Attitudes to Ageing Well – some Literature

Is there life after retirement – could a career change in the mid 50’s encourage a longer more fulfilled working life, especially for those ‘just filling time’?

The above question reminds me of how a new puppy often encourages an older dog to be more active – a renewing of the spirit.

There is an acknowledged changing attitude towards ageing, even governments are noting this:

Age is often said to be a ‘state of mind’. Although, that outlook depends on personality, character traits, physical health and life’s experiences – so it’s difficult to identify each person’s take on the subject.

Changes to the age at which the State pension can be claimed in Britain  ( ) alongside changes in the law regarding private pensions have both contributed to a revisit/rethink of when to retire and now offers a greater flexibility.

Employers are also more open to discussions with employees in regard to reducing hours and/or taking a ‘Step Down’. Big companies have realised the benefits of retaining skills in the workplace. This does not impact negatively on the younger population – by retaining those with experience of the organisational purpose, values and future aims a mentorship and learning environment is offered to those entering the workplace.

Another opportunity for those coming towards the later stages of working life is to ‘re-learn’ and embark on a different career. Often we underestimate the transferability of our skills and learning so taking up a new challenge does not have to be a 3 year degree or apprenticeship but a widening of skills we already have.

Ageism – is this a form of prejudice or discrimination? Does the term present an out-dated picture of society’s older generation? Can the term promote social exclusion and isolation, which impacts on both physical and mental health? This document    identifies some actions that can introduce positivity around ageing from a young age as well as in working environments (diversity of age groups)

The following link is to a document of selected articles on attitudes to ageing and older age.  Comprised of short abstracts it provides an overview of attitudes and experiences of ageing, with links to further reading.

So when to retire – or even more of a question – when to consider ourselves old? Recently an article in The Times (pg 4 20.11.2019) suggests that old age should now been redefined as 70 not 60 as previously measured (I have been given back my youth ?)

Psychological wellbeing and physical health are closely linked and this is especially noted in the older age groups.

Wellbeing can be described as ‘satisfied with life, sense of fulfilment, acceptable level of achievement, mobility, independence.’ is a link to an academic work describing the benefits of promoting well-being through physical activity (a very simple explanation, so read article if you want to know more)

There is an increasing amount of published literature relating to ‘Ageing’ which address both the practicalities and the theoretical. Some present it as a challenge to be overcome – full of useful advice on maintaining cognitive and physical health. Others, more cheerfully, present a different view – a redefining of the ageing concept, an alternative approach, a widening of opportunities.

As I noted earlier, ageing is a concept of the mind and each individual handles it differently and none are incorrect. If it is your desire to retire to ‘slippers, gardening and afternoon TV’ then enjoy. Others look on retirement and ageing as an opportunity to broaden/expand experiences building on the ‘life/skills blocks’ already achieved.

You chose whichever model of ageing is right for you and reading available literature can be both informative and guiding.  In his book ‘The Wisdom Years’ Dr. Zui Lanir presents his developing theory that there can be purpose for the increased life expectancy our generation are enjoying, that the period between adulthood and old age is a period of wisdom. This period can be one of discovery and personal empowerment. That is of course a very simple explanation of an interesting concept so please read the book if you wish to gain further insights on how to enhance fulfilment in later years.

There are many articles available on the internet offering personal reflections of retirement. Below are a few that may be of interest, some scholarly but all are easy to read and not overlong.

Hopefully some of the above is useful to you as you plan the next stage of your life. A period that should add to your portfolio of life rather than diminish it.


Photo acknowledgements:

Photo by Nayani Teixeira on Unsplash – Featured Image

Photo by Clark Tibbs on Unsplash – End Photo

Photo by Chetan Menaria on Unsplash – Photo 1

Photo by Hope House Press – Leather Diary Studio on Unsplash – Photo 2


Enhancing Income and Utilising your Skills

Either due to a low pension provision vs outgoings or a need for ‘getting out of the house’ you may be considering re-employment/part time work.

The easiest way, at least initially, of doing this is to review your current job and discuss your options with your employer. A role with reduced responsibility, part time or job share of current post may be possible. Employers are often open to these discussions as they know that this retains expertise and organisational history within the company, alongside possible opportunities to utilise your skills in a mentorship role.

So, if you know that you will need something else to do once you formally retire and wish to stay in your current work environment – start that conversation.

Other options are available, and more varied than I had realised. The ‘clean break’ route is to look/review just what it is that you want to do. List your skills and how transferable they can be – you will be surprised. Companies such as B&Q employ retired tradesmen to work on the shop floors – as a customer I find it very useful to speak to someone who really does know about the product and it has saved me from DIY disasters in the past. I have also received sound advice on how to ‘do what I plan to do’ from a retired tailor in a fabric shop.

Would you be happy to re-train – not a 3-year degree course but something that only requires a short ‘in-service’ style undertaking? 

Government organisations such as Works and Pensions and the Office of the Public Guardian regularly look for people with life experiences to work for them in liaison roles. The salary is not high although expenses are covered, and you have control over your caseloads and hours worked.

The two links above are examples of government sites offering opportunities, for specific information you could ‘click’ to the Contact page.

Non-executive roles offer exciting opportunities for you to contribute to organisational development using your expertise and knowledge. There is often a small retainer and expenses in exchange for 2 – 3 days a month.

The above link has information relating to the role of Non-Executive Directors which may answer some of your queries if this is of interest to you.

If fortunate enough to receive a ‘Lump Sum’ when retiring you may consider investing some (or all) of this in property which you then rent to Tenants is another possibility for supplementing your income and offering an activity. Although becoming a property developer may not be your aim, buying property to let as Long Term residential or short-term holiday lets could be profitable.

