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.




Showing posts with label Colour. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Colour. Show all posts

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

A Bad Hair Day



Oh dear I have just had one of those awful 24 hour periods, an interruption to the otherwise halcyon days of retirement. 

It started yesterday when I climbed the step ladder intending to start painting the kitchen ceiling in the house that we let out. I noticed a slight bulge in the wallpaper on the adjoining wall, decided to investigate and next moment became involved in what felt like a serious demolition process as I stripped the wall back to the brickwork. I just hope the kitchen fitter who starts work next week is a competent plasterer too.

Returning home, however, my series of mishaps continued when I discovered a nail in the tyre of my car. Fortunately it is not yet deflating so I took it to the local tyre fitter who agreed he could repair rather than replace it. He went to retrieve the locking wheel nut remover from the spare wheel toolkit in the boot. Horror of horrors, it was missing. A thorough search of the car failed to locate it and slowly the truth dawned, I have never had cause to use it since buying the vehicle last March and in the early honeymoon days of bonding with the car never even thought about checking its presence. How does one argue the case with the garage that supplied the car?

Well I started by ringing; several times; nobody ever returned my call despite endless promises that they would do so. Tomorrow (assuming the tyre is not flat and the car driveable) I shall park myself on the forecourt in protest and have rung the gym to cancel my fitness classes in readiness. After all if good fortune decides to do the dirty on me, I am not giving up without a fight.

My next run in with Lady Luck followed fairly quickly when I went to the hairdressers for a cut and colour. I agreed to try something different so long as it wasn't purple. When, after two hours, I emerged from under the towel looking a little like Cruella de Vil, even the stylist's face fell. It took another two hours to remedy the situation even if I am now sporting a sophisticated ash blonde look when I all I had been expecting were fair highlights.

Then when you think nothing else can go wrong, my computer very clearly said "no." Switching it on a message appeared suggesting that crucial hard or software (it knew not which) was missing and I needed to reload the original installation programmes. Fortunately I had made an installation back up as well as storing copies of all my documents and media in "the Cloud", but it still took hours to retrieve everything.

At the end of the evening I sit here slightly reeling. I've never experienced a day like it! Still it just goes to show, retirement isn't always plain sailing or uninterrupted joy.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Summer Art and Gardens



Whilst in London, the youngest and I took in the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy. It's a mixture of genres of contemporary art and as such challenges you to decide what it is that you like, rather than browsing a display exploring a common theme. That said the Large Weston Room had taken architecture as its theme and was certainly my favourite with drawings and models that clearly spoke and inspired, with an orderliness of thought and design that I inevitably find pleasing to the eye.


Burlington House itself with the light cascading from its ceiling glass is the perfect home for the Royal Academy and its changing displays. It gives lie to the idea that 19th Century buildings are no longer suitable venues for modern day art.



London, of course, is not only the home of world famous galleries but also parks and gardens. So why not indulge two interests in the same trip? Queen Mary's Gardens in Regent's Park proved to be another worthy destination not least because the roses for which the gardens are famous were in full bloom.





Sunday, 22 May 2016

Bluebells


I have frequently posted on here about the beauty of the natural world, the time in retirement to appreciate it and the benefits for our well-being in doing so.

With that in mind, I really don't want Spring to slip away without mentioning what a wonderful year it has so far been for bulb displays, culminating in the discovery of bluebell woods far and wide. I even have a very modest display that appears to have naturalised in my own garden. The photograph above was, of course, taken on my visit to Yorkshire Sculpture Park last week. (I would hate to mislead anyone into thinking that my own garden is so extensive.)


Thursday, 14 April 2016

Tulips from Amsterdam



Springtime in the Netherlands is advancing at a faster rate than at home, so the youngest and I needed little excuse to pop over to admire the tulips for which Holland is famed. 



We gawped at the bulb fields; industrialised flower farming on an immense and glorious scale. 


Then went to spend time in the internationally acclaimed Keukenhof Gardens. The colour combinations and the all pervading scent of hyacinths were astounding.


It may have been mid-week but the gardens were busy with visitors from all over the World including many in wheelchairs or with mobility aids. Fortunately I was enjoying the experience too much, to be disturbed when the youngest suggested that I may have visited 15 years too early (how infirm does she expect me to be by 2031?) or to take notice of her one complaint, namely that she felt a little young amongst the retired populus of Planet Earth!



We did however agree that sunshine and flowers make you smile and feel happy.


Friday, 29 January 2016

Positivity in a Monochrome Environment


Battered by storm after storm outside, one could almost be forgiven for thinking that retirement offers the perfect opportunity for hibernation. However, after a couple of days hiding from the weather and catching up with all those tasks left for a winter's day, I confess to feeling somewhat isolated. At work there is, of course, always an opportunity for social interaction without seeking it out; retirement is different and one needs to be proactive.



In contrast, last week we once again visited Langdale in the Lake District and were joined by the eldest and two long standing friends; company was on tap. 



