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.

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Wednesday, 24 September 2014

An Empty Nest

We returned yesterday from a journey that has taken us to the heart of London, Stockbridge, Southampton, rural Leicestershire and Nottingham. 

It started with a need to convey the youngest and most of her worldly goods to University College London, where she begins her new life. Amazingly, with a little help from the unflappable SatNav our journey went very much as planned; at least there was no screeching at us to make a U-turn. Remarkably we were even able to find a car parking place, although at £9.30 an hour we didn't stay long. Back at home people have expressed disapproval at a parking charge of £0.60 per hour with the first half hour free, so goodness knows what they would make of London charges.

Our parting was a mixture of excitement and sadness. To think the youngest is now so grown up that she is going to be living away from us in one of the biggest cities in the world, is, of course, difficult to believe. It is nevertheless a great opportunity for her and for which she has worked hard. 

To distract ourselves from the parting, Mister E and I had decided to tag onto the trip a visit to Southampton Boat Show, so there we were in the middle of rush hour on Friday afternoon heading west along Oxford Street in what proved to be a very slow exit from the capital. Getting stuck behind a solitary tractor on a country lane bears no resemblance to that journey and to think there are people who do it regularly is beyond comprehension. 

In any event we stopped at Stockbridge where I had booked a small hotel for two overnight stays and from which it was an easy commute to and from the Boat Show the next day.

As ever we walked ourselves silly, considering the options and possibilities for future sailing. We did agree, however, that we had no desire to see the world aboard a floating tower block of the ilk that dominated the harbour on Saturday. Our eccentricities showed as Mister E spent what seemed like hours examining shackles and coils of rope whilst I tried to dry my eyes under a uniquely shaped electric hand dryer, only to find that it was actually a paper towel dispenser. Oh the joys of ageing gracefully!

On Sunday morning we headed North again, the only incident to slow down the journey being a trailer shedding a load of Christmas decorations across the A34. There is something slightly odd about seeing baubles and tinsel scattered all over the dual carriageway, especially when it is only September. Later however we also noticed a house with Santa Claus ornaments displayed on its windowsill and began to wonder if we really are missing something.

We made Leicestershire for lunch and an afternoon with old friends, sitting in their garden, it was so mild and sunny. Sadly, however, we had to leave in time to book into our next hotel on University Park in Nottingham, which is very close to where the eldest lives and is also reliable in providing a good breakfast. We need it, I can assure you, as our visits to Nottingham are always associated with physical labour. This time we were replacing floorboards ready for carpets to be fitted. There was a slight hiccup when Mister E drilled through an electric cable but fortunately the electrician was also there carrying out a routine check of the circuits and he was able to effect the necessary repair on the spot. Now not only do the new carpets look stunning, but the floors don't squeak either and our tenants still have electricity

Finally, after four nights away and 714 miles of driving, we came home to the empty nest. It is quiet. Mister E baked his bread alone. I stacked the dishwasher for the first time in months. Having always been a family who sit down to eat an evening meal together at the table and turn off the television before doing so, we were naughty: we ate our meal, plates on knees, in the living room with the television on. Times have indeed changed.

Later I might just place a sign at the front gate: "Cuckoo wanted!"


  1. It's a big moment for you but make the most of your peaceful time now as in years to come you might kept very busy with grandchildren. (And you will love every minute of both those stages of your life)