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 Health. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Health. 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.


Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Happy Feet Again



The first couple of weeks of January have been as busy as ever. There have been: a new laptop for the Parish Council to set up (why do these things take so long?); exercise classes to endure or enjoy depending on my daily fitness aptitude and the level of the group; more DIY at the rental property; a new Future Learn course; lunches out and time spent chatting (rather a lot) with family and friends.

Yesterday I was back in volunteering mode, covering not one but two shifts at Save the Children's local high street shop. Well it was short of staff, I had a diary that could be easily altered, so why not? After all seven hours is nothing compared to the daily grind, week after week, month after month, decade after decade that goes with full-time work; at least that is what I thought. 

So, I dressed appropriately in several layers and my comfortable ankle boots to ward off the chills from the open shop door and set off with enthusiasm, ready to meet and greet; sort and stack; clean and steam. Except what I hadn't realised is that, like everything I have been learning to do in retirement, working a whole day takes practice. It may have been less than three years since I last did it, but, not only am I out of practice, those comfortable boots are quite simply excruciatingly painful after just four hours. The heel on them is only an inch high, they have supportive insoles and although I regularly wore them day after day in the office,  I confess that they have hardly donned my feet since. Anyway I kid you not, I felt ninety when we locked the shop at 4.30pm and I left to hobble down the street to my car.

Obviously I ought to have realised that whilst ladies wear all heights of footwear in the office, the reason I now go to Pilates classes three times a week is to try to reclaim the proper alignment of my musculoskeletal system after more than thirty-five years of ill-treatment in the work place. In retirement I take a full hour over lunch, I enjoy a mixture of sitting and standing throughout the day and I generally wear flat, supportive shoes, slipping into heels (even low ones) only for special occasions and where standing is restricted to just short periods at a time. 

Last night, my poor old feet were tended over with a warm bath and copious amounts of foot balm. It was a stark reminder that whilst I may have been able to neglect both them and the rest of my body during my working years, they deserve much better in retirement. I suppose that I have finally learnt that whilst my feet may not be the prettiest, they are the only pair I am ever going to have and ought not, therefore, to be abused. I have now promised them that going forward, and however difficult they are, they will get the love and care that they demand.




Friday, 9 December 2016

The Long Commute




I have been doing a lot of commuting lately. Not that daily drudge but a weekly motorway trip to and from the Midlands as I immerse myself in DIY getting our rental property in Nottingham ready for re-letting. It's been an opportunity to call in on a friend en route, stay in one of our favourite hotels (offering cut price bargain rates in what was clearly a down season before the Christmas revels began in earnest) and brush up on my decorating skills. The intention to blog has always been there but, as on the month long trip to America that preceded this bout of industrial activity, there never seems to have been the time. Just like those old days of daily working and commuting perhaps.

Indeed sitting in the car one Tuesday evening as I sought to escape the city lights along with thousands of other road users, I was captivated by how many people repeat that inescapable journey not once a day but twice. Streams of cars held up by traffic light after traffic light and all jostling for position as two lanes meged into one and then back again. A toxic mix of brake lights and diesel fumes. I lie not, it took 54 minutes to travel 6 miles out of Nottingham and to the motorway!

Was I enraged? Far from it. In fact I convinced myself that in retirement we should all try an awful commute now and again, not to prove that we can still do it but rather to remind ourselves of one of the many joys of retirement: namely the ability to time our journeys to avoid queues.

Needless to say when we stayed there this week we deliberately left much later in the evening and had a quicker if less reflective journey. 

One of my pet hates at the moment though is air pollution. I had not expected to notice such a difference in air quality in the large cities of the USA but walking through Boston, Austin, San Diego and San Antonio those nasty vehicle emissions were hardly noticeable. There was a time when here in the UK people would laugh at a neighbour who chugged out in what was considered a cheap French import,  puffing clouds of exhaust fumes behind them. Then somebody must mistakenly have persuaded the Government that diesel was less harmful to the planet enabling it to be sold as cheap as, if not more cheaply than, petrol. Now almost everyone seems to drive an engine  powered by it, oblivious to the toxic health bomb they are helping to create.

Consider the description of diesel exhaust as taken here from Wikipedia: "Emissions from diesel vehicles have been reported to be significantly more harmful than those from petrol vehicles. Diesel combustion exhaust is a source of atmospheric soot and fine particles, which is a component of the air pollution implicated in human cancer, heart and lung damage, and mental functioning."

