I don't go shopping any more.
Well that's not quite true but when you live 10 miles from the local town and you're not going in every day to work, the High Street and its shops begin to acquire a rarity value. Yes, we still eat, so yes we still visit the supermarket (although to be honest now even find the time to browse delicatessens, butchers and greengrocers which do actually still exist).
What I don't do so often is impulse buy; with 5 lunchtimes a working week, there was an inevitable temptation to do so when the real motive, of course, was simply to pop out for a breath of fresh air.
Now a shopping trip is pre-planned and has a purpose. As a result I go into shops less frequently than before and there is an objective for each visit. This week, however, I was side-tracked. Perhaps it was the large sign saying 50% off or maybe, knowing that my suitcase virtually fell apart on our return flight from Greece last month, I was sub-consciously looking out for a replacement. Either way, I made an unplanned purchase of a wheeled hold-all but am, of course, overjoyed with it, anticipating that there may be an opportunity or two to use it in the future.
When I was working, holidays were a mad panic where I would first have to undertake manic hours to clear my desk, sometimes leaving so much dictation that it was not even all typed in my absence. There have been occasions when I have gone into the office at 6am to finish jobs, before leaving on holiday later the same morning and others where I have stayed until 10pm the night before.
All trips were characterised by packing in a rush when it was a question of throwing as many suitable items as I could muster into whatever bag I could find within the limited time left. I would ensure that I at least had my passport, travel tickets and credit card, taking the view that anything else if forgotten could be bought en route. It didn't quite work out the time Mister E stayed at home to work and I took the eldest and youngest on a self -drive holiday without my driving licence, but you live and learn.
In retirement, the process has proved to be more leisurely. I have been able to pile the items that I want to take on the bed, consider carefully their suitability and any other options. I have a toilet bag that is now always packed and ready simply to drop into my main bag. I have time to label my luggage after checking beforehand to establish the exact address for our destination. All in all I can arrive on holiday feeling relaxed and prepared and not ready to flop from the stress and turmoil of getting there.
Better still, whilst away there are no mobile phones to answer, e-mails to check nor mountains of post and messages building on a desk awaiting my return. At home the ironing has been done, the house is tidy and all bills settled before we leave.
You know what, travelling is now so easy and exhilarating that I can't wait to get packing and use that new bag!