When I retired in 1993 Jacqueline also retired from paid employment, although she continued working for many years as a voluntary Charity Shop employee.

Initially, I could not settle into retirement and sought another job. It became evident very quickly that employers have little interest in people in their 50's. So I decided to give "self employment" a try.

I put my DIY skills to work and took up painting and decorating.

Charging only £3 an hour I was swamped with work as people passed my name on to friends and relations.

I spent several weeks working at Fox House Inn which was quite enjoyable because they allowed me a free choice from their lunch time menu every day.

Not really needing the money the decorating brought in, I tired of travelling round with my "decorating kit" and turned down futher work.

With the extra time on our hands Jacqueline suggested we had a go at Sequence Dancing. We attended classes at St Oswald's Church, Abbeydale and then joined Sheffield United Senior Blades Club:

In addition to the sequence dancing at Sheffield United which took place every other Sunday there was a Christmas party.

This was our table at one of the parties. We were seated with Dorothy and Eric, June and Alex, Joan, and Alan, and Renee

We also joined the Contact Club for sequence dancing in Dronfield:

The couple we sat with have their backs to you in the photo and are called Sylvia and Roy.

We also attended another sequence dancing club, called Croft House in West Bar, Sheffield.


Many years ago when my cousin Malcolm McLean and his wife Pam lived in Dronfield they had a caravan at Holmesfield.

They went to live in Leicestershire but retained their caravan in Homesfield. We lost all contact with them until late 2002. Malcolm's father ( my uncle Mac) lived alone and needed a little help with his shopping, which I gave him. As a thankyou Malcolm and Pam came up to Dronfield and took us out for a meal. They stayed overnight in their caravan and next day invited us to come and see it. It was a tranquil site and as we sat in the van on a beautiful day I expressed the comment:   "I could get used to this".

Jacqueline agreed and we bought this one when it came up for sale:

The price was £1,500, way above what it was worth, but its value was enhanced because you were paying for the pitch on the site. It was quite small and had no electricity or water connected. We made some improvements to it and slept there several times. When we asked if we could replace it with something bigger the site owners turned us down saying the pitch was not big enough to take a larger van.

The only other alternative was to wait and see if another van on the site came up for sale. It did, this one:

It was a complete wreck but stood on a larger pitch and had electricity connected. The owners wanted £2,000 for it! We were prepared to pay the extortionate price just to get the larger pitch with the view to scrapping the van and buying a better one.

The site owner forced the vendors to reduce the price and we were able to purchase it for £1,250. The search was now on for a larger van. We quickly found a 26 footer in Clay Cross and bought it for £1,800. We now had three caravans, two on the site and another awaiting delivery.

The pitch needed work doing on it to accommodate the larger van and I received much help from Malcolm:

I arranged for the new van to be delivered on the back of a huge lorry and for the old one to be taken to the scrap yard on the same lorry. A funny story resulted.

Whilst we were preparing the new pitch I inadvertently closed the van door and left the keys inside. As we were scrapping the van I just used my spade to force open to door. This damaged to door catch slightly.

The new van was delivered and placed on the pitch and the old van loaded on the lorry:

Malcolm said he would go in his car, act as guide for the lorry driver and take him to the scrap yard in Chesterfield.

As they were travelling along the Dronfield by-pass Malcolm glanced in his rear view mirror. He saw the wind blow open the van door with the damaged door-catch and rip it from the van. It sailed high in the air, flew around and crashed on to the hard shoulder. The lorry driver didn't see it so they just continued on.

When they got to the scrap-yard the crane driver tried to lift the old van from the lorry. He grabbed the roof but instead of the van being lifted, the roof came off and what was left of the body of the van crashed over the edge of the lorry.

With the help of Malcolm I connected mains water to the van which involved extensive digging across the site road to get to the feed-pipe.

In later years we made further improvements:

We had all the seating reupholstered, £570:

New carpets fitted £200

A new double bed.

and decking fitted:

Jacqueline wouldn't let me do the work myself so we paid a professional ( £1,800 the same price the van cost)

She did, however allow me to replace the van kitchen from this:

To this:




Earlier, I stated that employers are not interested in taking on people who are over 50.

This is not strictly true because in May 2004 at the age of 64 I was contacted by this man:

Kaj Schneider. General Manager of PICA TRAINING.

I was asked by letter if I was interested in working for their company. I had no idea where they got my name from and never did find out but they invited me for an interview in Huddersfield. I was curious so I accepted.

I was told at the interview that the nature of the job was SALES something I had no previous experience and something I hated.

Who wants to be pestered by a salesman to buy something?

Well, the company were selling correspondence courses for 8-11 year old children to teach them how to TOUCH TYPE.

I don't know why but I thought maybe I could do this. I couldn't Touch Type butt my speling was gud and i seldum maid tie pin misteakes.

I told them at the interview that I was interested and I had to return two weeks later for a second interview. I was successful and given the job.

The work involved contacting head teachers at schools in and allocated area and asking for permission for them to send out information about the course. The returned slips were them sent back to Pica Training and then forwarded to me to ring the parents and seek a home visit.

I would then demonstrate the course. The pay was commission only, no mileage expenses or telephone allowance.

Payment around £23.50 for each course sold.

I didn't sell the first two courses I demonstrated but I quickly developed the skills necessary to convince children and parents that the children would benefit at school and at university if they had the ability to touch type.

I soon notched up a hundred sales. I was not really interested in the money - I was getting tremendous enjoyment out of talking to the children and even more from talking to the parents who, quite often, were doctors, nurses, scientists, teachers and even a heart-surgeon.

I became so adept at the job that out of every ten visits to homes I was selling nine courses. My best effort was selling eight courses in 1 day. When I achieved my 200th sale I was given a £100 bonus.

Pica Training is a Dutch company and a caring employer. I was showered with free gifts such as binoculars, an expensive boxed bottle of wine plus all manner of accessories, quality pen and pencil set, boxes of chocolates and at Easter a very nice Easter egg.

After a year Jacqueline said she was tired of me disappearing at night and at weekends. I was out too long because after selling the courses I stayed on chatting to the parents about other topics.

I rang the Pica Training Manager and told him I would have to cease working for them. He was very upset and said he was about going to ring me and offer me a promotion within their company. I explained that I didn't need any extra money and it was more important for me to be at home more. He was very persuasive and Jackie agreed I could continue for another year.

I then returned to full time retirement.

Click here to go to Section    Life After Retirement Part 2