I know that in retirement many look to conserve their pounds, drive a smaller car and for less miles. So let's sit down and do the arithmetic. Work out what the premium for the diesel engine over the petrol one is; how many miles we are likely to drive; then the total cost compared to a petrol engine. Next when we know the saving (assuming there is one) add in the risk to our own health and that of everyone else breathing in the nitrogen oxides including the animals that we eat; the cost to and burden on the NHS (just when we approach a time in our lives when we may want to depend on it more often). It is estimated that in London 10,000 deaths a year (23,500 across the UK as a whole) are attributable to air pollution resulting in the Mayor only this week announcing a doubling of funding to try to tackle the crisis.  His announcement followed a report a week ago that Paris, Madrid, Athens and Mexico City plan to ban diesel vehicles by 2025. The world is waking up to the problem, and retirees must too.

If you are still not convinced, take a trip to the USA (paying to offset your carbon footprint of course) and note the difference as you travel its sidewalks. 

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Letting Go and Making a Difference




Three months into my third year of retirement and it is good to realise just how far I have come. Reflecting on the period of time that has passed, I can now look  back and recognise three different phases. They are not separate or distinct; the boundary between them ebbs and flows but there is nevertheless an obvious progression.

The early days, weeks and months were a time for healing and recovery. An opportunity to relax and to take the first steps towards a new healthier, fitter self. There may still be some way to go but the pattern has been set.

Gradually and alongside those baby steps from enervation to vigour grew a sense of letting go. Like healing and recovery, it manifests itself on two levels: the physical and the mental. The clutter from both house and mind is being dissipated. Life is simpler; the habits of a working existence have been dropped. Activities and commitments have altered. Although there remains much to clear out especially of a physical kind ( household stuff and clothes with no longer any clear purpose in retirement),  there is now obvious and steady progress. 

A milestone was reached this week when I even made the decision to change the name on my driving licence from the birth name that I used professionally throughout my career to the married name I have always used at home. There are other changes that I know I shall be making in measured and deliberate fashion over the coming months. To let go in the early days felt brave, in Year 3 it is empowering.

Now too I have begun to recognise the dawning of a third phase; the period where I make a difference and which gives the motivation for getting out of bed every day. Whether I am decorating at home or in our rental property; clearing the garden; helping out in the Save the Children shop or campaigning on its behalf; acting as Parish Clerk or as an almshouse trustee; even just cleaning the windows: I am making a difference. To know that I am achieving, that my pursuits are worthwhile and that I can perceive the change as a result, is exciting and a spur for further self-enterprise. 

Life is invigorating and stimulating despite not knowing what the ultimate outcome or next phase will be. After 27 months, retirement is still novel enough that it remains an adventure into the unknown.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

The Worrying is Over for the Moment




It seems that as we age, we are more likely to suffer from anxiety (a generalised anxiety disorder being the most common diagnosis) than dementia. Cynics amongst us might say that is because we all start to worry about suffering from dementia. I'm not convinced, at least not when I wake in the middle of the night and wonder if the tomatoes are ripening. That  said if moonshine doesn't really mature tomatoes and turn their skins red, it could be dementia itself (rather than a heightened level of concern) that causes ludicrous thoughts at unearthly hours.

Anyway in search of calmness and tranquility away from all the worries that go with raising fruit and vegetables, the youngest and I took ourselves off for an extended day at the gym. A workout and then yoga were followed by an afternoon in the spa. Sauna, hot-tub, steam room, tepidarium, tropicarium, igloo and pool; we emerged relaxed, albeit a littled wrinkled on the fingers from all the water.

Now if you don't believe in the reputed beneficial health effects of a spa, please don't mock because our day clearly produced good karma. Not only did we feel well but, on my foraging trip into the greenhouse this evening, guess what I finally picked to go with the lettuce and cucumber? Yes...ripe red cherry tomatoes!



Sunday, 22 May 2016

Bluebells


I have frequently posted on here about the beauty of the natural world, the time in retirement to appreciate it and the benefits for our well-being in doing so.

With that in mind, I really don't want Spring to slip away without mentioning what a wonderful year it has so far been for bulb displays, culminating in the discovery of bluebell woods far and wide. I even have a very modest display that appears to have naturalised in my own garden. The photograph above was, of course, taken on my visit to Yorkshire Sculpture Park last week. (I would hate to mislead anyone into thinking that my own garden is so extensive.)


