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 Planning. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Planning. Show all posts

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!

Saturday, 18 June 2016

A Second Anniversary

Today marks two years since my final day at work. Hard to believe, it seems so long ago and no, I still wouldn't go back. Retirement is brilliant; it's like recovering all that time you had in your teenage years but never appreciated with the added benefit now of knowledge, wisdom and no summer exams to spoil it.

Our plans are pretty much intact, save that weather and hospital appointments have to date impeded the intention to complete a circumnavigation of the British Isles and we may have to rethink exactly how sailing fits into retirement. We've both suffered from separate shoulder issues which, although now on the mend, have limited our  respective abilities to pull ropes and wind winches. So that is an area that certainly requires more consideration in the next few months.

Further and whilst I still want to take that Interior Design Course, it has taken a back seat to enjoying all those bits of living that are in short supply when you are working. I have instead been concentrating on rediscovering my creative side with a camera and as a frequent visitor to art exhibitions and am now exploring the scope for extending photography as a hobby. The trouble with retirement is there are just so many things you can do, it can be hard to choose.

The last two years have however certainly given me the opportunity to work on my fitness levels, lose weight and experience various diverse classes (this morning I tried Zumba) making new friends in the process and more luncheon buddies.

The house and garden are beginning to undergo changes too, slowly and steadily although hopefully gathering apace.

Whilst, however, I might have dreamed about living a more  Bohemian lifestyle, the truth is that conventionality and pedantry have been part of my essence for so long that I have realised I must accept them for what they are. Playing to my strengths, I am therefore using those almost innate legal skills to fulfil the role of Parish Clerk as well as a trustee of a local charity. In the meantime a relaxed attitude and better well-being allow the opportunity to chip at the edges, live in the here and now, becoming much more involved in and appreciative of the world around us.

We are conscious of the need to continue to plan retirement in order to derive maximum benefit from it. We have however been shocked to realise that the adage that sixty is the new forty isn't quite true and that there is something called the ageing process which means for instance that even though Mister E still goes on 50 mile cycle rides, he takes longer to recover after them than he might have done 20 years earlier. Conscious of the signs of degeneration, we are anxious to squeeze as much as possible into the early years of retirement.

Save for the Interior Design course and the specific sailing voyage, we are very much enjoying retirement by doing what we feel we set out to do. Our other plans were I admit a little more vague and aesthetic and perhaps, therefore, easier to feel our way with. Now, however, after two years it is the right time, as I concluded a few days ago, for us to start to plan anew and more precisely for what we want to achieve over the next five years. Whatever you make of retirement, it shouldn't be an end in itself and you definitely don't have to be young or working to have ambition.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Banal but Busy

I would like to be able to tell you that my failure to post here of late has been attributable to an adventure in a far off and exotic location. Unfortunately I am not very good at telling lies and instead must confess that I have been lured into the awful trap that I have been looking to avoid since retiring; the one labelled routine and commitment.

Twice weekly hospital visits to treat a longterm skin complaint have intervened, restricting our ability to "go with the flow" and causing a regular weekly pattern to emerge. Life has fallen into a regular cycle of exercise classes, Parish Council business and covering for absences at Save the Children's charity shop. My spare time has been whiled away in the garden or with a paint brush in hand if it has rained. Evenings have passed in a whirl of angry yelling at the television screen when yet another politician has come on to add to the appalling spin, populist innuendo and disgraceful arithmetic that has graced the ridiculous referendum campaign we now find ourselves in the midst of. 

Here I am avowed to a life of novelty and adventure and I have just had two packed weeks of everyday repetitiveness broken only by a visit to the Himalayan Garden and Sculpture Park at Grewelthorpe near Ripon. It is open for just a few weeks every year when the rhododendrons and azaleas are in full bloom, and is a really beautiful and colourful destination. However, a half day amongst shrubs and statues is insufficient to properly challenge an adrenalin-seeking retiree or to save me from a fortnight of drudgery.

