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.




Sunday, 29 June 2014

Food Glorious Food




Suddenly when you no longer work on a Monday (or indeed any day) Sundays seem longer and less pressurised. As a result and in addition to doing our weekly shop, Mister E and I took a leisurely stroll around Northallerton’s Home Grown Food Festival this afternoon. We ended up with a bag full of produce, including the items photographed above.

To a background of live music there was an opportunity to watch cookery demonstrations and speak at length to a number of the vendors as well as to try before you buy. As a result we blind tasted different kinds of honey, pickles and bread as well as sniffing various dried chillies.

We did, however, forsake the opportunity to try a slice of grilled crocodile meat (who on earth is home rearing those in North Yorkshire?) but only because of its popularity. It may have been a leisurely stroll but we are not as yet so relaxed in retirement that we have time to queue!


Saturday, 28 June 2014

A Disney Wedding


Months of planning concluded today with a wonderful wedding to which Mister E and I were invited. Church ceremony then wedding breakfast (something of a misnomer when it was timed for late afternoon and comprised of a delicious roast dinner); we had been there 6 hours before I realised it! It must be an age thing though as we slunk away before the young crowd moved in for the evening disco.

It's always good to see various parts of families meeting and socialising and of course there are those distant relatives that you only ever see on such occasions but whose fame and antics get talked about forever after.

On this occasion the star guests (apart from the bride and groom) had to be Donald Duck and Pluto. Apparently they had frightened the poor bride so much that, on a trip to Disneyland Florida as a child, she had taken refuge under the table. Nevertheless her dear father organised a repeat of the occasion and as Donald and Goofy entered all the guests stood up and twirled their napkins above their heads in time to the music that blared down from the castle's speakers. I am pleased to report that the bride did not seek to hide under the table today, which was just as well because with her veil and train, any attempt to do so could have ended in catastrophe.


Friday, 27 June 2014

No Stress on De-stress Trip to Kefalonia



So the morning after I finished, the youngest (who had also just completed her A' levels), Mister E and I all got up at an incredible hour, arriving at Newcastle airport for 5 a.m. At 6.50 a.m we were on the runway bound for Kefalonia.

It's a long-time since I have been to Greece. I have holidayed there 3 or 4 times, in addition to going island-hopping back in 1979 when, along with the rest of Europe's student population I slept out on beaches for 6 weeks.

Anyway, I had forgotten just how beautiful, plain and easy life is there. Kefalonia is truly scenic, surprisingly verdant with trees and shrubs in bloom along with hosts of pelargoniums. The views to the mainland and neighbouring islands across the blue-water are magnificent as is the cloudless blue sky.

Tavernas are friendly and plentiful and, olives apart, I adore the simplicity of Greek food.

It was a week to relax and recuperate. What a difference, however, in the enjoyment derived from a holiday when you are not in an anxious state over office files. Yes there were inevitable moments when I awoke during the night and thought about work; you don't overcome the habits of over three decades simply by flying to the other end of Europe.

The important thing is that I learned to shrug my shoulders, recognise that it's no longer something I should be concerned about and go back to sleep.

The youngest is scared that I might start to fret about other things, amongst which lost keys and specs are only a minor irritation. Obviously there is a fair degree of self interest in her concern as she doesn't want me taking on the mantle of nervous parent, overdoing the anxiety for results day or even her whereabouts if she doesn't reply immediately to a text message.

I guess it might be easy to replace one form of stress with another but that is definitely not the idea. Caree is living in the moment and enjoying not burning adrenalin over it!


Thursday, 26 June 2014

A Pop not a Bang

I guess that as technically I am on holiday leave now until my retirement date, I can't actually say that I am retired. However, I finished at work on 18th June and am pleased to say I thoroughly enjoyed the party organised by my work colleagues.

Gosh everyone was so kind and even showered me with cards and presents.

Of course two people made speeches but instead of escaping through the back door or hiding in the caretaker's cupboard, I managed to say some words in reply.

Fortunately there were no fireworks, just the most embarrassing banner hanging above us all with my photograph and wishing me a happy retirement.

The champagne corks popped all evening and it was such a splendid night that I guess if life was infinite I'd go back and do 30+ years, just to have another one. No, that was definitely a joke!


Monday, 16 June 2014

Architectural Designs

15 years ago Mister E and I built our home. Not literally but we saw the project through from design stage to completion. Yesterday, at the entrance to our local supermarket, I happened to see the architect who project-managed the build. We exchanged updates on our families agreeing that time flies and children grow up so quickly. 

He also asked how the house had turned out and took a step back when I confessed that owing to work-commitments we hadn't actually got round to redecorating it, but that I was retiring this week and, with the benefit of a proposed interior design course, intended to move from embarking on a new-build to home renovation!

"Well these things can take time," he said consolingly.


Sunday, 15 June 2014

Excitement is Building

I am well and truly into the final countdown now. I can almost touch retirement and it is getting so exciting as it draws ever closer. I have begun to hand over case files at work and when I actually had nothing to stress about this weekend, found myself living in the moment and even getting pleasure from mundane jobs like emptying the bin or the dishwasher.

Cards from well-wishers have started to arrive and everyone wants to know what my plans are.

My youngest even commented that I seemed rather happy today. Long may it last. As Mister E pointed out, this isn't a sabbatical or a few weeks of leisure and then a return to the grindstone; this is the rest of our lives and we have to make sure we spend them as we want, subject only to limitations imposed by money and common-sense.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Descending - Out of Control


I have been overcome by a summer cold lately, so much so that I've been collapsing on evenings and at weekends after struggling through work where I'm trying to complete everything before my final day, which looms ever closer. 

Huddled up on the couch, with a blanket round me and not feeling like doing anything except stare moronically out of the window at birds on the feeders, I did have a moment of panic when I wondered if retirement could be as tedious. Will I deteriorate into the kind of person who never gets out of her pyjamas or brushes her hair? Will I plump down on the couch and let daytime TV entertain me?

Heaven forbid - I'd rather keep working than descend that low!

Mind, standards are slipping. With not being well, household chores have mounted and there's a certain mentality developing that tells me "I'll leave that now until I am retired." I'm not sure, of course, if I can actually  go the distance without loading the washing machine or picking up the iron, but it looks as though I am going to give it a try!