Alex & Phil

Alex and Phil have ended up by amazing coincidence immediate neighbours. Reunited after 40 years, they met again at an Arbour social BBQ, having known each other well as  members of the track and field team at Sydney Uni in their youthful days of study.

Alex & Phil 2

HI, NEIGHBOUR, BERRY NICE TO SEE YOU AGAIN

Story as written by Carolyn Boyd in the Coast & Country liftout of the Domain on 16-17 August.

Almost four decades after they first met, the last place retired surgeon Alex Tahmindjis and dentist Phil Crocker expected to catch up again was while they were looking for a new home.

The pair were members of the track and field team at Sydney University in their undergraduate days. While Tahmindjis went on to become a champion hammer thrower, reaching the national titles, Crocker switched focus to tennis.

It was while they were looking at an over-55s development in Berry that they renewed their friendship.

“Alex and his wife came down here looking at the place and they ended up moving next door,” says Crocker, a retired dentist who lives at The Arbour in Berry.

Crocker and his wife, Pam, a former teacher who  received an OAM in 2010 for services to her community, were the first of the friends to move to The Arbour. They had been planning to do so for several years and were one of the first couples to register interest in the development.

The couple had previously lived in Sydney’s Frenchs Forest for 20 years before making a tree change for a quieter life in Tumut, where they lived for two decades. They were not keen to retire to the city.

“We didn’t want to go back and live in Sydney because the traffic was so terrible,” Crocker says.

However, as the couple’s two sons and grandchildren are in Sydney, they wanted to be within easy driving distance. Family ties to the southern highlands and south coast made Berry an easy choice.

“We knew that we wanted to move here because my wife is from Wollongong originally and I grew up at Moss Vale [and] I’ve got a twin brother at Kangaroo Valley,” Crocker says.

After years of working, the couple were attracted to an over-55’s village where they did not have to worry about maintaining their property or mowing their own lawn.

“It’s a really nice way of just enjoying retirement,” says Crocker, who paid $575,000 for a new two bedroom, two-bathroom house with a study at the development.

“It’s a 99-year lease, so you don’t actually own it, which means you don’t even have to change light bulbs,” he says.

“They do all of that sort of stuff. It just frees you up so that you can just do what you want to do. As you get older, you can become very isolated living in your family home and you’ve got the worry of all the maintenance and mowing lawns and stuff like that.”

Although he admits to finding time for an afternoon nap now, Crocker says he feels just as busy in retirement as when he was running his own dental practice.

‘”People told me, ‘You’re going to be bored stiff,’ and I’m thinking, ‘Oh gee, I’d like to be bored stiff so I can get some more reading done’. I haven’t had time to get the reading done that I want to do!”

“With a village like this, you can live like a hermit or you can be like us and take part in a lot of the activities. We’re very busy here, I’m secretary of the local aero club, I’m in Rotary. Were involved in our local church here and there’s a lot happening.”

The Crockers pay a monthly fee of about $630 to cover maintenance and insurance. “People who have actually done the sums say it works out about the same as if you were living in your own home and paying for all your maintenance and all your rates and taxes,” Crocker says.

Pam is part of a walking group, attends two exercise classes a week and plays the piano for several groups including another retirement village.

Since moving to Berry, Crocker has discovered he and Tahmindjis aren’t the only ones in the development with healthcare backgrounds; in fact, their row of houses has been dubbed “Macquarie Street” because there are several nurses and retired medical specialists living there.