It's been exactly four weeks since I left On the Beach. Time has flown and, looking back, we've fitted a lot in to those 28 days. Having spoken to a few friends who've been retired for some time, they all told me the days would go quickly and I'd struggle to fit in all the things I want to do; they're not wrong! Have I thought about work - not at all. Have I thought about those I worked with - yes; in all good jobs it's the people that make it and the Development Team at OTB were (and still are!) one of the best.
One of the great things is that I don't need to cram everything into a weekday evening or short weekend. If I aim to do something today and don't, well there's always tomorrow. Similarly, if we wake up to a warm sunny day, sod the plans - we get out and enjoy it! Same if we wake to rain. This week is a good example. Monday was warm and sunny so we quickly arranged to take a walk in Delamere Forest with our friends and their two daschunds - Charlie and Izzy (it was these friends who got us into the campervan life when we first hired a motorhome from them five years ago). They had recently returned from a two month trip in their motorhome to France, Spain and Portugal so we wanted to catch up and hear all about it. The five mile walk quickly went as we chatted about their trip, plus our past month and future plans. I also played 'pied piper' to Charlie and Izzy as you can see from the photo below. We all returned to our garden for a coffee and a longer chat; with no other calls on our time it was lovely not to clock watch.
|For once I'm not the one with the shortest legs in the group!
And today is the other end of the spectrum - raining all day (as it is all across the country). Our day began the usual lazy way - a cuppa sat in bed catching up on the news, email, twitter. Once up I spent a couple of hours ringing around for home insurance quotes; I wanted a policy that would cover us for long periods away from home. Each call took about 15 minutes as I answered all the usual questions. This is something that would have eaten up half a precious weekend day in the past but now is a relatively relaxing task. I went with the Club Care via the Camping and Caravanning Club in the end - much cheaper than all the other quotes and the most helpful and cheerful contact centre staff. One of the other companies I called clearly didn't want to sell home insurance; the agent was surly and not sure of the details. At one point I thought she was going to actually say "whatever"! At over £200 more than the C&CC, "Paul said no"! In between that I've baked some bread, although the frozen 'fresh' yeast is past its best now I think as the rise wasn't as good as hoped. I also made a tomato tartin (a bit of an experiment for an upcoming vegetarian meal - I think it'll work better if I use super-ripe tomatoes). With the left over pastry I knocked up a feta and spinach 'pasty'. Later on I may start to sort out some of the motorhome magazine articles I've saved for our first long trip to Europe later this year. But, if I don't have time to do that, there's always tomorrow. The first time I looked at the clock today I expected it to about midday - it was 3pm.
|A bit on the small side, but should be fine as bruschetta or with soup
|Tomato Tartin - bit of an experiment
So what else have we been up to? Our first few days of retirement were spent on a trip to Northumberland, mainly because we were ready for a break (and because we can!). Then we were back home for a couple of days before we did the first of our post-retirement house sits, this one in Anglesey. Back home for about a week, I managed a couple of bike rides plus the odd five mile walk (we're trying to get out every day for this, weather dependent) and we helped Cathy's sister with some furniture moving and gardening, again something that in the past would have been squeezed into a weekend. Then it was off for a few days on the Llyn Peninsula in the campervan. The weather was glorious and we swam in the sea every day. With it being in the week, it was much quieter on the roads, footpaths and beaches. Now we're preparing for another (and our longest so far) house sit, this time 10 days in Cornwall, leaving in a few days' time. We also have another 10 day house sit in August in Ceredigion, mid-Wales and are looking out for one in September. By then we'll be into the final planning for our 4 month trip to France, Spain and Portugal over the winter.
So time has flown and we've packed an awful lot in to the past month. Around all this has been some 'admin' to amend insurance policies (to tell them we're both retired and mortgage free!) and also update personal tax allowance usage. We're still, I think, in the honeymoon period of early retirement in that it still feels a bit like an extended holiday. But we're managing OK with our spending, the main change being that time away in the campervan is not a holiday (so less eating out and fewer pubs) but our new way of life (so cooking fresh and tasty food). We have a busy few months to come and our first winter trip abroad in the campervan will further inform us if we like this sort of life - I'm sure we will! We have further plans to travel more widely and at different times of the year, interspersed with house sits.....if we can fit it all in!
I'm sure they'll be some downtimes too (especially if poor weather keeps us indoors for too long) but we'll ride those out. But first month in, we're 'living the dream'.