INTRODUCTION


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

My husband (Mister E) and I have moved from the initial concept through the planning stages to implementation and this site is intended to record the whole process. What I am seeking from retirement is now very different to what I thought I was planning and has gradually developed into a quest for fitness and a desire for simplification, with a transition away from both a highly organised lifestyle and the personality traits reflecting a pedantic professional career. Indeed I recently described myself as "a goofy idiot" who enjoys smiling at sunflowers; a far cry from the pre-retirement professional and an indication of just how far I have travelled.

Please visit from time to time and do add your comments. The blog is in reverse chronological order but popular posts and those highlighting our journey are specifically pinpointed below on the right hand side together with a list of topics covered. Alternatively you may prefer to look at the summary or wisdom we have acquired or even our have done list with its retirement atlas and dip in and out of the blog using the links given.




Monday, 31 March 2014

Changing our Behaviour Patterns to Suit Retirement

I can see that there are some patterns of behaviour that Mister E and I are going to have to redesign for retirement. Take the bins for instance. Now for as long as I can remember, he wheels them to the front before setting out to work whilst I put out the recycling boxes and bag, before I leave 45 minutes later.

However, it seems that when he has a little more time on his hands , (as has been the case for the last couple of weeks when he has not been working), Mister E has taken the recycling containers to the garden gate too.

Now, of course, that would  be a good thing except that I also run round the house making sure that all bottles from the bathrooms, paper from the waste-bins and cans from the kitchen have been gathered together and put into the correct receptacles first. Either Mister E must learn to do this too; I must start to do it the night before or, as last week, I have to walk down the drive to deposit them in the containers which have already been placed ready for emptying by the Council.


Saturday, 29 March 2014

A Done Deed

I did it. Yes, yesterday I actually did it. I sent my notice across to Head Office expiring at the end of June.

So how has that made me feel?

It's not yet as though a weight has been lifted from me. Also it caused me something of a cold sweat as I signed it. However, whenever I have thought about it since, a smile has crossed my face. 

The journey to a new lifestyle has really begun.


Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Pressing Send

There's something about the Send button, that turns me to a quivering wreck. A state of nervousness usually overtakes me as I tussle with the dilemma of making sure all is correct before I click in the appropriately marked box. Inevitably if it's an e-mail and despite the lengths I procrastinate over it, I have still been known to omit the attachment and my follow up message of "Oops" ought now to merit an autotext entry in its own right.

Worse than e-mails however is on-line banking. It is so convenient but there are times when undertaking a simple banking transaction can reduce me to jelly, something that queuing in the branch has never done. It's the fear of making a mistake with the figures; checking and double-checking the account  numbers and, as for the amount itself, a nought in the wrong place could prove a costly error.

Anyway, spurred on by the Chancellor's effort to kick start contributions to pension schemes and with the end of the tax year drawing nigh, I logged on, overcame my neurotic wavering and finally pressed Send, hopefully remitting what will be a final payment to my pension scheme and not that of somebody else.



Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Future Learning

It is  one of my ambitions for my retirement to expand my education and interests with an online course or two. In particular I am really keen on some training in Interior Design. After a lifetime of straight thinking and number crunching type work, the idea of passing hours stimulated by creativity really appeals. 

However, I am conscious that distance learning is not as easy as it sounds and so have decided to explore my suitability and commitment to online education by participating in Future Learn. It's a relatively new initiative spearheaded by the Open University in partnership with a number of other universities offering free short courses on a wide variety of topics.

I am proud to say that I completed my first foray into this method of learning this evening when I read my last article on "How to Read ... a Mind" which covered the application of cognitive science to literary reading. As a result I don't think that I shall ever be able to read a book again without exploring my own consciousness at the same time.

 More importantly however I have enjoyed the experience, broadened my horizons and all without leaving my computer. A little more practice and I should be ready to greet my post-retirement education head-on. 


