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.




Showing posts with label Food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Food. Show all posts

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Nectar or Not


Some people love Marmite. Mister E is one of them. Unfortunately I have only once managed to get past the smell in order to taste it and let's say that I was singularly unimpressed. If you have to consume it to be a vegan, no wonder I'm sticking to meat and dairy products.

Of course I understand that  some people suffer Marmageddon moments when there is no jar in the house or Tesco falls out with its supplier and they struggle to even buy the stuff. On my part, however, it haunts  my life. I despise the stuff but am forever running into jars in  my kitchen. I hate the way it sticks to the knife that I invariably find myself washing to put away, or the way it seems to dribble down the side of the jar that I want to put back in the cupboard.

Now I know its reputedly eco friendly, made locally from brewers' yeast and low in calories but still I have never been persuaded to fall for its purported allure.

Today, however, I understand that I could be missing out on important benefits. Research at the University of York appears to suggest that there is an apparent link between eating Marmite and an increase of a chemical messenger associated with healthy brain function. The Daily Telegraph reported the outcome more bluntly indicating that it may boost brain power and stave off dementia.

Wouldn't it be typical if a food item that I find totally unpalatable is the one that could help defeat those senior moments I have been referring to recently and perhaps even help me finish the daily crossword? 

Of course such research is only in its infancy and further studies are required before any benefit in the treatment of dementia can be claimed. In the meantime it will take more than the odd episode of momentary witlessness to get me to volunteer to take a teaspoon a day.


Thursday, 15 December 2016

Christmas is Coming



It is very easy  to lose track of time in retirement. Without young children in the home, colleagues at work or even an Advent Calendar to remind you of the number of days to go until December 25th, there is of course a risk that Christmas Day can creep up almost unawares.

Today however my Christmas run up officially began when our Pilates wind down took place to the accompaniment of Silent Night. This was followed by a gym workout the sole purpose of which was to burn as many calories as possible in order to join fellow gym bunnies for a festive meal. Unfortunately three courses, including turkey with all the trimmings, really meant that  I ought properly to have returned for an overnight stint if all damage was to be avoided. With cards still to buy and write, it was not too difficult to formulate a legitimate excuse.

Tomorrow is Christmas Jumper Day and then there are 8 days to get those cards posted, presents bought and wrapped, food sourced, house cleaned, decorations put up and family welcomed. Goodness that's a whole week that I never got whilst working; plenty of time!


Thursday, 8 September 2016

The Harvest Effect




The view around us at the moment is illustrative of the season; late summer mellowing into autumn and all around us the harvest coming home. Indeed in the last week I have dug up and stored  the remainder of the potato crop whilst continuing to pick beans, tomatoes, lettuce and spring onions not to mention copious buckets of apples.

We've also been enjoying some glorious weather although perhaps it was a little premature to hear it being described as an Indian summer. Certainly the local farmers don't have any faith in such a prediction  because they were working through the night to get their cereal crops in. Indeed when we awoke and drew back the curtains this morning there was a haze that seemed to stretch for miles; a rural smog of harvest dust.

Unfortunately it had also entered through the open bedroom windows to irritate eyes and nostrils. Peeping in the mirror after a sneezing fit, one eye was bloodshot and remains so. Whilst therefore I might have sought to prolong the good weather a little longer (after all we did wait rather a long time for summer to start this year), I couldn't help but cheer when it began to rain mid-morning. However it's now been replaced by a stiff breeze that's moved the dust on but also created a deluge of windfall apples that now need processing into pies, jam or the freezer.

Is this what retirement is? Farming by another name?


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!





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, 26 July 2015

My New Best Friend



Following on from my post about food, exercise and the paucity of weight loss in retirement, after I had somewhat overindulged in Whitby last weekend, I thought it was time to make amends. With all the exercise I now get in retirement and the healthy diet I follow, I decided that if I was not losing weight in any significant amounts then life needed to  be shaken up a bit.

So I have found a new friend: My Fitness Pal.

