There seems to be a scarcity of UK retirement blogs out there (other than those proffering financial advice). In the absence of being able to read about other people's experiences, I instead offer you my own "Great Big Retirement Adventure."

Planet Retirement can sometimes be a bewildering place. My husband (Mister E) and I have moved from the initial concept through the planning stages to implementation and this site records the whole process.

Please visit from time to time and do add your comments. Popular posts and those highlighting our journey are specifically pinpointed on the right hand side together with a list of topics covered. Alternatively you may prefer to look at the Summary or the Tips from Wisdom Acquired or even our Have Visited List with its retirement atlas and dip in and out of the blog using the links given.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Disappointed by a Lack of Traction

This post comes with a health warning: the title reads, "Disappointed by a Lack of Traction." That is "traction," not "attraction." 

Okay warning over, what is Caree blogging on about today? Too old for acne, she can't have discovered another wrinkle, surely? No, let me say again this post is about traction or rather a lack of it.  

There I was after a week of relatively mild weather thinking Spring might be just around the corner when boom another snowfall hit, all 3 inches of it and life was thrown into chaos. It must sound ridiculous for those who live in countries used to regular winter snowdrifts but believe me, it now only takes a couple of millimetres and it seems that the whole of the British Isles grinds to a halt.

As I have written on various previous occasions, one of the great things about retirement is the ability to fit one's life around the weather. So much so that treacherous road conditions throw up two obvious choices: a cosy duvet day or an 'I'm smugly looking out of the window knowing I don't have to go out' kind of day. 

Except this morning I didn't want either of those options. 

It's Thursday and that means I'd booked into 3 fitness classes; kicking off at 9.30 a.m. with a core class in the kinesis studio, followed by 45 minutes of zumba before finishing with a well deserved and usually much needed stretch out in Pilates. Getting to the gym requires a 7 mile drive, much of it along country lanes, providing a period of quiet contentment before and after exercise and the closest now that I ever get to a morning commute.

Ever eager, I decided to set off early in light of the likely road conditions. Miss Scarlet whom you may recall I acquired in March 2015 is still an unknown quantity on snow and having stupidly dismissed Mister E's offer to fit winter tyres a few weeks ago (after all why would I need them in retirement, now there's no obligation to go out in extreme weather?), I set off regardless. 

Did I mention that we live at the bottom of a hill? I must have got all of 6 yards up it before I began to slip and slide relentlessly whilst a little light appeared on my dashboard warning me of a lack of traction presumably on the off chance that I had not noticed that my car was refusing to point in the direction I wanted. I reversed and took a run at it but Miss Scarlet indignantly refused to go any higher up the incline. Head down and shamed, I slowly edged backwards to our drive; typical front wheel drive car, there was plenty of traction in reverse gear but only absolute desperation would force me to use that all the way to the main road.

So there we have it: I didn't get to the gym; I realised why for most of my latter years of working I always had a four wheel drive car; I understand better the virtues of winter tyres and the limitations of my totally inappropriate choice of motor car for the handful of bad weather days we get a year. I also reminded myself that in retirement, I really don't need to drive anywhere. Instead we went on a beautiful walk to a local lake cum conservation area, past the medieval church and castle, and all the time with distant views of the Yorkshire Dales and Moors. Attractions on our doorstep that we don't appreciate as often as we should.

Better still, having cleared the drive of snow, Mister E has just suggested we should have mulled wine like we do up high on blue sky days in Alpine ski resorts. Moreover, he's not going to make me sit on the patio in salopettes to drink it!

Planet Retirement, where life is bliss and you can enjoy your snowflakes.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Back in Circulation

 So today turned out to be my big day and after two weeks in the grip of an influenza like illness (as I've seen Australian flu defined) I finally returned to the gym. When working it was accepted practice to attempt to struggle on regardless and when you did succumb to a virus, to return prematurely often causing what seemed to be a resurgence or lingering of symptoms. That said, the company of others, a change of scene and an assignment to task the brain can work wonders at uplifting the spirit.

