This day a year ago was the day I went over my personal ‘cliff edge’ by leaving London and starting my retirement in the country.
There were no half-measures as far as work was concerned. Indeed I have hardly thought about work since I left; I simply stopped. Leaving London was less precipitate since the family home has been in Gloucestershire for about 20 years and I spent most weekends there over that time. Critically too, I have retained a foothold in London in that I can stay with Eldest Son in the Barbican flat while he lives there.
It’s been a great year – maybe the best, despite my deep concerns for what is going on in the World beyond my daily sphere of influence. I don’t regret the retirement decision, or the way I did it, a bit.
Six months into retirement, last December, I set out the lessons I thought I had learnt about my retirement up to that point (here and here). To recap, the main personal lessons, in summary, were:
- Work didn’t and doesn’t define me and I don’t miss it
- There is plenty to do in retirement
- There is still need for structure
- Holidays (trips away from home) are more relaxing now
- I miss London, but not as much as I expected
- Summer Is A Good Time To Retire
- Remember That Retirement Affects One’s Partner Too
- Spend Time Getting To Know One’s (New) Neighbourhood
- Don’t Rush Into Any New Big Time Commitments
- Health, As Always, Is Critical.
I don’t think I would change those much a further six months into retirement.
I worry a bit that I’m still not feeling ready to commit time to some project, voluntary exercise or local organisation. Most of my reticence in getting involved in something like that stems from the difficulties we already have in getting away for holidays without disrupting Long-Suffering Wife’s (LSWs) work and course commitments. We have enjoyed our holidays in Australia, South Africa and, most recently, in Paris so much. I don’t want to put further obstacles in the way of scheduling more.
In any case, the point that there is plenty to do in retirement and that I feel busy already remains true. The last few weeks have felt particularly full. In addition to our trip to Paris, there have been outings to gardens, pubs and friends. Also, the football World Cup has been an increasingly enjoyable time-suck as we have moved into the knockout stages and given that the England team still have a chance to impress. Most enjoyably, we had a lovely visit from Youngest Son (YS) on his way from Australia to a video shoot he has been selected for in Croatia during their Yacht Week.
Face Time and Whatsapp communication from Australia, plus pictures on Instagram, provide an inadequate substitute for seeing YS in the flesh so it was tremendous to have him staying with us for a few days. Unlike his last visit at Christmas, we had time to chat with him at some length. It was great to hear how he is doing what he wants – travelling and filming – and he is in his element in Australia where so much of life is spent outdoors, energetically, in wonderful weather.
Of course, the weather here, too, has been magnificent. We were encouraged by it to make an early morning trip with YS to see dawn at Cheddar Gorge.
Cheddar Gorge Just After Dawn
The sunlight on the gorge sides was gorgeous and the early start meant we could squeeze in a recuperative snooze and a canal-side walk all before a pub lunch.
Of course there are downsides with the dry, sunny weather – the inevitable water shortages, the moor fires in the north of the country and the drying out of the garden – and the languorous periods lounging in the garden have had the unfortunate side effect of depressing my non-alcohol day count in June (I only managed four). However, I say, bring on some more sun and warmth now I’m retired and can enjoy it fully. Summer is a great time to be retired!