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skiddingtowardsretirement

semi-retiring, work life balance, lifestyle block living

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Life span

Lockdown

New Zealand went into lockdown on Tuesday last week. The last time I was in lockdown was for five or so weeks last March/April 2020.

It is weird living in lockdown – almost other worldly. Where we live the traffic is always light; it is now even lighter. Working from home, mask wearing, social distancing, bubbles and sanitizing are the words of the day.

In spite of its challenges, this lockdown has completely removed any doubts I have been harbouring about retiring early. Indeed, it has categorically demonstrated that it is the right thing for us.

The fact is my enthusiasm and self-motivation levels have increased significantly this last week while at home, even though I am working remotely. I guess rolling out of bed at 7.30 instead of 5.45, and the no travel means I am not exhausted by the end of each working day.

Certainly this weekend, besides the never-ending cleaning and washing, I had the energy to finally start stripping the wallpaper in the kitchen, a job that I have put on the back burner for months. I also made bread, baked a slice, went for a walk, and spent quality time with the grandchildren in our bubble. I also managed to finish my book, and start on a new one. Bliss!

Bread – didn’t know if was going to be successful as yeast was old!
Wallpaper stripping – an OK job when you get into swing of it

The garden beckoned too – truthfully, I have ignored it since I started back full time 21 months ago , but this weekend, I rediscovered the itch to get my hands dirty working in it. Pity I ran out of time, but I now know that when I am no longer time poor, I will be out there getting it back into shape. Hallelujah!

Early retirement will mean we have to watch our dollars a bit more, but the man and I have no doubt whatsoever that the pluses of a more satisfying and balanced lifestyle makes this sacrifice absolutely worth it.

Roll on retirement.

Time to hang around the fire pit and toast marshmallows. The teenage grandson camped in the tent.

Putting the house in order

Having publicly committed to retiring in the New Year, I am getting my house in order.

This means making decisions about what we need to do to make our retirement work well for us. I have therefore got a list and a budget – a true Virgo, right?

My list started off with many grand things including recarpeting the house, recurtaining the bedrooms, a new fridge and a tent for copious camping trips. I have subsequently rethought this and the list is no longer an absolute, rather it can now be described as ‘a work in progress’ with items being added, taken away or parked.

The changes I have made are sensible ones, I think. I have decided against recarpeting – the carpet is fine and I am just bored with it. I also want to replace it with wool (it is wool now) and that is not cheap. I will therefore do it in a few years when most of our retirement savings can be accessed. The curtains – well, I have washed them initially in a bit of bleach, followed by a rinse and two out of the three sets are perfect again. The other one? A sad story really that would bring a tear to any house proud person’s eyes – suffice to say, I will buy new ones!

The new fridge? Well, I have purchased one after much research (how big, what make, energy rating etc etc) and it is looking mighty fine in the kitchen. The power bill has also reduced which is an added bonus.

The tent for our NZ trips has been relegated to the ‘decision pending’list. I will keep the $$ aside for it in the budget.

New additions to the list include a cat door with a microchip so our kind neighbour can feed our moggies, rather than every cat in the neighbourhood when we are away adventuring. I have also factored in some maintenance including the three yearly septic tank clean and new glasses for me.

Meanwhile, I am saving hard for this early retirement lark, albeit I am fast coming to the conclusion that we will dip into our savings pot early if required so we can do the things we want to when we want to. Yes, life is short, and we don’t want to live with regrets.

Carpe diem, folks!

PS I have been told I can join the temp pool at the hospital where I work any time which is kind of nice, though at this stage this is not what I see in my future.

New Life – Family Traditions

Mahurangi Regatta – a harbour full of boats, many of which are traditional and a day of old fashioned picnic fun with three legged races, sand castle contests, sack races, swimming races and …. for young and old

The Saturday of Anniversary Weekend means only one thing to the man and me – come hell or high water, the day will be spent at the Mahurangi Regatta.

And it’s been this way since our kids were littlies. It’s a family tradition, you see.

In the early days, more often than not, the two grandmothers would join us. Sadly, the years have passed and both Hilda and Dorothy are no longer with us.

