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Interview with Ms Sue Pickman

Ms Sue Pickman, radiographer, and her husband Dr Andrew Platts, radiologist, retired from the NHS three years ago and are making the most of having time to enjoy their hobbies.

Ms Sue Pickman, radiographer, and her husband Dr Andrew Platts, radiologist, retired from the NHS three years ago and are making the most of having time to enjoy their hobbies.

Yes, particularly windsurfing and skiing, both of which were very constrained by work. It is never windy on the weekends when not on call! Long distance travel was restricted to two-week trips which is not long enough.

I started windsurfing in the 1980s and Andy in the 1970s when at medical school. The early days with enormous heavy boards and unresponsive sails and rig have been replaced by modern superlight kit.

Unfortunately getting an early start in the sport has allowed us to develop ingrained bad habits that we find hard to shake despite numerous coaching courses.

The Mediterranean, Caribbean and Atlantic islands have great spots. Our favourite places are Tarifa in the extreme south of Spain, the windiest place in Europe; Margarita, a Venezuelan island in the Caribbean; and Peligoni in northern Zakynthos in the Ionian.

Andy has run an annual medical conference in Tarifa since 1996 where lectures run from 8.30-11am and resume in the evening from 5-8pm. In between the academic programme we windsurf, paddleboard, surf, kitesurf, horseride, cycle or play tennis.

Pretty much all our holidays were windsurfing or skiing when we were at work. We ski and sail more but now take holidays exploring the other interesting areas of the world usually combined with walking or cycling.

We love to view wildlife and archaeological sites. I love horseriding with great opportunities in Spain and Cornwall where I get to ride properly! We have also cycled and paddle-boarded around Orkney looking at the most amazing prehistoric sites such as Maes How and Skara Brae. We can’t resist a detour to see standing stones, hillforts and burial mounds.

In recent years we have skied in Val D’Isere while attending the Neuro-interventional Course. Last year we had a further week in the Italian Alps in Champoluc and are currently planning a return trip. Although we love skiing it can be too cold for me because, unlike Andy, I’m not from Yorkshire!

We have a VW Transporter van fitted out to carry our sports kit and try to drive on most of our European trips. The drive down to Tarifa after the Portsmouth to Santander crossing is fabulous stopping in Paradors on the way. They have a ‘golden years’ programme and we often enjoy bed and breakfast in fabulous historic hotels for 80 euros a night. The ferry takes 24 hours but we have seen numerous pods of dolphins and breaching great whales when crossing the Bay of Biscay.

Canada was amazing; we travelled from Calgary up the Rockies then down to wine country, the Okenagen Valley, then across to Vancouver Island finishing at a bear viewing station in a magnificent Fjord on a floating lodge hotel. We saw so much wildlife while travelling around but black and grizzly bears at Knight Inlet Lodge were stunning. We were in hides 10 feet from families of bears feeding on salmon migrating up the rivers to spawn.

We both stopped all work completely on the same day. I know this is hard for some people and many want to keep some work going. You will know what you want to do when the time comes.

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