Now I don't want to sound ungrateful. My garden is looking tidier than at any time in the recent past; the hall ceiling is glowing in brilliant white emulsion; paperwork is up to date; I've found plenty of people to chat to and my abdominal muscles may even be the strongest they have ever been, but it is now time to schedule a list of challenges for the bucket list. Retirement is only days away from its two year anniversary and cannot be allowed to drift mundanely into tedium.

Monday, 21 March 2016

Voice of New Retirement

Voice of New Retirement is a report from Aviva and one of its key findings is just how happy retired people are. Well I'm living proof so I can certainly agree with that one. In fact retirement is so good that 62% find it better than they expected (or perhaps they just had low expectations!).

The report suggests that happiness and fulfilment peak in later life and that those who are retired find greater contentment with their finances, health, diet, exercise and time spent with their family. Yes, I think that this blog can bear witness to all of that too.

So there has to be a downside before everyone hands in their notice and joins the great retirement bandwagon and I'm sorry but the report addresses this as well. It's preparation or rather a lack of it. Alarmingly 27% of people nearing retirement have done nothing to prepare for it, financially or otherwise. Now that is distressing, those people are going to let themselves down in a really big way if they too can't enjoy their own golden era.

I was just thinking the other day that what I really love about retirement is the freedom it gives me to live each day as I choose (to be frank it was an idea that dawned on me when I elected to lie in bed until after 11am, but hey a happy retiree needs her thinking time). Lo this report confirms that retirement is invariably seen as a liberating experience where the number of retired people who feel in complete control of their lives is more than double the number of those who are still working. Fulfilment is high in retirement and at its lowest in our forties, although those approaching retirement have a boost of optimism as they presumably feel the time to achieve life's ambitions is approaching. However those who get the most enjoyment from retirement seem, according to the report, to be those who have planned for it, not just financially but also with their bucket lists or other plans. The report makes it clear that as well as financial planning, would-be retirees need to consider plans for their lifestyle, their needs and their goals.

I certainly haven't found the transition into retirement difficult but as regular readers of this blog will know I did plan for it and please, if you haven't yet started, you must do so now or you could miss out on a great big chunk of later life happiness.

Friday, 11 September 2015

Busy and Dizzy

Since returning from our trip to the Lake District, the last couple of weeks has passed in a blur, with visits from the eldest as well as the youngest, who is still with us. We even managed to fit in an unexpected sailing trip (probably the last of the season) in the early part of this week when we had near perfect conditions and the Firth of Clyde to ourselves (sea birds and porpoises excluded), or so it seemed. 

Unfortunately, and despite our best made plans, the weather this year off the West Coast of Scotland has really been truly awful for short-handed (well I am small) sailing with low pressure system after low pressure system rolling in, one after the other. It seems that 2015 has been one of the windiest in Scotland for decades and with snow already appearing on the mountain tops, the temperatures too have been, shall we say, challenging.

Naively we kept thinking that conditions would settle and summer sunshine, fair breezes and warmth would arrive at some stage; we only had to wait for them and with the luxury of a retired lifestyle, free of commitment, would seize the opportunity when it arrived. How wrong can you be? With, according to the forecasters, no prospect of an Indian summer, and autumn fast approaching, we now have to accept that this year's sailing ambitions have been dashed.

At least  we are still revelling in the flexibility of retirement and aren't disheartened, having found plenty of other activities to keep us occupied and out in the big outdoors regardless. Indeed the bigger disappointment weather-wise lately is just how slowly vegetables have grown in the garden this summer, when we are only now able to start harvesting crops which any other year might have been ready 6 or more weeks earlier.

When you are working and extra-curricular hard work and planning fail to bear fruit because of the weather (did I mention that my plum and rhubarb crops might as well have been non-existent this year?) there is inevitably a sense of sheer frustration. In retirement it is more of a minor irritation, a test of our patience and a sense that there will always be next year and time to improve on our preparations, including, we have decided, for a Plan B and C.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

More on the Weather

As I indicated in my last post the British weather never fails to surprise.

