Thinking Aloud!

I'll warn you that I'll be waffling in this post so feel free to jump ship now. You've been warned! My thoughts today are a combination of a couple of conversations with friends, a post on Jo's blog, and my own ongoing attempts to improve/enhance my daily life.

So to explain ... I'm retired now and although I have a busy diary for September there is very little in the way of regular contact and/or activities that will take me out of the house after the end of the month. The busy diary for September is mostly related to the workshops I'll be running in local primary schools to try to encourage new learners at band. I have some vague ideas of what I'd like to be adding to my life and conversations with friends have added a couple of ideas for monthly meet ups so that aspect of the changes has been thought about and now just needs to be implemented. At the same time (this is where Jo's post comes in) I'd like to mark my first year of retirement with a mini challenge of places to go and things to accomplish within that year.

Currently I have these things going on, which I enjoy and want to continue:
  • weekly during term time: youth band on Saturday mornings
  • monthly: book group
  • monthly: family history society
  • monthly, but only for part of the year: listening to the Big Band that a friend plays in
  • fortnightly between Sept and March: film society
It looks more than it is in a list like that but in reality will not occupy much of my time so I need/want to add some other regular things to do - some solo events and some social ones. I've thought about the aspects of life that I'd like to concentrate on to start; this was initially based on Bless' Balanced Life Goals but I've actually ended up with a completely different approach. These aspects are music, photography, health and fitness, and socialising. I have a tendency to try to do too much at any time, so have deliberately chosen to limit my focus on these four categories.

Music - basically, I want music to continue to be a part of my life. This is actively playing for a long as I am able but also looking for other ways to include it, such as concerts, folk clubs, orchestras, etc. 

I'm very involved with the youth band and fully intend to continue but most of my time at band is taken up with teaching and very little actual playing on my part; the playing is obviously at a standard appropriate to the level of the children's playing ability. So, I plan to work on some musical activities to stretch myself; daily playing of the piano and/or brass - piano has been happening for a while now (although the music room is out of action until the home improvements are finished) but I'll be adding in some regular brass playing to regain my full range of notes. I've also put my name down to join a new orchestra which starting up in October, playing the flute.  If it works out, this will add another weekly evening activity, although it will be blocks of six weeks and then a gap - not too sure how this will work out but I'm keen to try it.

Photography - this is something that should get me out of the house regularly but doesn't, so I need to come up with a way to change that. I used to enjoy doing the monthly online scavenger hunts, so that's one option, or maybe just set myself a series of mini challenges. Whatever I do, I want to make myself take some 'proper' photos rather than the 'snaps' I've settled back into doing. One thought is to post a series of photos once a month on this blog but I need to think that thought through a bit more.

Health and Fitness - I have no plans to change what I've been doing. The focus will be on making sure I am achieving all that I want to. So currently:
  • exercise daily: either gym, 'walking for health' walks, and/or exercise DVDs
  • eating healthily: sensible portions, less meat and more vegetables, and reduce the amount of coffee I drink!
  • weight: lose at least two stones by this time next year.
My long term aim is to be fit enough to join one of the local walking groups, or the Ramblers.

Socialising - I'm quite content with the number of social activities that take place in a evening. In addition to the current ones listed above I also meet friends for the occasional cinema visit or meal, so all I'm looking to add in is:
  • monthly: film night with friends, in my home
  • monthly: girl's night out with Julie and Lauren - we don't see each other as much as we used to and I don't want to lose touch. This can also include the other three girls whenever they are home.
The biggest area where I feel things are lacking is some daytime social contact.  Apart from Saturday mornings I have no need to leave the house so don't see anyone and I know from experience how this can affect my mood. The weekly Rummikub playing hasn't worked out so I may try to organise something similar in my own home, and there are also a couple of scrabble groups I can try. Most friends still work so coffee mornings aren't an option at present. Apart from that I'm stuck for ideas so any suggestions will be very much appreciated. I'm hoping to come up with ideas for a couple of part days a week.