Setting up a small business is also another route by which you retain control over the level of activity – if, for example, you worked in the trades such as Joinery or Plumbing you could offer those skills locally for the ‘small domestic’ jobs that the career tradesman often turns down as, understandably, it is more useful for them to do the big jobs such as replacing a bathroom suite than to repair a dripping tap. Locally, we have access to a retired Joiner who works with a Carpet and Flooring firm re-fitting room doors following the laying of new carpets etc. This keeps him active and engaging with people whilst supplementing his income – and the customer does not have to arrange the task then wait for a busy Joiner to arrive.

Consultancy is another opportunity to share your skills – Reviewing a Strategic plan, facilitating a Team Day Out, contributing to a company turnaround and re-structure are just a few activities that such roles can be used for and many organisations prefer to obtain the unbiased objective view for such tasks.

If travelling is an interest, then there are ways that this could also generate an income or reduce your costs whilst you experience new environments. It is most likely that you will need to undertake an instructional course – the following link offers an insight and advice into the training required to be a Tour Guide

Being a Tour Guide is a varied role and can be local, national, international and/or topic specific. So, if Ghost tours are your thing then perhaps leading small groups of like-minded people through the dark alleys of York and/or Edinburgh could be something you aim for. Perhaps food is both your interest and area of expertise so perhaps look to be a Food Tour Guide (not sure of correct title for that job role). I recently experienced a guided tour of Brixton and Borough Markets in London – learning about the markets from both an historical and food perspective, on our tour we also had a ‘Learner’ guide who was planning to work part time once qualified.

Volunteering in the national parks (National and/or International)– I don’t mean managing the forests or rounding up the badgers, although perhaps it is a possibility. Rather, assisting in the Gift Shop, general guide or as an interpreter may be of interest. These roles rarely offer a salary and are usually seasonal although some offer low cost housing in exchange for your input.

Teaching English as a second language, especially if you already hold the TESOL qualification, is another opportunity to generate income either in Britain or abroad.

House-sitting is an alternative way to reduce the cost of travel whilst seeing new areas either in Britain or abroad. The following link is to an interesting article written by an experience house-sitter – although USA based it does contain some useful advice that applies worldwide The Following link is a UK based site that may also be useful if house sitting appeals to you (not having investigated this previously I am thinking it may be something I look into further) .

Turning your hobbies – quilting, knitting, wooden toys, baking – into income is now possible using such websites as Etsy, Pinterest, Ebay (sites easily accessed via Search Engines) which enable you to sell your products. Or, you could approach local community colleges to investigate vocational teaching opportunities.

The opportunities and pathways are so varied I could not possibly list them all although have some website examples below. If this sounds as if it could be of interest, then follow through with that thought. Then the next 3 web addresses are links to USA sites so some of the legal information is not correct for the UK although they are interesting sites with useful insights so worth a read. The final web link is to a site offering guidance relating to managing your finances and budgeting in ways that ensure you do not need to re-join the workforce at all.  sound general information with case studies and scenarios. looking at any legalities re state pension and working. An American site but still very useful hints and tips about returning to work and identifying what is best for you. Information relating to non-executive roles. how to set up a Consultancy with some useful insights from the experience of others.

USA Based sites:

Site for those who would first like to review financial planning:

Photo accreditation:

Featured Image Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Student – Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Tools –  Photo by Dominik Scythe on Unsplash

Travellers – Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash

Forest –  Photo by Tommy Lisbin on Unsplash

House – Photo by Matthew Harwood on Unsplash

End Photo – Photo by Jamie Templeton on Unsplash


Staying Active 

Being active differs from being sociable, although obviously the two overlap.

When my children were young I spent plenty of time at Ballet, Horse Riding, Ice Skating, Football and Rugby. I never actually took part in any of these activities, I merely drove the car. I felt I was always on the move and interacting although, in reality, I was being a social parent not an athlete!

When time permitted I tried to maintain a general state of fitness by going to the gym, walking and swimming. Although, I have recently become more aware that this activity was more about my mental health than physical ability. I recently challenged myself to complete the ‘Couch 2 5Km’ training programme and downloaded the App. (

As anyone who has read my posts relating to the experience will know – I did not find it easy ( Alongside learning that I was not as fit as I thought I was, I also learnt it is easier to improve general fitness when younger. I am sure the 30-year-old me would have found it more enjoyable and less strenuous a task.

That is not to say you shouldn’t try – having completed the 9 weeks programme I do feel the benefit. I also know I will keep up the activity – today should have been a ‘running day’ but it is raining. Earlier this year I would have been relieved, today I ran up and downstairs for 10 minutes instead.

There are many web sites offering health and activity tips – I have listed some below that I felt had some useful information. Guess there is nothing surprising in any of them although good to be reminded of some of the general levels of fitness we should aim for to improve the chances of a mobile and healthy old age. – has a good guide as to what you should be able to do, as a starter. – this is an easy read and very encouraging in that it answers many questions you may already be thinking. The idea to be fit is not about training for a marathon but to keep mobile both physically and mentally. – this also has a link to activities in your local area (in UK) which leads me on to how fitness can be improved and/or maintained.

There are many ways to improve and maintain fitness and many cost little or nothing. The simplest is to walk – briskly 3 times a walk for approx. 30 minutes each time (walking briskly, from what I understand, is where you feel slightly breathless but can still talk) Challenging yourself to walk a longer distance over the 30 minutes will demonstrate that you are achieving an increase in your ability. 

I have a small pedometer in my pocket that tracks both steps and Kms as well as an App on my phone that shows distance and the route. A Fitbit sounds just a little too much technology for me and the two ‘gadgets’ I have mentioned are enough for me to track my activity.

Local gyms, often, offer ‘off peak’ membership fees and some local schools and colleges open their facilities to the public in the evenings and weekends for a small fee – this is worth checking out as many will be within walking distance. Village/town halls are rented by independent fitness instructors, yoga teachers etc and again – these are inexpensive and also provide an opportunity to socialise within the community.

Increasingly opportunities present themselves that perhaps when working you could not participate in – or know of. Walking Football is new to me although looks a fun way to both exercise and meet new people. ( also type ‘walkingfootball’ into YouTube for some examples)

And, it does not have to be ‘sweaty’ – a regular round of golf provides walking, stretching, load carrying and fresh air. I regularly attended a Tai Chi class, gentle movement but still enhanced my fitness and agility. I regularly ache after a yoga session.

