Let Them Eat Cake

Listening to a radio news bulletin yesterday, I have to confess to a bout of salivating excitement. "Older people should eat cake, and cream, and chocolate," I heard.

For a brief moment I wondered if I was dreaming, somnolent amidst a Bake-Off fantasy land perhaps. However, a check of the day's newspapers confirmed that they were running the same story.

It's taken two hundred and twenty five years but Marie Antoinette's purported dismissal of the woes of the peasants has finally found a home.

In the past we have had reversals of the health advice pertaining to the consumption of eggs and butter, so why  not to cake (and cream and chocolate)?

Call me an optimist if you must, but I am still looking for an opportunity, in the interests of twenty first century science, to disprove one of the basic laws of life, namely that if something sounds too good to be true then it probably is.

Sadly this wasn't my golden moment. To benefit from this latest wisdom it seems that f…

Embracing Autumn

Unless you were fortunate enough to have outdoor employment or are spending retirement closeted away, life post-work is inevitably more cognisant of the changing seasons.
After the long, drawn out, hot and languid days of summer it can be emotionally draining to experience the transition from sunshine to the dark evenings, stiff breezes and rainstorms of autumn. In fact it demonstrates just how dry this year's summer was when, despite being British and spending the whole of your adulthood with an umbrella wielded to your arm, you are actually surprised when it rains. Depressed, disillusioned, and dejected: a sorrowful reaction to the traditional season of golden leaves, floating mist and wide, breathtaking skies.
When I was working, I had a tendency to ignore the progress of the seasons, to batten down and continue, oblivious to the changing elements, cocooned from the outside by four walls with a pile of files to concentrate on and distract.

In retirement there are no barriers unles…

Self Definition

I have been musing for sometime about how we are defined by both ourselves and society and how easy it is to gain our self-identity from the job that we do. My thoughts on this were provoked still further by the discussion, to which I contributed, in the comments that followed the blog entry across on Satisfying Retirement entitled "5 Things a Retired Person Learns about Life after Work."
Ask a career housewife what she does and the stereotypical value of paid work is reinforced when she replies: "Oh, I don't work; I'm just a housewife."
Similarly, a person carrying out unpaid voluntary work can be inclined to say: "I don't work either, I'm just a volunteer."
Somewhere along the way society has instilled the idea that working for anything other than money is less valuable in itself than paid employment.
Little wonder, therefore, that in retirement, after our two score years or thereabouts in the workplace, we add to the falsehood. How often w…

Eye of the Storm

The dry, warm days of summer ended abruptly today with the arrival of Storm Ali. Delight at the thought of yellow and brown leaves being blown around my feet prompted me to take a short walk with the intention of pinning posters on the Parish Noticeboard.
I was on a tight schedule, squeezing the stroll between exercise classes this morning and a trustees' meeting at the almshouse this afternoon. Consequently I walked fast and the effect was indeed bracing, until the pernicious clouds above turned an ominous shade of grey, scudded overhead and then emptied their complete contents over me. If that wasn't enough, as I waded through rivers of water, the wind lashed the rain into my eyes, stinging and causing me to stumble blindly in the direction of home.
Of course there was something exhilarating about the whole experience, not least when I felt rain run past my collar, down the back of my neck and in streams all the way to my socks. As my showerproof jacket surrendered to the elem…

Arty Farty

Long-term readers of this blog may recall that even before retirement I was expressing some interest in learning to paint, an activity I abandoned more than three decades ago as my time became consumed by work and family commitments. 
Since retiring, although I have frequently declared my love of colour and contemporary art, my painting has been very much limited to muted tones on walls. I did try sketching but the results were, should we say, disappointing. Had I been back at school I'm sure the report would have indicated something to the effect that "Caree needs to practise diligently in order to improve," which sadly I have not and which, in any event, would no doubt be teacher-code for "lacking in talent, temperament and tenacity."
However, I was recently admiring the paintings of Carole Ann Hall, a local artist in Newcastle, wishing that I could share just a small part of her flair and technique when, totally coincidentally, I discovered details in my Twitt…

A Mobile Holiday

I may be ambivalent about caravans and camper vans but I honestly can't visualise the idea of a mobile holiday anymore.
Recently I ran into a former work-colleague, clutching her iPhone. As it was mid-week the meeting was unexpected, but she explained that she and her mobile phone were taking a few days off together.
Remember those days? Checking and dealing with e-mails before breakfast and exiting the room when a call came in, to respond to urgent business. Worst of all, we did it to make life easier on our return to the office.

I'm far enough into retirement now that it reads back like some kind of horror story. More so because I only returned from a sojourn in the Lake District a couple of weeks ago, after holidaying in the moment (to quote from my last blog entry). The solitude of the high fells was bliss and I never heard a mobile phone ring all week. After all it is we who need to holiday, not our telephones. 
Perhaps it's a shame that it takes retirement to demonstrate…

Living in the Moment

There is much talk these days about mindfulness and living in the moment. I'm afraid that I am not a great one for meditation and when I have tried, have enjoyed nothing more than an opportunity to daydream as my mind wanders, flitting like a butterfly.
In this morning's yoga class, the instructor tried that long familiar technique of focusing on the breath and asking us to bring the mind, whenever it chose to take a little saunter, back to the breath. I think I'm a useless case, because I actually revel in those small mental rambles.
Retirement, of course, is the perfect time to really start living in the present if you haven't already honed the technique. When you are working it becomes routine to think about the weekend or a forthcoming vacation and then when you are away from your desk to think about the files piling up awaiting your return. We may have spent our lives fretting about actions in the past and worrying about the challenges around the corner, so tied up …