As for the marking my retirement year I'm thinking about arranging 12 special events, some solo and some with friends. So far I've come up with this list but it will probably go through quite a few changes before I'm through!:
  • a theatre trip, probably to London, to see Hamilton, Les Miserables (again) and one other show (still to be decided).
  • HF Holiday - photography break in the Lake District
  • HF Holiday - sight seeing trip to the Isle of Wight
  • HF Holiday in Bourton-on-the-Water
  • a short break in Bristol 
  • a short break in Portsmouth (to see the Mary Rose)
  • a short break in Weymouth (or somewhere similar) 
  • a trip to Belfast
  • a short break in Liverpool 
  • a city break, maybe in Newcastle
  • a short holiday with a local coach firm
  • a food tour in London
That's as far as I've got with my thinking/planning. Well done if you got to the end of the post!


  1. I think rambly posts are the best!
    That's a really good list of 'things' and will certainly stop you from idling your time away and keep you happy and fulfilled. Brilliant!

    1. Thanks Joy. It makes it sound like I'm going to be really busy all the time but that won't be the case. There'll be plenty of time to just veg out!

  2. I love your rambly post! I pop to a local care home now and then to play the piano for the oldies which has led to helping the daytime activities coordinator there with other bits and pieces as well. I meet all sorts of people and enjoy the social contact as well as feeling useful. Just a thought. Enjoy your day.

    1. I'll add that to my ideas list. Thanks Frinnie.

      Do you have a blog? I tried to find one via your profile but nothing is showing?

  3. This is a great post! I really like how you've listed the things you want to do under the different categories. Thank you for the link back to my post! That was very kind of you. I'm watching what you do because I'm trying to figure my way around retirement, just like you! Medical appointments seem to be what gets me out of the house; I've three scheduled for next week! And there is the knitting group and the meditation sessions, plus the monthly prayer gathering. I do need to add some active exercise program in there, as well. I hope it all works out well for you.

    1. Watch this space! I hope it all works out, then I'll be a happy bunny. Once the house is finished I'll be able to do more socialising in my home, something I didn't fully take into account when I came up with the lists, so there may be some tweaking needed.

  4. You've already got some structure with the different categories you've come up with so that's good. Do you have a local WI group? They usually have smaller groups of people interested in similar things, that may be an idea or how about a local U3A group? I know they're just setting one up in my area. They're all retired or semi retired people, and again, may introduce you to people with similar interests. With my list I just jotted down things I'd wanted to do but hadn't got around to, as well as some lovely things which I thought would be a nice treat. Thank you for the link back to my blog.

    1. There are several WI groups on the area but all meet on evenings where I already have commitments. I am already a member of the U3A - that's where I was doing the Rummikubs - and will look for some of the other groups. The ones I'm interested in share hosting between all the participants so I need to wait until I can open my house to visitors. Getting the home improvements finished and new furniture delivered is a priority.

  5. I was going to suggest U3A too.I live in a small market but we have 70 plus interest groups in our U3A.Photography,walking ,band,dining out,music appreciation etc,etc.I am sure you would find lots to do and it is a great way of meeting people.Good luck.

    1. Thank you. I'm not convinced that it is well supported in this area. I tried the nearest group a couple of years ago and found the poor organisation very frustrating. I've now joined the one in the next town over and find that events keep being cancelled. I'll keep trying as, on paper, this is exactly the sort of thing I need.

  6. You seem to have a strong handle on activities for September. Since retirement is a new adventure for you I think it will take time to sort out the pros, the highs, the activities. Oh & I didn't think you waffled - enjoyable read start to end. :)

    1. I'll get September out of the way and then ease in to this new phase of my life. I like your description - it is a new adventure!

  7. Good for you! You are an inspiration and I agree with Mary-Lou - it was an interesting, properly structured account of your thoughts!
    Looks as if you are an HF convert! I've got my missing paperwork now and am disappointed to learn that if I had dropped your name when I booked, the two of us would have got £50 each to use on a holiday! I did mention when I called initially that I was calling on a friend's recommendation so now wondering if it is worth asking the question.
    On totally unrelated matter, how are your gladdies this year? I know yours and mine bloomed late last year and we thought they were blind, but this year I finally have just two in bloom. I followed the directions and took them up over the winter but am wondering whether that was really the right thing to do as most people seem to leave them in.

    1. Re HF, yes I think it's worth a phone call, mainly because I'll be booking three holidays and every little helps 😂

      I left my gladdies in and haven't seen them at all this year!

  8. Have you got U3A near you Eileen. They run lots of specific interest groupsx

    1. I already belong to the U3A but the local one is a bit disorganised. I looked at the Bath one lat night and it looks a bit more promising.

  9. You give me food for thought 😊


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