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.
Sunday, 1 January 2017
The first page of a new year and with another 364 days to go we all need to be working together to plan a happy ending. That anyway was my thought as I contemplated the making of this year's New Year's Resolutions.
I was actually surprised to read that most people's resolutions involve losing weight, taking more exercise and making time in their busy lives for family and friends. To think that there was a time when I actually thought that I was unique in both my ambitions and failings.
Now that I know that fellow humanity shares so many goals and aspirations, I want to reach out with this year's resolutions to strive for objectives we can all embrace together. 2016 was an appalling year on so many levels, so I now undertake in 2017 to:
1. Make someone smile every day
2. Ensure I have a good daily laugh too (I sense my family groaning already at my sense of humour)
3. Stand up for what I believe in and endeavour to engage others to fight the cause (oh dear my poor MP is undoubtedly already groaning at the thought of those extra e-mails)
4. Use less, live simply and shop locally wherever possible
5. Think globally and be aware of the impact of my footprints on the planet and the suffering of all those in war zones or denied the liberties that I enjoy, doing what I can to raise awareness and improve outcomes.
In retirement we have the time and wisdom to contemplate the need for change and, if we summon the energy, to action it.
Saturday, 21 May 2016
On Monday I met a friend at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. It takes over an hour for me to drive there but it was a beautiful day, the roads were relatively empty and I enjoyed the journey. Perhaps it was a snippet that I heard on the radio or maybe a latent thought in the depths of my mind, but I began to ponder on similies for the retirement experience.
"It's been a little bit like space travel," I told myself, "A venture into the unknown."
That didn't feel quite right. After all I can't honestly say that I have spent the time since June 2014 exploring distant planets or even the moon.
Later as we wandered around the Park admiring the large outdoor sculptures we entered the garden area where an exhibition of Not Vital's work is being set up. Chased-steel pieces, reflecting the light and surroundings were mesmerising and as I stared at a moonlike orb, it came to me.
Retirement isn't akin to space travel at all; instead it is life in a parallel universe where people, places and events may seem familiar but life itself is not. There's a link and a relationship between the former working life and present, but the former life is distant and removed.
I have crossed the Rubicon and now inhabit a simultaneously familiar and yet strange world where people have time to wander around sculpture parks during the working week, eat long lunches outside in the sunshine, have meaningful conversations, smile, listen and make time for each other.
That old world is trapped in its own time and place; it still goes on but I cannot enter. When I try to steal a peep, my parallel existence is reflected back across the lawn; its blue sky and green, geen grass hide the surface of that other world and stretch out before me, beckoning and enticing. There is no going back, and, let's be honest, would I want to?
Tuesday, 16 February 2016
A dilemma frequently faced by Mister E and me in retirement is our choice of entertainment. We can agree on art exhibitions and even television documentaries but when it comes to live art or the cinema, we have, shall we say, a divergence of taste. So much so that last summer we bought a second television set (I know which household really survives on just one television these days?) in order, with my new found leisure time, to treat myself to my own choice of film or drama series, rather than the crime and terror which I am convinced dominate Mister E's viewing.
In London last week we encountered familiar territory as we wrangled over which West End show to see.
"They don't do shoot-outs or car-chases," I maintained, as he wrinkled his nose at the thought of 'Phantom of the Opera' or 'Billy Elliott.'
I am pleased to advise however that a compromise was reached and we both willingly went to see the first night of "War of the Worlds," at the Dominion Theatre, the live show of Jeff Wayne's album based, of course, on HG Wells' novel. It is definitely a powerful production, even if David Essex who stars in the show and featured on the original album no longer seemed to have his singing voice of old. From Mister E's point of view, however, not only did he enjoy the music but it was also the closest he has ever got to watching the horror of a gun battle and thrill of a chase on stage. The fact that it was all with lasers and Martians was irrelevant.
Perhaps we shall now indulge in science fiction together. Where is the next Star Trek convention?
