Planet Retirement can sometimes be a bewildering place and with a scarcity of UK retirement blogs out there (other than those proffering financial advice) I thought I'd keep my own.

Please visit from time to time and do add your comments. Popular posts and those highlighting my 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.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

The Potatoes Must Wait

This time of the year is a busy one for gardeners  and with a dining table covered in chitting potatoes, I am desperate to get out into the vegetable patch and start digging and planting. What is it about our weather though? We can have whole seasons of sunny settled weather that confines itself to the working week, only for the rain to pour down on a weekend.

I once read a theory that it is all to do with commuters and the build up of pollution from their cars during the course of the week. That may or may not be the case but it is soul destroying sitting in an office when the sun shines, only to find that, when you do have the time to spend outside, the elements conspire against you.

This weekend has been blighted by showers and a cold northerly breeze the combination of which has made time in the garden most uncomfortable. Gardening is meant to be a hobby not an endurance test.

Roll on retirement when I plan to take advantage of all those sunny weekdays!

Thursday, 24 April 2014

An Opposite Encounter

Yesterday you will recall I had a conversation that resulted in me considering the potential for boredom in retirement, languishing without work or apparent purpose. 

Today, I am pleased to report that I found the flip-side to that conversation when I entered into a discourse with a former client whom I bumped into. Now happily retired, she disclosed that she had just returned from a season in the Alps where she had trained as a ski instructor. She enthusiastically described her exploits since relinquishing her own business. I was inspired and honestly can hardly wait to start my own retirement adventures.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Counting the Days

I had a conversation with someone today who was recently made redundant. He is actively seeking other work and after four weeks is finding his enforced leisure time a little tedious having undertaken all essential tasks including decorating at home, digging his garden, polishing the car and walking the dog (repeatedly). Apparently the poor dog now feigns a limp when he sees his lead being taken from the peg.

To what can I attribute his boredom and will I be similarly struck only a few weeks into retirement? Will the grass be greener on the employed side after all? Can I break the shackles of an instilled work ethic? Will my experience be different because I shall have chosen it rather than having it foisted on me through redundancy?

Obviously there are moments of sheer panic when I contemplate the future. On the other hand, I have begun to count down the days left to work and whenever I look at that leaving date circled on the calendar, a smile spreads across my face. 

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Walking my Way to Fitness

The Easter weekend was a very pleasant interlude in a hectic schedule as I endeavour to strive towards a clear desk in readiness for retirement. We entertained visitors which is always great because it means we are generally motivated to get out and about, visiting local landmarks that we frequently neglect because they are on our doorstep, so to speak.

However, our plans proved a little ambitious for my level of fitness and involved a somewhat strenuous walk across the North Yorkshire Moors where, looking at the length of the incline in front of me, I bowed out, took the lower route and met up with my companions in time for a picnic lunch in the great outdoors.

Walking is a superb form of exercise and when coupled with great views and good company, it's hard to think of anything to match it. I realise, however, that if I am to exploit the full pleasure of the long distance hike, improve my fitness levels and get to the top of those hills, I am going to have to get out regularly, not simply at Bank Holiday weekends or when friends and family come to stay. Hopefully this blog will record my achievements in that respect.

Monday, 21 April 2014

The Death Clock

The car is the one place I can be guaranteed to listen to the radio. On Thursday I took it for its annual service, picking it up at lunchtime. I am not usually in the car at that time of the day, so lunchtime radio is invariably a novelty. 

On this occasion, I caught a discussion with Steve Webb, the Minister of State for Pensions. In the wake of the potential changes in respect of pensions announced by the Chancellor in the Budget, the Minister was explaining how necessary financial advice might be given. Indeed he explained that there is a risk that people generally think, perhaps based on the life span of their parents or grandparents, that they will not live as long as they do. Therefore, and as a preliminary part of the financial advice that will be needed, it is proposed that we shall all have access to a longevity calculator. 

As described, it sounded like simplicity itself.

Curiously I googled "death calculator" and lo and behold came up with something very similar to that described. Part of the assessment involved, exactly as described by the Minister, inserting your frame of mind: suicidal, pessimistic, neutral, optimistic. Yes only four choices!

I decided to play safe and as the interviewer had suggested that pessimists might be very careful people who for instance check carefully before crossing a road, I inserted that as my mental outlook. 

