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 Statistics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Statistics. Show all posts

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Use It or Lose It



There seems to be a general acceptance that as we age, we grow weaker and frailer. Indeed research suggests that it is not uncommon for us to lose up to 8% of our muscle mass each decade from the age of 30. Try telling that to the trainer at the gym who has just re-set my new workout programme and now has little me lifting 10 kgs. 

"It will get easier," he has promised. Although to be honest I am more persuaded by his intimation that it will change my body shape. Who says you can't develop abs after 50?

National guidelines on physical activity recommend that, in order to stay healthy, adults should undertake at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week as well as strength exercises on at least two days a week. However, a report published by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists last week, concludes from a survey it commissioned that almost a quarter of over 65's do no strengthening activities at all, leaving them prone to the risk of falls and ill-health. Moreover 34% of those approaching retirement (aged 55-64) miss the target too.

Bearing in mind that the Society suggests that gardening and carrying shopping bags help to keep us in shape, it is hard to understand why so many are failing to meet the criteria set out in the guidelines. If there was ever a time to switch from buying cuppa soup and tea bags to potatoes and two litre bottles of milk, it is clearly in retirement.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Giving Up




After my last blog entry I have been contemplating my retirement and am beginning to feel that the next driver is "giving up." I don't mean by surrendering but rather in a very physical way in order to reach that nirvana of a simplified life.

So for me July has been a month to embrace Plastic Free July and abandon added sugar. 

The statistics on plastic are appalling and when I looked in my own waste-bin at the beginning of the month I saw with horror that, despite our conscientous devotion to re-cycling, we were still disposing of more plastic in the form of cellophane-wrapping and cling-film for landfill than any other form of waste. Just realising the extent of the problem that we were creating (and we consider ourselves good at sorting re-cyclable waste from our other rubbish) was a start in the right direction and now it has become a crusade to deliberately shop to try to avoid the worst excesses of single-use plastic whilst looking for items made of other substances for repeat use. It's too late to undo all our errors in the past; the children's toys, coffee capsules, melamine picnic plates, garden chairs, plant pots, all now presumably buried deep in a local authority pit never to decompose in our lifetimes. The plastic containers in the fridge and coathangers in the wardrobe provide a daily reminder of  our wilful disregard for green living. We are, however, now stepping up to become eco-warriors as, going forward, we relinquish the plastic trappings that go with an early 21st century lifestyle. Giving up is good, providing both challenge and ambition whilst benefiting the planet as we hopefully reduce pollution.

Sugar is another horror now scientifically linked to obesity and the development of type 2 diabetes. The Action on Sugar website highlights the issues but it is only when you start to read in detail the written information on food products that you get any appreciation of the scale of the problem. Have you for instance ever tried to find bread without added sugar in your local supermarket? It does exist but elusivity means you have to track it down. On the plus side, the eradication of added sugar from our diet in the last couple of weeks has done wonders for weight loss and energy levels and I can thoroughly recommend it.

In September 2016, I posted a blog entry which I titled Letting Go and Making a Difference.  They were for me the second and third phases of retirement, the movement or divergence from one to the other blurred by an overlap. Giving Up, following  a period of what I can best describe as plateauing, seems to be a natural progression and whilst many might say there is no obvious distinction there is actually a subtle difference stemming from the maturing of retirement. Letting go was as much about the mental state of change from worker to retired person as the relinquishment of physical stuff; there was an understanding of the need to shed and a start to the process. In making a difference I had reached a point where I was energised by my efforts and strove to achieve. To give up is I now believe a natural sequitur but it is more brutal and deliberate, requiring passion, renewed energy and aggressive determination. It goes beyond recognition of and lip service to what must be jettisoned, to deliberate deprivation in order to achieve it. To let go, I must now give up previously perceived comforters rather than extraneous stuff; to make a difference I must give up the comforts of self-indulgence and infinite time. 

Retirement has turned up more challenges.



Saturday, 10 June 2017

Just One Regret



It's a strange old world and a sign of the times when the winning party loses and the losing party is seen as the winner. That, however, seems to be the outcome of  the election. 

Taking the electorate for granted with its arrogance the Conservatives went hammer and tongs for the United Kingdom Independence Party voters and in so doing forgot that middle England with its intelligent, economically literate, remain-voting  populus would be both repulsed and insulted by the rhetoric. Consequently, although winning the most seats (albeit short of an overall majority), the Prime Minister totally failed in her objective of getting the large majority and mandate she was seeking to negotiate a "hard" Brexit, closing the door to the exisiting arrangements for free trade and the movement of people within Europe.