Sunday, 14 February 2016
One of the experiences that I love about visiting big cities is the mixture of old and new that is so missing from more parochial areas, like the one that I live in. Whether it be a cocktail of young and old people, ancient and modern buildings, new and traditional ideas, imported and staid cultures, they all add to the vibe and excitement. Sadly with much of rural England becoming a haven for over fifties to grow old in together, there can be a lack of ideas and the animation and boost which they bring. Whilst nobody necessarily embraces change, without it surely we are doomed to stagnate?
So it was that wandering around London this week I found myself uplifted not only by the cocktail of nationalities but also by some of the views that I am sure many would groan at, complaining about the desecration of historic and long standing landmarks.
or Lincoln's Inn Fields;
Canary Wharf from Greenwich;
the ever changing London skyline;
and at King's Cross Station.
Whilst there are some who will always decry progress I hope that I never grow too old in retirement to appreciate the exhilaration it can produce. Yes there may be few buildings as beautiful or indeed as symmetrical as the Royal Naval College at Greenwich but, built on the site of one of the Tudor Palaces, I do hope that Henry VII would have thought the same way had he lived an extra 200 years and seen its construction.
Friday, 30 October 2015
We returned earlier this week from 10 days away, travelling primarily around the coastline of Norfolk and Suffolk. We forget, sometimes, just how interesting our own country is and often how little we have seen of it, in the mad dash to experience distant cultures and kinder climates.
Why travel? What do we want from it? What is our strategy?
Yes Mister E and I were considering these questions whilst travelling around Albania and I have continued to ponder.
Whilst away this time, however, I came across the following quote by the renowned post-war Italian poet, Cesare Pavese:
"Travelling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things- air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky- all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it."
A path to the eternal or the imagination of a spiritual plain; I had never considered travel in such terms before but I like the idea. The discomfort, the adventure: they are not without purpose!
We soaked up the sea and sky throughout our trip and, exhausted from all the walking involved as well as the coastal air, slept well and yes dreamed. In our case, however, we ended up closing our trip by staying three nights with good friends, so cannot claim to have deprived ourselves of all that is familiar.
In any event I would certainly proffer the view that travelling in your own country is just as interesting and perhaps less brutal than going overseas.
Wednesday, 12 August 2015
It's been a funny old week. There's something about work that keeps you very much rooted in routine and the day to day. In my previous career driven life I do not think I ever awoke thinking "Whoopee it's Saturday," only to find that it was really Monday (or any other weekday come to that) and that I had an office to go to when I was actually relishing a day out with the family.
Here in retirement and, as I have alluded to before in this blog, with no fixed routine, it is, I confess, easy to become disoriented with time. So I have had a friend to stay but somewhere, deep in the recesses of my mind, friends only stay at weekends; that's right isn't it, because midweek we are always working? More than a year in and the rhythms of retirement still conspire to defeat me on occasions, because it was actually Tuesday and Wednesday that she stayed. That was great because mentally Monday did not then arrive until Thursday and by then it was almost the end of the working week. Confused? Well I certainly was.
Sometimes I still have to pinch myself to check that I am awake and not dreaming, and that I really do no longer work. Of course, because I don't, weekends are a meaningless entity anyway. Yes I have a calendar on the wall and an electronic diary synchronised on all my devices but whether an appointment falls on a weekday or weekend, it is of no difference.
Who needs days of the week when you are retired? They are useful for knowing when the bins have to be put out for emptying but everything else can be done virtually any day we choose.
In fact I have even been wondering if life could be simplified by throwing away all our clocks and relying simply on the sun. The trouble is that it is usually cloudy and whilst I may be able to tell the difference between night and day, I'm not too sure that I could accurately make a doctor's appointment or yoga class on time.
Still there's a certain lure to giving it a go and really freeing myself from the vestiges of the working years with their dependency on clock watching. To get the full benefit of the experience we would presumably have to avoid television, the radio and computers; indeed anything that might constantly update us as to the hour of the day. An ultimate break from modern life and its reliance on alerts, alarms and notifications. Maybe a state of total disorientation so far as time is concerned and one step on from that currently induced by retirement could prove to be the zenith of relaxation. Watch this space: I feel an experiment coming on.
Sunday, 19 July 2015
Sometimes we are so busy with our day to day activities that there is little opportunity or even inclination to enjoy what is on our doorstep. Indeed, until the three years I worked part-time before retiring completely, any time off work was spent getting as far away from home as possible within the time constraints imposed in an effort to avoid household chores or worse still a temptation to call into the office.
