Only if I have to . . .


I had to go to Leeds today. Mrs H was having some treatment for her bad foot. She would have normally gone on her own, but she wasn’t allowed to drive for four hours after the treatment, so I was the chauffeur. Since taking early retirement (or voluntary redundancy to give its proper title) in 2016, I have only been to the City centre once. We went to see a film and a meal and I hated it. There were people of all ages sitting in doorways of shops that had closed. Sat in sleeping bags with bottles of cheap wine at their side. All seemed to have some kind of dog with them, which I assume was for security, but it may have been to expose the compassionate nature of the gullible passer-by. I said then that I would only go back to Leeds if I had no choice.

When you work in a place, you do not tend to see the actual area. You move from place to place to fulfil your tasks, without stopping to ‘take in the view’ so to speak. On this occasion and the previous visit, I was able to take in what was happening in the City. It was not pleasant. Today we parked up near the Leeds General Infirmary. Mrs H was having some treatment at the Nu****ld hospital on Leighton Street.

Next to where I was parked, is a homeless shelter, which has been there for over 50 years. It has always been the same. Frequented by alcohol and drug dependents, it is not a particularly salubrious area, but it serves a purpose. When I worked at the hospital, the place catered for around 7 or 8 people. Now, as I understand it there are in excess of 30 people that use the shelter, and a lot of them spill out onto the streets outside. I saw at least 4 young people today, at 09:30 drinking beer. Not cheap supermarket beer, but quality stuff. Although I don’t know or appreciate their circumstances, it does make one feel more than a little uneasy.

Not really retirement, but . . .


This post is an attempt at a response to the Weekly Prompts Wednesday Challenge (fingers crossed I get this right)

Back at the beginning of 2016 our Head of Service, brought our team together for it’s monthly ‘Team Talk’. The theme, if you could call it that, was staff cuts. There had been a lot of hushed chatter among some of the more senior members of the team regarding the reduction of office staff in the department. The Council’s solution was a programme called ‘Early Leavers Initiative’ or ELI. What people liked to think was that it was Early Retirement, but was actually Voluntary Redundancy, with the benefit of being able to draw down the works pension scheme early, albeit slightly reduced.

It was made clear to everyone in the room, that the Department were looking for ‘volunteers’ to take advantage of this. It was also clear that this was a case of ‘jump before you are pushed’. If that had been the case, then it would have been compulsory redundancy, with no arrangement to take the pension early. After a lot of discussion at home, I decided I would go for it.

Not the real cake!

The day came, and it seemed to be just like any other day. I was taking calls and trying to keep my excitement under control. My manager asked what time I wanted to leave, and I had worked out my hours so that I could finish at three pm. At about half past two the office manager appeared with a large cake which was shared with the staff on duty. It was significant that my line manager and the service head weren’t present.

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I decided that I would have a couple of weeks living the life of luxury, then get a part time job. It took a lot longer for something to come up. After about 18 months, my current part-time job suddenly happened. Now furloughed (as at 11/03/2021) I am now just waiting to return. It is not looking god, but I will have to just wait and see. But . . . on the 19th April this year (2021) I will have reached my state pension age and will have to decide the future. Do I carry on with two days a week? Or do I cut down to one day a week? Or . . . do I just stop all together?

From then to now … more of the same


The big day arrived and the so called ‘newsome twosome’ started. I have no idea who came up with the name ‘newsome twosome’ but it did seem to fit. The fears we had, with neither ever working in a hospital kitchen Teamwere soon discredited. It turned out that C***s had been the Head Cook at an army barracks and P*m had worked for 10 years as a cook in the Royal Air Force. Both seemed to have good skills and soon blended in with the rest of the kitchen. C***s was appointed as the Kitchen Superintendent and always seemed quite easy going. P*m got the Assistant Head job and so became my so called ‘running mate’. She was not as laid back as C***s and this caused a few tensions among some of the staff. You will know the type, criticising everything that she did, but they didn’t have the courage to apply for the job themselves. However, we were now a team again.

Everything plodded along quite uneventfully for a couple of years. A few initiatives came and went, but I began to notice Splitthat whenever opportunities arose, I appeared to be the preferred choice.  A prime example was when management decided to update and change the menus in the staff dining room. All the kitchen staff were asked to come up with ideas, even the Porters and Kitchen Assistants were included. But when the ideas were pooled, it was C***s and me that were invited to take the discussions further. P*m and the Head Cook were side-lined a little. C***s and I tried to include them but we both felt at least one had taken her ‘bat home’  and was a bit more negative than the other. The Head Cook seemed to just be along for the ride. Never offering advice or criticism and his ‘safety phrase’ was “That sounds nice!”

