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Off with the shackles, my Act Three is life on the open road.

Byline: Martin Wells life in the bus lane echo.newsdesk@walesonline.co.uk

IT MAY be a midlife crisis, it may be the male menopause. For all I know, it may just be trapped wind.

Whatever it is, I've had this feeling for some time that there must be more to life than eking out a living, treading water in the Sea of Tranquillity, grudgingly taking my place among the Squeezed Middle until my pension either kicks in or pegs out.

What's more, I think my wife is having the same thoughts.

For her, though, this middle-age malaise has taken a slightly different form, and instead of glumly marking time until our only form of excitement is a weekly date with a defibrillator, she's now the proud owner of: | A new waistline | A new, shorter haircut | A little sports car; and | A huge floral tattoo on her upper thigh Armed with these, she's become what can only be described as a different person.

That's not to say she's not the woman I married, just that there are times when she's less the matronly companion I imagined I'd have in my mid-fifties and more the vivacious young wildcat who comes in to care for me three days a week as part of her community service.

Despite all this, I'd like to think we're happy.

We send each other cards on Valentine's Day, I still surprise and delight her with the occasional bunch of the forecourt's finest and there's the odd "date night", of course.

But male pattern baldness and the probably baseless suspicion that, in her eyes, I'm not the spontaneous, thrusting go-getter I was 30 years ago are only increasing my general anxiety and the belief that if my life is going to have a "third act" it had better be something of a showstopper.

About six months ago - after years spent living in Cardiff and, in a previous job, working on the Echo - things came to a head.

We found ourselves sitting in our little motorhome - our one extravagance - battling to make ourselves heard above the rain.

"What are we doing here?" I asked her.

"Waiting for the rain to clear so we can go for a walk," she said.

"Actually, I was thinking along rather more existential lines."

"Oh, sorry," she came back. "Waiting for the rain to clear so we can go for a walk to the pub."

It's at times like this I realise she's my perfect companion, a constant pin to prick my pompousness.

Without her I'd be lost in a fog of uncertainty and fear and disappear very quickly up my own fundament.

She completes me.

Suitably rebuked, it was time for one of my rare moments of absolute clarity.

"I meant, what are we still doing in this country? Why are we still working? We could park on the rediscover adventure; forage, and to "We've got no mortgage, no kids at home, we're doing jobs we don't like to earn money for our next trip abroad.

"If you took your pension and we rented out the house we could just about survive on the road in this," (I waved a hand above my head to indicate the tin can on wheels in which we sat).

By now I was warming to my theme.

tour Europe, beach and our spirit of we could I'd learn fish...

"We could tour Europe, park on the beach, live on our wits and rediscover our spirit of adventure; we could forage for food, I'd learn to fish. "I could get a tattoo and maybe even (my voice now rising to a crescendo) some piercings!" Six months on and, would you believe it, that's exactly what we're doing. Well, minus the tattoo and the piercings.

We've sold most of our possessions, given the rest to friends, family and charity and rented out the house to a young family at the start of their own adventure.

We've packed the van with life's essentials and, as you read this, we're on the boat taking us to northern Spain.

Where we go from there is completely up for debate. We might turn, left, right, or take one look at the weather and come straight back, although I seriously doubt it.

Now, if I could just get rid of this trapped wind...

| Keep up with Martin's adventures in his new monthly Echo column.

trip your pension rented out the and voic"We could tour Europe, park on the beachand rediscover our spirit of adventure; we could forage, and I'd learn to fish...
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 26, 2017
Words:759
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