Nowadays the situation is very different and I frequently find myself visiting local destinations and beauty spots with the eye of a tourist and a camera in my hand. So it was that we found ourselves in Whitby on Saturday. An eclectic mix of Dracula, Gothic, steep cliffs, piers, screeching gulls, wide skies, an ancient abbey, 12th century Church, boats, old fishermen's cottages and a pervading scent of fish and chips. It has a history that stretches back to before the Synod of Whitby in the 7th century when the authority of Rome was recognised.
We also formulated an idea for another of those bucket lists we love to start but never finish: visiting the piers of Britain, starting with Yorkshire. There is certainly interest today in the historical pleasure piers erected by the Victorians at so many of our coastal resorts and of which I understand only 58 remain. However, natural harbours like Whitby also have stone built piers, erected to enhance protection for the fleet and are of equal if not greater historical interest.
Friday, 10 July 2015
Out in the garden my potato crop is growing well. Inside the house and for the duration of Wimbledon, one couch potato is also thriving!
I have generally not watched sport for many years, making time whilst working only to watch the Eldest and Youngest participate in their various activities although I did make an exception in order to visit the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
However spurred on by some wet and breezy days during the last week I have been swept up in watching Wimbledon. I recall in my teens and early adult life following the tennis in July quite closely but somehow there is a significant twenty years or so gap where I jump from the eras of Connors, Borg, McEnroe and Becker to Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray. Here I am retired, and it is as though I am back in my teenage years with the ability to follow the whole tournament, although I confess that I now need to wear spectacles in order to have any chance of seeing the ball.
The great thing about major sporting events is of course that their scheduled start times are generally in the afternoon, leaving the morning for all my other activities. The downside of tennis, however, is that unlike team sports there is no limit on the length of a match and you can, should you so wish, spend all afternoon and evening in front of the television watching the action. I have therefore tried to be selective. In particular and because I find the strange grunting noises made by the women most irritating, I tend to have focused more on the men's competition.
I understand that cricket matches are even longer than in tennis and that International Tests can last up to five days. Fortuitously I was put off cricket as a small child, forced to endure lengthy picnics whilst my father played for a local team and have never understood the rules sufficiently to yet follow the game. I was once invited to enjoy corporate hospitality at the Durham County cricket ground which I thought might be my opportunity to comprehend this most English of summer games but, in typical style, rain stopped play before the match started and we enjoyed an afternoon of strawberries and cream instead. Still anything is possible in retirement and when the tennis finishes who knows?
Amongst the range of summer sports there is also golf, although again it is not a game that I am at all familiar with and the odds on seeing what is a very small ball much reduced, despite the spectacles. I have actually been to driving ranges on a couple of occasions but pulled a chest muscle quite badly the last time and have been unable to raise any interest since.
On reflection and once Wimbledon finishes, I shall inevitably prefer to turn off the television and pursue my own action, walking or sailing perhaps, unless of course it rains which is how I came to be watching Wimbledon in the first place. Indeed, and in anticipation that retirement may in the years to come bring with it either bad weather or infirmity on my part, perhaps I should really start to read up the rules on both cricket and golf and invest in a large screen television set.
Tuesday, 12 May 2015
I recently read an article by Oliver Burkeman in The Guardian in which he queried whether or not we can have a meaningful life without a sense of continuity.
It transpires that most people are Diachronic. That is to say that their life is a single story, moving from one stage to another, each stage connected by many threads to both its prequel and sequel.
There are, however, others who are Episodic. The various periods of their lives have seemingly no connection with what has gone before. Experiences are remembered but have no bearing on where and who the person is now, and there is no obvious order to the random episodes lived.
I suspect that it is family and friends that very much root us to our past and help provide the running continuum that takes us from birth, school, work and ultimately into retirement. However, Diachronics can be anxious about what they have done with their lives and that continuous thread can prevent the vital change that would really be better for them as they continue to live up to expectations and the pattern set by their past experiences.