The weather was still disappointing in its own way and was dominated by cold, dull and wintry conditions. Nevertheless we got out and about showing our friends our favourite low level walking routes and lunchtime stops. We even ventured into caves that I had never visited before.



In retirement I have rediscovered a love of colour  but last week the landscape was very definitely monochrome. Positivity ruled and my camera tried to find beauty there too.


I think it succeeded!


Friday, 16 October 2015

Autumn Colour


Every season has something special to offer, but the colours of autumn are always there to be enjoyed. It is something that perhaps in my previous life I frequently ignored in the haste to fulfil other commitments. The falling leaves also hastened the knowledge that the daily commute would soon be undertaken in the dark, both there and back. No wonder that in my working days Spring was always a more favourable option.

This week however I have revelled in the glorious reds and golds of the season. Not least when I met an old friend at a mid-way point in Yorkshire between our homes.



Autumn is glorious and now I don't have to go out in the dark mornings and nights every weekday, I think that there is something almost snug about the shortening days!


Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Souvenirs and Memories


Oh dear it has been a while since I made an entry here, attributable, I do not regret, to the pursuit of  travels. Remember that bucket list I referred to earlier? Well last week we were exploring another Greek Island, this time Lefkas, again in the Ionian Sea.

Whilst it did not prove to be my favourite Greek Island, I was still captivated by the amazing effect of light and the extent to which the colour blue is all pervading. 

It is perhaps unsurprising that the Greek word for light is "phos" when everything gleams at you phosphorescently. 




Lefkas Town is made up of an array of brightly coloured properties many adorned with even brighter coloured plants and flowers. 

The town was hit by earthquakes in 1948 and 1953 and was, apart from numerous old Italian Churches which survived, rebuilt using a unique wooden frame technique designed to withstand further tremors. It is a distinct change to the usual whitewashed concrete. With the bright colours on the walls and the Colonial style shutters, it reminded me of our trip to Cuba.



As you can imagine there was therefore plenty of opportunity for me to pursue my passion for colour and the chance to photograph it. Yes, one day I really shall get those pencils and paints out again too.







Unfortunately the western Greek coastline was once renowned for its mosquito ridden lagoons and marshes. 

Indeed it is, I believe, speculated that Lord Byron may even have contracted malaria as he travelled that coast, playing his part in the Greece's battle for independence before succumbing to and dying of fever at Missolonghi. 

Whilst malaria may no longer be prevalent on those shores, the biting flies remain and love nothing better than to nip the flesh of unsuspecting tourists; I currently wear the raised red bumps, which have fortunately ceased to itch, as a badge of honour and, together with the photographs and memories, they are the only other souvenir of our travels. 





Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Impact of Glass



I love the way an art exhibition can leave you energised and often it is unexpected objects or paintings that have the most impact. So today I am feeling inspired and motivated, recalling not only the creations of Henry Moore at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park but also a display of glass art there by the Venetian siblings, Laura and Alessandro Diaz de Santallina.






The exhibition was inside a chapel which, after deconsecration, has been turned into a unique white painted gallery where the light floods in. Outside, on long term loan, is Iron Tree, a sculpture by Al Weiwei who has also exhibited there.





Peering through the door, I spotted a row of glass vases and immediately thought that this was going to be a bit dull. 


How easy it is to be wrong. The pieces demonstrate and experiment with both transparency and reflection, distorting the light and reverberating colour. The effect was simple yet mesmerising.



The trouble is, short of writing this blog entry, it is difficult to channel the inspiration. 

Whilst retirement has given me the opportunity to experience and appreciate so many facets of the creative world as yet my own participation feels like that of a voyeur, camera in hand. Instinctively, however, I know that  my sub-conscious is desirous of creating items of beauty in order to express itself  and I also know that painting the walls of my home is not going to be sufficient to fulfil that part of my psyche, regardless of how expressive I make the brush strokes. 

Surrounded by colour and the countryside with Yorkshire's renowned landscapes and vast skies, perhaps it is time once again to dust down the sketch book abandoned last year in favour of my new pocket camera.


Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Landscape and Sculpture




I have always been attracted to the sculptures of Henry Moore and today the youngest and I paid a visit to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park where 500 acres of his native Yorkshire countryside plays host to many of his larger pieces. There was also an indoor exhibition of his work, aptly entitled "Back to a Land," where his deep relationship with the land was explored.

In light of my current "well-being and nature kick," I'm wondering now if the appeal of his work to me lies in its relationship with the natural world.






Moore himself is quoted as saying:
"I realised what an advantage a separated two piece composition could have in relating figures to landscape. Knees and breasts are mountains. Once these two parts become separated you don't expect it to be a naturalistic figure; therefore you can justifiably make it like a landscape or a rock. If it is a single figure you can guess what it is going to be like. If it is in two pieces, there's a bigger surprise, you have unexpected views."


The park was one of Moore's favourite backdrops for his sculptures. In the background to the current exhibition we were told that he loved the changing skies, weather and seasons and thought the sheep roaming the land were the right size to balance his work.


