Going to the Gym

My friend K thinks that “gym” is a swear word!  But I (sort of) enjoy it.

Joining the gym was one of the first things I did on moving to T.  I had been going to gyms for about 15 years but had to give a month’s notice in M so hadn’t been since the end of September.  On going back to the one in T, I found a staff member who remembered me after 7 years – not sure if that is a good thing or not!

Why join a gym?

When I was working, I originally joined as a way to reduce stress.  After retirement it provided something to do (!) and was a way of keeping moderately fit.  There is greater security than going for a run or a cycle ride; you can vary your distance without having to get back to your start point and the weather is not a factor – except when the roof leaked above me on a very wet day!

By going at the same times each week, I get to see the same people and so can get to know them and gain more acquaintances/friends.

How to choose a gym.

Go and have a look at all the possibles, at the time(s) you are likely to go.  The idea is to look what sort of people are there.  If they are all young, slim, fit and very hard working I would choose somewhere else!  Try looking for people with a variety of ages and shapes and effort and gear.  I don’t work excessively hard or take it that seriously but there are people there who are pushed to walk for 10 minutes, others who work really hard and seriously and get up a real sweat and those who go for a chat and minimum exercise  It is the variety that is good.

Look at the facilities – changing rooms, showers, sauna and/or steam room (if you like those) and see what sort of state they are in.  Choose later in the day, not first thing, to get a real idea.  Also consider whether you care if the facilities are mixed or if you would want separate male and female ones.

I have always been to the local authority gym, but there are more exclusive places.  I suspect you get what you pay for, so do enquire about the prices and discounts for age or off-peak times.  Some places have a joining fee, so look at the cost of that and see what you get for it.  There should certainly be an induction and the setting of a programme and maybe a T-shirt and/or water bottle.  And don’t sign up for a year until you are sure you will use it!  Read the small print!!


They should give you an induction i.e. show you how to use the machines.  Most places will also set a programme for you as part of the induction or part of the joining fee.  If you overstate or tell the truth about your fitness, the programme will probably be too hard!  You can always do less and you will find that you do improve and reach the level suggested.  The alternative is to understate your fitness or say how exhausted you are after a very short time on any machine during the induction!

You don’t have to do every machine!  It is worth trying them all, then you can find your favourites – I go for upright bike, cross-trainer and (my favourite by far) running.  You will be surprised how you do improve and can do longer at a harder level if you go twice or more a week.

How to keep going!

Yes, this can be a problem!  There are days when you just don’t feel like it, but the less you go the less you feel like going.  It is (usually) not as bad as you think it will be when you actually get there.

I wouldn’t go every day – this is excessive and you will quickly get fed up and give up.  Be realistic about what you are likely to do.  Most retirees go two or three times a week, although a few go 4 or 5 times.  Don’t overdo it – it is supposed to be fun(!!!) or at least moderately good for you.  I even find that a bit of running can make me feel better.

Some people think having a “gym buddy” is a good move, but then it does tend to be that if one of you doesn’t feel like it you both don’t go and it doesn’t take long to stop.  As I said, going at the same time each week and getting to know people works better for me.

Having been going for a while, I signed up for a year and then if I don’t go I don’t get my money’s worth and being mean, that matters!  The showers there are better than mine too, so it is a good place to wash my hair and they provide a free hair-dryer – saving money again!

Recommended, if you don’t get carried away!



Volunteering in a Charity Shop

While waiting to move I had to think of something to do to keep busy, but I hoped it would only be for a short time.  A charity shop seemed like a good idea.  There was a choice of 7 in M, where I was living, so I chose a charity I approved of (Cancer Research U.K.) and the shop that seemed to be busy most of the time.

This proved to be a very good idea.  It filled time, provided company and gave me a (temporary) role.  With the right manager it was also good fun.

I got an application form (all charity shops seem to need a form and references) at the start of September and started 10 days later.  I learned to do steaming  (“vertical ironing”, as described by the manager), “tagging” (putting the tags on the clothes, writing the sizes on the tags and hanging up the clothes with the appropriate size on the hanger) and had a go on the till, all on my first morning.  I was initially doing 2 half-days a week and quickly got the hang of all these skills!

Within a month, the manager, K, was phoning me up and asking if I could go in and do extra time.  As I was a fairly short walk away and had too much time on my hands, I usually said ‘yes’.

Near the start of November I started doing the weekly figures.  (This is no longer needed as the tills are now computerised and do it automatically.)  It was quite interesting as I could see how much was made each week, if we hit our targets, what were the best selling areas and which were the best days – usually dry and sunny ones!

Later in November, another volunteer and I were left in sole charge of the shop – first for an hour and later for a whole morning.  I also learned to sort the items that came in – those things that were saleable, those we could sell as “rags” and those which, sadly, had to be thrown away.  By December I had learned to open and close the shop; by the middle of January I could do the end of the day till and cash up and by the middle of February I was left in charge of the shop (with the help of other volunteers at their usual times).  This meant that in 5 months I was volunteer assistant manager – although I refused to be called by that name!  If I had been looking for a job it would have looked good on a C.V.