So, having finished my last blog entry with a feeling of resigned disillusionment, like more than half of the electorate I was overwhelmingly buoyed to find the Government had faltered; the people had spoken up against what it was seeking to impose and, whilst there may be the chaos of a hung Parliament, the mandate was clearly not there for the austere policies and Brexit terms they were seeeking to impose.

Except, and what more would you expect from a Prime Minister and party that does not listen, they are now cuddling up with the Democratic Unionist Party from Northern Ireland. The DUP, as it is commonly known, has grown out of a para-military organisation, is involved in smear and speculation concerning financial mismanagement and has policies that make the Conservatives' seem almost acceptable. The DUP is anti-abortion, refuses to accept LGTBQ rights, is sceptical about climate change and numbers creationists amongst its MPs. However, it now has 10 MPs and to keep the Conservatives in power and pursue their rejected policies there is to be an understanding between the two; the May-Dup alliance as it will no doubt be described. An alliance that many commentators believe may even upset the delicate peace in Northern Ireland.

Well we shall have to wait to see what happens but the first protest took place outside of Downing Street last night, wise counsel (particularly on Twitter) is being given and the longer the Government seeks to press on with a business as normal approach, the more millions of us are going to be totally affronted. So, if we thought the election would mean that politics would quieten down and everything would revert to normal, it seems not and this may only  be the beginning.

On the left the Corbynistas are claiming exactly that as they assert a victory, having gained some 30 seats, when only 7 weeks ago it was anticipated that they would be annihilated. Obviously the swing in Labour's favour includes a large protest vote, although many are proclaiming it as the beginning of the rise in support for progressive politics with Keynesian economics. 

As you can imagine, as well as giving the comedy writers hours of wonderful script material, Mister E and I have had plenty to discuss too. What would have been the outcome if Labour's appeal had been more Centrist? Does the impact of globalisation and mass capitalism mean that traditional political theories are ineffective for the 21st Century? Can you redress inequality and provide fairness through policies that the majority of the electorate will truly embrace in the way that the youth vote seems prepared to? Does it require a softly, softly approach from a new centrist approach to do this or can there be a political revolution of thought and support, bringing speedier momentum to the movement for a fairer, greener, more caring and inclusive society?

I had honestly expected to wake up on Friday revulsed by the thought that I lived in a country full of little Englanders whose only thoughts were for profit and themselves. With the final vote in, it seems that the Conservative, DUP and UKIP parties' vote share combined was just 45.1%. My faith in humanity and the British electorate is restored and there is now hope that there really is a way, regardless of the current Governmental chaos and apparent intransigence, to create the kinder society that we seek.

Regrets? There is one. Taking advantage of retirement, I stayed up until 3am on Election Night; why oh why didn't I do my ironing as I watched those results come in? 




Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Blind Making the Blind




I shall begin with the proviso that I am unsure whether or not the statistics I am about to quote are correct, but I do know that Pareto would at least approve.

So: I am one of the 20% of women who own a sewing machine. Until  last week I was also one of the 80% of women who own a sewing machine and do not use it.

However, in a sudden burst of creative activity my reliable little dressmaking aide has been placed on the desk in the eldest's bedroom which, since he did kind of leave home seven years ago, I am slowly taking over as craft room.

The task which I set myself was to make a window blind for the small box room in the Nottingham property. The previous blind had given up the ghost but an inspection suggested to me that it would not be beyond the wit of man nor indeed Caree's limited ability to replicate the design.

I confess I have never made a blind in my life before. To be honest I would also struggle to recall anything I have ever made with the sewing machine except perhaps a cushion cover, generally having used it only for mundane tasks like hemming trousers. 

Nevertheless the result has given me great pleasure. I hung it over the weekend and was certainly relieved to dicover that it both fitted and worked. There's a lot to be said for creativity; success definitely endows a halo of self satisfaction.

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. 

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!



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.


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! 


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.



Thursday, 19 November 2015

Yemen

The Situation is Getting Worse - Save the Children  Yemen, You Tube

With Syria and the refugee crisis grabbing newspaper space for what seems like months now, when I became a voluntary Community champion for Save the Children it came as something of a shock to me (as I'm sure it will to most people) to realise that the biggest humanitarian crisis in the world today is probably in Yemen. Pulverised by a bloody civil war and now the infiltration of Al Quaeda and ISIS, it is subject to a commercial blockade that is preventing effective aid reaching those who need it most at a time when it is estimated that 80% of the population are reliant on organisations like Save The Children and the UN for food and health care.

