Showing posts from February, 2015

A Friday Night Tipple

Even in retirement there are some things which do not change. Of these the most important remains my Friday evening glass of wine.  How else would I now know that the weekend has arrived?

Out of Season Travels

We returned today from a brief trip to Dumfries and Galloway in South-West Scotland. It is an area of the country that I was not familiar with and we had promised ourselves that we would visit outside of the tourist season. With heavy rain, snow, hail and strong winds we could, however, have chosen our weather better. It seems that even in retirement the diary can get cluttered and fitting in last minute journeys to take advantage of the weather forecast does not always work out.  In fact I must make a note to try to free up committing myself quite as much, otherwise I am never going to be able to take advantage of one of those last minute bargain travel opportunities to an exotic tropical paradise. Incidentally if anyone knows where I find them, I shall be pleased to be enlightened. In the meantime, we saw what we could. We were disappointed by Gretna Green which has been turned into some kind of Disneyland for coach-trips but enjoyed both Nithsdale and the Galloway

A De-Junking Journey

My plans for retirement as recorded on this blog include de-cluttering our home and as recent blog entries have suggested I am on target with this. So much so that  this week  even Mister E has been inspired to tidy up his own area of our communal study. Many years ago I acquired a book entitled "How to Stay De-junked Forever" by Dawna Walter ( a well-meaning relative possibly gave it to me, I do not recall). It was based on a TV series by the BBC called The Life Laundry which must have aired some 12 years ago. The book emphasises that "de-junking is a way of life, not a one-time experience" and then seeks to prove the need to embrace its rallying call for change with a series of surveys on readers' shopping habits, state of their home, cleaning practices, their emotional responses and the effect on their relationships.  Interestingly, I perused the book this week with the aim of conjuring up a dose of motivation to move my de-cluttering proce

Patience is a Virtue

"Patience is a virtue," according to the well known proverb. In retirement, time is more abundant and with it patience too. I certainly proved that yesterday when I visited the bank to close the account to which I referred in this blog last week. My visit took 1 hour and 10 minutes; so long that I was offered a chair! Unfortunately it seemed that not only did the Building Society with which I had originally opened the account no longer exist after being taken over by the bank which I was visiting, but also: staff were unfamiliar with the workings of their new computer system; my account had been branded as dormant; because the account was in the surname I was born with and have used professionally (as opposed to my married name which I use more frequently now), identity appeared to be a tricky issue notwithstanding production of my driving licence, passport, birth and marriage certificates together with proof of signature and my ability to hand over all paperwork r

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

Protest for Change

As well as giving time for hobbies and travel, retirement is also an opportunity to pursue things you feel passionately about. On my part I now enjoy being able to play a fuller part in my roles as a school governor and charity trustee. I am conscious however that retirement also brings the potential to help to alter the world; to activate about and engage with the powers of change.  To date and for me this has probably amounted to little more than signing a few petitions and writing letters of protest. I hold certain ideals and principles dear and try to live my life in accordance with them but hardly anticipate whole-scale change as a result. Am I being defeatist before I start? This evening Mister E and I went to the cinema to see Selma , the story (or at least part of the tale) of Martin Luther King and the fight for equality for blacks in America. It was immensely powerful and a reminder of the need to activate and stand up for what we believe in. "If we know then we


In retirement, as I have previously alluded to in this blog, there has been the opportunity to catch up with all manner of chores and administrative tasks that I allowed to build up over a period of time, not least in the last few months of working. It's not that I thought I would be bored, just that some things could wait until I had more time.  Tackling the ironing basket and cleaning nooks and crannies were relatively easy jobs but the piles of paper (most of which I have ended up shredding) were more tricky to sort. In the last few weeks, my excitement has grown as I  finally spotted the table top emerging from beneath a mound of potentially recyclable waste. Today however I am not sure if I should be hanging my head in shame or holding it high with pride for I have uncovered a letter and form from 2009. They relate to the closure of a postal savings account (opened prior to Internet banking) and now paying 0.01% interest. At the time the requirements of the bank to

