INTRODUCTION


There seems to be a scarcity of UK retirement blogs out there (other than those proffering financial advice) and in the absence of my being able to read about other people's experiences, I instead offer you my own "Great Big Retirement Adventure."

My husband (Mister E) and I have moved from the initial concept through the planning stages to implementation and this site is intended to record the whole process. What I am seeking from retirement is now very different to what I thought I was planning and has gradually developed into a quest for fitness and a desire for simplification, with a transition away from both a highly organised lifestyle and the personality traits reflecting a pedantic professional career. Indeed I recently described myself as "a goofy idiot" who enjoys smiling at sunflowers; a far cry from the pre-retirement professional and an indication of just how far I have travelled.

Please visit from time to time and do add your comments. The blog is in reverse chronological order but popular posts and those highlighting our journey are specifically pinpointed below on the right hand side together with a list of topics covered. Alternatively you may prefer to look at the summary or wisdom we have acquired or even our have done list with its retirement atlas and dip in and out of the blog using the links given.




Thursday, 22 May 2014

Self Doubt and Farewell

Tonight I attended a final committee meeting for a working group I have participated in for the last four years. The sessions are attended by generous natured and helpful individuals full of what can best be described as bonhomie. It is a wrench to say goodbye, knowing that I am unlikely to see many of them again. 

Indeed it is on such occasions that one can't help having a sudden panic: am I actually doing the right thing, knowing that I am genuinely going to miss sessions like those? That said my fellow committee members expressed envy and a willingness to swap positions with me were I to give them the chance. 

Perhaps it is actually a case of "the grass is always greener on the other side," or maybe I really am seizing an opportunity now that fellow colleagues are either unable or too scared to take themselves. Let's just hope it's not a great big conspiracy where they know something that I don't.

There we are, self doubt creeps in on occasions but, with everything now in place for my retirement, all I can do is ignore it.


Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Camp Site Booked

Yes, my optimism regarding Le Tour de France was well founded and I have now booked a pitch for our tent in a farmer's field above Hawes. It is in easy reach of the moderately steep walk up Buttertubs, which is, of course, nothing like as daunting as cycling up there. 

The farmer replied to my e-mail to indicate that in order to try to please everyone he was making two fields available: a quiet one and another that is rapidly becoming known as "the party field." In response to his request that we  indicate which we prefer, I cowered away from the party crowd and opted for the quiet option. After all if I am to get up that hill on the morning of the race, I shall need to be up and out early.

My youngest snorted in disgust when I told her. "A once in a lifetime occasion and you choose to spend it in your sleeping bag," she muttered, whilst reiterating that she will not be accompanying us. No doubt she will be seeking to take advantage of our absence by planning a party of her own.


Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Comfort from £15,000 a Year

A study by NEST,  reported yesterday, gave an insight into how much money it takes to make people feel comfortable in retirement. It seems that with a pension income of £15,000 per annum most people in the UK feel content. Below that level and they struggle to pay bills, whilst interestingly above £40,000 per annum there is no additional happiness benefit. 


I'm assuming that the simple moral of that research is that so long as you have sufficient income to avoid worrying about the basic necessities of life (a roof over your head, food and clothing), you then cut your cloth according to your means and can enjoy whatever excess you have. I'll soon find out.



Monday, 19 May 2014

Esteemed Company

Well how's that for esteemed company? Two famous sportsmen announced their own retirements today, meaning that in years to come I shall be able to say that I retired the same summer as Jonny Wilkinson and Ryan Giggs.



Sunday, 18 May 2014

Le Tour

Aficionados of either cycling or Yorkshire will know that Le Tour de France starts in Yorkshire this year on 5th July. 

Today Mister E and I drove the route of Stage 1 and agreed that one of our first retirement exploits should be trying to watch this event at Buttertubs  between Wensleydale and Swaledale. Wherever we stay this is going to involve a long uphill walk, Buttertubs being one of the remotest part of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

On the basis that every hotel and guest house in the vicinity has been booked up for at least 12 months, we have looked into the feasibility of driving there on the day. However the road over Buttertubs is closing at 18.00 hours the night before and into the Dales at 7 am on the day.

The idea of being gridlocked trying to get into the National Park at 5am holds no allure, so instead we have turned our heads to the potential for camping. We are guessing that established campsites will have been booked for months too, but I have fired off some e-mails more in hope than anticipation. Otherwise there are a number of  Pop Up campsites appearing in farmers' fields along the route, so we'll try those next. 

