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.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Physical and Mental Health in Retirement

Since retiring I have been working hard to try to increase my fitness and, in the fullness of time, to lose the weight gained by embracing an office desk and home sofa rather than aerobic exercise. Today, therefore, my diary had two entries in it: 9.00 am pool; 6.00 pm exercise class.

One of the many great things about retirement is, of course, the time that I now have for preparations. I can indulge myself and step out confidently knowing that my handbag complements the colour of my dress, my tights are not laddered and my shoes match.

I am also working hard on putting things down in the same place so that I don't waste hours looking for items such as keys and specs.

It's funny but when I was working I always used to think that it was because my brain was so cluttered with client business that it had no space for the trivia of my daily routine. Events today have forced me to challenge that preconception.

All ready in my swimming costume with dress over the top, car keys in hand, the youngest and I went to leave the house, only for me to be unable to find my house keys to lock up. They were last seen yesterday in the handbag that I was clutching. I duly emptied its contents, searched all the obvious places in the house but drew a complete blank. The youngest searched my handbag; the keys were found; she chastised me and we set off.

Everything then proceeded swimmingly (excuse the pun) until I was about to enter the pool but realised that I didn't have my goggles. Last seen on a hook in the shower on a previous visit and not in Lost Property, I have had to assume they are lost forever. My grateful thanks, therefore, to the colleague who gave me a pair instead, as she put it, of a retirement card and which I shall use next time. This morning I simply endured the chlorine.

40 lengths later and with bloodshot eyes, I was drying myself in the changing room when I made an alarming discovery of a further incident of forgetfulness. Regrettably I had to drive home impersonating both a Scot in a kilt and a bra burning activist from the 60's.

I would like to be able to say the lesson has been learned and these things will never happen again. Sadly that is not the case. Guess who left her sunglasses in the locker after this evening's exercise class and had to go back for them?

Well the only consolation has to be that it is all good training for when my mind goes completely gaga. In the meantime does anybody know if Sudoku really helps to delay mental ageing?

Monday, 28 July 2014

Following in the Steps of Novelists, a Painter and a King

Today I gave the Youngest a lift to Bowes so that she could picnic with friends. As I also had to pick her up afterwards I passed the interlude 4 miles away down the road from her in Barnard Castle. It was an appropriate destination at a time when I continue to follow the Future Learn course on England in the time of Richard III, for the castle there was one of his main residences for some 10 years or more and he was also a great benefactor of the town's Parish Church.

To pass the time I took my sketch book and made some rather rough drawings of the castle moving to a point close to where Turner himself sketched and then painted the bridge and castle. It's been a long time since I drew for pleasure and I confess that I am rather rusty but practice makes perfect as they say and retirement is now affording the time and opportunity for improvement. It was certainly a good way to fill in a couple of hours, although the passing visitors craning to peer at my artistic efforts were somewhat disconcerting.

With the castle as well as the 18th century Buttermarket, 19th century Bowes Museum, the market town layout and numerous antique shops, Barnard Castle remains an attractive place for a visitor and in today's sunshine there seemed to be plenty of tourists.

It's said that William Wordsworth, Daniel Defoe and more recently Bill Bryson have all visited and, of course, it is there that Charles Dickens stayed whilst researching and writing Nicholas Nickleby. Perhaps it's as well I was only there for an afternoon, otherwise creative impulses might have encouraged me to try my hand at writing a novel rather than drawing a few lines in a sketch book.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Three Men in a Tub

Rub a dub, dub; three men in a tub and who do you think they be? Well for the last five days it was Mister E, the youngest and me and what a glorious time we had.

The great thing about retirement has to be the ability to go if the weather and inclination both suit.

As a result we found ourselves sailing to Arran and then Loch Fyne in heat that was worthy of the Mediterranean. If anything it was possibly a little too hot (the soles of bare feet on the cockpit floor were grilled) and too calm (we had to resort to the big iron sail, otherwise known as the engine, when really we would have relished a breeze).

You really can't beat Scotland when the sun shines. The scenery is mesmerising and tranquility transcends. Popular anchorages are rarely crowded; you can have deserted beaches and total isolation without even looking for it.

