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.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Perseverance Finally Rewards

One of the enjoyable parts of retirement is spending time in the garden, or perhaps to be more precise even weeding. Now I don't claim to have a garden that is completely free of intruders but I have to say it looks heaps better than three years ago. I mulched large areas in the spring which has helped to suppress the growth of unwanted interlopers and have also been fastidious in setting aside time each week for tending to the vegetable patch, hoeing  and pulling out weeds  by hand.

The weather has not been brilliant this summer by any means. Indeed and until two days ago it seemed that we were destined to suffer April temperatures and showers indefinitely. It has however had the advantage of forcing me to spend more time in the greenhouse, raising plants under glass to a greater level of maturity than I might normally have done before planting them out.

Inevitably there have been anxious moments not least as a result of the decision to try growing sweet corn. All the advice was that these days a crop can be successfully raised even in the Northern counties, if the weather is mild. I think I must have heard somewhere that we were destined to enjoy a warm summer this year and decided to give it a try in the sheltered walled area of the plot. Sadly last week a wander through the vegetable patch suggested that it may be stagnating as benign temperatures continued to prove themselves elusive.

Of course all that changed this week when the temperature rose gradually and to the extent that yesterday tarmac was softening on the road as the thermometer hit the dizzy height of 31 degrees celsius (88 degrees fahrenheit) in my garden, whereas seven days ago it could only muster 15 (59 fahrenheit).

I had completely forgotten what a hot, lazy day in the garden feels like; pottering with a watering can and trowel, before seeking respite in the shade listening to the birds and the hum of insects. Best of all there was finally an opportunity to enjoy and admire the result of all that hardwork and to breathe a sigh of relief when the sweet corn clearly appreciated the sunshine too.

Saturday, 16 July 2016


So this week we spent a couple of days in Northumberland revisiting old haunts from the decade when we kept a boat at Amble. 

It is strange how some places improve and others decline, leaving us a little disappointed by our hotel which is now part of a chain and whilst we had expected the man on the door in the frock coat and top hat would have retired had hoped, in vain, that if the chef had followed suit he would at least have been adequately replaced.

On the plus side Amble itself has really benefited from what is clearly an upmarket regeneration, designed presumably to replace the fishing industry with tourism.

Despite the stormy skies, Northumberland's beaches never fail to please. If only they had stupendous weather to match the miles of golden sand, but then they wouldn't be so brilliantly under populated.

We took in Northumberlandia opened only in 2012, the vast sleeping giant of a woman carved into the site of a deserted open cast coal site and approached from the car park through a delightful beech tree wood. Living as we do in North Yorkshire, beech trees are sparse but the memories of a childhood garden surrounded by them came flooding back when prompted by the olfactory organs.

 The Alnwick Garden is approximately fifteen years older but for some reason had escaped all our previous visits to the area. It was not as large as I had imagined but the main water feature is outstanding and the roses and delphiniums were in full bloom. 

 We particularly enjoyed a guided tour of the Poison Garden with the guide's explanation of the dangers lurking behind some of our most common plants including Giant Hogweed. 
 Mister E also clearly revelled in the rope bridges adjacent to the tree house as he bounced along ahead of me sending waves of nausea behind him and quite deliberately.
  I once heard tell that Northumberland has more castles per square mile than any other area of the British Isles, I'm not sure if it's a myth or fact but we certainly took in two of the finest of them with Dunstanburgh and Alnwick, as well as the fishing harbours of Seahouses (North Sunderland) and Craster famed of course for its kippers.

There are no motorways running through Northumberland. The landscape takes in views of the Cheviot Hills and boasts the northern-most National Park in England with its dark sky status. It has a stunning coast line and innumerable historic sites starting with Hadrian's Wall and Lindisfarne. Nevertheless it remains an overlooked county when it comes to tourism and that of course is part of its attraction.

Thursday, 14 July 2016


One of the sad facts about getting older is that you become much more conscious of the finite nature of our lives. In retirement this can translate itself into the dreaded bucket list and a whirlwind of activity trying to fit as much as possible in whilst, as I have often heard say, we can. 

There was an era when we were regularly invited to weddings and christenings , in retirement it seems far more likely that I will attend Church for a funeral service. It's an inevitable but regrettable symptom of getting older. A reminder of our fragility and recognition that each day could be our last.

I don't like funerals; I doubt if anybody does. They are particularly difficult, however, when they are for someone whose life was cut short in its prime and long before retirement beckoned.

Rest in Peace.


Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Retail Therapy

As part of the voluntary work that I am undertaking for Save the Children,  I have agreed to provide occasional cover for holiday absences in their local charity shop. Of course my cv falls well short of fitting the job description when the closest I have ever previously come to operating a till was a plastic cash register I used to play with as a child. It is a novel experience and it has certainly taught me never to underestimate the skills of the check-out staff in a supermarket again. 

A shop till these days is a sophisticated computer in its own right, with touch screen technology, flashing lights and a really scary card reader. Of course it can only  be operated whilst simultaneously wrapping the goods purchased, checking for forged notes, handing over the correct change and all the while making casual conversation with the customer whilst being on the look out for shop lifters and fraudsters. 

Variety is achieved by re-arranging or stacking shelves (the books are my favourites) or sorting through sacks of donated goods, pricing them and, in the case of clothes, steaming out the creases. As a treat I am occasionally permitted to cash up, carry the takings to the bank or even visit the newsagent to buy milk.

The target led workplace I have been used to has caused me to compete with myself as to the number of items I can sort and price and take a keen interest in the amount raised whilst on duty. Also, in case I really wanted some office nostalgia, I am again imbibing in an instant coffee at 11am rather than the daily americano with freshly ground beans that is a highlight of retirement.

After three and a half hours on  my feet, I inevitably return home fitter than when I left and with a greater understanding of the gossip on the high street. Moreover and despite the time spent in the shop, I do not go back laden down with shopping bags. Now that's retail therapy that even Mister E approves of.