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 Socialising. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Socialising. Show all posts

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Loaded with Spring Colour





It has certainly been a magnificent Spring for colour. The daffodils seem to have been a little late, the tulips early and the mix of yellow with the pastel hues of the tulips and the scent and colour of hyacinths has resulted in a magnificent display wherever I have gone.



A couple of weeks back, I also kick started  my own Spring colours with a review of my wardrobe. It followed, I confess, another ladies lunch with those fellow fitness junkies when we were treated to a presentation from the House of Colour. It seems that we are all pretty  much divided into four types of skin tone which dictates the shades we should wear.

I declined the opportunity to pay a not insignificant sum to determine my perfect colour match (experience has already taught me that it is various shades of blue, especially aqua). I was, however, sufficiently inspired to take another look at the colours in my wardrobe where, whilst I was pleased to note that the workplace black was now outnumbered, it still lurked in the corners projecting drabness and misery. 

Spurred by the thought that we all need more colour in our lives, I set myself up for some online retail therapy and the aim of bringing the blue of those hyacinths into my bedroom closets. It hasn't all gone, but after almost three years of retirement, I can safely say that the black outfits have diminished now to only four items. Pale and turquoise blues are much more cheerful.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Perfume and Age



One of the benefits of attending exercise classes regularly is not the highly toned body that could result but rather the ready made group of like-minded people with whom you can share the pleasures of drinking and dining. This doesn't so much undermine the good work put in at the exercise studio but rather ensures that you return for more and work even harder to save spent calories for another meal out.

I can honestly say that I did not know any of my new found gym buddies prior to retiring and yet now they are one of the mainstays of my social life (well we all like food). They are also a source of encyclopedic knowledge, saving me hours of online research. 

For instance last Friday, the sun beating down as Spring very definitely arrived, we rounded off a hard week of Pilates, Fitball, Body Blitz, Yoga, Kinesis Hiit and Barre Concept with a short swim and a long laze in the outdoor hot tub. There then followed a quick stroll to a nearby hostelry where we discussed the topics of the day and put the world to rights.

Now for some time recently I have been aware that I am becoming somewhat indulgent with the bottled fragrances in my bathroom. I couldn't pinpoint the reason but Eau de Toilette, Eau de Parfum and even the highly powerful real stuff in the little bottles, once applied, just doesn't seem to hold its scent anymore. Of course that's not something I'd necessarily share, even with a gym bunny, but, to my surprise, it came up in conversation. What is more, I am certain that they hadn't sniffed out this issue on my part.

"Age and changing hormones," one lady declared.

"Fix it by applying Vaseline first," another responded.

Well it is certainly reassuring to know that I am not the only person to encounter this phenomenon. I confess that I even googled it afterwards and the underlying factor seems to be dry skin; a symptom of hormones and ageing, of course. I told you: those ladies have encyclopedic knowledge! 

 


Saturday, 21 May 2016

A Parallel World




On Monday I met a friend at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. It takes over an hour for me to drive there but it was a beautiful day, the roads were relatively empty and I enjoyed the journey. Perhaps it was a snippet that I heard on the radio or maybe a latent thought in the depths of my mind, but I began to ponder on similies for the retirement experience. 

"It's been a little bit like space travel," I told myself, "A venture into the unknown."

That didn't feel quite right. After all I can't honestly say that I have spent the time since June 2014 exploring distant planets or even the moon.

Later as we wandered around the Park admiring the large outdoor sculptures we entered the garden area where an exhibition of Not Vital's work is being set up.  Chased-steel pieces, reflecting the light and surroundings were mesmerising and as I stared at a moonlike orb, it came to me. 

Retirement isn't akin to space travel at all; instead it is life in a parallel universe where people, places and events may seem familiar but life itself is not. There's a link and a relationship between the former working life and present, but the former life is distant and removed.

I have crossed the Rubicon and now inhabit a simultaneously familiar and yet strange world where people have time to wander around sculpture parks during the working week, eat long lunches outside in the sunshine, have meaningful conversations, smile, listen and make time for each other. 

That old world is trapped in its own time and place; it still goes on but I cannot enter. When I try to steal a peep, my parallel existence is reflected back across the lawn; its blue sky and green, geen grass hide the surface of that other world and stretch out before me, beckoning and enticing. There is no going back, and, let's be honest, would I want to?



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.