Monday, 24 March 2014

Hale, Hearty and Ninety


I am a trustee of a charity that provides shelter for elderly people who are in need but still capable of independent living. Once a year the trustees organise a party for the residents which is always well attended. We make the food, decorate the communal hall and arrange for some entertainment. The Mayor attends along with the residents and trustees

Today was the day and as ever everyone was on fine form. My offering in the cake stakes (pictured above) is inevitably simple but goes down a treat. Who says the elderly can't eat hard sweets?

I would like to think that I shall not fall within the category of people eligible for assistance under the charity's constitution. However, after seeing all those ninety year olds singing along with the musical entertainment as well as their appetites over a good old fashioned high tea, I can only hope that I live to be their age and, if I do, that I am still enjoying food and high spirits with the same vivacity.


Sunday, 23 March 2014

In Need

I have been fortunate during my career to meet and speak with people of all occupations. Last week an old client rang me to see if I could take on some work for a friend of hers. We got talking; she told me she had changed positions and is now working for an exclusive bespoke travel agency,whilst I brought her up to date with my intention to retire.

When the call finished, I turned back to my computer.

Ping, an e-mail appeared. It was from my old client, advertising her wares alongside a comment to the effect: "If you need me."

Funny, I had never said a word about my plans in retirement. Does everyone automatically think that if you retire early it is with a view to travelling to exotic locations or was it because that is her line and she's desperate to make a sale?

You can think her pushy if you want but I have kept the contact details safe.




Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Budget Day

So the Chancellor today announced a budget aimed to help savers and pensioners. Forgive me but I saw nothing that actually increased interest or annuity rates and I'm still a long way off 65, so there is no likelihood of me benefiting from the introduction of Pensioner Bonds. 

Still it seems that from next Thursday access to flexible pension draw down arrangements will become easier when the threshold reduces to £12,000 pa for other income as opposed to the current £20,000. 

Also, and even with capped draw down, there is to be enhanced access to funds and I shall be able to take 150% of an equivalent annuity each year. Effectively I can gallop through my pension funds at a quicker rate than I might previously have imagined, and to help me there is even going to be a very slight increase to the level of income I can take before paying higher rate tax. 

However, and with total flexibility on offer, I could opt to limit my pension income to £10,500 pa and take advantage of an extra £5,500 tax free allowance on savings income.

Is it actually now enticing enough to make a contribution to my pension funds before the end of the tax year in just over 2 weeks time? 

Oh dear, I feel the need to drop an e-mail to the IFA but suspect that he may be inundated.



Wednesday, 12 March 2014

A Dry Run

Today Mister E and I both had a day off work. We agreed that it would be good practice for our forthcoming retirement.

It began last night with a debate over the alarm clock; should we set it or should we not? We decided not, but at 7 am this morning then found ourselves discussing the merits of getting out of bed at that hour or dozing longer. It was a this point we diverged. Mister E got up; I remained horizontal for another hour. 

Mister E thinks if we don't push ourselves with set retiring and waking times, we run the risk of slipping into a retirement of total indolence. Whilst I don't necessarily want to rush down that slippery slope, after a lifetime of being dictated to by the clock, I'm more of the "take each day as it comes" school.

So 8 am and we were already going our different ways, a pattern that I then reinforced by disappearing for a swim once I'd allowed a respectable time for my breakfast to digest.

We met up again over a pot of coffee at 11 am and chatted until lunchtime.

It was a glorious day, the sun disguising the air temperature of 6 degrees. I indicated that it was my intention to do some gardening, thinking Mr E might be keen to join me to begin the annual Spring tidy-up. No, he got out his bicycle and lycra and disappeared for his own exercise session.

We met up again over a pot of tea at 4 pm and agreed that this retirement lark seems okay, especially when we don't seem to be tripping over each other all day long. If we can only sort out the bedtime hours, we might find a level of compatibility here.


Tuesday, 11 March 2014

A Five Year Plan



Almost four years ago now I attended a motivational event when we had to discuss with the person sitting next to us our goals for the future and specifically our five year plan. In my case I was fortunate that the colleague with whom I was paired was someone whom I knew quite well and I glibly told her that my intention was to retire. 

