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, 28 April 2015

A Rant

Life may be stress free in retirement but that still does not stop me getting angry or being grumpy. Indeed I think I should use this blog a little more often to let off steam, so to speak.

Today my  anger is directed at those councils and their crews who insist on resurfacing roads by a method that seems to involve little more than throwing a pile of chippings all over them. At the same time they erect signs warning of a lack of road markings, risk of skidding and the need to travel at 20 mph.

Now I won't say we weren't given warning that the main road adjacent to the access lanes from our village was to  be resurfaced today, but it is a route that I needed to travel in order to avoid a 5 mile detour on my journey to the gym. Naively I thought it would be okay but, and let me extend my anger still further, I had failed to take into account some of the other road users who would be travelling that road at the same time. That is to say the twerps travelling in the opposite direction at 60 mph or the young man in the car behind me who decided to overtake and then accelerate to 60 mph, all kicking up the newly spread chippings and showering my car as they did so. As you know I only took delivery of the vehicle a few weeks ago, but at least it gave me the opportunity to give some good blasts of the horn which until now I have had little cause to use.

On my return journey  I decided to avoid the offending section of road and make that detour. Guess what, it too had been subjected to the chipping method only a couple of days before and, with lorries trundling down it at over 50 mph, there was no place to hide!

Moreover and whilst I am on my rant, what was with the weather today? That detour gave me a wonderful view of the snow on the hills and temperatures were only a third of what they were last Thursday with a biting wind to boot. It is the end of April isn't it?

Monday, 27 April 2015

Mary, Mary...

There is a well known nursery rhyme that begins "Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?"

Well here in retirement mine is growing very well and benefiting not only from the time I have been able to give it, but also a new spade. 

Typical British weather in April means that conditions have varied daily but  have generally lent themselves to at least a couple of hours outside every day recently. There have been times when the temperature has been benign and I have worn shorts, and others, like today, when the wind has borne a chill and I have donned a fleece.

I have decided to concentrate this year on getting my flower borders into order as opposed to spending hours tending a vast variety of vegetables from seed. Being at home has enabled me to seize the opportunities presented by the weather. It is very different  to working where one spends the week looking at the sun through an office window, only to find that it then rains most of the weekend and hence my historic confinement in April to the greenhouse and seeds.

In the last decade, weeds, perennials and shrubs have all grown rampant with little check save for an annual tidy up at the end of the summer. This year, however, I have divided and replanted overgrown clumps of plants as well as using the hoe to eliminate so far as possible the weeds that grow up in between. 

As a result I decided it was time to invest in a quality transplanting spade and what a fine tool it is proving to be. The carved wooden handle is a delight to hold and the stainless steel blade makes quick work of digging out roots. It even came with a lifetime guarantee which has caused pointless speculation as to what that actually means. Whilst  presumably it would have been better value to have been gifted it as a Christening present, there is no denying that bonding with a nicely engineered gardening implement at any age makes hard work a joy. Hopefully we are destined to share many years moving earth together.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Knitting Again

I am pleased to report that I have just completed the knitting of a cardigan for the youngest. This is something of an accomplishment as the last garment that I knitted for her, or indeed for anyone, was when she was only a few weeks old and it was understandably much smaller than my current piece of work.

Having taken an 18 year break from knitting, it was therefore a novelty to pick up needles again in retirement and see if I could still make something decent enough to be worn.

Sadly, however, I didn't quite finish it in time for the winter weather. The youngest was still delighted with it (or maybe she was being polite) and has even placed an order for this coming winter or, on reflection, 2017!

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Farming Days

Skipton may not be most people's port of call for a marine supplier and chandler but in preparation for the forthcoming sailing season, Skipton is where we headed today and specifically the aptly named Pennine Marine. Wherever you look in Skipton you are conscious that the Pennine Hills very much surround you.

We came away with a brand new outboard motor for the inflatable dinghy and, after it was stored safely in the boot, were able to take advantage of the beautiful sunshine for a wander along the canal and around the town. According to the thermometer in the car, the temperature was a very pleasant 23 degrees Celsius (73 degrees Fahrenheit).

