New Routines

August is coming to an end and, two months into retirement, I can look back on a relaxed and enjoyable month. I occasionally wonder about how things are progressing at work but don’t miss the patterns of everyday work at all. Instead, I’ve settled, very quickly, into a different pace of life and new routines.

I get up about an hour later than I used to. That is something I want to ‘improve upon’ since, by most criteria, its rather wasted time lying in bed doing no more than Candy Crush and Facebook/Instagram catch up.

Then on week-days, its breakfast of coffee, fruit and yogurt followed by a walk into Nailsworth, the local town, for a few groceries and the newspaper. At the weekend I have maintained the pre-retirement treat of bread and jam or toast and Marmite (yum, yum!). On Sunday’s the walk to town is typically delayed until after lunch when LSW and I drift to the bar mentioned in the previous post.

The walk to Nailsworth (of 25 minutes each way) is a highlight for me. It’s so different from the noisy, crowded commute into work in London. There are a number of alternate routes but my favourite is through the grounds of a local college that teaches practical skills to pupils who are disabled or have learning difficulties. The grounds – a former trout farm, lakes and woodland – are traversed by footpaths the college allows the public to use. It is wonderful to see the horticulture, creativity and craft of the pupils and to watch the seasons develop through the year and be reflected in the colours and wildlife.

Once I get back home, activities are driven by my to-do list and the weather. The new structure of to-do lists I introduced a couple of weeks ago is working pretty well. The only issue is that I keep putting on the daily list just those things that I want to do and none of the boring stuff I should do!

I read a chunk of the newspaper before lunch (almost always salad, much as it was pre-retirement). I might also fit in some ‘learning Italian’ if LSW isn’t around to hear my embarrassingly faltering attempts.

Afternoon and evening activities fall into a less consistent pattern than those before lunch. They are peppered by experiences that add variety to the basic, new routines that have emerged. More about some of these post-retirement experiences later…..

Music, Music, Music

Very nearly 10 years ago today I went to a gig at Kings College London to see a Scottish miserabilist singer called Malcolm Middleton. It was the first gig I had been to for a very long time but it was terrific and it re-kindled my excitement for live music.

Since then I have been to see over 300 gigs in London (I know because I’m the sort of bloke who keeps records of these things). Indeed I have seen Malcolm Middleton another 4 times since that wonderful evening 10 years ago.

I love the music itself (usually), the intimacy of the smaller venues and the anonymity. I’ve turned up after work in a suit to several of these gigs and no-one cares about that, or my grey hair, or that I am usually 2-3 times older than the fellow audience members.

Now I am retired I have more time to attend music events. However, I have been concerned that, having had to move out of London, I won’t find the opportunities to do so and will miss the variety and quality on offer in London.

In the last week or so, I have started to explore local venues with LSW and I’m much encouraged.

There is certainly variety. LSW and I have been to a local village festival featuring bands adept at 70’s and 80’s cover versions. That was great fun, though the pub car park we were standing in got a bit cold after a while – it’s an English summer after all!

France Lynch MusicFest

France Lynch MusicFest

We then went to a fundraiser in aid of a local church roof repair with experienced opera singers, young musicians just starting out and, believe it or not, the Stroud Ukelele Band. Fun for a good cause….

Concert For Pitchcombe Church

Concert For Pitchcombe Church

Then, after a few quality checks on Spotify, LSW was persuaded to come with me to see Sam Brookes at The Prince Albert pub a few miles from our home. Co-incidentally, he was on a bill for a gig I went to in London over 4 years ago. He was very good and I am sure I will be a regular attendee at this venue, alongside its very mixed audience where, as you will see int he picture, I will no longer be the oldest.

Sam Brookes at The Prince Albert

Sam Brookes at the Prince Albert

 

 

 

Finally I am already now a regular Sunday afternoon attendee at The Vault which is just a pleasant 30 minute walk away from us. Here the well named ‘Super Chilled Sundays’ comprise of a beer or two, perusal of the Sunday paper sports pages and magazines, completion of the Guardian Quick Crossword with LSW, and local musicians doing their stuff to create a comfortable ambience. It’s all very relaxing and a wonderful change from having to pack up and leave for London on a Sunday afternoon as I had to do until retirement.

The Honeymoon Trio at The Vault

The Honeymoon Trio at The Vault

 

My musical investigations will continue deeper into our local town of Stroud – I have high hopes for a new venue opening there – and into Bristol. Plans are being made and tickets being bought for both. There will be more on my revised musical journey in due course.

Music, Reading and Box Set Catch-up

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