In smooth seas the wildlife is also easy to spot and on this trip we frequently saw dolphins as well as seals on two occasions and  a minke whale on another.

Of course, I have been to Scotland before in a heatwave but it was a long time ago. Sailing out of Troon in the last 8 years, we have not been so lucky and when you are at work and have to book holiday weeks, if not months, in advance it is impossible to guess what the weather might be. We have generally prepared for the worst and received it in the form of wind, rain and cool temperatures. Indeed I even recall one year when, having taken annual vacation from work in order to sail, rain in torrents forecast to last a full week forced us to take a last minute trip to Spain instead!

Now however with the potential to escape to the Scottish Islands whenever we spot a suitable weather window, I am hopeful that this might be the first of many trips in good conditions.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Advice for Retirement in a Fortune Cookie

We made a spur of the moment decision to eat out in Richmond this evening at The New Treasure Garden, after Mister E remembered reading a good review. We were not disappointed and afterwards enjoyed a stroll in the shadow of the castle and around the Market Place, it still being a balmy 21 degrees.

Best of all I even got a tip for retirement in my fortune cookie: "Enjoy Life," it said, "It is better to be happy than wise."

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Reflections on a Calendar Month of Retirement

Amazingly I have now been retired for a whole month, yet it feels so long that I can hardly remember what it's like to go to work every day. Don't get me wrong, I really rather enjoyed my professional career but when  it began to feel repetitive and the stress outweighed the intellectual reward, I knew it was time for a change.

The last month has been a delight and I am not saying that simply for the sake of this blog. I'm assuming it feels longer than a month because not only has every day been different but I am enjoying retirement so much. The warnings about boredom, isolation and lack of self-worth have so far failed to materialise. Either I am doing something right or else they'll surface later on.

Of course as someone who has always thrived on competition, it's been a pleasure to find so much to challenge me on a day to day basis.

Perhaps a month is too early to judge. Retirement is, however, a special and important time of life. It is probably best compared to rediscovering the freedom of my late teenage years but without exams to worry about and with sufficient wisdom acquired over the years to appreciate it.

Inevitably it still sometimes feels like I am on a long holiday. Whilst I'm guessing that might go with time, I'm in no haste to see it disappear as rather than taking retirement for granted, it, of course, is making me appreciate the present even more. 

Friday, 18 July 2014

Wharram Percy

I expected that giving up the intellectual stimulation that I have always derived from my work might create a void. I am pleased, however, to report that this does not seem to have been the case. Alternatively I've just been too worn out physically to concern myself with my mental faculties.

Nevertheless and in an effort to ensure that my brain doesn't degenerate too quickly into mush, I have started another Future Learn course. This one is on England in the Time of Richard III. Whilst by no means as academic as the previous courses I have undertaken with Future Learn, it has perhaps been the most interesting, prompting me to start reading about the Medieval Period and also yesterday to visit Wharram Percy.

It was a glorious sunny day and driving through the Yorkshire Wolds one could enjoy their beauty at its best. 

Our destination was a rare surprise; the most famous and thoroughly investigated of all the deserted medieval villages, tucked away in its own little V shaped valley complete with original Church and a restored fishpond, with the site of the manor and peasant houses and plots clearly visible. Wandering along the grass paths, I could almost imagine being back there 700 years ago with the smell of wood-smoke hanging over the valley and the villagers going about their daily lives as they worked the land to provide a living.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Keep Fit

Keep Fit Class is invariably a misnomer, frequented as it is by those like me, seeking to get fit first rather than remain fit.

Although I have visited a gym regularly for a number of years, I am well aware that my sedentary lifestyle dictated by office life, together with fatigue, general indolence and an historic sporting injury, have done me no favours in the fitness stakes.

As a result and high on my wish list for retirement is the need to reverse this. After all if I am to be able to enjoy fully a life packed with adventure, then physical fitness is a pre-requisite.

So last week I signed up for a 4 week fitness challenge and despite suffering the ignominy of falling of a wobble-board in front of the rest of an exercise class, I have to admit to feeling some benefits already. Certainly I was aware of an increasing lung capacity as I splashed my way through 40 lengths of the pool yesterday morning. Unfortunately it didn't assist in seeking to do a series of lunges with weights above my head, this evening!

