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.

Wisdom Acquired

  1. Working part-time and in a consultancy role for another business to that in which I had spent nearly all my working life, for the 3 years before retirement, was a sensible decision. I certainly think I would have struggled much more with the concept of retirement in the early days if I had gone straight from being a partner in my own business to total retirement.
  2. It was necessary to consider the financial implications and to use a professional to make the resources we have accumulated work for us in retirement, as well as gaining a very clear view of our expenditure. Like it or not, retirement needs planning and should not be winged.
  3. There are habits of mind to overcome in the early days and of which habits I was previously unaware. In my case the most noticeable were the voids created when I no longer had case files to fret over during the night or when driving.
  4. There are practical re-arrangements to be made at home including, I realised very quickly, in my wardrobe.
  5. For me, avoiding routine really works, certainly in the initial stages, although I know that it is contrary to most people's instincts and you have to work hard sometimes to achieve it.
  6. From Day 1 of retirement I was more active as I escaped the chains of the office desk; in turn I slept better but also felt less tired during the day. Nonetheless I was not fit and ended up making this one of my very first priorities signing up for a fitness challenge, taking exercise classes I had never previously considered and pushing myself beyond my previous limitations. In due course my quest for fitness extended to a review of my weight and BMI and in which connection I found My Fitness Pal, an app that counts calories and their expenditure, invaluable.
  7. Retirement is not a holiday but it can feel like one if you want it to. There's nothing wrong with that except you can't really eat ice-cream every day.
  8. Retiring in the summer when the weather is warm and the days are long is probably the best time to properly wind down.
  9. You may feel like a novice; go with the flow and enjoy it. Retirement is the perfect time to re-invent yourself.  It is after all like living in a parallel world to that which you previously inhabited.
  10. Take your time, there's nothing wrong with experimentation and exploring until you know you have found what is going to suit you best in retirement. Delay committing until you have found it. Indeed whatever plans you have made may even end up being put on hold as your retirement journey heads off in a direction you had not initially expected
  11. Getting away is easier, so make sure you travel. Recovery times are longer as we get older, so you may want to think carefully about comfort whilst travelling and also the times of any flights. I don't have the solution but have discovered that packing is very important. Perhaps it is an age thing but omitting items from my suitcase seems to arise easily!
  12. Coupling retirement with another major life event, like children leaving home, can still be successful.
  13. You are perfectly entitled to enjoy yourself, whatever your conscience might say.
  14. It is not work that gives you your identity or self-worth; you have or can make other roles. Indeed unlike the work-place, retirement is not a target-led, rational progression.
  15. Walking helps keep you fit and healthy seems to be the generally accepted wisdom these days and old friends proved it to us when they joined us in the Lake District.
  16.  There is no longer the need to set an alarm clock or, in winter, get up in the dark. Indeed shortening of the days in autumn can become a treat rather than a bind.
  17. Following on from 16 above, avoid making appointments for the morning and you can avoid venturing out on untreated roads in the ice and snow of wintertime.
  18. Never forget that laughter is good for you.
  19. Holidays (including traditional holiday periods at home) give you a much longer benefit in retirement as there is no longer work to soak up the after effects and a traditional holiday enables you to wind down to a level you may not previously have thought possible.
  20. It is easier to be patient with bureaucracy in retirement
  21. The sun doesn't have to shine to travel. Out of season journeys can still be interesting and the scenery and architecture captivating despite the weather. Even the monochrome conditions of a dull, wintry day can be appreciated as beautiful.
  22. Also you don't have to leave the UK to enjoy new places and awesome sights. We have discovered the delights of being tourists in our immediate locality and even in visiting places that have long been familiar to us, armed with a camera and our new "retirement eyes"
  23. Something that I have always known is that the more you put into something, the more you get out of it. In retirement, volunteering, which is rewarding in itself, substantiates this. However, it may demand a routine and commitment that you are unable to give, so it is important to choose a role carefully and not assume that what fitted pre-retirement will continue to do so afterwards.
  24. Don't waste your retirement doing housework .
  25. Never be afraid of trying new activities.
  26. If you begin to think your life lacks meaning in retirement, document your core values and live by them.
  27. If you read for pleasure, make sure the subject matter provides escapism from your pre-retirement life.
  28. However much you enjoy decorating, fitness classes and workouts it probably isn't sensible to leave all your redecoration or getting fit for retirement. With the benefit of hindsight I ought to have kept abreast of these whilst still working.
  29. Don't make plans based on the assumption that the weather will be good (well at least not if you live in the UK) and make sure you pursue both outdoor and indoor projects. Disappointment when rain or wind stop play is easier to handle in retirement but a Plan B is always useful. However, don't be tempted to hibernate; you're not a hedgehog and life could get lonely.
  30. Retirement provides an opportunity to follow sport in a way that you may not have done for several decades.
  31. As backed up by various studies, the natural world is good for you and there are health benefits in strolling through it. Some of its simplest aspects make you feel happy, putting a smile on your face and it can link with art or other pursuits. Light and colour are now two of my greatest pleasures!
  32. Be happy, but, if you need to, work out how. Anxiety is common especially as we age but could be a sign of depression.
  33. Don't overlook the vaccinations you can receive from the NHS especially against flu or the PPV, there will come a time when you will be grateful for the protection offered. Prevention is generally better than a cure and time in retirement is too precious to spend in bed.
  34. Tread carefully, falling hurts. Overdoing anything can hurt and in those first few gardening days of the season it is easy to pull on the old back muscles. Sadly as we age, or should I say mature, recovery times do seem to be slower.
  35. Retiring to a ski chalet in the Alps may not seem as practical now as it did thirty years ago when you first came up with the idea. However, the Netherlands is flat and it would seem from our experience at the Keukenhof Gardens popular even with those who use mobility aids.
  36. "I don't know how I found the time to work," is an awful truism that will slip from your tongue before you realise it.
  37.  Get out of your slippers even if you are spending the day in the house. Lack of proper support can be as damaging to your feet as high heels. Also don't be surpirsed when your feet start to rebel if you get them to wear shoes you used to think were comfortable for working in.
  38. In retirement you will find time to agitate on all kinds of issues, writing to your MP, blogging and generally boring the pants off anyone who will listen. Keep at it; it makes you feel worthwhile and if you need any ideas air pollution  and Save the Children are two of my favourites

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