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.




Saturday, 23 August 2014

A Harvest and a Declutter

I have taken the opportunity of a lull between trips away to harvest my vegetable patch and start to declutter our home.

It looks as though I have replaced a mountain of paper with a pile of potatoes, although fortunately the latter are now sacked and stored in the garage rather than piled on a table.

A plum glut has been turned into jam, whilst an overflowing bookcase has been pruned back.

A surplus of apples has been juiced or made into crumbles; a DVD collection has been culled and donated to a local charity shop.

Chipped crockery has been broken further and stored in the greenhouse, ready to provide drainage in next year's plant pots. In the meantime I continue to water this year's pots as I pick the tomatoes and cucumbers from the plants thriving in them.

Beans and courgettes have become our staple diet. I'm also whittling down my wardrobe as it becomes more and more apparent which clothing suits my new life-style in retirement.

Clear floors and surfaces are restoring a feeling of space in our home again and a three-phase plan which will hopefully be evidenced by this blog has been devised:

1. Initial removal of broken or unwanted objects
2. Removal of unused items
3. Complete pruning back to allow room to be emptied and redecorated.

In the garden it is a similar pattern:

1. Harvesting fruit and vegetables
2. Clearing vegetable stalks and heads
3. Digging ready for replanting in the Spring



Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Carpe Diem



After the cooler temperatures and windy weather that have followed in the wake of the tail-end of Hurricane Bertha, today was a real delight. I took full advantage to get out into the garden, hoe in hand and dressed in short sleeves.

Now that is the big difference to working. If it wasn't for retirement I would have spent today at a desk and then moaned about the weather all weekend when, no doubt, it will pour down.

I firmly believe, as I hope this blog documents, that it was the right decision to retire in the early part of the summer. As a result I have been able to take advantage of long warm days to wind down ready to take on the challenges awaiting me indoors when autumn arrives.

I  can't imagine that starting retirement amongst the cold dark nights of winter would have been the same and when chilling out may well have have taken its literal meaning.


Monday, 18 August 2014

Reflections on a Second Month of Retirement

I'm not sure if I had really expected to be blogging now about a jubilant recapture of my joie de vivre and back to back adventures. That is not, however, how the month has gone.  I'm still loving retirement with its sense of freedom and, of course, I have been away again, enjoying a sailing trip in brilliant weather.

If I had to sum up Month 2 in one word though, that word would be "healing." I don't intend to sound all spiritual when I say that, and again it is also not what I had expected to be blogging about.

The healing has been at many different levels. 

At the most basic I have been working hard to try to regain physical fitness. The time now available to me has allowed  me to increase my visits to the gym, join in various exercise classes and swim regularly.

I'm also eating more healthily and, as a result of the combination of more exercise and a better diet am proud of the fact that I appear to be steadily losing those excess pounds.

Coupled with seeking to sort out various bodily ailments, I am well on the way to sorting myself physically and adopting a change of attitude as a result. I did say that I don't want to sound spiritual but the comparison of your body to a temple does spring to mind. Perhaps it is a shame that it has taken until retirement to realise and then be faced with a mountain to climb before I shall have reversed the years of neglect and alternative priorities. When you work hard and enjoy good health it can be a shock to discover that this does not necessarily equate to fitness and that your body may be incapable of doing anything much more strenuous than pushing paper at a desk.

Alongside the measures that I have committed to for physical fitness, I am now aware of the need for mental change too.

My desire to create is being stifled by decades of documents and professional propriety, a fear of the unknown and desire to play safe. Learning to think laterally and to notice in detail the beauty of the little things in life that I have been taking for granted, are a struggle. I have, therefore, resorted to a book filled with 12 weeks of exercises to help rediscover my inner creative self.

I had wrongly assumed in my mad rush to embrace retirement that it was simply time that I needed to enjoy a life of creativity and adventure. The last month when let's say I have  dabbled with those concepts, has demonstrated very clearly to me that the time which I now have available must first be applied to the preparation of body and mind. Seriously, and no I have not gone loopy, Month 2 has been the start of rehabilitation from the world of work.

To date I have only undertaken small steps but do not find the lack of alacrity in my progress frustrating. To the contrary; it's all part of the enjoyable transition from one life to another; a rich tapestry of limitation and experimentation as I acquire the physical and mental tools I need to thoroughly enjoy the new life I have carved for myself.


Monday, 11 August 2014

Breathe in Deeply and Exhale

There were occasions before I finished work when moments of panic would fleetingly pass over me. Was I ready for such a big change? Could I actually go through with it?

I had another such moment this morning when I reached the pinnacles of retirement and decided to go to a Pilates class. My self doubt, however, related to my own stiff joints and notorious ability to make a fool of myself. Would I burst out laughing or worse still get stuck with a leg behind my ear?

In my previous life, Pilates, with its reputation for elegance, control and focus, was something I thought ladies with spare time and flexible joints went to as an add-on to lunch and retail therapy. Now I too have the spare time, I covet the suppleness that I have allowed office life and injury to deny me.

Well I can only say if you have never tried it, do. It was calm and relaxing; I felt peaceful and I gracefully stretched muscles and limbs that I am sure have not moved in decades.


Friday, 8 August 2014

The Juice is Flowing



Having devoted my adult life to a profession that thinks purely in straight lines, it is not easy getting those creative juices flowing again. However, as you will recall I did take a sketch pad with me to Barnard Castle. Today I have tried to edge myself in more gently and, with ceramic tiles and a glue going under the terrific name of Mod Podge, have been making drinks' coasters.

Time now to put them to use, open a bottle of Pimms and fill the glasses. Cheers everyone!


Thursday, 7 August 2014

This Old Heart of Mine


On the radio today I heard an extract from an interview with Rod Stewart last year. It followed a similar themed article that had appeared in The Retiree  (I'll have to take out a subscription). In both he described life as "like a toilet roll" where the last bit goes very, very quickly. 

That's not a simile I'm likely to forget in a hurry.


Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Memory Lane



Last week Mister E and I stayed in Nottingham. I was at university there in the 1970's and there is now a comfortable and modern hotel on the campus itself which we have used on a number of occasions. The eldest is a postgraduate student there and we timed our visit to help him move house.

 I know it's well established science that fragrances can evoke memories and that humans can actually distinguish between millions of different smells. Indeed and for many years I always bought a bottle of perfume at the duty free shop on my way to a holiday destination and as a result associate certain scents with specific places decades later.

However, a trip down memory lane on the university campus always catches me unaware. Familiar places have frequently altered to the sight but there is a distinct odour that I can only attribute to weather and vegetation. It immediately stimulates olfaction and the nostalgia and sense of times past come tumbling back.

Of course, why spend retirement revisiting old haunts when there is only a limited time to fit in so many places that I haven't seen?  I guess it's because some places fit  like an old comfortable pair of slippers, and that feels good.


Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Just a Little Treat


The youngest and I took advantage of the warm and balmy weather today to visit Richmond (North Yorkshire) and eat freshly made ice-cream!


Do I feel guilty?  Of course not because I can piously say that I had already written off all the calories at an exercise class earlier in the day.



It is going to take a long time before I fully appreciate that my new life does give the freedom to treat myself to an afternoon out every day if the fancy takes. However, I am going to have to attend an awful lot of exercise classes if I want an ice cream every day too!