If you are a member of a gym it is also worth checking out the activity programmes that many provide, these are commonly within the monthly fee so will not cost you any extra. The leisure club I attend surprised me with its list. I had not paid attention when working and just used the gym – now I am investigating the possibilities.

Also, good to remember that keeping physically fit is shown to also benefit mental fitness and slow cognitive decline. Research papers (aagh! I know, but are worth the read) do explain the reasons that exercise assists in maintaining brain health as well as physical health. The web links I have inserted below are relatively short and are ‘readable’. 

Cognitive decline and Dementia are referred to in newspapers practically daily. Whilst there is no cure, at present, there is evidence that progression of the disease may be slowed by exercise and possibly may delay the onset.

Aside from cognitive and memory benefits exercise is also shown to improve sleep patterns, moods and stress levels. It is exciting that it is the aerobic/walking kind rather than the resistance and muscle toning efforts that show the best outcomes. I think this makes it easier and cheaper to undertake, It seems that you just need the heart to be pumping fast.

Besides going to an aerobics class (Step etc) also consider swimming, squash, tennis and – Dancing, not that I can dance but it sounds more exciting than running up and down stairs for 10 minutes. Even housework and gardening count. Just do something that creates a light sweat.

The link to Healthy Brains leads to a PDF article that is an easy read with many basic facts and tips.

Very recently The Lancet has published articles relating to exercise and its benefits to both physical and mental health. Follow the link and search for articles of interest, I would suggest you prepare yourself with a coffee and a biscuit before pressing the ‘enter’ button.

Know yourself and your limitations and build your activity accordingly – just keep moving, its more beneficial than you think. 

Photo Acknowledgements:

Photo by Sylwia Bartyzel on Unsplash Featured Image

Photo by Lauren Kay on Unsplash Mom’s Taxi

Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash Walking in Snow

Photo by Court Prather on Unsplash Golf

Photo by Stefano Pollio on Unsplash – Misted Hands

Photo by kevin laminto on Unsplash – End Photo


 Retirement Blogs

As I began planning my retirement I started with Google – that mine of information and distractions! Initially I was searching for basic, but relevant, information in relation to financial planning, pensions etc. although often distracted by sites offering insights into retirement itself.

Some were basic and had not been updated for some time, others contained practical and helpful direction for a new way of living.

I have a list below of links to those I found interesting and thought I would share. Some were of practical use, others offered advice relating to activities and many were just interesting to read. This is a general website listing many retirement sites – it is updated weekly and is USA focused. That said the Blog Sites it lists are useful to read as they offer advice that can work this side of the Atlantic. is the UK version and lists the top 20 retirement sites. Many are in relation to financing your retirement (and we do need to retire fully informed so don’t ignore these) although there are others that offer inspiration through sharing their ‘bucket lists’ or maintaining a Blog in the style of a diary. These remind me of the 19th Century authors submitting their novels on a weekly basis to The Times or Punch (think Dickens or Brontes) The following link is an example of a site offering tips on retirement alongside diarised events of ‘life as a retiree’. is another example of a diary style site that demonstrates the possibilities offered by retirement, alongside insights into finance.



A day could easily be lost searching for and reading through such sites, although this is not a negative activity. As well as practical information many of the sites offer encouragement and insights to inspire you in the next phase of your life.


Simply writing ‘UK Retirement Blogs’ into your preferred search engine delivers a host of sites for you to trawl through if looking for information – or just to sit in the sunshine and read as if they were a journal.

Photo Acknowledgements:

Cartoon Professor –

Recognising and Avoiding Loneliness

Loneliness is a complex and unpleasant emotional response to isolation, the sense of a lack of connection and/or communication with others. It can occur both when physically alone and when with others. It can have an impact on both mental and physical health.

Most of us would describe it as ‘having no one to talk to’ or ‘no-one understands or listens to me’

It is important to understand how it occurs, how to avoid it and how to manage it if it is a position you recognise in yourself.

It does appear easy, once retired, to reduce social contact and to become socially isolated.  It can occur without you even realising – oh, the excitement of not having to go out to work every day.

Yet, it is important to ‘stay in touch’. This could be with established friends, new social activity or chatting ‘over the wall’ with the neighbours. See also a recent post ‘Staying Social’ on following link.

Like many of us I was only on brief nodding terms with neighbours whilst working but now have time to chat – beneficial to both of us as it also promotes the neighbour’s interactions and sharing of news and views.

Studies show that brief interventions, even with strangers in a bus queue, improved the sense of well-being. That making a connection is good for us and reduces a sense of isolation.

Other studies have demonstrated that face-to-face communication increases the production of endorphins- the chemical in the brain that boosts well-being and reduces pain. So, leave the computer and go outside. Talk to a neighbour, ‘What about?’ you may ask. It’s Britain – talk about the weather.

Follow the link for more information and articles.

There is nothing wrong with being on your own and many of us, me included, enjoy our own company. Feeling lonely is something different entirely. It is that sense of not connecting – either you are missing social interaction or feel uncared for and/or disconnected from the people who surround you.

Avoiding social isolation may be easier than you think – it often needs some courage (but then, you have greater inner strength than you realise)

Alongside leaving the house and talking to neighbours there are other steps you can take.

What are your interests? List them and then look locally for groups, evening classes etc. that would ‘fit’. These need not be costly.

Have you skills and experiences that could be shared and utilised by others? You could volunteer at a group/charity nearby. Follow the link below for information ovolunteering.

Appreciate that ‘first time’ nerves can hold you back although, as is often said ‘all journeys start with the first step’.

Attending any group does not commit you for life. If it is not ‘your thing’ then look for something else, although do give everything a fair chance. There is no rush, enjoy all the interactions you make.