This time last week, the thermometer in my garden hit 33 degrees Celsius (91 degrees Fahrenheit); today it was 12 degrees Celsius (54 degrees Fahrenheit). Neither is what I would normally expect at this time of the year and, apart from the period spanning what was a very short-lived heat wave, it has been raining too! Well I suppose that really is normal for a British summer!

When you are working, you can become quite disgruntled about rainstorms at weekends. In retirement, it is less frustrating as theoretically it is easier to rearrange your activities around the weather and what you may have planned for Sunday can now just as easily take place on Wednesday. Well that is the theory anyway but of course it all falls apart when you don't seem to get any periods of settled weather, as has been the case for most of this summer. Indeed when you have been banking on a week or longer period of good weather for a sailing trip it is potentially rather depressing. 

If therefore your only plans are to cycle or garden, you are invariably going to become as frustrated in retirement as if you were working and it rained every weekend. Whilst a good quality breathable raincoat helps, I'm discovering that flexibility must now extend beyond rearranging days to suit the weather and instead the whole scale adoption of inside projects, celebrating the fact that I would never be able to indulge in jam making, watching the tennis at Wimbledon on television or decorating if we were actually getting the summer weather eagerly anticipated and around which we have made so many other plans.

For the first time I am picking and processing the whole of my soft fruit crop and have even discovered that I can make ironing a delight by placing the board with a view of the TV set whilst the tennis takes place (Wimbledon clearly isn't suffering the same problems with its weather as the North East corner of England but in any event now has a roof for Centre Court). The rain is also a real boost for my interior painting and modernising project and diminishes the risk of our home being declared a UNESCO Heritage site like the Forth Rail Bridge.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Reflecting on an Anniversary

I know, I can hardly believe it myself, but today marks a full year since my last day at work. Do I regret the decision to retire? Of course not.

Yes to begin with there was a learning curve and given my time again I really would have worked harder at retaining an element of fitness pre-retirement, but I can say in all honesty that I just love being in charge of my life again to the extent that I can choose what I want to do by the week, day or even hour.

Obviously not everything has worked out the way that I had envisaged. For one thing, I had not realised how active I would be in retirement compared to being office bound and indeed just how much time I would spend on my feet whether it be for physical exercise, walking, shopping, on holiday or even household chores and gardening. Looking back I certainly did not expect to factor into my weekly routine so many exercise classes or to have taken up Yoga and Pilates.

Conversely I had been concerned that when at home and with a fridge and pantry at my disposal there would be every opportunity to snack and that I might find myself fighting hard to resist temptation in that respect. In reality, I am generally too busy to even think about eating, other than at set meal times. 

I was also concerned lest I might miss the work ethic. Whatever was I thinking? Perhaps that I might end up lying in bed all day, suffer from brain mush or even a lack of daily purpose. Fortunately I have not been overtaken by those conditions and although I have missed the wide range of social interaction that working can offer, retirement presents more than sufficient opportunities for mixing and socialising too.

The last year has been a period of experimentation and adjustment with occasions when I have probably tried to fit in too much in an effort to work out what suits and what doesn't. I have discovered that I can apply myself so as to learn online, exercise and give more time to the voluntary positions that I hold. However, I am now ready to take on the serious challenges of interior design and giving our home a make-over, learning a new language and stepping up the travelling, having to date only flirted with these. Whilst, therefore, initial plans remain intact, the next twelve months may see a shift in priorities and commitments in order to meet those challenges.

In the meantime and especially on this 12 month anniversary, I am just going to keep smiling; I can't help it!

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Retirement Values

Whilst staying on Santorini last week, Mister E and I spotted this sign. I reproduce it here because it accurately sums up so many of the values that I have adopted and how we seek to live our retirement.

(With thanks to Tranquilo at Perissa, Santorini)

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Expenditure in Retirement

So many people feel they cannot afford to retire and whilst this may be true for some, there are others who have not done the maths. Before Mister E and I decided to take the plunge, we felt that it was important that we worked out the extent of our expenditure as opposed simply to an income and savings forecast. We accordingly tracked and broke down our spending, then, satisfied that the kind of retirement we sought was indeed an affordable option, jumped in.