After leading us through a variety of activities linked to planning the next five years, the coach at the session asked us to commit our plans into a written sentence, and pass it over. I found an old train ticket in my purse, confirmed my intentions in writing and then handed it on. 

"I'm going to make a diary note and then remind you when the time comes," my colleague said laughingly, never for a moment believing that my intentions were serious.

Earlier this year I had reason to e-mail the same lady and in doing so told her that I plan to retire at the end of June, and enquired if she still had the ticket. She came to see me the other day, proudly brandishing the original and telling me that I was quick off the mark. I looked at the back of the ticket and there in my own fair hand I had set a goal of retiring by 30th April 2015.

If all goes to plan, not only shall I have achieved my goal but I shall have achieved it ten months early! How's that for target setting?


Monday, 10 March 2014

A Birthday and a Family


I celebrated my birthday yesterday and enjoyed a weekend of celebrations. My family completely surprised me by keeping totally quiet about the fact that our eldest was intending to return home for the weekend. Imagine my surprise when I wandered from the study to our living room on Friday evening to find him sitting there with his sister watching TV, having sneaked in through the back door! I confess that I felt quite choked with emotion and hadn't suspected a thing.

It meant that we shared some close family time, eating out on both Saturday night and Sunday lunchtime. We also visited the RHS garden at Harlow Carr on the outskirts of Harrogate together and where Spring bulbs are just beginning to come through to provide colourful displays. 

The number of times we are all together is diminishing as the years go by and will presumably be even less frequent when the youngest goes to university in the autumn. Occasions like my birthday weekend are therefore precious moments which will remain a treasured memory for the future.


Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Swimming Goggles



Although competent, I am a very slow swimmer who detests getting her face splashed in the pool. The moment I do, the chlorine irritates my eyes and they become bloodshot, remaining sore and fiery red for hours.

I could, of course, wear goggles but remain haunted by the pairs I had as a teenager which only seemed to trap the water and make everything ten times worse.

However,  cognisant of the fact that more and more swimmers at my local pool seem to be attacking lengths resplendent in goggles, this morning I purchased a set and immediately tried them out. Science and technology have clearly moved on apace since the early 1970's and why I have been putting myself through the agony of chlorine infected eyes for the last decade or more, I now cannot understand. 

They were magnificent and, dare I say it, improved my swimming no end! Well I thought I looked rather stylish anyway. The main thing was that without having to adapt my strokes to hold my head out of the water,  it felt as though I not only speeded up but also glided through the water.

In fact I enjoyed the whole experience so much I'm going back again first thing tomorrow morning too. Whilst I want to be fit and healthy in retirement, there's no reason, of course, to leave it until then and who knows I might even start to do tumble turns.

Incidentally the picture above is not of my local pool (if you hadn't guessed) but rather of that at a past holiday destination.


Sunday, 2 March 2014

A Day Trip to London



Last week I spent my day off dashing up and down to London with Mister E. Talk about exhaustion afterwards. Five hours of train travel and four hours pounding the urban pavements of our capital city certainly take their toll on you (not to mention the couple of hours of fine dining!).

Visiting the big city is always such a contrast to home: noise and vibrancy compared to peace and quiet. We may only have been away for a day but it still makes everything seem so strange when you arrive home with its traffic free roads, lack of people and the fields with cows and sheep.

Hopefully we'll get the opportunity for a lot more days like that over the next few years, especially if, as seems likely, the eldest or youngest ends up living there.


Saturday, 1 March 2014

Party Planning

It's been a busy week at work, but good colleagues always help. This week they surpassed themselves not only with their efforts but also their plans for my retirement party. Apparently they don't want me slipping out of the back door quietly and reckon a large party is required with invitations to all the great, good and sociable I have fraternised with during my career.

I have to confess the more they described it, the more emotional I became, until I could hardly hold back the tears. I have an awful feeling that if they go ahead with this plan, it's going to feel a bit like attending my own funeral. 

Maybe the back door will be better.