Sunday, 15 May 2016

The Month of May



May is a month richly endowed with historic traditions. The time of year when maidens washed their faces in dew, whole villages danced around the Maypole, Morris Dancers entertained and superstitions about shedding a layer of clothing or bathing abounded. Our ancestors may have had clean faces from the dew but they firmly believed that if they bathed in May they would soon lie  in clay. 

One assumes therefore that despite the socialising linked to May Fairs the rural populace, yet to bathe after the long harsh winter, must have had a most unappealing scent. 

Times have moved on and whilst May for me has so far been a time for lunching (that great pastime for ladies and retired couples), I'm pleased to say the only scents a wafting, apart from Spring flowers, has been the occasional hint of Chanel No 5 drifting across from an adjacent table.

Luckily I haven't been caught up in ribbon around a Maypole, although I did end up with pads on my eyes imagining them to be slices of raw cucumber on Friday night. Eight similarly aged females all sitting around a friend's dining table, their eyes covered and giggling. It was a little bit like a children's birthday party or even one of those teenage events where somebody has the bright idea of turning an innocent evening into a seance with all little fingers to the upturned glass. On this occasion, however, it was a group facial. Well I did say I wanted to try new experiences in retirement and whilst heaps of face cream was hardly what I had imagined, it certainly brought out the child in us all.

Of course if the packaging can be believed the woman with maturing skin can fight back wrinkles by deep cleansing, toning, using serums, eye contour creams and moisturisers. The downside of course is it took all evening to apply the stuff (mind the bottles of wine in the middle of the table may have played a part in slowing the proceedings whilst the non-stop laughter could only have lengthened the crows' feet around our eyes). Nonetheless I was left wondering how I would ever fit that kind of routine into retirement, not once but twice a day according to the instruction leaflet.

I guess with an increasingly older population, the marketing of so called miracle cosmetics will only increase, preying on the fear of wrinkles with dubious claims as to the efficacy of the latest embrocation. Wouldn't it be wonderful to form a united front against such ploys and instead insist on the health benefits of dew and Maypole dancing? I'm not sure about postponing the bath until June though.


Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Happy Feet



I travelled to Leeds today with a bulky briefcase. Inside were 5 sheets of paper and a pair of shoes with heels. I changed as I entered the building where I was participating in a business meeting for a charity that I am a trustee of. It's a well rehearsed procedure on my part, implemented years ago when I discovered that walking from car parks and stations across towns and cities to courts and appointment venues, really couldn't be managed in anything that wasn't comfortable and as my feet aged, the definition of what was comfortable changed with them. In fact if I'd worked much longer, I would quite possibly have been spotted eventually sprinting along the footpath in carpet slippers; you know the kind: corduroy, a dull pattern and fur across the top in a total mismatch of colour. Fortunately I did the decent thing and retired before my lack of fashion sense became a total embarrassment.

Today it was reported that a London receptionist had been sent home from work for failing to wear high-heels. The poor woman had been expected to don heels of between 2 and 4 inches whilst spending her day conveying clients to meeting rooms. Now the Internet is ablaze with righteous indignation at the treatment of women in the workplace; why should the female office worker be obliged to put the long-term health of her feet at risk for an outdated dress policy?

I recall working in firms where women were not allowed to wear trousers although at some point in the 1980's rules were relaxed and an element of equality in the dress code was introduced although sadly it doesn't seem to have extended to below the knees. Well I know one thing for sure, if men were to be forced to totter around an office in stilettos for even half an hour there would be a very quick change of policy.

Here on Planet Retirement, of course, and save for rare trips to Leeds I have no such problems. Almost the reverse, as having always worn slippers in the house I continued that habit in retirement only to find that they can be equally as bad if worn for hours on end; clearly feet require more support than a pair of sheepskin mules can offer. I have now reached a happy compromise that will have bunion-endowed receptionists in central London drooling with envy: during the day I wear flat shoes with moulded insoles to prevent my instep from collapsing.

You see, feet love retirement too and there's no overbearing employer threatening to sack you if you don't comply with an outmoded and sexist shoe policy.


Sunday, 24 April 2016

Watch Your Back


A bit of sunshine and last weekend saw me digging and weeding in the eldest's garden in Nottingham. It's in a more sheltered situation than my own and after the long winter months I was pleased to be able to spend two full days in the open air, working hard. Regrettably the journey home was  uncomfortable when the good old latissimus dorsi began to ache and the next morning I could barely stand up straight.