The new menus were decided on and things seemed to be getting back to normal. Then the next bombshell hit.

The Head Cook announced that he was going to retire. We knew it was coming, but he had never Fightdivulged his actual age or the date of his birthday so we didn’t really know when. He had not taken any of his leave so he used his three weeks holiday entitlement as the bulk of his notice. He had asked the Catering Manager not to tell anyone until he had started his leave, as he didn’t want any fuss. C***s knew, but both P*m and me found out on his last day. After the initial shock, both of us realised that the battle to succeed him was on. Although initially it was a good natured battle, the days leading up to the interview day got a little fraught and tempers spilled over sometimes.

Seems a lot longer …


Well, it’s been 18 months now since I took the plunge and ‘volunteered’ for early retirement, or as it turned out to be voluntary redundancy. It does seem a lot longer since I was driving into the City centre multi-storey car park. To be honest, it has not really gone according to the vague plan I had formulated, in my head during the few months leading up to my last day. I had sort of thought that I could:

  1. take it easy for the first two months
  2. get a part-time job, between 10 and 16 hours a week
  3. get a bit of decorating done
  4. ditto in the garden
  5. take over most of the washing and ironing (I weirdly like ironing)

None have really materialised with the exception of number 5. Okay, I did paint the staircase, and I have done a bit(?) in the garden. But that’s about it. I’m still looking for a part-time job, but K*** seems to think that I have made my options in that area, too narrow. I don’t want too many hours and I want it local.

I thought I would get bored very quickly, but that has not happened. I thought that we would not be able to live on the pension I was getting. Altering where we shop for most our groceries has eased that pressure. So basically, at the moment we seem to be okay.

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The latest Windows update became available for me yesterday. About 2pm I checked and it was available. So I began the update process. It finally finished at around 7:30pm. This is the reason I did not post this at Fthe time I wanted. I’ve had a quick look, and the only thing that seems to be a ‘new’ feature is that I now have a nearly full “F:\drive” that wasn’t there before. As I understand, and I may be wrong, but this new drive is the location for the recovery data. I think it used to be in a folder, but it seems that Microsoft now wants it in a separate partition. This is fine if there is sufficient space. I believe Aaaaghthat this partition will mysteriously be removed in 10 days, which is a little unnerving. With working in an IT support team before I retired, I tend to read up on the major updates to see what ‘exciting new features’ I am about to receive. I only half-heartedly did it this time, but I think that will change for next time. The problem is, that since Microsoft decided to move towards Windows being provided as a service, there is no choice but to update when they tell you.

I am now updating my other laptop. It’s been going 1 hour and seems to be proceeding faster than the previous time. Wish me luck.

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Update to Windows update:- The second laptop only took just under 4 hours to run, so a slight improvement there. The issue with the new “F:\drive” has been resolved. I trawled the internet with no luck, then had this brain-wave … ask the Windows community. Within minutes, literally less than 5 minutes it was solved and the drive is no longer visible. It was a Recovery drive, but it should not have been visible. If anyone has got the same issue, I am going to post the answer as a separate post. 

Finally over …


This, of course, refers to our new bathroom. The fitters finished at around 1pm on Friday, but there was an issue with the lighting. They just couldn’t get it to work. The issue started on Thursday morning when they had fitted the ‘over the sink’ cupboard clip_image001which has two LED strip lights to light it up. No matter what the guys clip_image002did, there was no lighting. One of them called the electrician that they use, who couldn’t come straight away, but promised to come early that afternoon. He didn’t turn up. Next time we had was Friday morning which quickly changed to Friday afternoon. We needed him to be away before R*** came home at 5pm. The guy turned up at around 5:30, which was too late if he needed to turn off the main power supply. So it was arranged for him to come on the following Monday, just after 9am, which he did. Took about an hour, and when he finished he explained that one of the cupboard lights was not working. He had informed the company we were buying the bathroom off and they advised that they would be ordering a new one. That was fitted yesterday. K*** is very pleased with the outcome and we both think they have done a good job. It was not cheap by any means, but it is 1000 times better than it was before.

I do think the company is missing a trick though. I would have taken some photos before the job was started and more when it was finished. I would have then asked for permission to upload them to the company website, as a ‘Before & After’ type of self-advertisement. Could even have a few shots (not many though) of the fitters doing the job.

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I thought I had found the perfect part-time job for myself yesterday. I don’t want (or need at the moment) a job with many hours. This one would have only been 7 hours, on a Friday doing mainly admin work on the reception desk at a local school. Slightly fewer hours than I was looking for, but it would have been something.

