Monday, 28 November 2011

One Year Down How Many More To Come?

If retirees like us knew the answer to that question we might well solve the current economic crisis at a stroke. We could live like there's no tomorrow and spend,spend, spend if we knew that there wasn't one or at least knew how many there were. For now we'll have to keep an eye on the cash and live within a budget that should give us a comfortable lifestyle without being overly extravagant. 

We'll have been retired for a whole year on Wednesday. We've had a great year in very many ways with the wonderful arrival of our first granddaughter Rose, our new caravan in St Andrews and the new found freedom that retirement has brought. But sadly our happiness in the past few months has been overshadowed by Marion's mum's relentless fall into Alzheimer's which has turned her into a Jeckyll and Hyde character who one day hasn't got a clue where she is and another will correctly tell you that there's eighteen minutes to go in the football and seem quite her old self before bursting into tears and asking what is happening to her brain.

So, apart from that struggle, and it is a struggle that occupies us on some level almost every waking minute now, what has retirement been like? It got off to a fantastic start with a brilliant Madness concert in Manchester just a few hours after leaving the office. Then, within a week of clearing my desk, I was in hospital having a new hip. That wrote off December although Marion looked after me brilliantly and I quite enjoyed being nursed and loved passing the time watching the new 3D telly and reading a big pile of novels.

I was up and about by the end of December when we had a memorable new year at The Old Course Hotel in St Andrews where we watched the most amazing firework display courtesy of the wedding celebrations of Di Stewart and Nick Dougherty. Since then we've got into a routine that revolves around the gym, cinema, reading, cycling, blogging, metal detecting and writing and rewriting my novel. I'm on the second rewrite now and maybe one day I'll be happy enough with it to try and publish. We've also managed to take a few holidays after going through 2009 and 2010 with none and enjoyed breaks in Cockermouth, Kirkby Lonsdale, Feizor, Isle De Re and Italy. Next year we'll probably spend all our holidays in St Andrews.

It's been a good year for cinema for us. We've seen about 37 films at either FACT in Liverpool or Vue in Southport with just one visit to the St Andrews Picture House. There's nothing wrong with the local Vue which is fine for a multiplex but we love going to FACT in Liverpool which has a much more interesting film selection and a great little cafe. I wouldn't say that there have been any classic movies this year but there have been plenty of very good ones. My favourites include A Separation, Midnight in Paris, Of Gods And Men and We Need To Talk About Kevin. Our worst experience was The Tree Of Life. Some that were undeservedly panned by the critics in my opinion were The Eagle and The Lincoln Lawyer.

We've only managed five theatre trips but two of those, One Man Two Guvnors and The Ladykillers were comedy classics.  Concerts have been fewer still with Dolly Parton, Glen Campbell and Madness all that we saw. 

All in all a good year. I hope that there will be many more to come. I read an article in the weekend papers about longevity. The writer reckoned that, although I can hope to live for up to another twenty years, the rot sets in at around 63 and most men will encounter some sort of functional deterioration or illness that will restrict them from then onwards. So we had better make the most of the next four or five years. Get the cruise brochures out Marion.