Remember that loneliness can also impact on your physical health and perspectives on situations. An article from The Independent identifies some of the impacts lack of social interactions can have.

Studies show that people with a sense of loneliness do not cope as well with illness as people with healthy social interactions. Those with a sense of loneliness are shown to exaggerate severity of illnesses and often require changes of treatment as ‘nothing works’. There is also evidence that indicates the socially isolated consult their family doctor for minor illnesses more than those with social support groups and – loneliness can lead to depression.

The links below has some useful information and articles on ‘self-help’  

An organisation started by Dame Esther Rantzen, The Silver Line, is funded by donations and manned by volunteers to offer support and company for those recognising their loneliness. Feel Lonely – follow the link, give them a call. Would like to offer support – follow the link, give them a call.

Loneliness is a disease of our time and there is even a Minister for Loneliness (at time of writing this is Tina Couch) yet there are some simple steps that you can take to avoid this and steer yourself towards maintaining health and well-being.

As stated throughout the post – engage in simple small talk with those nearby – neighbours, shop assistants, dog walkers etc.

Enjoy your own company, plan your day so it has focus. Treat yourself to ‘outings’ such as the theatre, cinema or Coach trips.

Go somewhere on a regular basis, by doing this you become ‘familiar’ to others and more likely to feel comfortable engaging in conversation.

Make a connection with others yourself – join a local club where you have an interest (a shared interest is a conversation already started)

Understand why you feel lonely. Making connections may not remove this sense of loneliness unless you understand why it’s there. Is it new? Is it embodied over time? Once you acknowledge the reason you can work towards a solution.

Acknowledge you may need help to do this. Embrace who you are.

Photo Acknowledgements:

Photo by Cristina Gottardi on Unsplash – talking with neighbours Photo 1

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash – Featured Image

Photo by Todd Quackenbush on Unsplash – volunteer Photo 2

Photo by pina messina on Unsplash – Photo 3 Visit Dr

Photo by David Clarke on Unsplash – Photo 4 Silver

Photo by Lydia Torrey on Unsplash End Photo

Be Wise about your Pension

Gosh, this is tricky subject and there is soooo much information out there it is easy to become confused and SCAMMED (so be careful who you share your information with)

Years back it was much simpler – occupational and/or private schemes seemed to stick to what you agreed with from the start – and you received your state pension at 60/65 (gender and date of birth dependant), although don’t start me on changes to the age at which you receive your state pension and how many years in advance you were informed of the change. Women especially have been affected by this and it has made a difference to many plans and incomes.

I do agree, that as we are generally living longer and healthier, it makes sense to work longer. It is just the process seemed to come around very quickly – and the dates changed regularly making planning difficult. I, myself, was informed of 3 dates and each was further in the distance. Anyhow I digress.

Back to pensions. As you will be aware the changes to how you access your private pension schemes has changed. These changes may or may not impact on how you access your occupational pension – for many this is still only accessible as a regular ‘income’ monthly/weekly as is the State Pension.

The need for a decision is in relation to many private pension schemes as you can access this in many ways – from all at once to retaining a monthly sum as income. Oh, what to do? And how to do it in the most tax efficient way.

I am not a pensions advisor nor a financial expert so can only share my experience and what sources of information I discovered.

I have a small private pension into which I have contributed a small monthly amount over the decades. Commenced when the children were young, and I was aware that working part-time would impact on my occupational pension. The monthly ‘income’ amount quoted is very small and thanks to the changes I can consider accessing it in a variety of ways that suit my circumstances.

So first, to understand the options.

As always, my first stop was Google, as you would image there are many links to ‘pensions advice and retirement’. From large nationally recognised insurance companies to firms I had never heard of but being ever cautious I went initially to the government site which explains the State Pension, is easy to read and appears to be updated regularly.

For information relating to your occupational pension it is best to discuss this with your employing organisational. Although the following sites also gives some clear guidance.

So back to private pensions. You may have an independent financial advisor and if so that is obviously the person to contact. I am guessing that there is already a relationship of trust there and, even if you also consult other avenues, it is a good place to start. If not, then the company who hold your pension savings is a must. The independent companies selling and supporting private pension schemes have had to change how they handle business in relation to the change in laws so should have both up-to-date guidance and impartial advice.

I contacted my Pension company once I was approaching my  retirement date to discuss my options, complete required forms etc.

The first thing I was instructed to do was make an appointment with Pension Wise – a free government advice service

The meeting can be face-to-face or using the telephone. As I prefer communicating face to face with people I have never met that is what I selected and found it very worthwhile. How to make contact and arrange appointments are on their website (link above).

Alongside discussing my specific options the Adviser also worked through all other options so I felt that if I had had any doubts previously I would have left more informed and with guidance as to where to go next. By the time I arrived home an email with a link to a summary of the meeting and links for further advice was already in my Inbox.

Of specific note was to check policies for any special features and fees that the pension plan may have in the small print – these can sometimes limit the options available.

The following links are ones highlighted to me and may be of assistance when considering options:  – many pages on various topics around retirement and how to source financial advice – details about the ‘pensions advice allowance’, which I had never heard of. Allows a sum to be taken from tax-free sum to use for funding cost of financial adviser.  – amongst other advice this site has a list of known SCAMs – how to locate a local finance adviser in your area

A brief overview of what advice pathways are available to use when considering your options – hope it helped.




Photo Acknowledgements:

Photo by Steven Lewis on Unsplash Featured Image

Planning for Retirement (Stage 3)

Planning for Retirement (Stage 3)

Staying social-able

A big gap in social interaction occurs very suddenly once you are no longer in the workplace. It is easy to spend the day without speaking to anyone. Whilst, after a hectic and stressful occupation, this may sound idyllic, absence of social stimulus can lower your mental and physical well-being.

Relationships with colleagues often contribute to your social interactions in life. It is simple to calculate how many hours per week you spend in the company of professional colleagues and in differing environments. The absence of this following retirement can create a ‘big hole’ in your life.

