Always expect the unexpected by Angela Caldin

You hear a lot about retirement planning these days and I’d be the first to agree that it’s a good idea to put money aside to finance a comfortable retirement so that you can do, with luck, what you’ve always wanted to do.

Global citizens

But let’s remember that what we’re talking about here is financial planning which is all well and good, but what we can’t plan for is what life and our families are going to bring us. In our case, it is a life in two hemispheres – six months in London and six months in Auckland New Zealand. We have one daughter and three granddaughters in Auckland and one daughter in London. We’ve also got a son and granddaughter in New York but haven’t quite worked out yet how to encompass them as well. How on earth did this happen? No amount of planning, financial or otherwise, could possibly have envisioned this diaspora.

Clouds of gloom

What does it entail for us? The first thing is long haul flights with all the misery they involve. Better financial planning might have enabled us to fly business class, but we must take our chance in economy along with all the other sardines. One strategy for passing the time is to watch films, even though the selection on most planes doesn’t accord in the least with my liking. The result is that I can watch six or seven movies and still be incapable of remembering any of them by the time we land. Then there is the food which I’m sorry to say I find absolutely disgusting. I never eat the hot food now; I just have a bread roll, a piece of cheese and a yoghurt if I feel up to it.

Property problems

The second thing is having two houses – a small one in each place instead of a biggish one in London. That means two lots of all bills: rates, electricity, water, broadband and so on, plus two lots of property owners’ worries about leaking roofs, outside painting etc. There is always the hope that a perfect lodger will turn up ready to occupy either vacant property for six months for a modest fee, but so far this has proved unlikely.

Happiness unalloyed

The third thing is quite simply the joy of having an exceptionally exciting time and getting to spend quality months with our children and grandchildren, as well as getting to know another country’s customs and traditions. We haven’t experienced winter for several years now, because when the leaves start to fall in one hemisphere, we go speeding off to the other. And I’ve been told that Norwegian Airlines is doing flights to New York for £160 so we’ll soon be able to pop over the Atlantic to visit the New York branch with ease.

The moral of this story

You don’t know what life is going to bring, but you’d better put money aside so that you’re prepared for the unexpected.

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