I think I was lucky to find a shop which needed volunteers who were flexible, when I had time to do this.  Perhaps also to find a manager who let me do all the tasks in the shop.  It was enjoyable and felt worthwhile.


Moving House.

This is definitely not recommended unless you are missing the stress of your job!

There are reasons you might want to move, such as wanting to move back to the town (city!) where most of your friends live and to the church where you feel at home, as I did.  If moving is just because you feel like a new place, then consider carefully before leaving the place and friends you know and facing the stresses of moving house.

My Experiences

I put my house on the market in the April before I retired and had an offer within a short time.  I therefore went down to T and found a house I liked – and within a few days the people who made the offer withdrew it!

I did get another offer – 2 months later.  The original house I found was then withdrawn from the market, but after 3 trips to T in 6 weeks and viewing 7 or 8 properties, I found a bungalow and had the offer accepted.  Many thanks to my friend K, with whom I stayed a couple of times and her husband C and also friends I and S who viewed properties with me.

I then waited……and waited……..and waited……and waited…….. while the person who wanted my house tried to sort out problems with some land which failed to appear on the deeds of her house, I gathered.  She withdrew her offer in November.

There were no more viewings of my house until January – November and December are not good times for house selling – people are thinking Christmas.  Eventually, at the start of February I got an acceptable offer.  These people then started putting on the pressure to move.  I had lost the bungalow by then, so after 3 more trips to T  (more thanks to K, C, I and S) and viewing 10 properties (including the bungalow which came back on the market!) in mid-March I found a house I liked and had my offer accepted.  Hurrah!  But not time to get too excited yet…..

There were surveys, forms to fill in, searches for the solicitor to get organised and for me to read, removal firms to get quotes from, completion dates to discuss and numerous phone calls to the solicitor (who never seemed to be there!) to see if he was actually doing anything.  And gaps in the middle when there was nothing to do but worry…..

On the exchange date, my solicitor was away and there was a “locum” and they couldn’t find the signed contract!  It was eventually found and I was then told that I needed house insurance from the exchange date – that day!  I managed to organise that.  Then there was gas, water, electricity, council tax, B.T…….. for both the old and new properties, to tell about completion dates and the removal firm to finalise.  Then change of address and forwarding of post, cleaning the house and finally moving in the second week in May!

Not the end……  When I got down to T they would not release the key, as the money hadn’t come thorough.  That is fairly standard.  After telling the removal men what was happening and two hours waiting, I could get into the new house.  Yeh!!!  Only 13 months!

I used Pickfords as the removal firm but I would NOT  recommend them.  Two pieces of furniture scratched (one not repairable and the other repair not good) and they turned up earlier than they said they would!


Retirement is great, providing freedom to do whatever you want when you want, but…….

Well, after a few weeks of rest and relaxation, the first thing I found was how much time there was to fill in a day!  When I was working flat out there was no time for anything, but now time started to drag.  It might have helped if I could take the advice in Simon & Garfunkel’s “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)” – “Slow down you move too fast,  You got to make the morning last”.  I am not very good at that though.

The second thing I noticed was the lack of stimulating company.  Pupils are surprisingly stimulating – you never know what they will say or do next and what you will have to deal with!  Living alone probably emphasised the lack of company – no doubt a partner would reduce this.  On the other hand, a partner who thinks organising their wife instead of their office or spending all their time with their wife (who has no doubt got her own perfectly good activities and friends) is something I am very glad to miss!

As time has passed I have also noticed that I have no longer got a particular roll in society, which I found I do actually mind.  That surprised me a bit!

So……it became necessary to find things to do that would fill up chunks of time, provide some stimulating company and preferably provide me with some sort of role.  I thought I would share some of my attempts to do this and those of some of my friends and give our opinions on how satisfactory these have proved to be.


Why retire?

Why retire?  Well I suppose there must be many reasons but, as well as reaching retirement age, surely tiredness or stress must be among them?

Personally, I didn’t reach retirement age and I was no more tired than I had been for years and probably a bit less stressed than I had been for the few years prior to retirement.  So why did I decide to go?  The main reason was that I no longer enjoyed it!  I had always found teenagers quite amusing and had some sympathy with their “growing-up pains”, but I got to the stage where I didn’t want to know.  Some of the pupils were still delightful, but an increasing number were just a pain – meaning I was out of sympathy with their thoughts, activities and aims.

In addition, I wanted to move back to the town (well, city actually) of T and I couldn’t find the sort of teaching job there that I would consider.

Probably the final straw was when I found one of my university “gang” who was the year younger than me had been retired a while!  O.K. – not a good reason, but it was the final thing to push me to go.

So – I went on the preparing for retirement course, checked that I should have enough money to live on with some over for fun things and for emergencies and handed in my notice…..

And so the new adventure started!