Thursday, 21 April 2016

Eye in the Sky

In retirement can you still remember that stressed out, tight chest, anxious feeling that usually came with juggling work and home whilst worrying about both? If not and you wish to relive the cortisol/adrenalin cocktail, can I suggest a visit to the cinema to see Eye in the Sky.

I'm honestly not sure if I enjoyed it and there was one point where heart racing and palms sweating, I thought I might even leave the auditorium in a wave of stress induced nausea but I couldn't; I had to find out how it ended.

National and occupational stereotypes but what would we do in the same situation? That question kept Mister E, the youngest and me deep in discussion over the dinner we ate out afterwards.



Friday, 29 January 2016

Positivity in a Monochrome Environment


Battered by storm after storm outside, one could almost be forgiven for thinking that retirement offers the perfect opportunity for hibernation. However, after a couple of days hiding from the weather and catching up with all those tasks left for a winter's day, I confess to feeling somewhat isolated. At work there is, of course, always an opportunity for social interaction without seeking it out; retirement is different and one needs to be proactive.



In contrast, last week we once again visited Langdale in the Lake District and were joined by the eldest and two long standing friends; company was on tap. 



The weather was still disappointing in its own way and was dominated by cold, dull and wintry conditions. Nevertheless we got out and about showing our friends our favourite low level walking routes and lunchtime stops. We even ventured into caves that I had never visited before.



In retirement I have rediscovered a love of colour  but last week the landscape was very definitely monochrome. Positivity ruled and my camera tried to find beauty there too.


I think it succeeded!


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!





Monday, 1 June 2015

Miss February


I went to a Ladies' Charity Lunch today; the first time since ceasing work. What a relaxed and lovely occasion it was. It took place at Rockliffe Hall where a glass of Prosecco, friendly company, a delicious meal and a moving speaker all combined into a memorable event. Best of all I did not dash there from an office and I did not have to return there either, nor undergo the macabre punishment rendered these days for "taking a lunch break" (even when a working lunch) of making up the time by working late.

The event was in aid of Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research and Angela Baker, otherwise known as Miss February and played by Julie Walters in the film, recounted the story of the Calendar Girls' phenomenon. She had us in laughter and tears, often at the same time.

It is astounding to think that the idea for a calendar could ultimately lead to raising over £4 million to date for research and which in turn has helped, we were told, increase survival rates by 80%.

So why the picture of the sunflower on this blog entry? Those lovely ladies from the WI behind the Calendar Girls adopted it as their emblem because "You can't help but smile when you see one," explained Angela,  and she's right isn't she?


Friday, 3 April 2015

Be Young at Heart

My thanks to our monthly Parish magazine with its article headed "Be Young at Heart - and Live Longer!"

Apparently research at UCL shows that whilst most people feel younger than their years, those who feel older are more likely to die sooner. It seems that over 24% of the people who took part in the cohort study and who were all aged 52 or more died during the eight years in which they were followed. After allowing for factors that could affect the risk of death, feeling older than actual age was still associated with a 41% higher risk of dying within the study period than for those who felt younger than they were.

It would appear that people who feel younger take better care of themselves, maintain a healthier lifestyle, eat sensibly and follow medical advice to a greater degree than those who may feel their age or older. 

The study is reported on the NHS website which also recommends "staying as physically active as possibleconnecting with others (possibly through volunteering) and trying out new activities, such as yoga (which.. [may also].. reduce the risk of heart disease)."


 

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

A Missed Turn



Yesterday I met an old friend from university days at Ripley which is an appropriate mid-way point between our homes to start a walk into Nidderdale. The trouble with meeting up with old friends, especially when you haven't seen each other for nearly six months, is that you do tend to talk rather a lot.

So much so in our case that we missed a footpath we intended to take and ended up back where we started, earlier than we had anticipated.


Of course that was no problem. We just went to the Castle Tea Room and kept on talking!




Sunday, 25 January 2015

Back to the Lake District



Last week we returned to stay in Langdale in the Lake District, enjoying a week of runny-nose and red-cheek weather. In winter, with the trees denuded of their greenery, there is so much more that you can see and when the sky is blue and the air crisp, the colours are simply stunning.


We stay in a glass fronted wooden lodge overlooking the beck and the views from there, as indeed throughout the rest of the valley, are simply  mesmerising.


We also spend an inordinate amount of time watching the birds on the feeders.


At this time of the year it is very peaceful; the number of people and their cars  substantially less than in the height of summer. Indeed we didn't have to venture high or even off the beaten track to find solitude, our own little adventure and inevitably a welcoming pub or walkers' cafe at the end of the path.


