Showing posts from September, 2014

Balmy Days

Who would have thought that on the last day of September Mister E and I would be sitting outside at 6pm enjoying glasses of ginger beer. Mind I also picked some strawberries from the garden today too! We have certainly been fortunate in picking this summer to retire and not least when it seems to be going on and on. Although, I am beginning to become conscious of a pile of paperwork accumulating for me indoors I continue to stick to the old adage of "making hay whilst the sun shines." With temperatures just over 20 degrees, it has been great weather to start the autumn clear up in the garden. In addition I also took what might be best described as a "nature walk" the purpose of which was to carry out a wild flower count for the National Plant Monitoring Scheme. It's amazing how many species of plant you see when you look out for them. For instance this amazing Wild Teasel, which I walked right past initially without noticing. There's a

Office Wear

Thursday morning was a bit of a shock to the system. After 3 months of pretty much pleasing myself as to whether to get up bright and early or revel in some beauty sleep (my goodness looking in the mirror, I need it), I had no choice; I was working to someone else's timetable.  It was just how I remembered going to work to be. The alarm clock rang; I ignored it; it rang again and 15 minutes later I got out of bed, showered, dressed in  a suit and ate breakfast before applying make-up. Gracious, I had forgotten how good that stuff is for covering minor imperfections (perhaps I don't need beauty sleep after all). Then I was out of the door, driving away, all before 8.15 am. The hardest part other than an alarm clock ringing? Wearing shoes with a heel! It seems I have more or less escaped that habit for three months.  In case anyone wonders, I didn't go to an office but instead had a series of meetings to attend at two of the schools in the federation of whic

Bad Manners in the Empire

Despite waking up exhausted from the exertions of our trip to the South coast and back, it was business as normal today and time for some culture or at least a popular West End musical. Only on this occasion the venue was the Sunderland Empire and it was a matinee performance.  The production was wonderful; the music; the colours; the scenery and special effects. Whoever came up with the ideas for all those animals? They were delightful. I wish I could say the same for the audience. Young people and Southerners often get a bad press for rudeness but never in all my theatre visits have I been so appalled by the antics of what for the most part were people older than myself and, of course, all from the North. So many thought it acceptable to talk through the show, to push and shove their way to the seats, walking sticks brandished to good effect and elbows outstretched. Then, as the cast was taking its bow, it was like watching a tidal wave as people got up from their seats,

An Empty Nest

We returned yesterday from a journey that has taken us to the heart of London, Stockbridge, Southampton, rural Leicestershire and Nottingham.  It started with a need to convey the youngest and most of her worldly goods to University College London, where she begins her new life. Amazingly, with a little help from the unflappable SatNav our journey went very much as planned; at least there was no screeching at us to make a U-turn. Remarkably we were even able to find a car parking place, although at £9.30 an hour we didn't stay long. Back at home people have expressed disapproval at a parking charge of £0.60 per hour with the first half hour free, so goodness knows what they would make of London charges. Our parting was a mixture of excitement and sadness. To think the youngest is now so grown up that she is going to be living away from us in one of the biggest cities in the world, is, of course, difficult to believe. It is nevertheless a great opportunity for he

Reflections on a Third Month of Retirement

It was three months ago today that I last worked and it really does feel a lifetime away. In the last month we have managed another trip away when I was able to put my increased fitness to the test. Not working, it really is so much easier to be physically active and also eat more healthily. I still feel as though I'm taking baby steps towards pursuing my goals of creativity and adventure and at times as I seek to forge my new persona, there are moments of doubt as I can no longer identify myself with reference to my former career. As I have already mentioned in this blog, I am a complete and utter novice in my new way of living. Whilst most of the time that gives rise to complete hilarity, it also means that I have lost my safety net; I am a nobody, an infant with the whole world to explore and skills to learn in order to explore it. Delacroix said that "those who seek perfection in everything are those who cannot attain it in anything." I have been telling m

When You are Ready

An old friend with whom I trained over 30 years ago and I have been comparing notes. Although she has just had a sabbatical between jobs, she has no intention of joining me in retirement just yet. She tells me that she gets intellectual stimulation from work that is missing from life at home. I understand and empathise with her decision but I have either gone gaga or else get sufficient stimulation from the newspaper crossword and my other activities to satisfy my mental needs. Everyone is different and whilst for years I thrived on the challenges thrown at me by my career, there came a point in time when I quite simply felt bored and exhausted with it. I realised that I did want to spend time with my family and achieve something else from life. Retirement as opposed to a change in career was the obvious option for me and I now find not just stimulation but also fulfilment in working towards the challenges that I am setting myself on my road to creativity and adventure.

