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.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

The Stuff of Nightmares

One of the issues with travelling can be packing, unpacking and repacking. As readers of this blog will recall I have had the unfortunate experience of forgetting vital medication on one trip and mislaying a camera charging lead on another. I have not repeated these blunders, although I did manage to leave a favourite item of clothing  on our journey through India, but have replaced it with something that's actually more comfortable, so, in Caree's World, it doesn't count.

Generally I have always taken the view that so long as I have passport, credit card and travel tickets, nothing can go wrong whilst away that can't be fixed, at least temporarily. It's still a good philosophy and one I continue to hold steadfastly in retirement.

However in retirement you find that you have time to think about your belongings and the need to pack and unpack them. To make life easy I have even bought some packing bags that lift in and out of my travelling holdall and slip into hotel room drawers with the contents readily accessible. Moreover time allows me to fill them and lay them out in the spare bedroom several days before a planned departure. It all seems very civilised and far removed from the mad whirlwind of stuffing suitcases with anything close at hand and remotely appropriate that seemed to dominate the pre-holiday departures of my working life.

What therefore is there now to stress about packing? Once bitten twice shy: medication and charging lead are underlined in red on my re-usable packing list and everything is under control snug inside the packing bags.

Perhaps it is because one has more time to think and to plan, not least in an effort to ensure the mistakes of the past are indeed consigned to history. Time to think but also time to check, and double-check. Then time to worry and check again. Time to stress and allow those lingering concerns to enter the sub-conscious. Imagination runs riot and worry over things that haven't even happened begins.

At least that's how it seemed when I awoke in the middle of the night last week, just a few hours before we were scheduled to leave for home from our lodge in Langdale. I felt panic gripping me, as I sat bolt upright yelling out to Mister E that I had left my books behind. Then just as suddenly as the grip had tightened, it was loosened and I lay down, murmuring,"Oh, we're still here!"

Friday, 29 January 2016

Positivity in a Monochrome Environment

Battered by storm after storm outside, one could almost be forgiven for thinking that retirement offers the perfect opportunity for hibernation. However, after a couple of days hiding from the weather and catching up with all those tasks left for a winter's day, I confess to feeling somewhat isolated. At work there is, of course, always an opportunity for social interaction without seeking it out; retirement is different and one needs to be proactive.

In contrast, last week we once again visited Langdale in the Lake District and were joined by the eldest and two long standing friends; company was on tap. 

The weather was still disappointing in its own way and was dominated by cold, dull and wintry conditions. Nevertheless we got out and about showing our friends our favourite low level walking routes and lunchtime stops. We even ventured into caves that I had never visited before.

In retirement I have rediscovered a love of colour  but last week the landscape was very definitely monochrome. Positivity ruled and my camera tried to find beauty there too.

I think it succeeded!

Friday, 15 January 2016

Techno Headache

Modern technology is a strange phenomenon. On the one hand it has the ability to simplify complex records and calculations; provide access to and storage for copious data; enable us to remain connected, tracked and subject to so many reminders and notifications that we never miss a second of news nor a pre-arranged appointment. On the other hand it can be a pernicious intrusion into the quietness of life; a thief of time and the most frustrating experience when it fails, as it so constantly does, to deliver as promised.

Now I know there can be a large amount of human error attributable to these failures; for instance I am still struggling after 18 months of owning a particular model of Smartphone to work out how to answer it before it switches to Voicemail. Of course, if I received more calls this particular issue might be overcome but, having grown up in an era when we were taught to limit telephone use because of the expense, my generation hasn't really cottoned onto the "push a shopping trolley with one hand whilst your other is holding a phone to your ear" brigade.

That said, I do not castigate myself as a complete technological numpty. I use the phone as a calendar and access way to the Internet; I have What'sApp to communicate with the family and various social media accounts; I keep accounts on Excel, can  use a variety of macros in Word and am now becoming prolific with my use of Microsoft's Movie Maker. I have ventured into the world of Google Docs; all of my devices synch; I use wifi to transfer photographs from my camera to phone and bluetooth for a hands-free communication experience in my car.

Why therefore did the gods conspire to thwart me when I wanted to do a simple transfer of my mobile phone number from one network to another? I make so few calls that I have been running my phone on Pay as You Go. Unfortunately my provider decided to shut up shop with effect from today and in order to retain my number all arrangements had to be completed by yesterday.

It was to be no problem. I obtained the necessary Pac Code and a new Sim card from another provider all in good time. On Monday of this week, my only problem was a surfeit of credit on my existing network. I cleverly reduced this by sending a text to donate to a worthy cause and sent messages to several friends (who like me and for similar reasons never use their phones to ring). On Tuesday evening I checked the remaining credit and sent another charity text to clear the balance, except it didn't. That was a bit of a quandary. Did I proceed with the transfer regardless and let the Charity deduct from my new account, leaving me to claim back the balance on the old by cheque from the closing network or wait to see if the text worked its magic and cleared my balance? 