The eldest accompanied us for the beginning of our stay and made a perfect companion for stretching Mister E's long legs on the high fells, complete with crampons and ice-axes . On my part I was more than content to potter in the valley with my camera.


In the evening however the eldest and I were able to renew our competitive edges with the Scrabble board. Our friendly squabble as to whether or not this would be the year that he would finally beat me was ended by an incredulous draw. Maybe I do need to work hard to keep my brain sharp in retirement (or alternatively to avoid playing word games after a visit to the pub), if I am to return to victorious ways in future.


Midweek, an old friend from university days and her husband joined us. They are accomplished walkers who regularly walk distances that I have rarely undertaken in the last 3 decades. Over a two day period they led us up, down and across three valleys. When it was time to wave them off, I could hardly shuffle to the door. They are a few years ahead of us in the retirement stakes but certainly demonstrated to us the health benefits of walking regularly. 


At least my knees which have been a source of pain and consternation for a number of years have strengthened with all my efforts at the gym, hopefully boding well for the future.


Nevertheless our consequent plans to fit a long walk into our own weekly schedule were sadly scuppered for the current week when Mister E pulled his back whilst putting our bags into the car ready to return home!


Monday, 22 December 2014

Christmas Festivity


Last week I met a former work colleague for lunch. How the memories came flooding back.

Yes she had a day's holiday but only because there had been no convenient time earlier in the year to take it. How often, when organisations prohibit employees from carrying over holiday from one year to the next, are you left with a glut of days that could have been enjoyed in the summer sunshine to spend on dull, cold, grey November or December days instead?

Yes she too had written and sent Christmas cards before the last posting date and had begun to wrap presents to place under the tree. However whilst I had been able to do this during daylight hours mid-week, she had been obliged to use her evenings and weekends.

Working in an office, the pressure begins to be applied as soon as someone fires the starting gun and you attend the first party of the season. They start in early December and continue until Christmas Eve when hot sausage rolls and mince pies are rolled out, although hardly to waive off starvation until your return to work.

On Thursday night I went to my only party of this year's Christmas season. Just a week before the big day, it seemed to be well-timed; the company was jovial and it gave me an opportunity to wear a dress and heels for the first time in several months. However, I can honestly say that I haven't missed the December rounds of  drinks and canapes when the primary aim is, of course, to  promote your business wares.

Far nicer this year to meet up with a colleague and end up giggling relentlessly when, after we had eaten, we proceeded to try on wigs in a neighbouring store.



Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Isolation, Pressure and Compromises


It would be wonderful if this was a picture of my greenhouse and garden but it was actually taken in the Royal Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh last week. Still I have been working on my own autumnal vegetation and, bit by bit, that end of season tidy-up is beginning to show results.

The dip in temperatures this week means that, with the weather staying dry, there has been time each day to devote to:
 Chores and creativity indoors, and
 Pruning, shredding, digging and creativity outdoors, once the air temperature has warmed and before the sun disappears in what almost seems like the mid-afternoon.

I know that there are people who insist that there is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing. However those same people generally don't go hot air ballooning when it's blowing a hurricane outside or cook a Sunday roast when it hits 30 degrees and everyone else is tucking into salad on the patio.

The great thing I've discovered about this time of the year, however, is that retirement allows you to take advantage of two hour windows of sunshine and I've begun to fit my day around the conditions.

With so much to complete before winter kicks in, I do feel as though I'm on a tight timetable. I am also conscious that since returning from Edinburgh my diary has not been as sociable as recently. As a result walking to the postbox seemed like a big event as I waved and chatted to a number of people and I even tried to strike up a conversation in the middle of a delicate balancing exercise in Pilates. A warning sign perhaps that retirement could become a time of splendid isolation were I to let it and that deadlines and the pressures that go with them are for those who work, not those seeking to enjoy life. 

Suitably admonished, I have checked my diary but the last few days are definitely a blip. Free time over the next week looks as though it may be in short supply. Oh dear, clearing the garden when the weather conditions are right may not be feasible after all. There may be more flexibility in retirement, but there are still compromises to be made.



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!


Saturday, 28 June 2014

A Disney Wedding


Months of planning concluded today with a wonderful wedding to which Mister E and I were invited. Church ceremony then wedding breakfast (something of a misnomer when it was timed for late afternoon and comprised of a delicious roast dinner); we had been there 6 hours before I realised it! It must be an age thing though as we slunk away before the young crowd moved in for the evening disco.