Although many relationships formed through work can result in lasting friendships it is also true that these can fall by the wayside as the changes within the workplace occur and the ties that formed the relationship are loosened.

Despite the permanence you consider your relationship to have it can falter and, even if it doesn’t, I would recommend investigating what you can do with yourself now that you are no longer leaving the house daily to go to work.

Alongside supporting mental health and well-being by interacting socially with friends and family it is possible to avoid loneliness which brings with it a host of issues I thought may be better written about in a separate post. (Coming soon)

Do leave the house – but where to go?

You could investigate this both locally and nationally, so below I have briefly done both. Pathways to national information appears very straight forward so I have listed this first.

National Groups and Links

Thanks to web search engines such as Google, Yahoo etc it is easy enough to discover what national bodies are ‘out there’ and keen for you to participate in their activity and/or cause. By inputting key words, relating to your hobbies and interests, into a search engine can lead you to all sorts of information and even more ‘links’ which distract you for hours!

As examples:

Interested in gardens? By entering ‘Gardens to visit near me’ into Google several links to sites offer the opportunity to investigate this further




Interested in group travel abroad? By entering ‘travelling abroad in groups’ several links appeared leading to companies wishing to whisk me away to unlimited numbers of exotic places



Want to volunteer in Britain or abroad? Entering ‘Volunteering in Britain’ again resulted in many links – in fact I followed many and completely forgot what I was supposed to be doing. I had not realised that so many opportunities were there. The main concern that I would have on reading some of these sites is ‘are they looking for someone young? A student on a gap year?’ Whilst initially this seemed to be the case when reading further into some sites the majority are mainly looking for people with – time, skills, interest – and you are most likely to have those in abundance.


Walking along the River Tees last week I noticed this poster advertising for volunteers to assist with maintaining the waterway and its surroundings. Find out more at or email:



Another national source of information is, of course, newspapers. Especially the weekend supplements, many print articles such as ‘the 20 favourite coastlines’, ‘20 popular pubs’, ‘10 favourite Yorkshire walks’ etc. For many years I would read these, planning on which I would undertake – never to have the time.

A few years back, as a team building exercise, myself and some colleagues were challenged with following a scripted walk around an area of London. It was an area not unfamiliar, or so I thought. What I learnt was that I would be so intent on arriving at a meeting informed and on time that I never actually looked where I was going! It is easy enough (once again thanks to the internet) to obtain information of such walks in your area and create a social event with family and/or friends. There is sometimes a small cost to download the instructions but not always, so arrange a date and off you go.

I recently discovered a walk along Regent’s Canal ( and so will be meeting up with a friend in early summer and following the route. It is described as a ‘country walk’ so I am expecting to see a different side to London.

To stretch your mind, you could also consider day/evening classes at local educational centres – often listed through the LEA websites for example lists vocational courses available in Sunderland. Another option is to visit the Open University website which offer free courses via the Open Learning page

Although I have no up to date experience of the OU I did study for my first degree through their undergraduate programme and found it a very enlightening experience, very efficiently run with a high standard of course materials and support.

Local Activity

Local information, surprisingly, is more difficult to identify. I discovered that some group activities are shared only amongst the people who already know and not all use the internet (and if they do it was frequently out of date). So, the challenge was finding out how to find out.

I discovered that it is common for local interest groups to share information in the buildings where they meet – so I spent some time walking around the village looking at notice boards outside such places as The Parish Hall, the Church Halls and of course – the Post Office (that ancient stalwart of village news and gossip). Local Libraries are another site that will distribute information via its notice board, although commonly those are only open part of the week, so you may have to call more than once to gain access.

One very useful pathway for discovering activity opportunities is a weekly/monthly newsletter which lists the meetings and venues for each month. Where I live we are fortunate to have both – the monthly newsletter is paper-based and delivered to the door. The weekly ‘roundup’ is an electronic newsletter delivered via email – which means you must join a mailing list, which means you have to know about it in the first instance. I only discovered by chance – eavesdropping on a conversation in which it was mentioned, and then I had to confess to my nosiness in order to sign up ?

Joining up to local groups can be a scary prospect, going anywhere as a stranger is daunting at the best of times. I find doing so in a community where I live can have added concerns. Whilst the first visits are to assess the level of interest, required commitment, cost etc if you then decide not to formally ‘sign up’ the ‘locals’ could take this decision quite personally. So, I decided to develop a strategy whereby I attended the groups that interested me and where I knew there would be people who I already know. Initially attending those I had always had an interest in and would manage to work into conversations that ‘I am just trying out the wide choice of activities over the next 12 months, I had not realised there was such a hive of activity’ (which I hadn’t until I started looking). Then I gradually expanded to attend those where I was interested although didn’t know anyone who went.

These included groups in nearby towns. I have always been a frequent reader and over the years have set myself reading challenges – this year my challenge was to join and participate in a Book Club. For a variety of reasons, I could not join the local ones so decided to investigate others nearby. I took a guess that a Bookshop would have some information so approached Waterstones – and not only did they know of some in the town they also had one that met in their store monthly. Alongside of this group I was also informed of a Writing Group that met regularly on a Sunday morning, again in the store. I have no intention of writing a novel yet am aware my writing experience was mainly of official reports, finance papers and projects – all of which had meant my writing style was formal and instructive, not a style that would be conducive to the ‘Blog’ arena I was planning on being part of.

Joining the groups meant I had to follow my own advice re ‘being comfortable in the company of strangers’.

Joining In

Choosing an event where the participants sit and are expected to listen is, in my experience, a good place to start. If everyone is basically listening, then everyone is ‘on their own’ to a certain degree plus as a ‘first timer’ you would not be expected to contribute – this gives you space to analysis how the group works and what level of contribution is given. Most interest groups are just that – full of interested folk, this is not an exam, people are there because they are sharing an interest and it gives them a reason to leave the house.