I decided to leave matters overnight.The following morning the charity had still not taken its dues; the text had clearly been sent and I was left holding a credit balance that I didn't want. I decided to change tact; donated it to another good cause (knowing that I might still have to pay out to the other charity but feeling it was worth it not to have to enter the realms of copious on-line forms to reclaim a relatively modest sum or worse still donate it to the erstwhile mobile network company's profits) and then logged on to hand over my Pac code and change number.

It was at that precise moment that the new network provider's website decided to hang, and to hang and to hang. A check revealed that it was not my computer but the website itself. There were five hours to go until the 5pm deadline after which transfer requests would not be processed in time to take effect by yesterday. All Wednesday afternoon was therefore spent in a pattern of logging on and hanging. 

The deadline came and went, and my number went with it.

I had no choice but to spend Thursday logging into all my online accounts changing my personal information and updating my mobile number to the new one provided with the new network's Simcard. Some insist on sending OTPs, One Time Passcodes (you see I even know the terminology) to the old number and there was much changing of Sim cards whilst I still had access to both networks, frantically trying to ensure that I completed the task before I would drop into the murky world of re-registrations and requests to Banks for pin codes in order to jump through their security hoops.

Of course, I still have to notify all those friends who never ring of the number change, giving them their own headache of altering details on their phones.

So it is that a transaction that could almost have been simple has dominated the week causing me to despair for the future. How ever will I manage when I really can't even half follow what is required of me to keep a phone in my pocket that will actually ring so that I may one day just stand a chance of being able to answer it.

"It's all down to market forces and capitalism," said Mister E. "Life was simpler in the days of a monopolised telecommunications company. Imagine it letting you lose your number," he added in a moment of Corbynista type philosophising.

Ah yes, the simple life; the life I am seeking in retirement. It looks like I still have a long way to go and I either learn to use and live with this technology or give it up completely; if only!

Monday, 11 January 2016

A Return to Normality

The last of our Christmas Holiday invaders, in the form of the youngest, left us to return to university yesterday. Normality now reigns supreme after what has seemed like a hectic festive period.

As previously recorded it started with erecting the Christmas tree at the last minute and playing host to a Yorkshire Terrier, small in stature but big on making her presence known. In various stages we were then joined by the youngest, the eldest, the eldest's girlfriend, family on Mister E's side, family on my side. We have only 10 dining chairs which is meant to limit the number we can cater for at any one time; this year the limit was exceeded at 11 when one guest went chairless, but hey he did get fed!

So during our 12 mad days of Christmas we were visited by two eccentrics dressed as elves and a glove puppet. Our youngest suffered from an infection which led to a fever which in turn led to vomiting. I had to take her to the doctor on three separate occasions including Christmas Eve and Boxing Day and during which period we were constantly accompanied by a bright orange bucket. I also worked out that the out of hours GP telephone number is 111 for a reason: if you dial it often enough you realise it actually spells ill!

Meanwhile, the dog seemed to think it was in charge of the cooking, refusing to leave the kitchen during the long periods of food preparation. We solved a murder mystery when our guests included Sigmund Fraud and Dame Barbara Carthorse. Several people ate too much chocolate and the bright orange bucket made another appearance. 

The dog seemed to think it was the only being that deserved to be eating Christmas dinner and when excluded barked constantly. As it did so, the ghost of Christmas present wandered through, gin bottle in hand and in search, presumably, of an orange bucket.

We had a mini disaster in the form of a fire when, instead of burning out, a candle tried to continue its life by eating its way through a table decoration, resulting in Mister E blistering himself by rising to the occasion and extinguishing it single-handedly and before the wet tea towel or orange bucket arrived.

The dog seemed to think it was the only guest at the party and objected to the pulling of Christmas crackers. The living room (still suffering in part from books and other items that properly belong in the study) started to resemble the council tip as gifts were unwrapped and it stayed that way for several days. 

Life was turned upside down, when for the first time in living history, Mister E and I lost the Boxing Day Family Challenge to the next generation and the ghost of Christmas present (or maybe it was one of those elves or a bright orange bucket) walked through again.

The dog seemed to think that our smallest nephew was hunt potential for the New Year's Day Meet and insisted on chasing him around our downstairs. With only three teeth left, however, it rather detracted from the sense of viciousness. At this point someone handed the gin bottle around again or maybe it was the orange bucket but nobody really cared, in fact there was even a suggestion that we had a lion in the house.

Lions, elves, orange buckets, and ghosts; at least we were able to track down the murderer. The newly furbished study was spared the grief of Professor Plum and the lead piping and instead the culprit on this occasion was one Mike Bison.

One mystery remained unsolved however, namely the disappearance of two forks but a search of the wheelie-bin has only revealed a pastry brush and spoon. I'm blaming the ghost rather than family or the dog.

Utterly exhausted, primarily from tidying up, waving goodbye and putting away that orange bucket, I am now about to start on the laundry. I have heard tell that it is a new tradition at Christmastime to bless the family home with a whole term's worth of washing; certainly it is a tradition that both the eldest and youngest seem to have embraced wholeheartedly.

Happy New Year everyone and let's have a peaceful and less frenetic 2016!