It was clearly the wrong decision. Coupled with insertion of my BMI, gender and age, the death clock swung into action and immediately calculated not simply the date on which I shall die but also the number of years, months, days, hours, minutes and seconds until I get there! It was closer than I would like to think.

Such a device is unlikely to have any effect on my attitude to pensions or spending patterns. It will remind me however, of how transient and fleeting life can be and the need to enjoy every day of that forthcoming retirement.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014


Plans proceed apace by my colleagues as they conspire to provide me with a farewell party. Sometimes I am taken into their confidences, on other occasions I am left in the dark.

I attended a valediction ceremony in a court room the other lunchtime. It was full of the legal profession in gowns and wigs as they gathered to enunciate and share their memories of a dear friend of mine who also happened to be a Judge. The proceedings were formal with speeches on behalf of the judges, the bar and the solicitors; the atmosphere less so, as amusing anecdotes were shared, each speaker seeking to outdo the next. Finally the retiree himself spoke and in time-honoured fashion gave an anecdote or two himself and thanked everyone for being there.

I don't think the event my work colleagues are planning will be anything like as formal. At least I hope not. As for making a speech.. Well I just keep telling them corpses don't speak at their own funerals, even if it is a wake!

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

English Journey

I recently read   English Journey by JB Priestley in which he documents his travels around England in 1933, writing in particular about the manner in which the inhabitants of the different area of the country entertain themselves as well as live and work. Surprisingly and despite the passage of time, many of the places described were clearly recognisable to me from the author's descriptions. Whether he would consider them unchanged were he able to re-visit today, is another matter.

Seeing more of my own country is of course a must for my retirement. Somehow, however, I doubt if I shall follow in Priestley's footsteps. He appears to enjoy the hospitality of the industrialised urban centres yet somewhat too hastily for me dismisses Cathedral cities, regretting that York, which is one of my own more favoured haunts, "But for all its Eboracum airs, its walls, its Minster York has never yet enchanted" him.

Whilst there are a number of major destinations on my bucket list of cities to visit, for me it is also the wide open and green spaces of the rural landscape that attract, particularly our National Parks. I want to explore more of our deserted coastline and our historic monuments. 

In doing so, could I write a book to rival that of Priestley? Sadly, I doubt it.

Monday, 7 April 2014

The Smartphone Dilemma

One issue that I am finding particularly perplexing in planning for retirement is the extent to which I would use a smartphone. At present the firm I work for provides me with an iPhone. It is a dream for keeping me in touch with the office and diary functions, contacts and e-mail in-boxes are all readily accessible. I understand that I can use it to play games or listen to music, but even if I owned it myself, I wouldn't.

For private use I still have a stainless steel Nokia slide as pictured above. Truth is I do find it (much to my chagrin and the amusement of those who know me) an item of singular aesthetic merit.  I carry it for potential emergencies and occasional text messages to the eldest or youngest when we are arranging to rendezvous; normally so that I can pick them up off a train or from a friend's home. Obviously I run it as a Pay as You Go, topping up my credit by a limited amount of £10 every 6 months or so. 

Yes I am a seriously limited mobile phone user.

I have an iPad, which, Skype and Facetime excepted, I can't make calls from but and save for the quality of the photographs compared to those taken with the iPhone, it does everything that an iPhone does but on a much larger and user friendly screen. Of course it is heavier and I can't see myself lugging it around in my handbag just on the off chance that I might want to make a diary appointment. If, however, I am travelling any distance then it always goes with me.

So the quandary is, do I need to replace my long-trusted and to my mind totally stylish Nokia with a smartphone? If I don't and in order to replicate the services provided by the iPhone, which has the advantage of synchronising seamlessly with my iPad, it seems that I might need:
1. A small digital camera;
2. A connector to easily upload photos from the camera to the iPad
3. A paper diary for contacts and appointments
4. The Nokia
5. A replacement battery for the said Nokia as the current one is becoming unreliable.

I suspect that I would actually use a smartphone more for photographs and as an electronic  diary and organiser than for the e-mails I pick up on my business phone now. Is the cost, however, justified when I no longer need a mobile office, so to speak? Also do I want to intrude upon retirement with a means for staying in touch and being contacted by every possible means? Shouldn't it be an opportunity for a slower paced way of life and maybe regression to an earlier pre-digital age?

Mister E and I have spent hours discussing the various permutations and I am none the wiser as to what to do. How do others manage in retirement?