Yes it's a virtual friend, a wonderful app from Under Armour that records the calories you take on board and the calories you burn, producing graphs to show how balanced your day's food consumption has been, the nutrients you need and what you are likely to weigh in 5 weeks if you continue eating in that way.

I have never calorie counted in my life before, failing to understand how some people, it seems almost intuitively, know just how many of them are in a slice of bread or chocolate biscuit. After almost a week I am still none the wiser in that respect, which is where My Fitness Pal does all the hard work. It is programmed with so much information that it never fails to surprise me; like yesterday when I succumbed to a Marks & Spencer pistachio and almond cookie, it had all the detail, right down to the last grain of sugar.

Doing all of that manually would of course be totally boring, but when, like me, you are compliant by nature, very pedantic, logical and love living by rules, then My Fitness Pal could become a friend for life.

Even better, every time I visit the gym, my new companion effectively gives me a pat on the back and allows me to eat more. Now who doesn't want a friend like that, especially in that fish restaurant in Whitby?


Monday, 20 July 2015

Cod and Chips


I am conscious that food has not played an enormous part in my commentary on this blog. I am unsure why, as I certainly eat a great deal of it! Perhaps it is because my nutritional need in retirement has not varied enormously from when I was working. If anything, I probably eat slightly healthier (although we have never been a family for fast food, ready meals or take-aways) and maybe less than when I was working.

There are of course exceptions and I would be being disingenuous if I did not confess to partaking in a small sized (Yorkshire measurement) fish and chips when we were in Whitby on Saturday. We ate late to ensure we could get a seat in one of the renowned eateries without queuing; deliberately ate small breakfasts and then, in my case, nothing more for the rest of the day. We also prepared for the feast by a running pace up the 199 steps to St Mary's Church and I did an extra long work-out in the gym the next day too.

The trouble is that one of the problems of being of a retirement-appropriate age, is that no matter how hard you exercise or deny yourself, you shed weight in solitary ounces. Wink at a fish in batter however and the bulges appear instantly around your middle! I am exaggerating but the truth is that, although I now seem to live in a state of permanent exertion, losing those pounds gained during my sedentary office lifestyle is no easy matter. 

Of course it would be easy to blame a sluggish metabolism but, as the NHS website points out, numerous studies have failed to find evidence to support the view that overweight people have slow metabolic rates. Instead it recommends the only effective way to decrease your waist size is by aerobic activity, strength training and being active, whilst eating sensibly, of course.

It looks as though I'm just going to have to keep those gym visits going along with the decorating, gardening and walking. Oh and maybe I should avoid Whitby and its quintessential English seaside cuisine for a while.


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!


Sunday, 1 February 2015

Eating Out



Mister E and I seem to have eaten out on an inordinate number of occasions in the last couple of weeks, in part attributable to and during our trip to the Lake District but also locally since our return as well as on our day visit to London.

It seems that there is something of a revolution taking place with restaurant menus.

Perhaps it is a result of the growing prominence of vegetarianism or alternatively part of a desperate fight to counter the effects of obesity, but the last two years has seen a definite rise in the number of dishes featuring butter-nut squash and now too it would seem kaleslaw. I blame the likes of Jamie Oliver myself!

There was a time not so long ago when eating out, certainly in the North, was based on a choice of stodgy carbohydrate-laden dishes featuring such delicacies as Cumberland sausage, battered fish and chips, lamb shank and roast potatoes followed of course by sticky toffee pudding, treacle tart or chocolate sponge all with custard.

I am sure that none of those traditional dishes was in any way beneficial in the fight against clogging arteries, heart disease and middle-age spread. They were however always welcome after a long day out on the fells when you could tell yourself that you were only replacing calories expended by tramping in the hills.

Now when perusing the menu after an active and tiring day you can, halo justly shining, tell yourself that the meal will be another healthy addition to your virtuous day. That is, until you see the size of the portions; taste the cream in the accompanying sauce; oil in the dressing and note the enormous chunks of bread to accompany your plate.