It has, however, been refreshing to try out new high energy classes,although I'm saving Zumba for week 3 and might never get to Spinning.

Most surprising of all, however, I am beginning to overcome my dislike for perspiration; the body's natural mechanism to cool you down; not that it has much effect on the somewhat fetching puce colour that my face loves turning.

Hopefully the effort will be worthwhile, but currently it's 1 week down and 3 to go.

Monday, 14 July 2014


Since I last wrote here, life has been somewhat hectic. Everyone told me that it wouldn't be long before I would wonder how I ever managed to fit work into my daily schedule and I confess the thought has already begun to cross my mind.

As well as attending meetings for the charities with which I am involved, we had a day out at the Great Yorkshire Show last week followed by a sailing trip on the Firth of Clyde. They were long, pleasurable days when the sun shone throughout, but we had only limited opportunities to sit down and rest aching muscles.

As a result the weekend was spent in a state of rejuvenation and whilst I have caught up with some jobs in the garden, filled the fridge and considered tackling the ironing basket, it has generally been a time for physical recovery. Moreover and although I retired three and a half weeks ago, Saturday and Sunday were actually the first time we have stayed at home (discounting Saturday's supermarket trip) all day.

Of course whilst I am determined not to allow retirement to become a routine of domesticity,  I think we have realised that we cannot neglect altogether the household needs, nor charge off on a day trip or adventure every day. If nothing else, my energy levels would be totally sapped. 

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Reality Check

Retirement had a reality check today when I attended the funeral of a former work colleague, barely 6 years older than myself, who had died unexpectedly. Such occasions are always moving and also serve to put into perspective how fragile and transient life is. Sadly, I anticipate that retirement will hold more such occasions in the future and, being totally pessimistic it is a reminder that we must try to squeeze every ounce of life out of each day that comes, as it could, of course, be our turn next.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Back from Le Tour de France (Yorkshire)

Mister E and I are home after our camping venture and yes I even slept comfortably although the lack of washing facilities was offset only by the fact that I didn't take a mirror! I was also very proud of myself for walking to the top of Buttertubs Pass to watch Le Tour at the highest point of Stage 1. Mind the cyclists themselves passed by in a matter of seconds but that was made up for by the camaraderie of the other folk on the roadside and in Hawes both before and after. 

So, not having slept under canvas for some 8 years and generally having tried to avoid walking uphill for the same period, I was delighted to find that I can actually still enjoy both and have also been encouraged to get back on my bicycle. Retirement seems to be getting more active by the day.

Talk about a weekend for inspiration. It's probably as well, however, that we chose to watch the Tour de France and not the Grand Prix at Silverstone; otherwise I might be blogging about my intention to get a fast car and live life on the edge!

Thursday, 3 July 2014

A New Bucket List

Our holiday to Kefalonia last week suited us so well that Mister E and I have today added another item to the bucket list: visit every Greek island!

A little ambitious maybe as it turns out that there are over 2,000 of them of which and to date I have only visited 10! Still it's good to have a challenge.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Retirement Feels Like a Holiday

Oh dear, at the moment I am struggling a little with the concept of freedom and free time. Thirteen days since finishing work and it still feels like I am on holiday.

I tried to bring myself back to reality by doing one of those chores I had saved for retirement and gave the bathroom a good clean but to no avail, the concept still hasn't sunk in.

Being able to stay up late, lie in bed on a morning if I want to, treat myself to real coffee at 11 a.m., go out for lunch and generally do whatever I want, all adds to the laid back holiday feel.

The only mild irritation has been the clothes in my wardrobe which had understandably been arranged for a busy working schedule. I have, however, now sorted that by putting smart suits and blouses in the wardrobe in the spare bedroom and replacing them with T-shirts and other more casual clothing so they are now accessible instead. That way I can now even dress as though I am on holiday too!

I guess I'll know if it's all become too much like a vacation when I dash downstairs early one morning and spread my beach towel out on a kitchen chair!