Whilst having no desire to separate myself from my connections, if ever there was a period of my life calling out for an Episodic approach, it has to be retirement. For the first time, there is the potential for a complete disconnect with so many facets of the past and, of course, how many is up to the individual.
I have certainly met people who, now retired, have moved on both physically and mentally, retaining no connection with their career or any friends or colleagues associated with the period of their working lives. They have essentially re-invented themselves, discovered new interests, a new place to live and in so doing new friends and acquaintances. Time has also brought distance and a certain level of amnesia about their past.
In retirement there is something very appealing for me about the Episodic approach. It is such a new phase of life that it may well be that it deserves a completely new start in a new place. It is just that I would want to bring my family and friends along to share it too!
Thursday, 12 February 2015
As well as giving time for hobbies and travel, retirement is also an opportunity to pursue things you feel passionately about. On my part I now enjoy being able to play a fuller part in my roles as a school governor and charity trustee. I am conscious however that retirement also brings the potential to help to alter the world; to activate about and engage with the powers of change.
To date and for me this has probably amounted to little more than signing a few petitions and writing letters of protest. I hold certain ideals and principles dear and try to live my life in accordance with them but hardly anticipate whole-scale change as a result. Am I being defeatist before I start?
This evening Mister E and I went to the cinema to see Selma, the story (or at least part of the tale) of Martin Luther King and the fight for equality for blacks in America. It was immensely powerful and a reminder of the need to activate and stand up for what we believe in. "If we know then we must fight for your life as though it were our own," wrote James Baldwin, " For if they take you in the morning, they will be coming for us that night."
But how many causes today are caught up with or symptomatic of self-interested nimbyism?
How many are being pursued by yoghurt-knitting warriors who don't understand either the science or contrary arguments to their causes but simply enjoy the battle?
What are the really big movements for change out there (discounting climate change and animal rights)?
What should they be or is it the case as John Osborne said that "There aren't any good, brave causes left. If the big bang does come and we all get killed off ..... It will just be for the Brave New-nothing-very-much-thank-you?"
Retirement is getting deep!
Wednesday, 10 September 2014
After witnessing a number of unfortunate incidents in an overcrowded office car-park, I have been waiting until retirement to change my car.
A new car purchase is always a cause for dilemma in the Risover household, especially when there are 4 golden rules to which I adhere:
1. It must be a model that I have not owned before;
2. It must not be too big and definitely not too slow;
3. It must have a petrol engine and a manual gearbox;
4. It must have leather seats and aesthetically pleasing features.
This week I have visited a few garages, met a few salesmen and been given the feeling that I have left most of them scratching their heads not least in showrooms stocked with fabric seats and diesel engines.
Today, however, I rendered speechless the young man who was trying to extol the virtues of a sport- style seat with leather headrest and arms but a super-wool covered back and bottom.
When I suggested that I may have to sit with a chamois leather under my posterior were we to strike a deal, he did concede that he could order full leather upholstery from the manufacturer but I would have to wait for up to 4 months for delivery. Instead, he persisted, I might however prefer to consider one of the many models on the premises and for which he was sure we could agree a very good price,
I sighed and responded that it was possible that I could be persuaded to overcome my aversion to a cloth seat by wearing leather trousers for driving.
Clearly the spectacle of Caree Risover in leather trousers was a source of much amusement to the poor gent who first blushed red and was then unable to contain his laughter at the image in his mind of yours truly behind the wheel. Suffice to say he could not continue his sales pitch.
I did however manage to arrange a test drive of something larger (with leather seats) as well as of its smaller cousin with the textile upholstery. If anyone has any lederhosen they could loan me for the experience I should be grateful if they would get in touch!
Saturday, 4 January 2014
I found myself with an empty moment at the same time as I had a calculator in my hand this morning. I decided to compute how many more days I would actually work if I retire at the end of June. Taking into account both my holiday entitlement and the fact that I now work only 4 days a week, it equates to just 90 days.
Whether I can actually complete the case files I have been hired to work on or not within that time is another issue. However, I have a feeling that it will be so much more pleasurable to retire as the days reach their longest and we hopefully have a spell of warm sunny days to enjoy. 30th June is therefore going to be my goal.