It's just as well I rarely eat more than  two courses these days, often just one, otherwise, and despite all the exercise, I really would be on the verge of developing a heart problem.


Friday, 16 January 2015

Another Day Out



I had another day out yesterday. Whilst Mister E drove off to his 3 day week job, I hopped on a train to Leeds to browse a few shopping streets in Yorkshire's big city but more importantly, from the perspective of someone who hates shopping, to meet my sister for lunch and then view an exhibition of work by Shezad Dawood at the City Art Gallery.

Wandering around our city centres is always a great experience even when you do detest shopping, because when you look up there are invariably wonderful buildings and Leeds' Victorian Quarter fulfils all expectations in this respect with its old covered arcades the forerunners to modern malls but so much more interesting.

The exhibition too was intriguing especially the main feature which was a video film about humanity entitled Towards the Possible Film. Beautiful and cruel; mystifying and straightforward; I am still puzzling it out.

A little like the tasty and artistically presented salad we ate at lunchtime, where we had to guess the ingredients!


Saturday, 23 August 2014

A Harvest and a Declutter

I have taken the opportunity of a lull between trips away to harvest my vegetable patch and start to declutter our home.

It looks as though I have replaced a mountain of paper with a pile of potatoes, although fortunately the latter are now sacked and stored in the garage rather than piled on a table.

A plum glut has been turned into jam, whilst an overflowing bookcase has been pruned back.

A surplus of apples has been juiced or made into crumbles; a DVD collection has been culled and donated to a local charity shop.

Chipped crockery has been broken further and stored in the greenhouse, ready to provide drainage in next year's plant pots. In the meantime I continue to water this year's pots as I pick the tomatoes and cucumbers from the plants thriving in them.

Beans and courgettes have become our staple diet. I'm also whittling down my wardrobe as it becomes more and more apparent which clothing suits my new life-style in retirement.

Clear floors and surfaces are restoring a feeling of space in our home again and a three-phase plan which will hopefully be evidenced by this blog has been devised:

1. Initial removal of broken or unwanted objects
2. Removal of unused items
3. Complete pruning back to allow room to be emptied and redecorated.

In the garden it is a similar pattern:

1. Harvesting fruit and vegetables
2. Clearing vegetable stalks and heads
3. Digging ready for replanting in the Spring



Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Just a Little Treat


The youngest and I took advantage of the warm and balmy weather today to visit Richmond (North Yorkshire) and eat freshly made ice-cream!


Do I feel guilty?  Of course not because I can piously say that I had already written off all the calories at an exercise class earlier in the day.



It is going to take a long time before I fully appreciate that my new life does give the freedom to treat myself to an afternoon out every day if the fancy takes. However, I am going to have to attend an awful lot of exercise classes if I want an ice cream every day too! 

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Advice for Retirement in a Fortune Cookie

We made a spur of the moment decision to eat out in Richmond this evening at The New Treasure Garden, after Mister E remembered reading a good review. We were not disappointed and afterwards enjoyed a stroll in the shadow of the castle and around the Market Place, it still being a balmy 21 degrees.

Best of all I even got a tip for retirement in my fortune cookie: "Enjoy Life," it said, "It is better to be happy than wise."


Sunday, 29 June 2014

Food Glorious Food




Suddenly when you no longer work on a Monday (or indeed any day) Sundays seem longer and less pressurised. As a result and in addition to doing our weekly shop, Mister E and I took a leisurely stroll around Northallerton’s Home Grown Food Festival this afternoon. We ended up with a bag full of produce, including the items photographed above.

To a background of live music there was an opportunity to watch cookery demonstrations and speak at length to a number of the vendors as well as to try before you buy. As a result we blind tasted different kinds of honey, pickles and bread as well as sniffing various dried chillies.

We did, however, forsake the opportunity to try a slice of grilled crocodile meat (who on earth is home rearing those in North Yorkshire?) but only because of its popularity. It may have been a leisurely stroll but we are not as yet so relaxed in retirement that we have time to queue!