This doesn’t mean that you do not make any contact at all – go in the room, introduce yourself to the person at the door (there is always a person at the door), grab a coffee/tea – say hello to the person next to you in the queue and/or the person on the chair next to yours. Introduce yourself, say that it’s your first time – with some luck it will be a chatty individual who gives you some hints as to how the meeting works. If the event interests you go back next time – or review the scheduled topics for future meetings and go to those of interest (I do that as I think it reduces the sense of commitment until I am sure I want to be a regular attender)

It is important to build up connections, even in localities where you have lived some time you may not know the names of the people to who you say ‘Hello’ as you pass them on the paths.

Recognise ‘first time’ nerves – our confidence is often underpinned by our expertise and position. Having retired from the workplace can cause a temporary lack of confidence as we adjust to the new life and altered status. It is important that we understand the normality and commonness of this.

Just think – at one time all the people in the room you are walking into walked into that room for the first time too. Building connections and gaining recognition takes time – something you now have plenty of.

If you are already involved with local activity groups you could offer to extend your commitment. When working it is often difficult to take on roles that maintain the group – now that you are no longer working perhaps doing so is something you can consider. Alongside of ‘helping out’ the extended involvement often results in widening your relationship with others. There is a danger you may feel that once recognised as the ‘Secretary’ means you will be doing the job foreveeer. To prevent this, prepare your exit plan – state how long you will take on the role and stick to it. If all is going well you can always extend the time period, although I never do – I take on roles for a maximum period of 3 years and then even if I am enjoying it I step down.

If interest groups are not your ‘thing’ or the thought of joining is too daunting it is still important for your well being to be outdoors frequently and maintaining even a basic level of social interaction.

Walking outside daily builds face recognition, for yourself and for others to recognise you. Do it often enough and folk start to say ‘Hello’, this initial greeting assists with sense of belonging. Because people have seen you the next time you meet, perhaps in a shop queue, they are likely to start a conversation because there is facial recognition and a sub-conscious acknowledgement they have seen you before.

I was in a local shop in the queue when I recognised the man in front of me. He said ‘Hello’ pleasantly, it was the week before Mother’s Day and I noticed he was buying a card so remarked on this – the queue was moving slowly so we had a good conversation about mothers and thanking them for their efforts etc. He was eventually served and left the shop. The assistant asked me if I know him – ‘I certainly know his face’ I said ‘just cannot think of his name’. She replied ‘He’s Kevin Keegan’ (A world famous International footballer and Premier league manager in his time – just in case you were wondering)

Face recognition – important for human interaction.

Photo Acknowledgements:

Featured Image – Photo by Rhand McCoy on Unsplash

Garden photo – Photo by Cathal Mac an Bheatha on Unsplash

Travel Photo – Photo by Tommaso Pecchioli on Unsplash

Walking photo – Photo by Daniel Frank on Unsplash

Post Box – Photo by Chris Barbalis on Unsplash

Book Club – Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

People Meeting – Photo by Juri Gianfrancesco on Unsplash

People dancing – Photo by John Moeses Bauan on Unsplash

Adore/endure – Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash










Lasting Power of Attorney

Lasting Power of Attorney

Do you have one in place?

Not one to nag, although I could go on for hours as to why you should have this sorted. I think it should be a mandatory process alongside paying tax etc.

My personal experience of what happens when one is not in place was worrying, time consuming, required assistance from outside agencies and financially the bill was not small.

Although I was able to retrieve the monies, I had to part with over £2,000 initially. I am sure my parents never intended to place me in that situation, yet it happened and happened so quickly. Despite help from my parent’s GP and Social Services the process took 7 months via the Office of the Public Guardian/Court of Protection (OPG/COP).

During this time the bills were growing and companies, landlords etc required payment – so I had some interesting conversations with a variety of people. Whilst most were understanding and patient that was not the case with others. This made an unpleasant time for the family even more distressing.

To avoid my children having a similar drama I will have a LPA in place shortly. Only delayed so I could go through the process ‘live’ and highlight the ‘highs and lows’. Allegedly it is easy to do online so here goes.

Follow the link to the site, there are many sections and I would advise reading them all before starting to input any information. I found it readable and easy to follow.

First you must set up an account with the service – was quick and asked nothing you would not expect.

You are required to have both a witness and a ‘Certificate Provider’ (a person able to confirm you are of sound mind and acting voluntarily) alongside a person/people who have agreed to act as your Power of Attorneys. Once you have completed inputting the basic information online payment is required, (there is then a 40-day time period during which you must obtain the required signatures and post the printed forms to the OPG Office, if you do not make this deadline the payment is returned to your bank account). My understanding is that you can continue and re-pay, although if you think that you may not be able to make this deadline it may be simpler to select the ‘pay by cheque’ method.

To input the required information took me approx. 20 minutes and if I had had the Certificate Provider, Attorneys and witnesses ready and waiting with pens in their hands the whole process could have been completed within an hour.

I choose to only have ‘Property & Finance’ LPA status and that the attorneys could act ‘jointly and severally’ in regard to decision-making. This means that they can act separately or together, the alternative is ‘Together/Jointly’ which means that all attorneys have to agree on the decision. The former suits my circumstances better – my children live in different parts of the world and I felt ‘Jointly’ may prove too restrictive. Again, this is something that you need to consider, dependant on your own circumstances.

Undertaking this process on my own behalf has been much quicker and simpler than when acting on behalf of someone else, so again I would strongly advise you to do this, if only to save a member of your family having to work through the process at a time when there may be other stresses.


When implementing an LPA is not possible, like myself, you may need to obtain a Deputyship instead.

Although following completion of this the support and guidance I have received from the OPG has been excellent I cannot say the same for the process itself.

I found the communication between myself and the COP Office easy to misunderstand, responses from my queries often took a long time and no matter how quickly I responded to their queries the COP office adhered to the timeline for each procedure. On behalf of my parents I applied for an LPA and a Deputyship at the same time, the LPA took approx. 8 weeks, the Deputyship took 7 months. I maintained regular communication regarding our situation although nothing appeared to encourage them to ‘move the timeline’ at all.

