Showing posts from October, 2014

End of October

I t 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 concentrat

An Exhibition of Modern Art

Last Sunday we went to Edinburgh for two days. One of the highlights was visiting the National Gallery of Modern Art where there is currently an exhibition entitled Generation - 25 years of Contemporary Art in Scotland. Well I'll give retirement its due. I now discover that not only do I have the time to enjoy a display of this kind but also, now my brain is no longer cluttered by work related issues, I can actually remember the exhibits and continue to derive excitement from the memory of them. Like all displays of modern art there are always some that you look at and think well I could have done that myself - the handwritten adverts for cheap package holidays of the kind displayed in many travel agents, are a case in point. There are others where I am still puzzling over the meaning and especially, in this context, the videos.  To come away from an art gallery, however, and still be buzzing about it several days later is a real high. Proof indeed that art really i

Pounding Pavements

Earlier in the week, Mister E and I made a trip to London to see the youngest and also to gape at Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, the installation of ceramic poppies at the Tower of London commemorating World War I. We walked for hours across London and even when we used the Tube there were inevitably flights of steps to conquer. Despite the work in the gym on all those leg muscles, I have to confess that walking along the platform at King's Cross for a late evening train home, my gait was more of a hobble than a stride. I don't know whether it was the hour at which we got home (just after midnight) or the exercise but getting up next morning when I had a commitment at a local school was not easy. The day passed in something of a haze of fatigue when I not only watched students compete in a land rover pulling competition but shared their pain! Still I was back on the treadmill on the second day with a new aim: to reduce recovery time after poundi

The Greek Island Tick List

Whilst Mister E and I were away in Greece, we not only enjoyed the delights of the mainland at Sivota and Parga but also manage to tick off another two Greek islands : Paxos and Antipaxos. Historically the area (mainland and islands) had been under Venetian influence and it showed in the architecture of the buildings clustered around amazing natural harbours, hardly visible as you approach from the open sea by boat. I also crewed on a yacht in the waters off Corfu but as we didn't land, can't cross that one off the bucket list just yet. Sailing on a charter boat provided an insight into the cruising experience enjoyed by so many in those waters.There is certainly an attraction, especially with flat seas and guaranteed sunshine. However the lack of wind, risk of being cooked with nowhere to hide from the soaring heat and anchorages that could resemble car parks, one could also resist the allure. Despite the rain, perhaps Scotland has some advant

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 orig

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.

Stress and Neuroses

A major aim in retiring was to reduce stress and increase time for relaxation. Sometimes I wonder though has my professional training and experience taught me to see the pitfalls in everything, causing stress and neuroses regardless? So today I have booked advance train tickets to London so that Mister E and I can travel to see the youngest. To secure a discount I have applied online for a Two Together railcard. Is it normal to worry in case the card which should arrive within 4-7 days doesn't arrive in time, when we aren't travelling for weeks? What about the photographs we have uploaded? What if they are not in the format required? There are times when you just have to let go and accept that everything might not work perfectly; que sera sera. Yes when I can actually say that to myself, a stress free existence will be within reach.

The Cuckoo has Landed

We certainly had an interesting day today. We headed into Harrogate to look at the pictures in an exhibition in the Mercer Art Gallery entitled "From Turner to Hockney." There were some beautiful pieces depicting Yorkshire, its towns and cities, the sea and the people seen through the eyes of many artists. I  was delighted to discover pencil drawings by the Bronte family; clearly they weren't just talented writers but also accomplished at sketching too. I really need to get some more practice in, if I am ever going to be able to produce anything nearly half as good. Then we had lunch, a delightful mix of Swiss and Yorkshire, in the renowned Betty's Tea Rooms before strolling around the gardens at Harlow Carr. I spotted teasels that put the solitary plant on my walk earlier this week to shame and the arrays of dahlias were simply magnificent. We stayed out far longer than we had intended, taking advantage of what must soon be the end of this long d