Experience verses Stuff

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Tomorrow marks my mother’s birthday and with it comes countless happy memories. She would have been ninety two and always seemed to spend her special day opening the many cards her friends and relatives sent her. When I say many, I mean MANY.

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On first becoming a teacher (my first class were four and five-year-olds) I always loved to sing the Magic Penny song with the children; it reminded me of my mum. She did not have the educational opportunities we had, leaving school at fourteen. However, she did possess a first class degree in emotional literacy. Therefore the lines of the song resonated with thoughts of her… Love is like a magic penny, hold it tight and you won’t get any…spend it, lend it, you’ll end up having more.

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Retirement – a lesson learnt!

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It hardly seems a blink of an eye since I faced my red letter day last January – no. more. work. Despite thinking that I had prepared reasonably well for this life event by going part time, I’ve had to think again and again and again. Retirement, for me, has required more adjustment than I thought on lots of different levels and as a result I’ve learnt a lot about myself. I miss the ‘work’ banter and some of the intellectual stimulation but there are ways of overcoming this and it takes time and a bit of research. Retirement is about self-responsibility, trying new things, carpe diem and all that. Continue reading

Off to Rio…via Clapham Common!

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One of the greatest advantages about retirement is time. Simple really! However, when you are time rich, beware of it slipping through your fingers. Procrastination can be fatal. “Oh I’ll just do it tomorrow or next week,” should be avoided whenever possible. Developing a routine without feeling it becoming a work timetable is tricky. Continue reading

Tongue-in-cheek reflections…

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For this post only, you have to read it in a Geordie accent – think Big Brother…

Week One in the Retirement House:

House status: Clean but not very, very.  Christmas decorations organised and put away.

Pounds lost: 1.5 (net gain of 4.0 after Christmas and New Year over-eating and drinking!).

Miles walked/jogged/cross trained: 8.0.

Books read: 1.

Jigsaws completed: Work in progress!

New hobbies: 0

Disagreements: 0

Shelves built: 3 – linked to Genetically Inherited Festive Madness (aka finishing the decorating project).

Annoying habits discovered: A few – on both sides.

Interesting developments: 1 – M has changed his name to Victor.  Yes.  As in Meldrew.

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Gazing into the abyss of time

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Tomorrow is a red letter day. Tomorrow marks a new beginning. No, I’ve not lost track of time during the festive madness; I do realise that 2016 began last Friday.

Tomorrow is the day I should have gone back to work BUT I have retired. No I can’t hear a drum roll, or a fanfare of trumpets, just the quiet ticking of time.

On my final day at work, I still learnt something new and I hope the new learning never stops, even when I’m really old and decrepit. It just hasn’t dawned on me yet. The Christmas holidays are just what they have always been, two weeks of madness at the end of a busy school term.

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Reflections on Festive Madness

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About two hours ago we closed the front door to the last of our family members who have been visiting. I am now basking in the quietness and taking a few moments to reflect. Fluttering at the back of my mind is one simple question: Are all families (including myself) quite as mad as mine?

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I am not talking about the madness of last minute Christmas shopping, although DN1 did go into Birmingham on Christmas Eve. In my ponderings, I have begun to categorize the Festive Madness as follows:

FM Type One: Genetically inherited madness

My dad was famous for unfinished projects around the house. He was very good at DIY but you wouldn’t call him a ‘completer-finisher’. Dad usually began projects at random times but definitely on the run up to key family events. He started to gut the only bathroom in our house about five weeks before my wedding, promising both mum and I that it would be done well before the big day. Hmmm. Still, it made for interesting conversation starters with all the guests that visited!

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Cooking up a gift…

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I’ve decided not to watch any television programme on channels that advertise. Instead, I’ll download. The reason is simple – TOO MANY CHRISTMAS ADVERTS!!! Is anyone else out there already fed up with the manufactured ‘perfect’ ideal of a family Christmas?

Don’t get me wrong, I do quite like this season. During the last week at school, you could hear the Reception class learning the ‘Wriggly Nativity’ song for their up-coming performance. What’s even funnier, the children continued to practise without the music and they sang ‘wriggly activity’! Across the country the Christmas lights are being turned on and the Frankfurt Christmas Market opened in Birmingham a few days ago. I have even started to make one or two purchases as Bonfire Night has now passed.

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A tourist abroad in Birmingham

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I recently celebrated a birthday. As it wasn’t a working day, M asked me what I wanted to do, so we decided to go and visit the city centre.

DN2 really loves me!

DN2 really loves me!

M and I have lived and worked in and around the city for almost forty years; for most of our lifetime. We met, whilst studying at the University of Birmingham; he reading theology and me reading German. I work a stone’s throw away from Aston University, near the centre and yet I rarely go into the city. Strange or what? Well, not really. Birmingham has so many different localities, with their own shops, cafes and restaurants. There isn’t the need to go in very much. That wasn’t necessarily the case when I was a student…carefree and more time on my hands.

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In training…

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Finally, I knew today was the day I had been in training for. In July, I joined a gym. Yes, shock, horror! Despite previous form, I have been at least once, mostly twice or three times a week since signing up.  Working part-time definitely has its health benefits!

The reasons for this are simple. I spent money on kit as an incentive to go. Not just kit, though. My purchases also included matching towels and the all-important, must-have kit bag. In a previous life, I’d joined a gym with a discounted membership as a teacher. Unfortunately at that time, there were fewer gyms around and quite a few teachers from my school also joined.

The ideal back pack for a warm-up in the park.

The ideal back pack for a warm-up in the park.

Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed the company of my colleagues but sometimes the changing room felt like an extension of the staff room. For me, it was about getting some exercise, de-stressing and forgetting about school for an hour or so. This just wasn’t possible and so I let my exercising slide. I think the end came, when I bumped into the lovely family of a pupil in my class.  Yes, in the changing room, with nowhere to hide my wobbly bits! With few regrets, I decided to terminate my membership.

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The one where I volunteered to make a cake…

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There’s been a lot of crying in the kitchen recently.  Yes.  In our kitchen.  Most of it coming from M.  I could write about him being in touch with his feminine side but the reason is simple.  He’s been chopping up a LOT of onions.

During the second half of August and in September, there is usually a glut of something at the bottom of the garden.  This year it was tomatoes; in previous years it’s been runner beans or courgettes.  Our freezer is chock-a-block full, so M has been trying out some new and some tried and tested recipes, in an attempt to preserve and pickle our produce.

Ingredients for braised red cabbage. Yum!

Ingredients for braised red cabbage. Yum!

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