My parent’s financial affairs were in joint accounts so, despite obtaining the LPA on behalf of my father, I could not access anything until the Deputyship process was complete – so also consider your joint accounts and how you would like them to be managed.

I often reflect on that time and the speed at which the COP could finalise the request when informed that my father had died and that now the situation was becoming untenable – Care Home fees and other debts had grown and now there was a funeral. It was all sorted within a week.

In retrospect the speed at which it was all concluded was very frustrating. I am guessing that the documentation was in a tall pile and was swiftly moved to the top.

Although, as stated earlier, the guidance and support from the COP/OPG Case Workers has been very good so – all’s well that ends well.

Have you started your LPA documentation yet?

Photo Acknowledgements:

Line of People – Photo by Levi Jones on Unsplash

Dog – Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

Featured Image – Photo by Simon Rae on Unsplash


Planning for retirement (Stage 2)

Planning for retirement (Stage 2)

Thrift and Frugal Living

Very few of us are lucky enough to retain the same level of income once we retire.

Whilst the cost of working could be offset against the reduced income there is often a noticeable difference. For example, my income was reduced by 2/3rds!

This would have been an enormous shock to the system if I had not been aware nor spent two years planning for this change.

Despite the changes in income it is very likely that reductions in some outgoings had already occurred over the final working years such as mortgages finally ‘paid off’, childcare and childrearing no longer a major outgoing (no books on childrearing really present how much that ‘little bundle of joy’ will cost – and go on costing).

The Bank of Mum and Dad will, no doubt, also be coming to an end of its major purchases – University costs, weddings, assistance with house deposits etc hopefully becoming a thing of the past.

What I am attempting to present here is that the need for a large income is reduced, that with planning and a few alterations there can still be sufficient income to maintain your lifestyle and enjoy the future.

Following my parents’ retirement my mother once stated, ‘you have the greatest income when you least need it’. I think she was pointing out that with no dependants and no mortgage any financial outgoings were more constant and therefore manageable.

There are various ways to both manage an active retirement on a reduced income and to increase access to funds.

The most obvious that comes to mind is down-sizing the house, yet it can also be the most difficult.

Although I know that many people move home during their lifetime many others, like myself, stay put and build out. As a consequence, there can be an emotional attachment that is difficult to sever.

Plus – children sometimes do not/cannot leave for a variety of reasons so down-sizing to free financial capital and reduce household bills may not be an option.

As my children are still young adults and only one has reached the stage of having a permanent home of her own moving to a smaller house is not an option for us, besides when all 3 arrive along with partners and friends I daydream of ‘elastic walls’. And – do they ever remove their ‘stuff’!

I digress, back on topic now.

Down-sizing, financial investments, savings plans, and pensions could all provide a ‘safety net’ but what of the general ‘day-to-day’ cost of living and ways of reducing casual spending.

Some ways to reduce casual spending occur naturally and were only a result of working. Who know it cost so much to have a job? I had read of the cost of items such as the coffee purchased at train stations and the lunchtime salad/sandwich as you run from one meeting to another but once no longer working I noticed many other things I no longer needed. Smart work clothes, parking fees and petrol are examples. I would fill my petrol tank at least weekly just to travel to the workplace. Now, even though I do a similar number of personal miles, I only need to buy petrol approx. every 2 ½ weeks.

So, whilst some outgoings are reduced naturally, I still thought it would be useful to look around the internet and gather some ideas. Not surprisingly there are many sites relating to Thrift/Frugal Living/Savings advice. Many are similar in what they advise, perhaps with little new information although reading them can act as a catalyst to action – switch off that light, share that car journey etc.

Many that I read are written for those with families, especially those with young children, rather than retirees. Although useful for those with grandchildren I guess.

I have listed examples below of those I thought useful and easy to read. Many suggestions demonstrated will not be new, just sometimes reading a collection of ideas encourages you to apply suggestions to your own personal situations. Possibly even sharing thoughts and joining in the conversation on the website comments page.


Another that I found useful is  This is a Website/Blog written by a young mother in the USA. Now, you may think that it will have little connection with retirement planning, yet I found it very useful to view some of her categories relating to Thrift, financial planning etc. Her and her husband decided to abandon the city life and move to the country. This took some planning and re-thinking of how they used their income, how to sustain life on a reduced income and how to generate an income by identifying opportunity and utilising transferable skills. Her writing style is friendly and easy to read and often her family-based articles are entertaining (especially when read at my stage of life, brings back memories of toddler training and enhances the joy of being able to read her blog whilst enjoying a peaceful cup of coffee. Which I think is life’s own reward ?) I only ‘follow’ two website/Blogs – and this is one of them.

In general, the common and easy suggestions to follow to reduce spending were:

Electric and Gas Tariffs – check for better deals.

Mobile phone tariffs – check again when contracts are coming to an end. Often identifying a cheaper tariff and showing it to your current supplier results in the company matching it to retain your custom. If not move your contract or consider ‘pay as you go’.

Rail travel – Obtain a Senior Rail Card (save approx. 30% – it will soon pay for itself), book in advance where possible. Check if travelling with specific rail companies is cheaper. This may mean you need to plan your journey more attentively but can result in a substantial saving. For example – using TransPennine Express between Darlington and York can result in approx. 50% less cost than travelling on other services. The journey is slightly longer and the trains less frequent but if that is of no matter than I think the money saved is better in my pocket than the train company’s.

Cinema – Midday showings on week days are often cheaper

Restaurants – Lunch is often a cheaper option than dinner in many eateries

‘Yellow Label’ Food Shopping – the foods are usually only reduced as the Sell By date is imminent, my son introduced me to these and I would recommend looking when you are in the supermarket as once purchased the item can be frozen for using later or used on the day you shopped. Look out for seasonal vegetables etc – another common suggestion for reducing the food bill.