I think it was one of those days which you could perhaps sum up as "making hay while the sun shines" and yes Mister E even cut the grass when we got home. Little did I realise that retirement and farming would have so much in common.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Saving and Life Expectancy

My accountant has drawn my attention to a report published by Aviva. Not only does it stress that we tend to underestimate our life-expectancy but also that savers are likely to live longer than non-savers. 

I suppose it is just as well that it is not the other way round or there would presumably be a real problem for non-savers when their funds run out.

At face value it is, of course, strange that there should be a correlation between saving and life term. I assume however that those who save also live a healthier life generally than those who don't, perhaps predicated by their wealth or alternatively by deliberate life choices in all areas. Pre-disposition or choices; nature or nurture; family values or education; innate intelligence or robust common-sense. 

No doubt scientists will find a gene that governs both traits in due course. In the meantime, just point me in the direction of a piggy bank.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Saturday Night Hay Fever

This week I have discovered a downside to retirement and it is called "hay fever." Now it is not that I haven't suffered in the past but, at home this week surrounded by Spring flowers and a constant breeze, I have well and truly succumbed. Kicking myself for planting all those hyacinth bulbs in the autumn, they do nonetheless look stunning in their pastel shades of blue and pink. However, my eyes, nose and throat are paying the price for their beauty. Fortunately it is not yet sufficient to want to cut myself off in an air conditioned office in the middle of town surrounded by brick walls and tarmac. 

Monday, 13 April 2015

A Novel Experience

We have just returned from a flying visit to Scotland to supervise the lifting of  the boat out of the water for its annual bottom wash and ready for the application of anti-fouling and maybe even a polish to the topsides. To ensure that we were there on time, we decided to stay on board overnight. Some may describe this as a somewhat bold or even foolhardy decision bearing in mind the fact that the weather has appeared to regress over the weekend; we passed snow on the way there and freezing temperatures during the night.

However, it made for a bracing walk this morning with some lovely views across the sea towards Arran. Also, having taken a direction I was unfamiliar with I came across a delightful row of what were once harbour workers' cottages but which are now used, it would seem, primarily as offices.

The difference in climate between home and Troon was amplified by flowerbeds, prepared for annual bedding but as yet empty. Whereas the abundance of Spring flowers around our village has resulted in the onset of hay fever, the symptoms of which well and truly disappeared as we headed North.

I have never actually been party to the annual hoisting of the boat into the boat-yard before, leaving this in the sole hands of Mister E whilst I worked and hung on to my holiday for the actual sailing trips. So it was a novel experience watching the operation from beginning to end. As this blog hopefully bears witness, in retirement there are hosts of opportunities for adventure and new experiences.

Friday, 10 April 2015

Cool as Cucumber

Why does it seem that every day the outcome of  yet more medical research, much of it contradictory, is reported by the media?

Today I learnt that overweight people are less likely to succumb to dementia as early as their slimmer counterparts. However, and before I give up on the gym and frequent Burger King instead, I do have to consider the fact that obesity is likely to lead to heart and other problems. Moreover it was only earlier this week that we were told that there is a genetic link between short height and coronary artery disease, coupled with high cholesterol, raised blood-pressure and the inevitable risk of stroke.

So as someone who only just extends to 5 feet and 2 inches (1.57 metres) when fully stretched, do I cut back on cake and risk dementia instead?

Of course this all had to follow an evening at the Civic Theatre in Darlington last night to see "Grumpy Old Women," and from which I encountered the amazing statistic that, as they get older, women spend 26 hours of every 24 hour day worrying.

You will discern that this morning I was in an inevitable state of anxious fretting trying to resolve the health conundrum. How long will it be before my heart gives up? Is it already showing signs of disease? Could it be enlarged? Could it even have stopped beating without me even noticing? Should I be changing my diet, and if so in what way? Do I go to the gym more or less often?

All of these thoughts were occupying my mind as I drove along one of the narrow lanes that leads out of the village. Suddenly there was a flash of white to my left as a young deer leapt out onto the road in front of my car. I slammed down the clutch and brake in an emergency stop and avoided hitting it by inches. My hand went to my chest: there was no perceptible reaction on the left side; no skipped or racing heartbeat, not even a flutter.