Wednesday, 1 January 2014
Today I have eschewed the resolutions of former years. No longer will I vow to lose weight, leave work on time or go to the gym regularly. Instead I have made four resolutions that I am proud of and determined to stand by.
The first, of course, is to retire. Yes I promise that I am going to do this in 2014.
The second, with a view to ensuring that the first happens, is not to accept any new clients this year.
Thirdly (and I am rather proud of this one) I have resolved to promote health and happiness – not just of myself but for others also.
Finally, and yes this is something I vow to do every year, I am going to declutter. True to my word I have jettisoned the footbeds from my ski boots today; after 10 years they were smelling badly, so it wasn’t hard. On the theme of retiring though, I do want to declutter at work (mentally and physically) as well as undertaking the same at home in readiness for and in the early stages of my new life.
Friday, 29 November 2013
Last week’s holiday was a time to talk about what we both might want to actually spend our days in retirement doing. Now I have all kinds of aspirations involving horticulture and interior design as well as researching the family tree and taking up again various abandoned arts and crafts. For a long time however I have known that Mister E has harboured ambitions to cross large oceans in rather small sailing vessels. It was inevitable, therefore, that we spent some of our time on Gran Canaria peering at the boats in various marinas.
I was relieved when Mister E confessed that he probably now has a greater sense of fear than in his younger days and perhaps the appeal of a transatlantic crossing is dimming. But Mister E is a dreamer and after a lingering visit to Puerto Mogan, he proceeded to tell me how comfortable the voyage would be with the Trade Winds with us (I loved the inclusivity of his description).
Call me a coward, but I had to say that, as someone with “Day Sailor” emblazoned across her forehead, I don’t feel bold enough for such an undertaking and, despite joining Mr E on numerous Cross-Channel sailing races in our pre-children days, when I sail I like to be able to view the coastal scenery. I know Christopher Columbus set out from Gran Canaria in 1492, but here in 2013 I don’t actually have any desire on my own part to prove to my own eyes that the world is not flat.
I suggested we should start small and safe to begin with and perhaps even hire a barge on Britain’s inland waterways, if a rowing boat becomes boring.
Tuesday, 5 November 2013
Angel of the North, significant as a focus for evolving hopes and fears.
I guess the day I signed up to my first pension plan, retirement must have been in my mind. Spurred on by the happy retirement enjoyed by own parents after my father retired at 52, as I too approached my fifties I began to mull more and more with the idea of giving up the office ties.
Like so many professional women who graduated from university in the 70's, I believed that I could be Superwoman; have a career, children and a wonderful home life. To some extent everything has fallen into place in that way, but at a cost: the time for leisure has been limited; I missed out on many aspects of my children growing-up; at home we live amongst disorganised chaos and a house badly in need of some tlc; there have been (and still are) times when I am quite simply utterly exhausted.
So three years or so ago, the plan began to hatch. I had to find a way to reduce my working hours and ease myself into retirement mode, with a view to opening horizons that to date I have not had the time to experience. Believe me, I'm not necessarily talking expensive holidays or travel here. Sometimes I would just love the opportunity to rediscover a creative side buried inside me somewhere, assuming that it hasn't all been sucked out by the pedantic nature of all the paper I process on a daily basis.
As a result I retired from the business where I had worked and been an owner-manager for some 30 years and found myself what I hoped would be a less stressful position, working part-time with a view to easing myself out of work and into retirement.
Maybe it's an age thing, but I still get tired and lack time to do all those things (I know not what) that I've denied myself the opportunity for. Perhaps the part-time at 4 days a week isn't sufficiently part-time enough (it's certainly a big improvement on the commitments of running your own business in partnership with others); perhaps I'm just becoming bored with the nature of the work I've now been undertaking for more than three decades. There's also a window of opportunity looming, because our youngest child completes her secondary education next year, hopefully will be proceeding to university and ought no longer to be reliant on us to the same extent. Whatever the cause, and driven on by my husband who is officially old enough to have qualified for a bus pass, the decision has been made - we retire in 2014!
Trouble is that we don't have a plan; we don't know what retirement really entails; we haven't even found the time to properly consider its implications and what we want to do with it. We have our dreams (and our doubts), of course, but the time for serious planning has begun.