Sunday, 6 July 2014

Charles Darwin and the point of no return…

I hope you’ll forgive me for banging on, yet again, about my impending retirement. It’s just that at the moment it is the most significant happening in my life! There are still two weeks to go (eight working days), but on Friday I definitely passed the point of no return.


My retirement celebration evening was a wonderful occasion. Although I wasn’t looking forward to it, but my colleagues (past and present), governors, past students and parents all came along to make the evening a very special occasion.It was also the day that pupils and parents were informed of my retirement, via l’hebdo, our weekly newsletter. Tomorrow should be interesting.

I’d been very worried about my acceptance speech but I managed to keep them entertained! As usually happens on such occasions my Headteacher was very generous in her praise of my teaching abilities, then the deputy heads lightened the proceedings by performing a science sketch.

IMG_5419Nat and Richard

I wanted to use my speech to highlight, in a light-hearted way, some of the failings of the current system, which are a function of political dogma rather than for the benefit of our pupils. This is generally true regardless of the party in power. However, the primary focus was for me say thank you and to reminisce over thirty five years of teaching. Someone had mentioned that my replacement, Emily, reminded them of me. I can’t see it myself as she is young, tall, slim and blonde!! Well, I suppose I am fairly tall.

I calculated that over the past thirty years my travel distance to school has been over 140,000 miles and I’d spent nearly five months in the car driving to work!


The gifts were wonderful. A new camera and a magnificent fragrant rose called Charles Darwin, which was apt, as he one of the scientists I’d quoted (or possibly even misquoted) in my speech.

P1000010 The camera has a terrific 30x zoom

P1000052 P1000053










Today we had lunch with my good friends Corrie, Barbara and Sue. Corrie is married to Gordon, the Headteacher who appointed me. It was a very special meal, not only for the delicious food, but also for us as a group. There were echoes of a very French lunch; we started at 1.30 and finished at 7.40!!

Apart from Dave, Sue’s husband, we are all retirees! We have a tradition of buying a joint present for each other as we retire. Sue and Barbara were given stone benches, Corrie a bird bath and I was given a lovely squirrel proof bird feeder and some Zanzibar lanterns.

We used my new camera to capture the afternoon.

P1000060 Gordon, Lizzie, Corrie and Sue.


P1000079 Kevin (who is also retiring), Barbara, me and Tim.


Although we are very much looking forward to spending more time in France, I shall miss regular contact with these dear friends who have been such an important part of my life for so long.

Charles Darwin said that it’s not the fittest nor the most intelligent of the species which survive, but rather the ones most adaptable to change. I’m sure adaptability diminishes with age, so this is the right time for me to hang up my lab coat and goggles.

However, I’m hoping that it won’t be hard for me to adapt to retirement. What do you think?

I wonder what Charles would have to say about this…


  1. Is it the hair....
    is it the glasses....
    is it the thought of some relaxation....
    but, you seem to have lost some years recently.
    Be careful, they'll be checking your birth sirstifficate to make sure you are really qualified to retire!!
    Congrats from us both!!

    1. Thqnk you, and they say the camera never lies!!!

  2. You do look happy and relaxed :-)

    1. I am, and hope to become even more so.

  3. There's no changing your mind, now that you've had the send-off at school!
    I hope your last few days at school are happy ones, to round off all those good memories of your career.
    I'm sure that before long you will find it's all a dim and distant memory and wonder how you ever had the time for the lab coat and goggles!

    1. Thanks, Jean.

      I'll be following your lead, but without the house bits!!

  4. Will it be hard for you to adapt to retirement?????

    It will certainly be different. It will bring with it surprises and opportunities. It will give you the time to develop all those projects you've had on the back burner for so long and the ones you haven't even thought of yet!

    It will give you time as a couple to be get up and go when the mood takes you, or to sit and watch the world go by with a good book and a glass of something refreshing in your hand.

    It will be all these things and more besides and, if you're anything like us, it will most certainly be the best thing you ever did!

    So will it be hard for you to adapt? Knowing you, Gaynor, you'll take to it like a lab bench to a bunsen burner!

    ps. I wouldn't throw away the lab coat and goggles yet; you may need them for all the painting jobs Tim has lined up for you! xxx

    1. I don't mind the painting. It's the rubbing down that I detest!

  5. Thanks. Wise words that we won't forget!

    I'm now down to seven work days but have sorted just about everything at school that there is to sort. I'm still a bit jittery but this is tempered with eager anticipation and the desire to move on.

    There are still a few hurdles and 'last suppers' but these are to be enjoyed.

    See you soon x

  6. Enjoy the last few days of work. I am sure that you would not have spent the last 35 years hard at it if you did not really enjoy it. Soon you will wonder how you found the time to go to work.

    1. So everyone tells me! Only 7 more work days to go...

  7. Life and Living is an experiment ... we move from one scientific finding to another... one dictum allowed us to spread butter on the bread and the next moment we were advised to resort to probably GM margarine... yuk .. and I once used the olive variety! So... Butter your bread, put loads of jam on it, enjoy each day and see if a door opens! Treat retirement as an experiment and if you don't like the job it is easy to change! That lab coat will be great for sanding, gardening or even painting of the artistic variety! Or to hang as a reminder of the importance of your past career and what it taught you! Go for it! REALLY enjoy the last few days!!!!!!! You can always choose to return!

  8. Again excellent advice, which we will try our best to heed.

    I haven't got an artistic bone in my body, but Tim has!

    7 working days of which only 1 is a full day!

  9. It sounds like a wonderful do, and having these celebrations of your time as a teacher...not of celebrating retiring ( you'll have plenty of time for that in the next few years) is a wonderful way to mark the end of an era. I also think you will look back and be pleased you didn't use your speech opportunity to make too many political points. I remember wanting to do the same thing when I left the LA, but was pleased, that in the end, the important thing had been working with great people who had, on the whole, made my working life a complete pleasure. I hope you enjoy your last few days.....there will be tears Gaynor ! But they will be a sign of a wonderful career, enjoyed and appreciated by many many students...never mind working out the miles many kids have you influenced ???? Congratulations on a great career, congratulations on making it to retirement, still focussed in the classroom, not like us that deserted it for what we thought might be better things.....and wishing you an incredibly happy retirement. Jxxxx

    1. Thanks for these wise words, Janice.

      One week from now I shall be sitting in a restaurant with my good friend and former colleague, Barbara, and her husband who retires when I do. We shall no doubt celebrate the occasion with some sparkles... ;o) x

  10. It sounds like they are giving you a superb send off with loads of special moments :-) Great photos. Like Susan the first thing I noticed was how relaxed you look. Just think of it as a new adventure, different yes .... but I reckon you're going to be just as busy.
    On the down side, I know the teaching profession is going to be poorer one fine and inspirational teacher.

    1. Thanks. I have great hopes for my replacement.

      Hope the hip recovery is going well. See you soon.