Planet Retirement can sometimes be a bewildering place and with a scarcity of UK retirement blogs out there (other than those proffering financial advice) I thought I'd keep my own.

Please visit from time to time and do add your comments. Popular posts and those highlighting my journey are specifically pinpointed on the right hand side together with a list of topics covered. Alternatively you may prefer to look at the Summary or the Tips from Wisdom Acquired or even our Have Visited List with its retirement atlas and dip in and out of the blog using the links given.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

You Know Life's Finite When...

Four of us gathered at a friend's house yesterday to gawp together at the pageantry of the Royal Wedding live on television. We celebrated the occasion in style, accompanied by a champagne lunch. I even baked and iced some British cupcakes for the gathering.

I also brought more solemnity to the event than the Archbishop of Canterbury when I queried if this would be the last chance in our lifetime to experience a televised royal marriage. That caused a little consternation for the true Royalist amongst us who thought I was referring to a Republican takeover.

Then optimism broke out as we turned to our tried and trusted fingers to calculate just how old we might be when the next generation of heirs to the throne are ready to wed. Zimmer frames aside, if they marry young enough we concluded that we could still be around to witness it, in body if not mind.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Project Restoration

We returned from Scotland last week with an empty diary and a boot full of cushions. Mister E, with his love of all things nautical, is embracing a new project and looking to restore a much cherished but recently neglected classic yacht of demure proportions. Just perfect for the two of us to sail apparently, after our family boat from the last decade, despite its electric winches, stands accused of causing bursitis in our respective shoulders and has been steadily getting a little high for my stiff knees to clamber aboard.

Possibly driven by a fear of joint pain, I have been willingly recruited to assist in Project Restoration. My participation started in Scotland with a meeting at Crinan Boatyard to explore the feasibility and timescale of various essential jobs as highlighted by a survey (time spent: 1 hour). Then there was an onboard meeting with the seller, his wife and their dog (time spent: 3 hours). The trouble with "boaties" is not that they find so much in common but rather that they can't stop talking about it!

The meetings were followed by an afternoon and morning (time spent: 6 hours) measuring and stripping out the interior where the fragrance of Eau de Diesel permeated all. The Bank Holiday heatwave stretching across the UK omitted only that part of Argyll that we were visiting, so we took the view we had to work up a sweat to avoid missing out.

To be fair we also visited the Scottish National Trust's garden at Arduaine from the adjacent Loch Melfort Hotel with its panoramic vista towards the Western Isles enabling us to watch porpoises and seals from our meal table as well as yachts entering and leaving the loch or Craobh Haven. There was also an opportunity to see the surrounding area, weighing up the pros and cons of various moorings and marina facilities as well as strolling around Crinan, particularly along the canal to watch yet more yachts! Yes that SNT garden was an idyllic retreat with its azaleas in full bloom and no floating vessels to be seen.

Our return journey was long but scenic, especially passing through Rest and Be Thankful with snow clearly visible in the crevices on higher peaks, a stark contrast to Loch Lomond where we finally picked up the British heatwave. Fortunately the sun has continued to shine and the Restoration Project has peristed within the confines of our garden. Whilst Mister E has been lovingly spreading sails and ropes out on the lawn, I have been waging war on mildew, that ever invasive enemy of boat upholstery. With a ready supply of white vinegar (I recently took delivery of 20 litres), I was well prepared to mount an attack on armies of mould as well as the odour of diesel. Believe it or not, despite its initial pungence, it's reckoned that vinegar is actually perfect for absorbing odours and with the assistance of a dilute bleach solution and a scented fabric conditioner I am steadily turning both cushion inners and covers into clean and fresh smelling articles. 6 pairs of curtains, 6 small cushions and their covers, 5 berth pads, their inner linings and outer sleeves; a canvas door: all now restored (time spent: 12 hours, excluding soaking time) and only another 6 berth pads and coverings to go. 

I have even experimented with cleaning a teak panel with a diluted vinegar solution (time spent: 1 hour) and it has come up gleaming and ready to varnish. Hopefully the rest of the boat interior will respond in similar manner, though goodness knows how long that is going to take and of course it can't even be started until major issues with the windows, plumbing, instruments and engine have been sorted.

Will this be a three month, a year long or a whole of retirement project? Mister E will not be drawn but as you may have worked out I am counting the hours.

Monday, 14 May 2018

Manic Mondays

I think all my regular retirement activities came together in one enormous manic episode of non-stop activity today. Goodness me it was just like being back at work when court cases would invariably run over or be slotted in for an urgent mention next morning, and once again I didn't finish until 9pm.

 So I started with a morning commute for a gym workout; went to the almshouse I'm a trustee at to complete some forms and at 1pm presented myself for a shift at the local Save the Children shop covering for a volunteer on holiday and even eating a sandwich at my desk (happy memories) for lunch. I got home with just sufficient time to prepare for a Parish Council meeting this evening and which I then clerked from 7.30 pm.

Before settling down to type this blog, I've chatted on the telephone, soaked and rinsed berth cushions (subject material for my next blog entry), watered my greenhouse plants, watched a little television and then finally switched the computer on. Short of hopping off on a long journey, visiting an art exhibition or decorating, I think I've pretty much experienced my whole retirement lifestyle in one day.

Seriously, why do people laugh when you say you don't know how you ever found the time to go to work?

Anyway it felt good, but even better for not having to get up early and repeat it all again tomorrow.

Friday, 11 May 2018

B&B in Scotland - A Recommendation

It's sometimes said that Scotland is a decade behind England when it comes to eating out and comfort. I do still have memories of being served tinned pears and evaporated milk for dessert in a guest house that the whole family shivered the night away in but to be fair that must have been 15 years ago. In our experience though, whatever hospitality North of the border may have lacked in providing for English softies, it always more than made up for with its expansive scenery and overt friendliness.

We are just back from another trip to undertake boat related "stuff"  but our visit included a wonderful overnight at Whitestone Cottage on the Culzean Castle estate in South Ayrshire. A 20 minute walk through woods and farmland down to an empty beach; the property where Robbie Burns' mother  was born; 2 duvets on the bed  in case the central heating wasn't sufficient; a supply of CDs, DVDs and reading material including local guidebooks; through the trees a seaview and a sunset over the water; a breakfast to defeat the most hearty of appetites (I think I counted at least 7 courses); a great welcome and good conversation with the owner.

There was nothing at all pretentious about the accommodation which is divided into a double room and a well equipped apartment for 3, or the whole cottage if you wish. A far cry from the bling of Trump Turnberry a few miles down the road, but for a taste of authentic Scotland (without a pear in sight) I know where my preferences lie.