As always, my life away from Integra largely revolves around family, music, travel and sport.
Having spent forty five plus years of largely putting career and business first and having had the wake-up call of the triple heart bypass, I am now ensuring that I get the right work life balance and organise myself accordingly.
Over the last year, together with the FD, I have looked to try and take a short break from business every few weeks and work through a long “bucket list” of places to visit! As travel restrictions ease I plan on these becoming more exotic in terms of destination but we have already travelled up and down the UK so far this year.
A few days in Pembrokeshire staying in the UK’s smallest city, St Davids, was a nice start and we followed this with a week-long road trip to John O’Groats and back, staying in six different locations on the journey. Calbraith, Glencoe, Wick, Inverurie, Stirling and Appleton le Moors. We saw some fabulous scenery, enjoyed some excellent wining and dining and also caught up with our friend George Douglas of Scotland’s Online Property Auctions who is a drummer and plays with me every year at the Wishbone Ash convention.
Last month we had a four-night trip to the Isle of Wight, basing ourselves in Fishbourne and taking the opportunity to catch up over dinner with my friend and former business partner in Tracewise, Juliette. We have been to the island several times but filled a few gaps in our experiences by riding on the IOW steam railway, taking the chairlift down to Alum Bay at the Needles, taking a boat trip out to the lighthouse as well as enjoying the spectacle of the Round the Island race from a wonderful vantage point at Ventnor.
In July we are in Norfolk for an action packed few days with the entire family, I have rented a large farmhouse and twelve of us (three generations) and my daughter’s dog Jessie, will be enjoying a boat trip on the Broads, crabbing at Cromer, ten pin bowling, mini golf, greyhound racing at Great Yarmouth and other assorted goodies!
September will see the FD and myself heading to the Greek islands for a couple of weeks on Rhodes, Symi and Leros. It will be our first flights since covid first struck and we hope that the current turmoil at various airports has subsided by then.
November sees us fly to Portugal for seven nights cruising on the river Douro and we are traveling to India in February for an extensive tour including several journeys on the rail system (hopefully not on top of a carriage with the goats!).
Sport has been somewhat mixed in recent weeks. Both of my grandsons, Jack and James, won the Manager’s Player of the Year awards at their respective clubs and Jack is now playing cricket for Chalfont St Peter under 9’s.
Not sport, but in a similar vein, my youngest granddaughter, Taylor aged four, has just taken her first set of dance exams. I’m sure she will have passed as she certainly has all the moves!
At the professional level, Watford had one of the worst football seasons in living memory and were relegated from the Premier League. A squad full of mercenaries with no passion, and a series of managers well past their sell by date, contributing to the malaise.
This summer provides an opportunity for a significant clear out of players, a refocus on younger home-grown talent and new leadership under Rob Edwards. In my opinion, anything less than promotion back to the Premier League will be a disappointment but we’ll see. One highlight will be that my grandson Jack now has a season ticket and so there will be three generations sitting together at home games – myself, my son Tom and Jack. Bring it on!
Like everything, music took a back seat with venue restrictions during the pandemic but we are now trying to make up for lost time and support our friends and live music in general by attending as many gigs as possible.
To date in 2022, I have seen The Mentulls (twice), Sari Schorr, Pat McManus, Del Bromham, Claire Hamill, Gabriel Moreno, Alice Armstrong, When Rivers Meet, Laurence Jones, Storm Warning, The Barnstormers, Catfish, Steve Whalley, the Cinelli Brothers, Papa George, Paul Cox and Soul Intention and, in the last few days, the legend that is Sir Elton John. Elton played two incredible nights at Watford FC. Two and half hours of hits, a powerful voice and an incredible band – three of whom – Nigel Olsen, Davey Johnstone and Ray Cooper have played with Elton for over fifty years – it showed, they were perfect!
I am currently rehearsing for the Wishbone Ash weekend in Leicester in October. I shall be playing as part of the Wishclone Ish night at the Barley Mow on Friday 14th and at the Y Theatre on Saturday 15th. Always fun and an opportunity to catch up with friends from across the world.
Family wise, my brother and family will be flying over from the USA and staying at Integra Towers during July – whilst they have a busy schedule of trips during their stay, we will find time for some appropriate family gatherings and wining and dining! We will be generous as hosts as he has just bought a stunning looking property on the Hawaiian island of Kauai and we might just need to find an excuse to visit!