We have continued to analyse our expenditure and, as we anticipated, in retirement spend less on some areas (primarily car expenses and clothing) and more on others (travel, leisure and incidental costs in particular). Surprisingly utility bills which we had assumed might increase significantly with our daily presence have not done so, presumably offset by our various absences.

The most important thing, however, is that by now knowing what we use our money for, we are in control and, should the need arise, would be able to alter our spending habits and consumption levels accordingly. 

If anybody is unsure whether or not they too can afford to retire I would recommend analysing your plans for the kind of retirement that you realistically seek  and your likely monetary outgoings as a result. You are after all able to exercise more control over your spending than your income.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Wise Words in a Tweet

I have received wise words in 140 characters from a fellow Tweeter. "Don't over volunteer,"was the impact of the message.

Swapping work for retirement at first leads you to believe that you will suddenly have a spare forty hours a week. Believe me it is not like that. Retirees don't go around saying they "don't know how they ever found the time to go to work,"  for nothing.

However and in that honeymoon phase there can be an incentive to fill the hours freed by not working with other commitments. I was fortunate to have taken on board some advice that I received before retiring which was not to commit to anything new in the first twelve months and am so glad that I listened.

Whilst I have been able to give more time to the voluntary bodies with which I was involved prior to retirement, I have also been able to indulge myself in a variety of ways as no doubt regular readers of this blog will appreciate. I have tried and continue to try new experiences.

Now, after almost 11 months, I think I have a better appreciation of how much time I need for my indulgences whether they be fitness classes, days out with Mister E, travelling, sailing, reading or other hobbies. In addition there are still chores and family to attend to. I now understand the benefits of flexibility and with our plans for the next twelve months rapidly developing, I have a much better understanding of what I can and can't commit to.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Saving and Life Expectancy

My accountant has drawn my attention to a report published by Aviva. Not only does it stress that we tend to underestimate our life-expectancy but also that savers are likely to live longer than non-savers. 

I suppose it is just as well that it is not the other way round or there would presumably be a real problem for non-savers when their funds run out.

At face value it is, of course, strange that there should be a correlation between saving and life term. I assume however that those who save also live a healthier life generally than those who don't, perhaps predicated by their wealth or alternatively by deliberate life choices in all areas. Pre-disposition or choices; nature or nurture; family values or education; innate intelligence or robust common-sense. 

No doubt scientists will find a gene that governs both traits in due course. In the meantime, just point me in the direction of a piggy bank.

Monday, 13 April 2015

A Novel Experience

We have just returned from a flying visit to Scotland to supervise the lifting of  the boat out of the water for its annual bottom wash and ready for the application of anti-fouling and maybe even a polish to the topsides. To ensure that we were there on time, we decided to stay on board overnight. Some may describe this as a somewhat bold or even foolhardy decision bearing in mind the fact that the weather has appeared to regress over the weekend; we passed snow on the way there and freezing temperatures during the night.

However, it made for a bracing walk this morning with some lovely views across the sea towards Arran. Also, having taken a direction I was unfamiliar with I came across a delightful row of what were once harbour workers' cottages but which are now used, it would seem, primarily as offices.

The difference in climate between home and Troon was amplified by flowerbeds, prepared for annual bedding but as yet empty. Whereas the abundance of Spring flowers around our village has resulted in the onset of hay fever, the symptoms of which well and truly disappeared as we headed North.

I have never actually been party to the annual hoisting of the boat into the boat-yard before, leaving this in the sole hands of Mister E whilst I worked and hung on to my holiday for the actual sailing trips. So it was a novel experience watching the operation from beginning to end. As this blog hopefully bears witness, in retirement there are hosts of opportunities for adventure and new experiences.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Simple Scented Pleasures

One of my plans for retirement was to enjoy the simple pleasures of life, including sniffing garden flowers. Today I did just that, finding the time to sit on a wooden bench in the garden, taking in the sights, scents and sounds. I was surrounded by hyacinths in bloom, exuding their distinctive perfume.