It's always good to see various parts of families meeting and socialising and of course there are those distant relatives that you only ever see on such occasions but whose fame and antics get talked about forever after.

On this occasion the star guests (apart from the bride and groom) had to be Donald Duck and Pluto. Apparently they had frightened the poor bride so much that, on a trip to Disneyland Florida as a child, she had taken refuge under the table. Nevertheless her dear father organised a repeat of the occasion and as Donald and Goofy entered all the guests stood up and twirled their napkins above their heads in time to the music that blared down from the castle's speakers. I am pleased to report that the bride did not seek to hide under the table today, which was just as well because with her veil and train, any attempt to do so could have ended in catastrophe.


Thursday, 26 June 2014

A Pop not a Bang

I guess that as technically I am on holiday leave now until my retirement date, I can't actually say that I am retired. However, I finished at work on 18th June and am pleased to say I thoroughly enjoyed the party organised by my work colleagues.

Gosh everyone was so kind and even showered me with cards and presents.

Of course two people made speeches but instead of escaping through the back door or hiding in the caretaker's cupboard, I managed to say some words in reply.

Fortunately there were no fireworks, just the most embarrassing banner hanging above us all with my photograph and wishing me a happy retirement.

The champagne corks popped all evening and it was such a splendid night that I guess if life was infinite I'd go back and do 30+ years, just to have another one. No, that was definitely a joke!


Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Walking my Way to Fitness


The Easter weekend was a very pleasant interlude in a hectic schedule as I endeavour to strive towards a clear desk in readiness for retirement. We entertained visitors which is always great because it means we are generally motivated to get out and about, visiting local landmarks that we frequently neglect because they are on our doorstep, so to speak.

However, our plans proved a little ambitious for my level of fitness and involved a somewhat strenuous walk across the North Yorkshire Moors where, looking at the length of the incline in front of me, I bowed out, took the lower route and met up with my companions in time for a picnic lunch in the great outdoors.

Walking is a superb form of exercise and when coupled with great views and good company, it's hard to think of anything to match it. I realise, however, that if I am to exploit the full pleasure of the long distance hike, improve my fitness levels and get to the top of those hills, I am going to have to get out regularly, not simply at Bank Holiday weekends or when friends and family come to stay. Hopefully this blog will record my achievements in that respect.



Monday, 24 March 2014

Hale, Hearty and Ninety


I am a trustee of a charity that provides shelter for elderly people who are in need but still capable of independent living. Once a year the trustees organise a party for the residents which is always well attended. We make the food, decorate the communal hall and arrange for some entertainment. The Mayor attends along with the residents and trustees

Today was the day and as ever everyone was on fine form. My offering in the cake stakes (pictured above) is inevitably simple but goes down a treat. Who says the elderly can't eat hard sweets?

I would like to think that I shall not fall within the category of people eligible for assistance under the charity's constitution. However, after seeing all those ninety year olds singing along with the musical entertainment as well as their appetites over a good old fashioned high tea, I can only hope that I live to be their age and, if I do, that I am still enjoying food and high spirits with the same vivacity.


Monday, 10 March 2014

A Birthday and a Family


I celebrated my birthday yesterday and enjoyed a weekend of celebrations. My family completely surprised me by keeping totally quiet about the fact that our eldest was intending to return home for the weekend. Imagine my surprise when I wandered from the study to our living room on Friday evening to find him sitting there with his sister watching TV, having sneaked in through the back door! I confess that I felt quite choked with emotion and hadn't suspected a thing.

It meant that we shared some close family time, eating out on both Saturday night and Sunday lunchtime. We also visited the RHS garden at Harlow Carr on the outskirts of Harrogate together and where Spring bulbs are just beginning to come through to provide colourful displays. 

The number of times we are all together is diminishing as the years go by and will presumably be even less frequent when the youngest goes to university in the autumn. Occasions like my birthday weekend are therefore precious moments which will remain a treasured memory for the future.


Saturday, 1 March 2014

Party Planning

It's been a busy week at work, but good colleagues always help. This week they surpassed themselves not only with their efforts but also their plans for my retirement party. Apparently they don't want me slipping out of the back door quietly and reckon a large party is required with invitations to all the great, good and sociable I have fraternised with during my career.

I have to confess the more they described it, the more emotional I became, until I could hardly hold back the tears. I have an awful feeling that if they go ahead with this plan, it's going to feel a bit like attending my own funeral. 

Maybe the back door will be better.