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, 30 August 2015

A Change for the Better


We are unable to resist the beauty of the English Lake District, regularly staying in the same lodge in the Langdale Valley twice a year. We have once again returned from such a trip where our days were spent walking on the fells, enjoying the scenery and just being in the great outdoors. It's that joy of nature effect that I have mentioned before but am only just beginning to realise the full impact of.

When I was working, the Lake District served as a bolt hole; a release from the stresses and strains of every day living; the indulgent delights of a well-needed holiday, albeit in a scenic location. 


Now the narrative is different. Staying in such surroundings is an extension of the life we have chosen to live in retirement; an opportunity to be at peace with nature and enjoy the simple pace of life whilst breathing in the country air, revelling in the views and sleeping deeply after those long, long walks. No longer do we need that break for a period of refreshment and relaxation. Instead it has transposed into an opportunity to appreciate those aspects of our retired life that we truly enjoy without the shackles of the daily household chores. We arrive stress-free and the stay is not marred by time for recovery or healing. Instead, every moment can be spent appreciating our surroundings and being at one with them.



Tuesday, 18 August 2015

A Health Trip



Well it is said that retirement is a journey and also that it is full of surprises. Certainly I had never expected to be embroiled in so much physical activity in retirement, becoming, if I am allowed to quote from the urban dictionary, something of a "gym bunny." Mind, you would never think it to look at me, but bit by bit the abs and glutes are developing.

So the natural progression from all the exercise has to be to think in terms of general healthy living and, of course, that old chestnut: what we eat and drink.

I thought I had tackled that a few weeks ago with My Fitness Pal but no, in the true spirit of moving on a stage in the journey, I have now started another Future Learn Course, this time from the University of Aberdeen on Nutrition and Well-Being. So far I have been absorbing some fairly basic facts about carbohydrates, protein, fats and micro-nutrients but do not have a clue where this trip is leading, especially when I have completed the course.

Will it stop with a cookery lesson perhaps or move into the world of medicine and/or alternative therapies? I have no idea but I am not getting off now, the journey is too exciting!




Sunday, 16 August 2015

Outside In


Last night we stayed at the Orchard Hotel on the University of Nottingham campus. It was a convenient spot, coinciding with dropping the eldest off after a sailing trip and prior to another of our history tour days, this time to Derbyshire and the Peak District.

The hotel was built using eco-friendly principles but what I really love about it is how it is so light and airy, appearing to bring the green space from outside to the interior. Indeed it even takes this principle to extremes in the bedrooms which have a woodland mural on the wall.


Perhaps its designers anticipated the research I have referred to recently confirming the health benefits of nature and we certainly, as on previous occasions, enjoyed our stay which proved a fitting prequel for a journey through the Peak District, taking in Ashbourne and Buxton before heading for Castleton and Edale.

Buxton has been undergoing rejuvenation since I last visited (some thirty years ago) with the restoration of the Pavilion Gardens whilst the project to renovate the Crescent which was originally built as a hotel housing the thermal baths, is now well under way. In the 19th century the town was a popular hydrotherapy resort although the spa has been closed since the 1990's. When the restored hotel and baths reopen, they too will be a centre for the promotion of well-being, not least for those who exert themselves in the High Peak area beyond and around the town.


Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Disorientation


It's been a funny old week. There's something about work that keeps you very much rooted in routine and the day to day. In my previous career driven life I do not think I ever awoke thinking "Whoopee it's Saturday," only to find that it was really Monday (or any other weekday come to that) and that I had an office to go to when I was actually relishing a day out with the family.

Here in retirement and, as I have alluded to before in this blog, with no fixed routine,  it is, I confess, easy to become disoriented with time. So I have had a friend to stay but somewhere, deep in the recesses of my mind, friends only stay at weekends; that's right isn't it, because midweek we are always working? More than a year in and the rhythms of retirement still conspire to defeat me on occasions, because it was actually Tuesday and Wednesday that she stayed. That was great because mentally Monday did not then arrive until Thursday and by then it was almost the end of the working week. Confused? Well I certainly was.

Sometimes I still have to pinch myself to check that I am awake and not dreaming, and that I really do no longer work. Of course, because I don't, weekends are a meaningless entity anyway. Yes I have a calendar on the wall and an electronic diary synchronised on all my devices but whether an appointment falls on a weekday or weekend, it is of no difference. 

Who needs days of the week when you are retired? They are useful for knowing when the bins have to be put out for emptying but everything else can be done virtually any day we choose.

In fact I have even been wondering if life could be simplified by throwing away all our clocks and relying simply on the sun. The trouble is that it is usually cloudy and whilst I may be able to tell the difference between night and day, I'm not too sure that I could accurately  make a doctor's appointment or yoga class on time. 

Still there's a certain lure to giving it a go and really freeing myself from the vestiges of the working years with their dependency on clock watching. To get the full benefit of the experience we would presumably have to avoid television, the radio and computers; indeed anything that might constantly update us as to the hour of the day. An ultimate break from modern life and its reliance on alerts, alarms and notifications. Maybe a state of total disorientation so far as time is concerned and one step on from that currently induced by retirement could prove to be the zenith of relaxation. Watch this space: I feel an experiment coming on.


Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Keep Smiling


A short while ago I blogged about the pleasure derived from the sunflower; a plant which, when in bloom, always makes us smile. Now one has mysteriously appeared amongst the crop in the field adjacent to our garden. Everyone who has visited us during the last few days had been enraptured and generally laughed out loud, especially as there must be some suspicion that it has grown from a stray seed carried by the wind or a bird from my garden. 

I trust the farmer finds it equally as jolly. As someone who still works hard for his living, he may not even notice when he moves in with his combine harvester. It is those of us who are retired and relaxed who now have the time to find the fun in simple objects.



Saturday, 1 August 2015

Back to Nature



There have been a variety of studies that demonstrate the beneficial effects of nature and in particular living in or experiencing a rural environment with its trees, plants and other wildlife. In essence getting back to nature is good for you. 

A recent study from Stanford University suggests that strolling through grass and trees is advantageous for our mental health. Another paper from the University of Chicago has even found that the health benefits of the natural environment is such that living in an area with 10 more trees is equivalent to being 7 years younger.

No wonder then that, following on from our outings earlier in the week, Mister E and I yesterday went on an eight mile walk through forest, across fields, uphill and then over moorland. I guess we should have been feeling several years younger when we returned home. In truth, however, and until my hot bath to ease the aches and pains, I felt like a ninety year old!