There was no pressure to get up and do anything else (there's always tomorrow) and in any event I had already completed four hours of hard graft with a spade, hoe and pruners.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Reflecting on Nine Months of Retirement

My last day at work was 18th June, nine months ago. Nine months is also, of course, the gestational period for a human baby. Sufficient time to develop from a fertilised egg cell into a living infant. Very similar in fact to my own transmogrification.

Prior to actually taking the plunge there was excitement tinged with a degree of nervousness and, dare I say it, even fear.  However and since completing the dive there has been no looking back and I can honestly say that to date I have had no reason to regret my decision.

Last summer, in the early days, it felt as though I was a complete novice at everything I touched. A feeling emphasised by leaving a career in which I was professionally skilled and  competent for a completely different lifestyle for which it felt as if I was totally under-qualified. I have still many years to go in the art of retirement before I might justifiably call myself a Master, but am now very much accustomed to my new life as well as the challenges that go with it and which bring so much enjoyment. I am learning as I go and this blog hopefully records the wisdom picked up along the way and lessons learnt.

To begin with, it did feel like a never-ending holiday but nine months on it is now a pattern of life without commitment, timetable or routine unless they are of my choosing. There is still ongoing hard-work behind the scenes to develop fitness and maintain good health to enjoy retirement, hopefully for a long time into the future. On reflection, I should not, of course, have worked so hard that I lost sight of  a good work-life balance but retirement is all about looking forward and not backwards. Nine months on, I now realise how stressed work made me feel but can only trust that I escaped before there was any long-term damage and revel in the benefits of what has been a natural healing process.

I recall that there was a point where I began to feel guilty that life feels so hedonistic. It is strange, however, how you can get used to almost anything and those twangs of guilt have definitely disappeared four months later. In part I believe this is because my memory of that previous hair shirt style of living is fading fast. That's not, of course, because  it was a long time ago ( we are talking only nine months) but more because of  the change that has been taking place as I have developed into a frame of mind where I accept who I am, what I want and strive to carve myself that life. I obviously have nothing to feel guilty about anyway, but I guess it was an inevitable phase in moving onward in retirement that in shedding the burden of  decades of working you take time to adjust to the pleasure of life being your own to do as you will. When you do, it is proof that you have forgotten how it felt being shackled to the work ethic.

"I think, therefore I am," wrote Descartes. What's different for me now, is how I think. Years of straight-lined analytical thinking have been cast aside as I become open to ideas floating into my mind from all directions. Primarily through Future Learn, I have embraced a diverse variety of subjects, disciplines, and ideas. It takes time but gradually my mind is opening to the discovery of a great big universe out there and of which I was only vaguely aware stuck at an office desk.

My long-term aim is to rediscover my creative inner and I have been shocked at how much that day job has squeezed my creative juices to extinction. Although I have tried sketching, creative writing and various low-key crafty projects, my successful route for rehabilitation has come from the rediscovery of colour, first from visiting various modern art exhibitions and then from experimenting with photography. I am much more aware of detail than ever before; there is time in retirement to appreciate it: I see, therefore I am. 

Moreover now that I see  so much more, the joys of travel and exploration are extended, both in the UK and abroad. 

So after nine months, there are no regrets as I continue to totter with baby steps in that big new world of retirement. Our plans remain in focus and if  there is any lesson to be drawn so far in seeking to achieve them, it is simply that everything takes time, preparation and planning.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Variety is the Spice of Life

I have indicated before in this blog how much I am striving to avoid routine in retirement. I can also see how easy it must be to slip into such and to stick to: regular waking and rising times; a scheduled shopping day; a timetable of classes and appointments; a list of household chores; an unvarying weekly television menu; a usual bedtime.

In fact I sometimes feel that I have to work really hard to avoid committing myself to the cycle.