Now, the issue here was that when I took early retirement, there were some conditions laid down. The main one was that I could not work for the Council, either paid or voluntary for 12 months from my final working date. This was because it wasn’t actually retirement in its usual capacity. How it worked was that I was taking voluntary redundancy (VR) and that the Council had arranged with the Local Government Pension scheme, that I could take my pension and lump sum early. As the closing date for this job is the 9th October, I would be in breach of the VR terms by applying before the 1st November.

A little disappointing, but it’s been the first time I have seen anything, that I know I could do with the hours that would suit. I just have to hope that they re-advertise the job again. It sometimes happens.

It’s been a long week …


I’m referring to the holiday my wife is on at the moment. As I’ve not posted for some time, I’ll get you up to speed. Around the middle of April, K****s sister and daughter, returned from a week away in Gran Canaria. She returned with an offer that K*** should join them on their next trip. There was much discussion about this, with me having a lot of misgivings about the whole thing. Firstly, it’s a ‘beach, bar and pool type of holiday, which I understood was not the type of holiday K*** enjoyed. Secondly there was R*** to consider. How would he react, coming home from respite to find his mother not at home, and not going to be home for another 4 days. Then there is the cost. K*** tells me that it’s a ‘one-off’, but isn’t that waste of all the money it cost for a new passport? And what about all the new clothes … more expense. Anyway, she is back on Tuesday. R*** and me will both be pleased, and as I say, it’s been a long week. I had a list of jobs that I wanted to get done, which I managed to do in between the rain and the wind we had here. I suppose the worst part of the experience is the lack of conversation. I went to the pub a couple of evenings, but there is only so much you can chat about with people that you don’t really know. It will be nice to get back to what we call normality.

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I’ve been a bit lazy with this blog over the past couple of months. To be honest, I’ve not really had much I wanted to say. I wanted to stay clear of politics as that is all that people have been talking about for the past month. I know from past experience, that it is one way to ‘lose friends and annoy people. That is something I can do without any external help, thank you very much.

I tend to update this blog in the late evening. I thought, that this retirement (early) would give me lots more time to do things like this blog, but it doesn’t seem to have worked out that way. It still late at night, when K*** and R*** have gone to bed, that I think ”I must do a blog post”, and then I get distracted and end up not doing anything. I was going to look for a part-time job. That’s not happened. I signed up with a recruitment agency, but the jobs they have come up with are never appropriate. I promised myself that I would do more writing, but I don’t seem to have had any ideas that I could write about. I have done a fair bit of knitting though. A three beanie hats, five headbands, a pair of wrist warmers, a couple of scarves and I’m a quarter of the way through a sleeveless jumper. So I’ve not been sitting on my hands, so to speak.

I shall stop now as I don’t want to start rambling on about anything. I think I shall make a mental note to think about updating this effort at least once a week. I’ll put a note in my diary. See if that makes a difference!

One month down … rest of my life to go …


As the title says, it’s been just a month since I took the plunge and retired. So how’s it gone so far?

Well, my idea, that I would get a part-time job within the first couple of weeks has been a non-starter. I’ve not seen anything that I could honestly is a job I want to do. In fact, that statement has 10 words too many. It should actually read “I’ve not seen anything!” I have looked. Possibly not looked too hard, but when you don’t even get an answer from the ones you do look at, it kind of puts a bit of a damper on the whole thing. But I’m not going to dwell on that … I’m putting that to the back of my mind for the time being.

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It’s “Panto Week” in  Bramham his week. We are not going this year, as neither S***e or A***l are cast members this time. Both of them decided that it is a bit too much to get from their house in Castleford to Bramham for the rehearsals. They are still involved, but it will be the first time S***e has not performed for a number of years. I think they both miss it a little, but things move on and I get the feeling that this year’s effort is not up to the usual standard. I may be wrong.

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I feel I may have been neglecting this blog over the past four weeks. However, I don’t seem to have had much to say if the truth is known. My intention was to write something at least every other day. I think, I’m still at the novelty stage of my retirement. It’s sunk in a little, but it still feels like I’m on holiday. I’ve done a bit of decorating (not a lot, but some) and have been doing a bit more knitting, but that’s about all really. We have been out a couple of days and at the moment, we are sticking to going out one day a week. If we can get the spending that we are used to down a little, then the part-time job may not be necessary. We just need to get Christmas out of the way, then we will know where we stand.

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I think that’s just about it. No … wait …had a lovely chat with an ‘ex’ colleague on Sunday. I got to hear about all the hopes and fears that my ex-workers are going through. It made me realise even more that I did the right thing by finishing.

