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.




Summary

I guess that I must have begun to think about retirement the day I started to save in a pension scheme just after qualifying and taking up my first post. As the years progressed the dreams grew until eventually a plan emerged as described in my first post on this blog.

I began to read about retirement.

We also looked seriously at our finances and took professional advice.

We even went on a trial run or two and discussed our aspirations in circumstances where reality had dawned and we recognised that retirement is not going to  be a second adolescence, however much we might wish otherwise.

The decision to leave the world of work, however, is a daunting one and I ended up making a New Year's Resolution to do so. Interestingly too, much of my first year of retirement was spent implementing the other resolutions that I made: promoting health and happiness and decluttering.

Although it was in winter when I made the definite decision, I developed a yearning to retire in time to enjoy the summer months and to use them to become accustomed to my new lifestyle. A week away in mid-winter helped to confirm the plan and give me the strength to turn down an invitation to work longer.

However, the decision to end one's career is so momentous that there were inevitable moments of anxiety. Others too had doubts as to whether I would be able to see that decision through. However, I sent in my notice of resignation as planned, even if I did break out in a cold sweat.

From that point, time passed quickly as my final working days day flew by, each one bringing a bigger smile to my face. I was treated to a wonderful leaving party and the day after I retired flew out to Kefalonia for a week of recovery in the sunshine.

I have been amazed at how much better life is without the pressures of work and also the adjustments that I have made in ways that I hadn't previously contemplated. These were particularly pronounced in the early days although and to begin with it felt as though I was just on one long holiday

In part I still haven't completely woken up from that feeling. Everything that I do now has an un-rushed quality about it and brings a pleasure that there is time to savour and savour. The difficulty has been in choosing what to do and the first year ended up  being a period of transition and healing coupled with a time for experimentation and adaptation as we started to figure out what works for us. Indeed it took the first 12 months to sort our priorities for the early years of retirement and we were grateful for wise advice not to commit to anything new in that initial first year period, even postponing some of the plans that naively I thought we might jump straight into.

We were taken by surprise at how physically active retirement can be and after sedentary office work how much time is actually spent on one's feet. The need to be fit in order to enjoy retirement has superseded pretty much everything else and in so far as I have adopted any routine at all then it is with a mixture of fitness classes and gym workouts.

We have chosen Greece as our perfect destination for relaxing and discovered that even in retirement there is still enjoyment to be derived from chilling out, possibly because we are so busy at home or when exploring in the UK (by foot, car, train or boat) and abroad (Cuba being our first long haul destination in retirement).

Little by little we are seeking to simplify our life, and de-cluttering was the first major task in this connection. We are also able to structure our life around the weather and so be more cognisant of it, waiting for settled periods in order to garden or sail and travelling later in the day in the winter.

As we established ourselves firmly in our new stage of life, after 9-10  months we turned to the projects we planned and had postponed for retirement, particularly the redecoration of our home. To begin with, the holiday mood prevented us from taking on a task that seemed gargantuan in nature and so needy of our time. I am not sure whether it became a case of necessity or simply recognition that time is actually plentiful but the redecoration project finally got underway.

By 12 months I began to free myself from regular commitments that I had carried over from pre-retirement days. Flexibility in my routine is key to how I now enjoy my life. My quest for fitness and well-being expanded into eating for health and learning about nutritional requirements whilst I also found myself spending more and more time in the great outdoors enjoying the natural world.

At the end of  my second summer of retirement, I felt better able to commit, albeit with greater flexibility than before, becoming Parish Clerk to the Council of the village where I live  and a campaigner for Save the Children. Yes, despite my best efforts to become a bohemian spirit, I have taken on responsibilities where my well tested skills from three decades of legal practice are being put to good use. Neither position restricted the ability to travel and the autumn saw us visiting Albania, Greece, East Anglia and India.

All the effort put into regaining an element of fitness lost to years of desk work and stiffening joints, paid off when we travelled from one ski resort to another in Switzerland. Then Spring arrived and the pleasures derived from such in 2014 were mirrored if not amplified as the second year of retirement began to draw to a close.

Trying to analyse those first 30 months or so I have realised that I have moved through overlapping phases of healing and recovery, letting go and am now caught up in giving back and making a difference. Travel too remains important and for the first time since I was a student we enjoyed an extensive 4 week trip, on this occasion to the USA.

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