But our family picnic group has not diminished in size, it has grown. Firstly, each of our three children introduced a partner to the mix; one brought with them our delightful step-grandson. Then, last year, our daughter and son in law introduced their three month old daughter to the tradition. This year our granddaughter was joined by her seven month old cousin. Our  picnic group now stands at 11, with, no doubt, a few more additions still to come.

The thing that the man and I find most gratifying about all this is that the children choose to come. They have continued the family tradition with no prompting from us. We, therefore, think it is here to stay.

Having said this, change is inevitable. Always.

The man is coming to terms with this at the moment. Let me explain. For those who don’t know, the man is a mad keen sea kayaker and has been since he discovered the sport as a 30 or so year old lad in the early nineties.

At the same time he discovered kayaking was the sport for him, he also found out that he was very competitive.  Go figure? Yes, the Stone family travelled up and down NZ so the man could take part in many a kayak race. And by the medals clanging around in his drawer, he was pretty successful – not in the league of MacDonald and Ferg*, of course, but successful all the same.

Now each year since about 1993 the man has taken part in the Mahurangi Regatta kayak race.  Most years the man has taken out first place. Except in 2015 and 2016, he didn’t. Those years he had to settle for second.

In 2018 this changed again. Yesterday he came third.  A close third, but third nonetheless.

So yes, third’s not bad. Except there were only three competitors.

The man, to put it mildly, was far from thrilled. I view it differently though: he should be pleased.  You see, the reality is my almost 62 year old partner can paddle way longer and faster than most of the general population.

So instead of him feeling disappointed with himself for being beaten by some younger bucks, which they were,  I have convinced him to continue competing.

Grant’s cedar Albatross sea kayak. This was designed and built by him. For those who don’t know we manufactured these in kevlar and fibreglass.

Why?  Well, the old bugger loves it. And hey, there is something to be said about not giving up, not to mention being the oldest competitor taking part each year.

So I have no doubt that as long as he is able to crawl into his lovely kayak, he will continue racing at the Mahurangi Regatta.

And  as long as he is racing, the kids, their kids and I will be standing there cheering him on!

*Ian and Paul paddled Olympic class kayaks in the K1s, K2s and K4s competitions – sea kayaks are quite different!

Carpe Diem

Muriwai Beach
Muriwai Beach

Muriwai is a wild beach with stunning and dramatic scenery on Auckland’s west coast. This rugged area is a favourite spot for the outdoorsy types, be they surfers, swimmers, fishermen, land yachties, or trampers, to name but a few.

IMG_4344-e1424209484943-400x400
Muriwai Surf Club

Last weekend the man and I made a trip to this spot for a very different purpose. We were there to attend the wedding reception of our son and new daughter in law. The function was held at the local surf club, a spectacular structure situated just back from the beach. As befitting a joyous celebration, the sounds of  laughter and music filled the air late into the night.

A mere four weeks earlier, the noises that pierced the silence here were quite a different affair. Sadly, it was a cacophony of sirens, rotor blades and, no doubt, distressed and emotional people, which disturbed the quiet of the twilight back then.

You see Muriwai Beach, which is 60 kilometres long, is a designated road. On that Sunday afternoon, four young men from other parts of the world decided to make the most of the lovely weather and take a four wheel drive along the beach.

In conditions considered to be perfect for the outing, the vehicle rolled. Eye witnesses’ accounts said that the vehicle flipped multiple times, throwing all but one of the occupants out. Three of the men were reported to be deceased by the time the rescue teams arrived, and despite the best efforts of the emergency services, the fourth passed away at the scene shortly afterwards. The news that New Zealanders sat down to watch that night showed images of the surf club as this was the building the dead were airlifted to that fateful night.

As I walked through the expansive premises of this facility last week, I thought of the four young men whose day out having fun had ended so tragically for them. They were a similar age to our son. I also thought of their nearest and dearest. To them, Muriwai will always be remembered as the place where their beloved sons’ and brothers’ lives ended.  In contrast, the man and my memories’ of this beautiful west coast beach are ones of happiness.

It is neither appropriate or important for me to second guess why the accident occurred.  I hope, however, that despite the tragic ending, the families recognise and take solace in the fact that the young men were out there having fun and embracing life that day.

A death, particularly one that is unexpected, is always a salutary reminder that there are no guarantees in life. The only option we have is to make the most of each day we have on this earth and live our life to the full.

Carpe diem.

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