Prior to the conflict Yemen was already the poorest nation in the Middle East but the statistics are now horrific. It is estimated that: 
21.1 million people are in need of aid and 9.9 million children are affected
12.8 million people do not even have access to the basics for survival and hundreds of thousands of children are at risk of dying of malnutrition
15.4 million people have no access to healthcare
20.9 million people are in need of water and sanitation

The crisis is huge and yet it is constantly ignored by the media and politicians. The EU Council has, however, met earlier this week to discuss the position and drawn helpful conclusions.

Save the Children is seeking to raise awareness. We need our Governments to exert their influence on Saudi Arabia which is imposing the blockade, in order to allow humanitarian aid and protection for those in Yemen who will otherwise surely die. 

No child is born to die.


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! 


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.


Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Back in Time for Dinner



"Back in Time for Dinner," is the name of a programme on BBC 2, the fourth episode of which was screened tonight. For some reason it has caught my imagination, perhaps it's the nostalgia trip as a family has spent one day for each year since 1950, living and dining as if it were actually living in that year.

Rattling through the 1980's tonight I was surprised at the role of the humble pre-packed sandwich. Along with thousands of other workers, I have certainly bought my fair share of those for lunch over my working lifetime. Whatever good intention I may have had to make and pack my own lunch, it invariably flew out of the window each morning, as I flapped around  with a tight deadline for leaving home for the office looming. Fortunately having to go out to buy the sandwich did mean that there was a reason to leave my desk at lunchtime, even if it was only for a few minutes.

As the programme indicated, since 1980 the average worker's lunchtime has decreased from 60 to less than 30 minutes, presumably aided and abetted by the availability of that packaged sandwich. I certainly recall that, when I started working, lunchtime was a social occasion where a group of us would meet and eat together, often in a local hostelry or otherwise in the office kitchen, and a full hour would indeed be taken. I even worked in one office in the early 1980's where lunchtime was a whole hour and fifteen minutes so that the gentlemen could return home to a cooked lunch prepared by their wives. So much for progress: by the time I retired it was very much the norm to mix crumbs with files and papers at your desk.

Thankfully in retirement, Mister E and I have rediscovered the joy of lunching. We have always been a family that has sat down together for a properly cooked evening meal and now we tend to do the same at lunchtime, although the meal is inevitably lighter than later in the day. We take our time over it, chat and relax, away from whatever activity has occupied our morning. Most importantly, we never have pre-packaged sandwiches!


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)."


 

Friday, 27 March 2015

On Your Feet


On Your Feet Britain is an event taking place on 24th April as a result of a partnership between the British Heart Foundation and the Get Britain Standing Campaign. Inactivity is one of the greatest challenges to health in Britain today and it seems the sedentary lifestyle of the country's office workers leads the way.

Statistics suggest that 37% of men and 45% of women spend less than 30 minutes a day on their feet at work, with 50% eating their lunch at their desk. Yes it all sounds familiar.

However it is reckoned that over 5 pounds in weight can be lost by standing up for an extra 30 minutes a day for a year. Goodness me, here in retirement I reckon that I have been standing up for at least an extra 2 hours a day, frequently more; will that equate to 20 pounds? If so, unfortunately not an awful lot has happened yet!

Studies have linked heart disease, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, dementia and cancer to sedentary lifestyles. Forget the office, it's even more important that retirement isn't spent sitting down or over-eating!


Thursday, 19 March 2015

A Blitz



Oh dear. I watched a television programme the other night which came up with an amazing statistic in relation to housework. Apparently back in the 1950's the average housewife spent 75 hours a week cooking, cleaning, shopping and washing. If that was not bad enough, the programme quoted today's average per home at 18 hours or just over 2 hours and 34 minutes a day.

Now I know we should never believe everything we learn from the media but if there is any truth in that statistic, then Mister E and I are failing badly. We did hit a problem in early retirement when, instead of doing a large weekly shop, we seemed to keep popping into a supermarket to buy smaller quantities whenever we passed. We are, however, now back to one main shop a week and have condensed housework and cooking into an art-form that amounts to no more than an hour a day each on average. Whilst I no longer resent the time spent on chores as was the case when working, who really wants to spend their retirement cleaning?