Ever the fool, when the weather finally picked up in the North at the end of the week I spent another two days, this time in my own garden, digging, weeding and albeit a little late, planting summer flowering bulbs. Needless to say I literally could not move on Friday evening. Once again it has taken two days to recover to a stage where I can at least walk comfortably even if I am not yet ready to bend down.

One of the problems with retirement is remembering that just because you can make hay every time the sun shines doesn't mean you must. You have to take into account, regardless of all the stretching in Pilates and Yoga, that it's easy to strain a muscle and, if you do, that the recovery time is longer than it ever used to be.


Sunday, 20 March 2016

In Retirement We Are all Important


In my pre-retirement life, being ill would have meant a need to catch up at work on recovery. So much so that getting out of one's sick bed and returning to the desk went hand in hand without any thought for rehabilitation That is not of course the case any more. Instead and in retirement the recuperative phase where you stay in and keep warm has been a splendid opportunity to catch up with Future Learn courses that had slipped during our recent trip to Switzerland. 

Strategies for Successful Ageing from the University of Dublin is the name of one such course and there must be something about being ill because looking at pictures, in this case infographics, is always therapeutic. I have been dazzled by the statistics on ageing. It seems that the Boomer generation continues to be aptly named even in retirement, when you realise just how many members it has and how old they are all going to be very shortly.


The great thing about being retired is not only does your mind wander and begin to dwell on abstract concepts like the meaning of life but you also start to wonder just how infinite humankind's occupation of Planet Earth is, when you see statistics like this. Fortunately even with my limited capacity for mathematics, I think I can calculate that it will at least continue beyond the realms of the Baby Boomers and my own lifespan.

Already there is much talk about living and working longer and with governments driving back the age for state pensions, early retirement is no longer the favoured option that it once was. Indeed early retirement tomorrow may well mean something very different to the same term when used ten years ago.

Of course so many older people are healthier than previous generations at their age. Work can be less arduous than it was with opportunities for part-time and flexible hours, and there may well be an attraction in continuing to earn for longer, albeit on a part-time basis. Society too depends greatly on these older people for their contributions to the voluntary sector; without the over sixties, the average charity shop in this country would go unstaffed and who would deliver Meals on Wheels or Audio Books for the Blind?

It is easy to look at the prospect of a burgeoning older population as a concern rather than an asset. In truth, it is an opportunity to harness the time, wisdom, experience and energy that they can bring to the table. Where once English towns and villages relied on the stereotypical housewife to organise the annual fete, run the local branch of the WI and collect the children from school, now and into the future such administration will fall on Grandma.

Female Boomers may have burnt their bras in the sixties as they fought for equality in the workplace. Now male and female members of the same generation are going to carve a new niche for their retirement years and the modern world needs them like never before. I may soon be only one of  over 2 billion people but I feel important and can see my role! 


Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Virus Stricken


I know there is an increasing trend to live our lives online, bonding with and being consumed by technology to an extent never previously thought possible. I don't like it and have tried to wean myself off the iPad and Smartphone, concerned at an increasing habit of checking them perhaps as much as hourly. Imagine my surprise, therefore, to learn that looking at them 12 to 15 times a day isn't really a problem, let alone an addiction. The generation to which my children belong, apparently needs to check their screens at least ten times that level on an average day!

That sci fi future we used to read about when we were young has finally caught up with us and the blur between man and machine is happening.

On my return from Switzerland, imagine therefore my frustration to find my desk top computer invaded by not one virus but several, each transmogrifying into something more sinister, revelling in such dubious and threatening names as Palikan, DNS.Unlocker, and Reimager.  The post-capitalism nightmare: a computer invaded by thousands of adverts.

Worse still the boundaries between human and machine became indistinct when I too began to suffer and, for the second time this winter, took to my bed with a variant of flu. No anti-malware, rebooting or re-installations for me, just time-proven bed rest.

In truth  the two cannot be linked (at least I hope not) but in both cases I have learned that prevention is better than cure. No more dodgy downloads or clicking on suspicious links and first in the queue next October for the flu vaccine. Retirement is too precious to waste fighting viruses that are best avoided where possible.


Friday, 12 February 2016

Taking a Tumble



Well this week I went flying, literally, and no aeroplane was involved. Now I am not someone prone to moving horizontally through the air nor landing ignominiously in mud but, sad to say, whilst hurrying for a train to London on Tuesday that is exactly what happened. 