In retirement, however, it is  easy to cosset yourself at home, break all contact with humanity and allow yourself to be nurtured slowly back to health. The trouble is staying in and warm, can become somewhat tedious after a time. Further, woe betide, if you allow yourself to fall into the trap of thinking that the older you get the longer these things take to shake off. With that mindset, I could stay in bed for months.

So a little like returning to work, I decided to throw myself back in at the deep end and to do three fitness classes this morning. As a result I talked to any number of people, smiled, laughed and got out of the sickness rut. It wasn't easy and on several occasions I thought the dreaded fever was returning, whereas  in reality whilst I was circulating with colleagues, my heart too was pumping overtime to get oxygenated blood circulating around my body and to recently unused muscles.

Consequently I returned home a trifle flushed, very tired but resolute in my determination to return tomorrow.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Paperwork and Deadlines

I don't recall commenting on completing the dreaded tax return for a few years. I note, however, that when I did so in 2015, I was buoyed by the possibility that age might bring a simplification of tax affairs. Well after spending all day filling in the online form, I am convinced that whilst my financial situation may have become simpler, the tax system and information required has surely become more complicated? Either that or the administrative burden of collating the detail required to answer the questions posed is so awful that I just blot it out for 12 months, let selective amnesia intervene and then allow myself to be overcome by shock and frustration when I sit down to insert the details every January.

In a desperate attempt at escapism, I did do an internet search on excuses to put forward to avoid filing. Sadly it looks as though HMRC is stony-hearted on this score and such creative explanations as others have offered, ranging from "the dog ate it"(which may work with homework but hardly an online submission) to an unexpected pregnancy (lasting 9 months presumably), being unable to get an internet connection (you can post it but must submit by 31 October) or "travelling the world" and "falling in with the wrong crowd," clearly fall on deaf ears.

I suppose the advantage of procrastination and leaving one's tax submission until shortly before the 31st January deadline is that you can guarantee there will always be one or two days of dreadful weather that probably serve no better purpose (so long as you avoid dogs, pregnancies, poor connections and travel) than for getting one's tax affairs in order. I also comforted myself with the discovery that I'm in good company because Albert Einstein himself is on record as saying, "The hardest thing in the world to understand is income tax." Of course, I'm not sure if he was referring to the principle of payment or the calculation, but am pretty sure he'd have expressed the same opinion if he'd experienced my tussle today.

I'm hoping future years' returns will be easier and that any easing in complexity of forms or finances is not offset by a decline in mental alacrity. Otherwise I can't imagine how I'll cope sitting in front of a computer in my nineties, wondering where I misfiled all the necessary paperwork that I need in order to answer the questions posed. Perhaps by then some kind Tax Officer will have taken pity on me and issued an exemption from a need to file; I can but hope.

In the meantime of course, I can draw solace from that celebrated of all quotes about tax from Benjamin Franklin: "In this world nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes."

The lesser of two evils: so long as I'm filling in a tax return personally, I'm definitely alive and kicking. 

Thursday, 4 January 2018


When you express appreciation it is of course because somebody has provided something good for you, an act of kindness or a compliment perhaps. When you receive it, then hopefully it is because you have done something decent for them. 

I am therefore please to express my appreciation to  Kathy Gottberg of who posted a brilliant entry recently listing a wide range of websites and blogs aimed specifically at retired people, most of which I had never come across. Do take a look and check them out.

The trouble with so many great retirement sites written by retirees for retirees is that they compete in search engines with insurance companies, financial experts and others seeking to peddle their wares to the grey haired brigade. Buried at the bottom of the mountain, many just simply don't get the attention they deserve.

Moreover the more I read, the more I realise just how many of us are on this  enormous adventure called "retirement" and, at the same time, trying to make sense of and create purpose out of it.

So a big thank you to Kathy for her research and results, oh and also for including this blog with them! It is much appreciated.