Cool as a cucumber, I drove on, confident that my heart is sound and strong.....for the moment!

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Back in Time for Dinner

"Back in Time for Dinner," is the name of a programme on BBC 2, the fourth episode of which was screened tonight. For some reason it has caught my imagination, perhaps it's the nostalgia trip as a family has spent one day for each year since 1950, living and dining as if it were actually living in that year.

Rattling through the 1980's tonight I was surprised at the role of the humble pre-packed sandwich. Along with thousands of other workers, I have certainly bought my fair share of those for lunch over my working lifetime. Whatever good intention I may have had to make and pack my own lunch, it invariably flew out of the window each morning, as I flapped around  with a tight deadline for leaving home for the office looming. Fortunately having to go out to buy the sandwich did mean that there was a reason to leave my desk at lunchtime, even if it was only for a few minutes.

As the programme indicated, since 1980 the average worker's lunchtime has decreased from 60 to less than 30 minutes, presumably aided and abetted by the availability of that packaged sandwich. I certainly recall that, when I started working, lunchtime was a social occasion where a group of us would meet and eat together, often in a local hostelry or otherwise in the office kitchen, and a full hour would indeed be taken. I even worked in one office in the early 1980's where lunchtime was a whole hour and fifteen minutes so that the gentlemen could return home to a cooked lunch prepared by their wives. So much for progress: by the time I retired it was very much the norm to mix crumbs with files and papers at your desk.

Thankfully in retirement, Mister E and I have rediscovered the joy of lunching. We have always been a family that has sat down together for a properly cooked evening meal and now we tend to do the same at lunchtime, although the meal is inevitably lighter than later in the day. We take our time over it, chat and relax, away from whatever activity has occupied our morning. Most importantly, we never have pre-packaged sandwiches!

Monday, 6 April 2015

Simple Scented Pleasures

One of my plans for retirement was to enjoy the simple pleasures of life, including sniffing garden flowers. Today I did just that, finding the time to sit on a wooden bench in the garden, taking in the sights, scents and sounds. I was surrounded by hyacinths in bloom, exuding their distinctive perfume.

There was no pressure to get up and do anything else (there's always tomorrow) and in any event I had already completed four hours of hard graft with a spade, hoe and pruners.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Marching Like the Brigantes

With both the eldest and youngest at home over the long Easter weekend, the Risover family decided to take advantage of the wonderful Spring weather for a long walk today. 

Of course, the difficulty with walking your way to fitness in retirement is that sometimes the obstacles you meet are harder to conquer than the gym equipment that I would otherwise use, especially when your legs are beginning to stiffen towards the end of an outing.

It was a really fabulous day with the temperature twice as high as yesterday, blue skies and an abundance of sunshine. However, this road sign summed up the problems with Spring so far this year. The hedges are beginning to turn green, we spotted dandelions in flower and new born lambs, but there remains a serious risk of snow, frost and ice!

Today we explored the local remains of what is considered to be one of the largest Iron Age Forts in the country and the likely headquarters for the Brigantes tribe. The earthworks cover an area of 750 acres and in places are still easily 16 feet high. Amazing to think that Queen Cartimandua had potentially walked such some two thousand years before we were and that attacks on the Romans were launched from that place.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Be Young at Heart

My thanks to our monthly Parish magazine with its article headed "Be Young at Heart - and Live Longer!"

Apparently research at UCL shows that whilst most people feel younger than their years, those who feel older are more likely to die sooner. It seems that over 24% of the people who took part in the cohort study and who were all aged 52 or more died during the eight years in which they were followed. After allowing for factors that could affect the risk of death, feeling older than actual age was still associated with a 41% higher risk of dying within the study period than for those who felt younger than they were.

It would appear that people who feel younger take better care of themselves, maintain a healthier lifestyle, eat sensibly and follow medical advice to a greater degree than those who may feel their age or older. 

The study is reported on the NHS website which also recommends "staying as physically active as possibleconnecting with others (possibly through volunteering) and trying out new activities, such as yoga (which.. [may also].. reduce the risk of heart disease)."