Dress Rehearsal for retirement, a retrospective

"Looking back over our shoulders

We can see that look in your eye
We never dreamed it could be over
We never wanted to say goodbye"

Dear friends, readers, followers, guests: Preparing for retirement is like getting ready for a big holiday. We´ve been forewarned that like Covid, it never goes quite as planned. So the better the plan, the better the outcome. One needs  to have the flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances. You never know what retirement will be like until you get there, and in  order to make a smooth transition one idea would be “practicing retirement.” I have been thinking of it as a dress rehearsal before taking the big ( sometimes reversible, sometimes irreversible ) step to fully retire. When Covid arrived (first reported case) in Portugal on Monday March 2nd 2020, lockdown seemed inevitable. By 18 March  the President of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, announced a State of Emergency.
Suddenly by default our rehearsal for retirement had begun, cancellations of bookings were quick to the fore and what was to be our last year of opening the doors to guests and our intention of "going out with a bang" now became "going out with a miserable whimper." The irony was that if we were to host no occupancies for the year and yet hold deposits ( our cashflow saviours and a huge thanks to those who offered here ), our exodus from hospitality would be postponed and mean we would start work again the following year, even if just to honour the previous years cancellations. As it turned out we managed just 16 
occupancies out of a possible 972 ( barely a respite from payment plans ) at the end of the summer in the tight margin between quarantine regulations changing....

"The best sellers of 2020 were Sanitizer, Sourdough Starter, and albums by Dua Lipa and Celeste. It says it all really. Hospitality didn´t get a look in."

2021 Amber alert.. Hospitality hosts be prepared.The norm now is that the rules change frequently, stopping and starting with very little warning.In 1967 R.Dean Taylor sang

"Red light green light speeding through the dark night .....Freeway, byway, tearin' up the highway runnin' from a world insane." 
The logistics of adhering to strict but necessary Covid guidelines for the safe running of any type of lodgings became more rigorous  than our guests could possibly imagine, particularly the stipulation of each room having to be left vacant for 24 hours before the next occupants arrive.This alone plays havoc with the  bookings calendar and especially the administration of bookings from an organisation like Airbnb where guests can make a booking and arrive within a matter of hours. It left us with no option than to de-register from Airbnb.
It was like the curtains were being drawn. Serving plates of food to guests while wearing a black latex glove and an intimidating mask was never really going to work for me as inducing a relaxed / welcoming atmosphere. It was outside our remit / mission statement of welcoming guests into our home and making them feel at ease, almost as if staying with friends.To remove all superlative objects from rooms, books, cushions and nick -nackery does not provide the subsidiary personalized accoutrements necessary for unwinding and a stress free holiday.
"A chair is still a chair, even when there's no one  sittin' there
But a chair is not a house and a house is not a home" 

the poignant lyrics songwriter Burt Bacharach wrote for Luther Vandross.The chair will still be there but our house will become a home. When your  signature lemongrass and cardamom pannacotta no longer sets correctly and is lacking its tell tale bosomesque wobble. When your Indian twist gazpacho no longer packs a punch. These are significant nods toward stepping down.Your one year short of septuagenarian legs sorely retaliate when forced to make numerous trips of 107 steps back and forth to the garden table each day.

The final cue to sign off is given when polishing the floorboards of the long hallway and catching a glimpse in the grand mirror that once graced the back of a bar in an East Anglian pub. You see what you imagined  was once a fabulous front of house face now portraying a rehearsal for a withering glance (Note to self; even a wonky mirror never lies!!) You now know full well It's time to practice being retired. And no, that doesn't mean we get to start eating our dinner at 4pm. Retirement, or financial independence as it's often called, I definitely think it requires practice .Call it "Mock Retirement" if you like. It will provide us the hopefully undisturbed luxury of time to rehearse a beneficial retirement and practice living on our retirement income, and see where our future is to take us. We have made the decision  to close the doors at the end of October and reflect.

Such Fun!!!   Julia Toms and Sian Lewis shoot for 25 Beautiful homes 2013

The house has experienced a variety changes in 15 years with an assortment of pets.

A 24KITCHEN Channel TV shoot, hosting a bloggers weekend with journalists, hosting a workshop with Algave Michelin starred chefs, entertaining tourism officials, magazine editors and offering open house for photo shoots and most of all you. Opening our doors to  you the colourful array of guests who have entertained "us" in your own different and unique ways.

2012 The kitchen is radically transformed for a 24KITCHEN photoshoot

Hosting a garden lunch for Vanessa and Carlos from Sawdays 2017
Finally we thank all the team at Alastair Sawdays to whom we are eternally grateful for the custom they have generated and friends they have sent us from a demographic that, in the light of the fast changing trends and competion in our business, could easily have taken their custom elsewhere. Some small businesses like ourselves lost out to covid while others (fashionable Lisbon architects and entrepreneurs) struck up partnerships with builders in the East Algarve  speculating and throwing money at developing old quintas, former schools, shops, dairies into  beautiful new age properties aimed at a an aspiring next generation of post covid conscious travellers. How could we possibly compete without a further investment and refurbishment in the advancement of our final years
Our big day 12 October 2019!!!
As I write this we are hosts to a newly married couple who have had to postpone their nuptials and honeymoon four times now. Fifth time lucky.


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