A Scottish Dilemma

We returned from a sailing trip in Scotland yesterday. In the quiet harbours of Kintyre there was muted evidence of the referendum that is about to take place. Indeed in East Loch Tarbert we spotted one man arriving in a motor-home to affix a pile of Yes notices to various lamp posts. Whilst one local yelled out, "No thanks," there was no other discernible reaction either in favour or against. I think, therefore, on the basis of our most unscientific experience, we could conclude (like the opinion polls) that the outcome may be very close to 50:50. The cruising grounds off the Scottish West Coast are incomparable and we again saw dolphins in abundance and seals. East Loch Tarbert itself is reminiscent of so many Cornish harbours but without the multitude of tourists or pasty shops. Instead we found a superb little restaurant where we ate out like kings on scallops (known locally as Queenies) and fresh fish from the fishing boats outside. Of cours

Domestic Engineering

One of the hardest things for me in the transition from professional life to that of a retiree is that I am really rather unqualified and unaccomplished for my present status.  After thirty years in an occupation that I had trained hard for,  I brought a wealth of experience to my position and had matured into something of an old hand to whom others looked for guidance. My new role is harder. Obviously I can undertake domestic chores and whilst the outcome is generally satisfactory, I would struggle to declare  my cooking, needlework or DIY skills as perfect. Similarly I am hardly an expert at any of the hobbies that I am working on and am heavily reliant on the expertise of others. I am conscious that I need practice, but at this stage of life it is hard to accept that I have moved from doing a job well to a situation where I am little better than a novice. Indeed it reminds me of a time a few years ago when, although a competent downhill skier, I tried cross-country ski

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 p

A Test

The other day I was asked the question that I had anticipated but it still managed to take me by surprise. "Have you really given up work altogether, or would you be able to act for a friend?" I don't miss work; I don't miss working. Nevertheless, and for a brief moment, I hesitated, struggling with my answer. The sense of wanting to help, of being unable to say "no" felt overwhelming. That is until common-sense stepped in and I offered my apologies: "I have indeed retired and am no longer covered by insurance to proffer assistance."

Noticing the Surroundings

On our trip to the Lake District, it was good to have the time to wander through the countryside and onto the fells with nothing to worry about back in the office. Suddenly there was so much more to see without any distractions to my concentration. Rather than planning strategies for clients, I actually noticed and appreciated what was happening around me: the greenery, birds, clouds, reflections in the mountain tarns, the noise of flowing streams, the insects and wild flowers. When you are able to see it, there is an amazing world out there. On the other hand there are some things that I do continue to take for granted and hardly notice. Hence, concentrating on the drive down the road to our accommodation in Langdale, I was startled by a squeal from one of my passengers in the back seat. Clattering over a cattle grid, to which I had never given a second thought, our guest from London who had never before come across such a device, thought the back wheels on my car had coll

My Fitness Challenge - How is it Going?

I have just returned from  a week in Langdale, one of our favourite haunts in the Lake District. We stay in a wooden lodge overlooking the Langdale Beck and can walk out onto the fells without even thinking about turning on a car engine. Previous visits have often seen my forays curtailed as my knees have creaked heading onwards and upwards This time, however, my fitness challenge demonstrated its rewards when I firstly failed to succumb to breathlessness on the steep trek into the next valley and then secondly the next day "summitted" higher than I have managed for years. However,  upon my return,  the icing on the cake was being awarded "Gym Member of the Month." I think it probably has something to do with most other members being away the whole of August or else my face being redder than anyone else's. Whatever the reason, it was humbly received; we all need encouragement and to see proof of the benefit of the steps we are taking.