Unfortunately rural Yorkshire being rural Yorkshire, campsites don't seem to use the Internet to show availability. I have however managed to verify that the National Trust still has pitches on its Pop Up sites so there is some reason for optimism.

Sadly wild camping in the Yorkshire Dales is unlawful as the land is privately owned, so that will not be an option, although Mister E, carried away  by the sense of adventure and in a Bear Grylls' moment, did suggest that if necessary we could  bivvi out high up in the Pennines. I'll keep you updated.


Thursday, 15 May 2014

Health Matters

I guess one of the things about getting older is that you begin to realise that your body does creak from time to time and that you perhaps haven't always treated is as a temple in the way that you ought to have done. Indeed "guilty by neglect" is an obvious turn of phrase for those who, like me, struggle to put a face, let alone a name, to their doctor.

Whilst I like to think that my working life has equated pretty much to 100% fit and healthy, there are still those worrying niggles and in my case the elephant in the room, as they say these days, has been a long-term skin condition exacerbated by stress. 

I am determined to get that under control to ensure that I can enjoy retirement to its full and with that in mind saw a Consultant Dermatologist yesterday thinking that whatever quick fix might be prescribed, I could put it off and then embrace fully when I cease work. No such luck, taking the medication begins now (or rather next week when the result of blood tests are known) and appears to potentially include a range of side effects that sound worse than the condition itself. 

Maybe my mentality is wrong and has to change, but is it possible that avoiding doctors is a reasonable strategy after all?


Tuesday, 13 May 2014

It's Really Going to Happen

Well I am on a bit of a roll at the moment. Time is flying quickly and with only 18 days left to work until retirement hits, I am working like crazy. Of course now that clients are aware that my professional life is about to complete, they all suddenly have an urgent need to see me. 

"You'll be bored," one suggested whilst another reckons that I'll wonder how I ever had the time to work. 

I've even had one client invite me to join her Retirees' 4 or More Club where they meet for lunch and talk about their grown-up children. It seems, however, that the 4 stands for the number of children you have before joining this highly selective group, so I didn't qualify.

I wonder what it was about me that gave the impression I had four children? The haggard look and fatigue that actually derive from years of work without a proper break perhaps.


Sunday, 11 May 2014

Mister E has a Wobble


The last week has been a particularly busy one for me as I frantically rush to get case files finished before my impending retirement. Mister E, on the other hand has been wallowing in his first week of freedom since his university days. The problem is that Mister E is an outdoor person and the weather this week has militated against cycling or pottering with his boat which is currently awaiting its annual anti-foul. Instead, he has embarked on a week of decluttering, meaning that at last I can see space in cupboards, on shelves and on floors that was not there before.

You can appreciate, therefore, that I was not surprised when this weekend he endeavoured to latch onto my activities (ironing excepted) and even suggested that I might like to go on a long walk with him in the rain. Mister E, it appears, does not have the same lengthy bucket list that I have prepared for wet weather resistant activities and is already becoming bored and missing work!

Well I happily spun a deal with him: tomorrow he does some of the chores that I intended to see to today and I went on that walk around a local reservoir with him instead.


Sunday, 4 May 2014

Mister E Takes the Plunge



Mister E has taken the plunge - he has retired! Now I thought we were in for a display of synchronised diving, leaving work at the same time, but opportunity called and he seized it, to finish on Friday. 

I have another six and half weeks to go, so have spent the weekend giving instruction in the art of cleaning and tidying. I think it has fallen on deaf ears, but we shall see. It would be a shame to fall out before we both retire!


Thursday, 1 May 2014

The Little Black Dress

I am pleased to report that with two days away from the office I outwitted the weather yesterday and managed to spend a productive few hours in the garden. Today, however, I was thwarted by the rain. I have, therefore,  been tidying out cupboards and wardrobes, conscious that we are gradually moving into lighter weight clothing. 

That said the saying "N'er cast a clout till May's out," kept ringing in my ears. I'm hoping of course that it emanates from a pre-global warming age and what was then right for the end of May, now applies for the beginning.

In any event I made two piles of garments; one for the tip and the other for the charity shop. 

I included amongst the discarded items a little black dress and matching jacket that have been the main stay of my office wardrobe for the last two winters when I have worn them for formal meetings. I did feel slightly sad when I realised that I shall no longer have a need for them. I may have 22 days left to work (over a 7 week period) but I have concluded my last such meeting. I really want to try to declutter fully as I detach myself from my old life and embrace the new; either that or I've just being caught by Spring Tidying Fever.