I enjoy my visits to the gym and fitness classes, but deliberately visit at different times and frequently pencil in alternative arrangements at the same times as the classes. Also and to avoid the humdrum of daily life, there is a need for planning; to book tickets for events and performances, trains or flights with or without accommodation. I scour the internet and magazines for details of what is on at my favourite venues and also at some that are unfamiliar to me. I am trying out an assortment of creative activities and endeavour to engage with as many different people and situations as possible. I get up and go to bed when my body tells me to do so and not the wall clock.

It is exciting but certainly a more difficult option to taking life as it comes. However, were I to be waiting for someone else to bring the experiences to me, they might never happen. In retirement as in any other phase of life, we are in control of our own destiny but, and perhaps it is because we appreciate our time so much more now when compared to all those hours devoted to the work ethic, Mister E and I are acutely aware of our desire to extract a dose of daily fulfilment rather than tedious contentment. Maybe there will be time for the boredom in another decade or two.

However, I must surely never get to the point where I look at the food on my plate and think:"It's curry, it must be Thursday."

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Reflections on a Fourth Month of Retirement

Although I seem to be cramming so much into my life at the moment, I have also noticed a tendency to procrastinate and perhaps even take far longer over something than I would have done previously or to fritter away time on something I might, in my working life, have considered pointless. Inevitably I have joined that league of retired people who openly confess, "I don't know how I ever found the time to go to work."

In any event and whilst it had been my intention to start an Interior Design Course this month, I have postponed the start date due not only to an apparent lack of time but a need also to brush up those artistic skills. I did however take my sketch book with me to Greece, where we spent a week, and I am certainly improving from my first efforts a few weeks ago, although I know you are going to say that my attempts at hibiscus fall far short of those of Georgia O'Keefe.

My main priority remains maintaining the fitness challenge that originally started for four weeks in July. I'm pleased to say that I do seem to be managing to get into the gym, pool or do a fitness class five times a week, The damage inflicted by years at the office desk seems enormous  but for a large part I believe reversible; it's just going to take time

I have taken on board some advice I read this month which is not to plunge headlong into too many new commitments as a result of retirement and instead to take up to two years to find out what works best. So October has been and retirement continues to be a period of experimentation when I dabble with various interests and the development of skills as this blog must surely document.

In many respects the real adoption of retirement has only started this month with the youngest's departure to university. Mister E and I are now very much exploring our shared interests and activities. Our trip to Greece also delayed the onset of autumn but our return has been greeted by much lower temperatures and more unsettled conditions, tempting us to stay indoors. That is at least giving me the opportunity to take control of various administrative tasks that I have neglected for too long and for us both to settle some longer term joint plans.

I think it was David Bowie who is attributed with saying, "I don't know where I'm going from here but I promise it won't be boring." At the end of Month 4, I can fully endorse that.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Hillside Holiday

Last week Mister E and I stayed in a hotel on the Greek mainland built into the side of a cliff. I never did count the steps from the water's edge to our room in the gardens but there were certainly a lot of them. They also seemed to increase in number when the sun was at its hottest. However hearing other guests panting with the exertion of climbing them was some comfort.

Out of season many visitors were advancing in age and it was noticeable how much harder the terrain, including walking across a shingle spit to the beach and water-sports equipment, was for them than for the younger guests.

With an eye on the future, I have made two mental notes:
1. Continue my fitness challenge
2. Ensure that I check carefully the gradient surrounding holiday destinations when I too struggle with steps.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

A Quest

After witnessing a number of unfortunate incidents in an overcrowded office car-park, I have been waiting until retirement to change my car.

A new car purchase is always a cause for dilemma in the Risover household, especially when there are 4 golden rules to which I adhere:
1. It must be a model that I have not owned before;
2. It must not be too big and definitely not too slow;
3. It must have a petrol engine and a manual gearbox;
4. It must have leather seats and aesthetically pleasing features.

This week I have visited a few garages, met a few salesmen and been given the feeling that I have left most of them scratching their heads not least in showrooms stocked with fabric seats and diesel engines.