Now I do recall a similar experience when, wearing varifocals for the first time, I managed to roll headlong into the gutter as I stepped off the kerb. This time, those lenses are well and truly worn in, so cannot be held to account and instead I must simply have misplaced a foot on the edge of a narrow path, resulting in my being thrown totally off balance and, as I went down, twisting and spraining my ankle.  Fortunately for me, I was carrying a box of renowned Betty's Fondant Fancies at the time and landing on top of them surely avoided further damage to myself albeit squashing the cakes (intended as a gift) in the process!

I understand that falls have been shown to be the largest cause of death by unintentional injury of over 65's in the USA whilst our own NHS claims that at least one in three over 65's living at home will have at least one fall a year. Oh dear, I still have a few years to go but  it looks as though I may have to get used to this tumbling lark after all.

London is not of course the first destination of choice for those with a leg injury. Like any large city walking and going up and down steps are all part of the day there. However, not only did the train company put out a tannoy appeal for a doctor (no doubt I disappointed those passengers expecting a birth on board) but also brought medical ice packs onto the train at the next station, meaning that at least my ankle had been strapped and the swelling brought under control before arriving in the capital.


I should also say thanks to the wonderful concierge at the hotel who, in anticipation of a guest with a walking issue, had had the forethought to put a stick behind his desk ready for such an eventuality. I made his day by being the first visitor ever to have need of it.

Of course, if falling is so commonplace, I am unsure what the moral of this story is, other than to stay safe and tread carefully.



Friday, 11 December 2015

Now He Tells Me




We have been back at home for 10 days and save for a slow walk to the Parish Council's noticeboard which now comes under my charge, I have not been out. Indeed I spent the first 4 days in bed, which has to be some kind of record for me exceeding, I suspect, even the time spent there with measles in my childhood. 

The last time I recall being knocked sideways by a cold like this one, it originated abroad too, in that case by way of present from Baku in Azerbaijan. Whilst I would normally consider myself to be a fit and healthy specimen of humanity, unfortunately it seems that I must concede that such immunity as I possess is of no effect against foreign viruses.

This has caused a slight hiccup to plans for December, as we have stripped our study ready to decorate. We are now on a very tight schedule to complete the job so that the books, paper and other paraphernalia now spread all over our living and dining rooms, can be safely returned, together with the new furniture, currently resident in the hall, all before the eldest and youngest join us for Christmas.

If that wasn't bad enough, there is also the tricky issue of Christmas shopping. Hooray for the Internet, however, and whilst it seemed to take far longer than browsing the real shelves, I have avoided the strains of traffic jams, parking and overloading myself with packages to do it all online yesterday afternoon. It is a shame that I forgot the Christmas cards and wrapping paper but am counting on a full recovery before final posting dates.


I had assumed that Mister E's failure to succumb to the same virus must have been attributable to his flu vaccination and was kicking myself for not having such myself. However, he has now confessed that he was also given a "super jab" by the doctor, available from the NHS when you attain the age of 65. My investigations (again online) have revealed that what he was given was PPV or pneumococcal polysaccahride vaccine which is a single one off injection giving long term protection against some 23 strains of the pneumococcal bacterium. I have a few years to wait  but, in the meantime, would urge anyone who does qualify to make sure they get this jab, especially if they are intending to travel abroad. Mister E is certainly living proof of its effectiveness for I am yet to hear him sneeze.




Sunday, 6 December 2015

Yes It Is



A few weeks ago I wrote a post which I headed, "Is Travelling Really Brutal?" I can now confirm, sincerely, that it is.

Into my fifth day of bed rest following our return from India on Wednesday, I am suffering from the rewards of travel: a foreign common cold or influenza virus, I assume, and for which I have no inbuilt immunity. Forget the typhoid, cholera, diphtheria, tetanus, hepatitis and other inoculations with which we protect ourselves in order to travel; perhaps what I really ought to have had was a flu jab. Mister E had his and has fought his affliction with considerably more success than me. When I visited our surgery, I received a typhoid booster and declined the offer of an injection against rabies.


I guess the tell tale signs were there in Delhi when I began to suffer from a sore throat. However, in a city now notorious for the worst air pollution in the world, the itchy throat, red eyes and sneezing all seemed at one with breathing in the acrid atmosphere.


50,000 lorries belching out their diesel fumes purportedly pass through the city every night and in the crowded daytime streets motorcycles, automotive rickshaws, buses and cars join in a stop start procession of honking horns and exhaust fumes, There are apparently 8.5 million vehicles on Delhi's roads and they do not have European standard filter systems.