We thought it quite beautiful: art and landscape brought together with the opportunity for a decent walk to appreciate all the pieces.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

York and a Minimalist Lifestyle


Yesterday Mister E and I returned to York to deal with our unfinished business. The Aesthetica Exhibition in St Mary's Church (de-consecrated in 1958) was, shall we say, interesting! Neither as colourful nor as animating as I like, with a preponderance of monochrome and some depressing topics as well as a piece of sound art which actually made us appreciate the quiet of Coppergate when we left.


The cherry blossom trees around the city walls were however in full bloom and more than made up for the grey within the art gallery.

Whilst in York, we also collected an online order which had been delivered to a local shop  and comprised "retirement" clothing for the outdoors. I took it home knowing that I would need to throw some more of that office clothing away to make room for it. Sometimes the clutter at home and all those items I keep hanging onto thinking they may have a use one day can really get me down. 

I was pleased, therefore, this morning when one of the supplements to The Guardian newspaper offered some innovative guidance on decluttering. Minimalism is purportedly "the latest buzzword in well-being" and the article recommended a game where you rid yourself of one item on Day 1, two on Day 2 and so on until Day 30. Apparently thousands of people play the game and compare notes on Twitter using the hashtag #minsgame. 


Desperate for some space in the wardrobe, I thought I had best join in and to make it even easier for myself (I do need simple rules for games, if I am to play well), I thought I would treat today, 2nd May, as Day 2 and accordingly throw away one item for Day 1 and two for today. It did not of course make any space in the wardrobe at all as I chose a mug dressed up to look like a cupcake, a book that Mister E has given up on and a plastic flower display that has been hidden in a dark corner for too long. 

There is, of course, always tomorrow and by Day 30, I am anticipating ample room, but whether I shall have cleared out all my work suits remains to be seen.


Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Reflecting on Nine Months of Retirement


My last day at work was 18th June, nine months ago. Nine months is also, of course, the gestational period for a human baby. Sufficient time to develop from a fertilised egg cell into a living infant. Very similar in fact to my own transmogrification.

Prior to actually taking the plunge there was excitement tinged with a degree of nervousness and, dare I say it, even fear.  However and since completing the dive there has been no looking back and I can honestly say that to date I have had no reason to regret my decision.

Last summer, in the early days, it felt as though I was a complete novice at everything I touched. A feeling emphasised by leaving a career in which I was professionally skilled and  competent for a completely different lifestyle for which it felt as if I was totally under-qualified. I have still many years to go in the art of retirement before I might justifiably call myself a Master, but am now very much accustomed to my new life as well as the challenges that go with it and which bring so much enjoyment. I am learning as I go and this blog hopefully records the wisdom picked up along the way and lessons learnt.

To begin with, it did feel like a never-ending holiday but nine months on it is now a pattern of life without commitment, timetable or routine unless they are of my choosing. There is still ongoing hard-work behind the scenes to develop fitness and maintain good health to enjoy retirement, hopefully for a long time into the future. On reflection, I should not, of course, have worked so hard that I lost sight of  a good work-life balance but retirement is all about looking forward and not backwards. Nine months on, I now realise how stressed work made me feel but can only trust that I escaped before there was any long-term damage and revel in the benefits of what has been a natural healing process.

I recall that there was a point where I began to feel guilty that life feels so hedonistic. It is strange, however, how you can get used to almost anything and those twangs of guilt have definitely disappeared four months later. In part I believe this is because my memory of that previous hair shirt style of living is fading fast. That's not, of course, because  it was a long time ago ( we are talking only nine months) but more because of  the change that has been taking place as I have developed into a frame of mind where I accept who I am, what I want and strive to carve myself that life. I obviously have nothing to feel guilty about anyway, but I guess it was an inevitable phase in moving onward in retirement that in shedding the burden of  decades of working you take time to adjust to the pleasure of life being your own to do as you will. When you do, it is proof that you have forgotten how it felt being shackled to the work ethic.

"I think, therefore I am," wrote Descartes. What's different for me now, is how I think. Years of straight-lined analytical thinking have been cast aside as I become open to ideas floating into my mind from all directions. Primarily through Future Learn, I have embraced a diverse variety of subjects, disciplines, and ideas. It takes time but gradually my mind is opening to the discovery of a great big universe out there and of which I was only vaguely aware stuck at an office desk.

My long-term aim is to rediscover my creative inner and I have been shocked at how much that day job has squeezed my creative juices to extinction. Although I have tried sketching, creative writing and various low-key crafty projects, my successful route for rehabilitation has come from the rediscovery of colour, first from visiting various modern art exhibitions and then from experimenting with photography. I am much more aware of detail than ever before; there is time in retirement to appreciate it: I see, therefore I am. 

Moreover now that I see  so much more, the joys of travel and exploration are extended, both in the UK and abroad. 

So after nine months, there are no regrets as I continue to totter with baby steps in that big new world of retirement. Our plans remain in focus and if  there is any lesson to be drawn so far in seeking to achieve them, it is simply that everything takes time, preparation and planning.



Saturday, 7 February 2015

Sunset



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).