Menu Planning – this is an activity I have implemented for decades. My initial reasoning was around organisation of wholesome meals despite working full time with young children, being able to make all meals from scratch was important from both a nutritious stance as well as providing an environment in which the children learnt, sub-consciously, about food and cooking. Whilst helping with the ‘chopping and stirring’ it is surprising how teenagers communicate, and I then learnt about their day etc. The benefit to this is that having a shopping list of only the ingredients required means you only buy what you need – well, if you stick to the list that is.

Gym Membership – Use it or cancel it. If you find that, once no longer working, your attendances are usually week days between 9 – 5 your gym may offer a ‘Off Peak’ membership at a reduced cost – worth thinking about.

Petrol – Plan your trips so that you reduce your mileage and usage of the car. I try to avoid using the car for journeys that I can walk to in less than 30 minutes and when travelling further afield I try to complete several tasks on the day rather than have multiple journeys over the week, each for a single purpose.

Am sure there is nothing new in this although hopefully it has re-awaken some thoughts

Photo Acknowledgements:

Featured Image – Photo by Niels Steeman on Unsplash

House – Photo by Cosmic Timetraveler on Unsplash

Laptop – Photo by on Unsplash

Dog – Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash



Planning for Retirement (Stage 1)

Planning for Retirement

A hand holding a coffee mug in front of a road, pine trees, and river in Vancouver

How do you do this? Do you do it or just let it happen? Nowadays as we tend to live longer – and be more informed regarding our possible retirement dates/choices/pensions it is most likely that we do some level of planning.

For me there were 2 main areas to consider – finance and activity. As with many women (and now increasingly men) I had career breaks to have children, then worked part-time for several years whilst they were young. For me this was definitely the correct path to take and I enjoyed it tremendously – the best of both worlds.

Although it did impact on my career progression in the long term, I also had opportunities that may not have been open to me if I had followed the normal signposted career pathway.

Aside from the impact on the occupational pension because of working part time there was also the change to the State pension and retirement age. I had started work thinking that I would be retiring at the age of 60. Whilst in my 50’s I was informed by the DWP that my eligibility to draw a state pension was now 66!

Added to this and, again like many others, I had my children in my later years rather than my 20s as was considered the norm. My last child was born when I was 43 and so I had to take his need for support during his ‘Uni’ years into consideration as I wanted to offer him the same level his sisters received.

So, first I needed in-depth information around what my pensions would be and the out-goings we would have. Whilst I acknowledge that as one part of a couple this is easier than as a singleton I am very independent and have always ‘paid my share’ and had no intention for that to change.

Once I had information relating to my occupational pension (for example ) and my state pension estimate ( ) I was able to calculate my income. Then to calculate the out-goings, obviously there was to be a level of guess work involved due to such unknowns as inflation, gas/electric/council tax price rises etc.

Once these are known it should be possible to understand what level of planning is required and enable you to identify a possible retirement date and how to work towards it. Obviously the earlier this is undertaken the better prepared one is.

I know that I had no intention of retiring at 60, I felt fit physically and mentally to undertake my role yet 66 seemed too late to be up at dawn every day. So, I decided I would leave at 62 (in fact I left at 63, but that’s a different story). Having calculated the monthly income of my occupational pension I decided to consider that figure my income for the last two years of my planned employment and save the difference.  Whilst not everyone would be able/wish to do this for me it provided a saving pot which is contributing to a massive renovation of the house and demonstrated that the level of the pension was adequate to cover my outgoings. So far so good.

There are many websites offering much sounder financial and investment advice, some of which I read when planning my financial future, others I have discovered since.

I have listed some below:

Another consideration is looking at ways of reducing spending – a different way of managing financial concerns and I am preparing a ‘post’ relating to Thrift/Frugal living as there are so many ideas and hints that I thought it warranted its own space. (coming soon…)

Yet another option – is re-employment. Don’t stop working, change the day job – this could be part time, short term projects, turning an interest into income or simply job-sharing the current job. I have friends who have ‘re-invented’ themselves and I plan to invite them to write their story, hopefully it will give you some enthusiasm to review your skills and consider how they can be utilised in a different way.

When the scenario is not typical.

What I had described had been most likely the average path taken towards retirement in respect of relationships, pensions and mortgages. ‘What about the folk whose ‘normal’ turned out to be different?’ I have been asked.

Divorced, widowed, children late in life can all impact on planning the future. It is also possible that many people re-mortgaged the house to release funds or because of divorce had to start again. In these situations the financial considerations are obviously different and may, in fact, require retirement to be delayed.

An alternative is to consider re-employment in a part time role or a less demanding job. You may be pleasantly surprised at how many employers are keen to employ experienced people on a part time basis – the skills and organisational knowledge is retained. As said earlier I will shortly be uploading an article focused on how to utilise your skills – in similar or different industries than you once worked in.

Each person’s story is individual to their circumstances so all I can offer is a general guide – sit down with pen and paper. Having listed the incoming pension alongside the known and anticipated outgoings you will know if it is manageable. If there is an imbalance – what are your options? Will you be receiving a ‘Lump Sum’ as part of your occupational pension? If so, could that be used to clear some of the outstanding costs? For example – if there is a mortgage would the Lump Sum’ be enough to clear it? Or – if you used some of the money to clear part of the outstanding mortgage would paying the remaining as a monthly payment be a possibility, that way leaving you some funds in the bank in case of emergencies.

It may be that there is no ‘Lump Sum’ or it is insufficient but leaving your job is the decision you have made. Then it is time to look at the alternatives and seek financial guidance.  The Citizens Advice Bureau is a good place to start.

Finance is, of course, not the only consideration when planning retirement as the change in your life is much wider than that and so hopefully, again with help from friends, I will be posting articles to give you as wide a view as possible of all the angles and opportunities.

Also – happy to upload your personal experience if you wish to share – send an email, I’ll make contact (

Photo Acknowledgements:

Yoga –  Photo by Marion Michele on Unsplash

Coffee Mug – Photo by Matthew Sleeper on Unsplash

Featured Image – Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

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