I’m not a musician (at all!) but I have always loved listening contemporary music. For the last decade, I have particularly enjoyed watching live performances, usually in small, intimate venues in London.

I have also always enjoyed reading. During my working life, I have got on best with fiction that can be read in 5 to 10 minute doses just before sleep (do people really read books at a sitting as they claim in some book reviews?)

Additionally, in terms of cultural pursuits, I have always enjoyed going to the cinema and watching TV drama.

Now work is out of the way, I can spend more time on all of these cultural activities.

Reading is something that I have already stepped up. My new year’s resolution of reading more than 16 books in 2018 now seems achievable, despite a slow start to the year pre-retirement. I’m enjoying that pleasure of finishing a good book increasingly frequently. The only problem is that the habit of falling to sleep after a few pages, which used to be fine having gone to bed, is now creating what might charitably be called successive siestas.

Despite those soporific moments, I have recently finished A Whole Life by Robert Seethaler, The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry and The Gustav Sonata by Rose Tremain; I would recommend them all. I can’t imagine when I last completed three books in 6 weeks (though admittedly the former was only 150 pages and felt a bit of a lovely cheat).

Having moved from living above Cinema 2 and 3 at the Barbican to a village near Stroud, the options for watching current and relatively high brow film have drastically reduced. LSW and I did see Dunkirk at the Stroud multiplex last week which was fine. However, the cinema there generally only manages kids films and blockbusters.

I’m told there are local independent cinemas I should visit and there are occasional live broadcasts of West End Opera and plays at the multiplex. I will try out all of that in due course but my immediate retreat from arty cinema has been to catch-up on TV drama series.

I particularly like the new wave of continental crime thrillers – will they still be available after Brexit? Most recently, I have been watching I Know Who You Are (Spanish), Black Widow (Dutch), Dicte (Danish) and The Passenger (French) and it was only my predilection for delayed gratification that prevented me ploughing through all of these at an unhealthy rate. With the facilities afforded by catch-up TV, there is an almost unlimited supply of gripping drama.

I miss the London music scene but I am starting to explore the local live music options. More on this next post….

Buongiorno!

I have started to put a bit more structure into my days.

Previously, at work, most days were run around a cycle of regular meetings. Lots of more ad hoc meetings were inserted between these and, when possible, time was blocked out to catch up on the avalanche of mail or to develop some presentation or other. Time didn’t always exactly fly by but it rarely felt my own; there was always some pressure to fit in one more meeting or to respond to a deadline or request.

Now there are lots of things I could do. Indeed, there are lots of things I want to do. But, in most cases, the time pressure isn’t there; ‘tomorrow’ will do. As ever, where there are important deadlines (for example, choosing my Fantasy Football Team for the new season by this Friday!) the tasks are tending to drift to the last minute. Some things never change perhaps!

So, to add a bit of drive and structure, I have exercised my penchant for lists by extending my retirement ‘bucket list’ into a more sophisticated set of lists of things to do – today, this week and medium term. Each day, I am moving the weekly items into the daily list and then challenging myself to complete at least the majority.

Some daily items are semi-permanent. From this week, I have included Learning Italian amongst these items. This is in preparation for a potentially extended visit to Italy next year. I plan to spend 45 minutes a day working my way through an Italian for Absolute Beginners book and CD. In practice, this might only be on days when LSW is out of the house and so out of earshot of my embarrassingly slow progress. Given my paltry linguistic skills, learning basic Italian is the toughest thing on my retirement ‘bucket list’ and, having stumbled my way to page 5, I am as daunted as ever. But it’s on the daily list so I’m giving it a go!

By the way, for the minority who may be interested in how Forest Green Rovers got on at the weekend in their first League 2 game: we drew. It was an exciting, entertaining game in front of well over 3,000 fans. What seems clear already is that not only is the quality of the football superior in this higher league, but also that the refereeing is significantly better. So far so good although after a draw and then a loss last night, we could do with a win sometime soon.

Meanwhile: arrivederci!

FGR's First English Football League Game

Australia – We Are Coming!

One month into retirement and it’s generally been an unremarkable week as I have rested my dodgy knee.

However, we have had news from Australia from our Youngest Son (YS) that his application for a visa extension has been granted. He will be staying down under for at least another year. That new certainty has allowed Long Suffering Wife (LSW) and I to book a holiday there during which we will be able to see him (and his girlfriend, who is the one actually doing the job Australia needs) in his new found paradise.

What is great of course is that we can go for longer than would have been the case had I not been retired. We still have to fit the holiday around LSW’s part time work commitments but we will have almost all of October to skip through Singapore and Hong Kong and spend time around Brisbane and Melbourne.

We have friends and relatives in Singapore, and YS has been based in Brisbane for over a year now, so we are going to be well guided there. However, any ideas for ‘must-do’ things in Hong Kong and Melbourne would be welcome.

The only down-side is that I will miss several Forest Green Rovers games while I’m away. The build up to our first season in the Football League proper has been impressive. The sustainability and green agenda espoused by the Chairman, allied to the fact that the club represents the smallest settlement in the country, has attracted a lot of media interest (for example: The Guardian: Forest Green Rovers in League 2 and slots on Sky, ESPN and even Al Jazeera TV.

Last season’s playoff win at Wembley was so emotional but tomorrow we will find out if the team are likely to back up the recent hype with quality performances on the pitch in League 2! Of course there is trepidation about what the new season might bring. We could win or lose our first game 4-0 – there are just no benchmarks yet. Either way, the build-up is tense and exciting. I can barely wait!

Victory at Wembley 2017

Victory at Wembley 2017