At the station one can be forgiven for mistaking the diesel engines for steam trains such is the thick particulate matter expelled by them.




Add to the mix coal fuelled power stations within the city perimeters as well as cement works and brick factories around it and it is not long before the lethal cocktail of noxious gases begins to scratch at your facial orifices.

Exiting the arrival hall at Indira Ghandi Airport in Delhi, a pervasive fog hovered around us as we made our way along the covered concourse to our taxi. The driver insisted that it was just mist that Delhi gets all the time. Later one guide would dismiss the obvious effects of air pollution as dust through lack of rain and another as the left over fumes from fire crackers set off for Diwali, three weeks before. There is an aura of pollution and also denial.



I love the vibrancy of India. Nowhere else on Earth are you so aware of life being lived in all its different guises around you: man and beast; rich and poor; sick and well. Sadly, however, in its rush to industrialise India has failed to take heed of the lessons of the west. Having rescued its populace from dire infant mortality rates, it must surely now have burdened them with the agonies of chest and lung infections and all the other harmful cancers and diseases that inevitably emanate from inhaling a chemical mix the human lung was never intended for.



It is clear that there is a green campaign out there and some companies have adopted eco-friendly names and logos (Greenlam and Greenheck were very evident on advertising hoardings) but they do no more than mock the polluted air around them. Delhi's streets too are lined with trees and shrubs; even if they could photosynthesise beneath the layers of grime weighing down their leaves that would only deal with the carbon dioxide and not the sulphur and nitric oxides that hover together with free radicals, volatile compounds, carbon monoxide and other noxious gases.



Coughing our way to the airport for our return flight, Mister E and I were of the view that despite a wonderful trip (about which I shall write more separately) we are unlikely to seek to expose ourselves to such uncomfortable and polluted cities in the future. Although the Indian Government has now announced that the use of private cars will be limited to alternate days commencing in January, I anticipate that this will do little to rectify the situation which must surely get worse before it improves. Indeed it is a sad indictment of a country that it can ban the smoking of cigarettes in public places including outdoors in many areas, but has not sought to take effective action to alleviate a more widespread hazard.


It is, therefore, little wonder that I attributed my coughing and sneezing on the flight home as an attempt to cleanse my lungs of the potent Delhi smog. When we got home at lunchtime on Wednesday and I crawled into bed, I assumed my fatigue arose from the overnight flight back. Five days later that is clearly not the case. The pollution induced coughing of hundreds of thousands of people obviously spreads germs so effectively that my hand sanitiser was no match in the fight for protection against a humdinger of a cold.... but at least it isn't rabies! 


Sunday, 8 November 2015

Illness Strikes



Oh dear, I have been ill with tonsillitis. Something of a surprise, as I hadn't had even the slightest hint of a sniffle since finishing work in June 2014 but I suppose it had to happen one day. 

You know what though? I have discovered that being ill can be a lot worse, as in my previous lfe dragging myself out of the house to fulfil commitments at work. These past few days I have simply taken it easy.

 There’s nothing I now do in retirement that can’t wait for another day. Guess what, taking it easy has aided a speedy recovery  too. I'm not sure why I have reached this stage of my life without previously discovering that.



Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Landscape and Sculpture




I have always been attracted to the sculptures of Henry Moore and today the youngest and I paid a visit to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park where 500 acres of his native Yorkshire countryside plays host to many of his larger pieces. There was also an indoor exhibition of his work, aptly entitled "Back to a Land," where his deep relationship with the land was explored.

In light of my current "well-being and nature kick," I'm wondering now if the appeal of his work to me lies in its relationship with the natural world.






Moore himself is quoted as saying:
"I realised what an advantage a separated two piece composition could have in relating figures to landscape. Knees and breasts are mountains. Once these two parts become separated you don't expect it to be a naturalistic figure; therefore you can justifiably make it like a landscape or a rock. If it is a single figure you can guess what it is going to be like. If it is in two pieces, there's a bigger surprise, you have unexpected views."


The park was one of Moore's favourite backdrops for his sculptures. In the background to the current exhibition we were told that he loved the changing skies, weather and seasons and thought the sheep roaming the land were the right size to balance his work.


We thought it quite beautiful: art and landscape brought together with the opportunity for a decent walk to appreciate all the pieces.

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.


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! 


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?