 1973. By 1997 our parents had all passed on and our grownup children had each fled the nest.
One day, in the Winter of 1997, I came home from school and said to Colin, "I have decided to take early retirement!" He replied, "Our contract's just been cancelled!" In the event he worked six days longer than me. In July 1997 we both took early retirement. I was aged 52 years and seven months. Colin was aged 55 years and two months.
For about a year we relished our newfound freedom, doing nothing very much. It took that long to recover from the strains of our mega-stressful jobs and become the people we really were. We were both very active, and needed a project for our retirement years. We had no family commitments except the occasional babysitting for our two grandchildren. We didn't want to vegetate in front of a TV screen and become couch potatoes. We both love walking and the outdoor life. We are both keen photographers and are interested in geology and wildlife.
It was my idea to walk the coastline of Britain. I had vaguely heard of someone doing it a few years ago, and the idea fascinated me. We had discussed it, not very seriously, many times. I wanted to be able to say, "We have walked every inch of the way! Yes, walked!" One day, about a year after we had retired, I said, "Come on! Let's get started!" So we made up a list of silly rules, donned our boots, walked down to the seafront and turned left. The reason we didn't turn right was because the sun would have been in our eyes for that first walk -- that was the only reason why we decided Anticlockwise is the Preferred Route -- (which is the original title before, with the help of our friend John in Hopton-on-Sea, we thought of the snappier heading Turn Left at Bognor Pier.)

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