That said, and totally shamed by the elbow grease that went into household tasks sixty years ago, I grabbed an old electric toothbrush this week to clean a towel rail that had been neglected in the tender love and care stakes and was bowled over by the difference  it made! 

Perhaps cleaning could yet become a new style therapy with its inbuilt boost every time you turn dull and dusty crevices and corners into something clean and shiny. On reflection, maybe not.


Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Tax Return Deadline



It seems that the older we are, the less likely we are to miss the deadline for filing our self-assessment tax return, according to a press release by HMRC.

As I struggled to complete my own today I did ponder on the reason for this. Perhaps age brings simplification of tax affairs or simply less money.

Alternatively is it accredited to experience? Caught short and fined in the past could ensure future compliance as a result.

Come to think of it as we grow older do we just get more realistic and conscious of how long the darned forms take to complete. Leaving them to the last minute will inevitably make meeting the filing and payment date of 31st January that much harder. 

Or is it because with age comes more time and the ability to organise it better? Certainly, sitting at home on a snowy January day I have felt more readily disposed to getting down to the information gathering and form filling that is required. Unfortunately several more sessions will be required before the document is going to be finished. At least I no longer have to spend evenings and weekends on it and, if  the poor weather continues, it may even be ready by the end of the week.


Friday, 31 October 2014

End of October



It was the warmest Halloween day on record today apparently. Certainly my memories of carving turnip (we had never seen a pumpkin) lanterns as a child is always against a background of duffle coats and scarves and perhaps occasionally a touch of snow too.

This year I have actually succeeded in growing pumpkins, both in my greenhouse and outside, as we have revelled in one of the driest summers for several years. I know you have no control in these matters but it really was a superb summer, weather-wise, to retire.

Now of course, record or no record, the nights are drawing in and there have been rain showers a plenty over the last few weeks as well as some strong, blustery northerly winds. Mind, such weather is not unwelcome. My garden may have been looking great during the last few months but it has been at the expense of neglecting the interior of my home as well as some much needed household "admin."

So this week I have been able to find time to concentrate on a new Future Learn course on Creative Writing coupled with those routine chores that I love to ignore. If there's time tomorrow, I have even sorted a pumpkin recipe or two that I want to try.


Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Comfort from £15,000 a Year

A study by NEST,  reported yesterday, gave an insight into how much money it takes to make people feel comfortable in retirement. It seems that with a pension income of £15,000 per annum most people in the UK feel content. Below that level and they struggle to pay bills, whilst interestingly above £40,000 per annum there is no additional happiness benefit. 


I'm assuming that the simple moral of that research is that so long as you have sufficient income to avoid worrying about the basic necessities of life (a roof over your head, food and clothing), you then cut your cloth according to your means and can enjoy whatever excess you have. I'll soon find out.



Monday, 21 April 2014

The Death Clock

The car is the one place I can be guaranteed to listen to the radio. On Thursday I took it for its annual service, picking it up at lunchtime. I am not usually in the car at that time of the day, so lunchtime radio is invariably a novelty. 

On this occasion, I caught a discussion with Steve Webb, the Minister of State for Pensions. In the wake of the potential changes in respect of pensions announced by the Chancellor in the Budget, the Minister was explaining how necessary financial advice might be given. Indeed he explained that there is a risk that people generally think, perhaps based on the life span of their parents or grandparents, that they will not live as long as they do. Therefore, and as a preliminary part of the financial advice that will be needed, it is proposed that we shall all have access to a longevity calculator. 

As described, it sounded like simplicity itself.

Curiously I googled "death calculator" and lo and behold came up with something very similar to that described. Part of the assessment involved, exactly as described by the Minister, inserting your frame of mind: suicidal, pessimistic, neutral, optimistic. Yes only four choices!

I decided to play safe and as the interviewer had suggested that pessimists might be very careful people who for instance check carefully before crossing a road, I inserted that as my mental outlook. 

It was clearly the wrong decision. Coupled with insertion of my BMI, gender and age, the death clock swung into action and immediately calculated not simply the date on which I shall die but also the number of years, months, days, hours, minutes and seconds until I get there! It was closer than I would like to think.

Such a device is unlikely to have any effect on my attitude to pensions or spending patterns. It will remind me however, of how transient and fleeting life can be and the need to enjoy every day of that forthcoming retirement.