A middle-aged professional I have recently taken early retirement to fulfill a long held ambition to learn about the building of wooden boats. Born in Colchester, I have lived and worked in various parts of the world before settling more or less back where I started. Holidays with our children were usually with family in the UK or skiing trips to Europe. Now both our daughters have moved on my wife and I are planning trips further afield. Neither of us are very keen on hotels and renting an apartment gives us a chance to sample the everyday life of cities.