Today, however, I rendered speechless the young man who was trying to extol the virtues of a sport- style seat with leather headrest and arms but a super-wool covered back and bottom. 

When I suggested that I may have to sit with a chamois leather under my posterior were we to strike a deal, he did concede that he could order full leather upholstery from the manufacturer but I would have to wait for up to 4 months for delivery. Instead, he persisted, I might however prefer to consider one of the many models on the premises and for which he was sure we could agree a very good price,

I sighed and responded that it was possible that I could be persuaded to overcome my aversion to a cloth seat by wearing leather trousers for driving.

Clearly the spectacle of Caree Risover in leather trousers was a source of much amusement to the poor gent who first blushed red and was then unable to contain his laughter at the image in his mind of yours truly behind the wheel. Suffice to say he could not continue his sales pitch.

I did however manage to arrange a test drive of something larger (with leather seats) as well as of its smaller cousin with the textile upholstery. If anyone has any lederhosen they could loan me for the experience I should be grateful if they would get in touch!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Carpe Diem

After the cooler temperatures and windy weather that have followed in the wake of the tail-end of Hurricane Bertha, today was a real delight. I took full advantage to get out into the garden, hoe in hand and dressed in short sleeves.

Now that is the big difference to working. If it wasn't for retirement I would have spent today at a desk and then moaned about the weather all weekend when, no doubt, it will pour down.

I firmly believe, as I hope this blog documents, that it was the right decision to retire in the early part of the summer. As a result I have been able to take advantage of long warm days to wind down ready to take on the challenges awaiting me indoors when autumn arrives.

I  can't imagine that starting retirement amongst the cold dark nights of winter would have been the same and when chilling out may well have have taken its literal meaning.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Reflections on a Second Month of Retirement

I'm not sure if I had really expected to be blogging now about a jubilant recapture of my joie de vivre and back to back adventures. That is not, however, how the month has gone.  I'm still loving retirement with its sense of freedom and, of course, I have been away again, enjoying a sailing trip in brilliant weather.

If I had to sum up Month 2 in one word though, that word would be "healing." I don't intend to sound all spiritual when I say that, and again it is also not what I had expected to be blogging about.

The healing has been at many different levels. 

At the most basic I have been working hard to try to regain physical fitness. The time now available to me has allowed  me to increase my visits to the gym, join in various exercise classes and swim regularly.

I'm also eating more healthily and, as a result of the combination of more exercise and a better diet am proud of the fact that I appear to be steadily losing those excess pounds.

Coupled with seeking to sort out various bodily ailments, I am well on the way to sorting myself physically and adopting a change of attitude as a result. I did say that I don't want to sound spiritual but the comparison of your body to a temple does spring to mind. Perhaps it is a shame that it has taken until retirement to realise and then be faced with a mountain to climb before I shall have reversed the years of neglect and alternative priorities. When you work hard and enjoy good health it can be a shock to discover that this does not necessarily equate to fitness and that your body may be incapable of doing anything much more strenuous than pushing paper at a desk.

Alongside the measures that I have committed to for physical fitness, I am now aware of the need for mental change too.

My desire to create is being stifled by decades of documents and professional propriety, a fear of the unknown and desire to play safe. Learning to think laterally and to notice in detail the beauty of the little things in life that I have been taking for granted, are a struggle. I have, therefore, resorted to a book filled with 12 weeks of exercises to help rediscover my inner creative self.

I had wrongly assumed in my mad rush to embrace retirement that it was simply time that I needed to enjoy a life of creativity and adventure. The last month when let's say I have  dabbled with those concepts, has demonstrated very clearly to me that the time which I now have available must first be applied to the preparation of body and mind. Seriously, and no I have not gone loopy, Month 2 has been the start of rehabilitation from the world of work.

To date I have only undertaken small steps but do not find the lack of alacrity in my progress frustrating. To the contrary; it's all part of the enjoyable transition from one life to another; a rich tapestry of limitation and experimentation as I acquire the physical and mental tools I need to thoroughly enjoy the new life I have carved for myself.