It's Good to Laugh

Yesterday I thought Spring was almost upon us. We had two hares in the field adjoining our garden preparing for their annual boxing contest; hosts of blackbirds at the foot of the feeders chasing one another; the sky was blue and the temperature actually got into double figures at 10 degrees Celsius. What a contrast this morning when a thick frost coated everything and then a freezing fog descended and lingered for far longer than forecast. Fortunately last night Mister E and I had gone to the Gala Theatre in Durham to see one of the country's better known comedians, Al Murray as the Pub Landlord. I'm afraid some of his language was rather blue (as we had known it would be) but the content was otherwise intelligent, perceptive and hilarious. The health benefits of a good laugh cannot be emphasised enough and, in our case, have got us through today's dismal and cold weather with some additional chuckles thrown in for good measure. I recall on


Normally I prefer to write in my blog posts rather than post photographs. However at 5pm when I was leaving the gym, everywhere was shimmering in a red glow. Driving down the road, I realised that the sunset was phenomenal and after loitering a little to enjoy it, sped up again to get home to get my camera out. I really have begun to appreciate colour, now that with retirement I have the time to enjoy it. The new camera has started to come into its own and whereas often photographs of sunsets can be a disappointment, the results tonight were rather pleasing. It was a  glorious   display from the natural world, with sun and clouds in perfect positions for thirty minutes or more of  awesome entertainment. I just couldn't stop watching (and clicking).


Oh dear when the weather is ropey, I am discovering the joys of hibernation. Not literally, as I have not yet deteriorated into a day-time snoozer, but it is proving really good to snuggle up inside with my computer or a book. I poked my head outside yesterday to visit a number of banks and meet friends for lunch, but then it was back home and a session with Future Learn , the UK university MOOC website. If I am not broadening my horizons by direct experience, it has to be the next best thing.  This week I have been exploring the diverse worlds of  Empire,  Shale Gas and Fracking, and The Night Sky. If I do not learn as much as I might hope, I do at least have a greater appreciation of how much there is to try to understand and how little I actually know. It is also considerably more fulfilling than gaining cpd (continuing professional development) points because a third party requires it or alternatively learning with the shadow of an examination hovering over you.

A Winter Wonderland

When we awoke this morning, the world outside had been transformed by a slight snowfall. A little like not having to leave the house when it is still dark , I revelled in the thought that I didn't have to drive out of the village on untreated roads in the snow and ice to go to work.  Three hours later though I did venture out for a yoga class. The sky was a brilliant blue and the ice on the lane into my village was only just beginning to thaw. As I drove along, I recalled with a wry smile of  how, for more winters than I care to count, I had been careful when ascending the slope at the beginning of the lane, manoeuvring the left hand bend a quarter of a mile outside the village and finally of trying to bring the car to a halt at the junction with the main road. Today and for me, setting out much later than would have been the case, there was no problem but, to my dismay and once on the main roads, I passed the scenes of three earlier accidents: a car upside down in a he

A Rant

Working in a service industry, one of the stresses of my working life was responding to the ever increasing expectations and demands of clients. However, I speak from experience when I assure you that at the very least I always made sure that I returned telephone calls the same day, unless this was impossible as a result of circumstances beyond my control and in which event my secretary would contact the caller to explain the position and confirm a mutually convenient time for me to ring back. Imagine, therefore, my frustration when for the second working day in a row my attempts to resolve an issue concerning a broken door still under guarantee have been thwarted by one Mr X's failure to speak to me. My calls have been met with a very friendly receptionist saying, "I'll put you through," and then reverting to advise, "I am sorry but Mr X isn't at his desk at the moment, can I take your details and I'll ask him to return your call?"

Eating Out

Mister E and I seem to have eaten out on an inordinate number of occasions in the last couple of weeks, in part attributable to and during our trip to the Lake District but also locally since our return as well as on our day visit to London. It seems that there is something of a revolution taking place with restaurant menus. Perhaps it is a result of the growing prominence of vegetarianism or alternatively part of a desperate fight to counter the effects of obesity, but the last two years has seen a definite rise in the number of dishes featuring butter-nut squash and now too it would seem kaleslaw. I blame the likes of Jamie Oliver myself! There was a time not so long ago when eating out, certainly in the North, was based on a choice of stodgy carbohydrate-laden dishes featuring such delicacies as Cumberland sausage, battered fish and chips, lamb shank and roast potatoes followed of course by sticky toffee pudding, treacle tart or chocolate sponge all with custard.