I’ve not really had much to do with the people I used to work with. To be honest, I’m not really that bothered about most of them. But it was a nice surprise when K***e messaged me, to ask how things were. I have to admit, I have a lot of respect for K***e. She is the only one out of our ‘team’ that I miss. When I say that, I mean that I miss a lot of people for one reason or another, but K***e was a special person. Without question, there was nobody that a bad word for her. I have never worked with anybody before that was so universally liked by everyone that met her. It may sound a bit twee, but she did make the day pass a lot more pleasantly.

I hate shopping …


“Hate” is probably a too harsher word to use. A more appropriate word would be “Detest” I suppose. Let me expand. It’s not that I don’t like spending (that’s another issue) I just don’t like being in shops. Take yesterday as a prime example. I had to pay a visit to national supermarket nearby. I know about ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Mega-Monday’, but ‘Stupid Saturday’ is a new one on me. To say it was busy is an understatement! It was absolutely heaving. And, it seemed that the majority had brought some kind of child with them.

I’ve come to the conclusion that there are a standard type of shopper:

  1. The Quickie – Has a list, is straight in and out. No messing (I fall into this category);
  2. The Drifter – Wanders around every aisle, pausing occasionally to drop an item in their basket/trolley;
  3. The Inspector – Studies the price tag of every item on their list and compares them down to the last penny;
  4. The Owner – Not the actual shop owner, but a shopper who has no spacial awareness. These people wander around as if they are the only people in the shop. They are the ones who leave their trolley in the middle of the aisle whilst they decide what to choose;
  5. The ParentNow I have some sympathy for some of these people. It must be difficult to go shopping with your six children on the busiest shopping day of the week;
  6. The Family – Similar to ‘The Parent’, but this time it’s the whole family that does the shop. Typically, the Father figure wanders around, two paces behind the Mother figure tutting and shaking his head at every purchase, until they hit the wines/beers/spirits aisle and then they (attempt to) take charge. If you lose the Father figure, they can always be found scanning the motoring magazines;

    And finally

  7. The Cruiser – Doesn’t actually need to buy anything, but has time on their hands and thought they would have a look round anyway. They often have picked the largest trolley ‘just in case’ and they like to pretend they are there for a purpose by looking intently at their phone as if it has a shopping list on it.

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Because my income is now down by about 30% due to my retirement, we have decided the we need to cut down on somethings. If I had been on holiday for the past three weeks, then we would have probably had eight or nine days out. Would have visited some local attractions and had lunch or evening meal, and on occasion both! But we have taken the decision (well I decided and K*** seemed to agree) that we could manage a day out once a week.

Now bearing in mind the earlier part of this post, the following may come as a surprise. Last week we went into Leeds to see the new John Lewis store and the refurbished shopping centres. K*** has wanted to go since it opened and I did not really have any excuse why we couldn’t. The fact that I don’t like the centre of Leeds did not hold any water so we went.  Working in the centre for my last three weeks really enforced my dislike for the place. Millions have been spent on cleaning up the place, but it still seems a mess. There are still the beggars on many street corners and then there are the ‘Chuggers’ who I hate with a passion. These are the so called charity collectors that work in groups and are paid to try and get you to give money to a specific charity.

So back to John Lewis, or more specifically (Rant Awareness Alarm), department stores in general. I may have mentioned this before, but in these kind of stores, I want to look at certain things. I want to look at mens clothing. I like to browse the technology area. What I don’t want to do is to look around the numerous perfume sellers (for want of a better description) and I’m not too enamoured with wandering around the lingerie section either. So my gripe here is …why in most stores do I have pass through either one of sometimes both of these sections, before I can get to the ones I want to see ? I suppose the stores want to appeal to the female shoppers in the first instance, but it can be annoying for us men. Some stores take it to the extreme. Take P*****K in Leeds as an example. The menswear is on the fourth floor after passing through the lingerie, womenswear and children’s wear.

The John Lewis store is a little better laid out, I only had to brave the nasal assault of around twelve ‘beauty sections’ before I could reach the menswear, but I still think more could be done around floor planning.

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When I made the final decision to take early retirement, one of the things I promised myself was that I would post more frequently. As you can see, that has yet to happen but I think it will. Just got to push myself more. When I was being quizzed by my colleagues on what I would do when I finished, my blog was mentioned. Almost everyone said the same thing …“What’s your blog about?”. To which I always reply “Nothing in particular…it’s just what I want to say, when I want to say it!” And that is basically what it is. Quite often get the reply “What’s the point then?” My response is usually “Have a read and see.” Maybe that is the answer I should use to the first question. Maybe, I need to get a subject or theme for this blog. I don’t know, but whatever I do, I need to do it more often.

1st day down …


Well, not technically true. Technically, today is my last day and tomorrow will be the “1st” day. I didn’t want to go into work for one day, so I managed to save up some time and take a ‘flexi’ day. But to all intents and purposes, today was the first day of my retirement! Now, how old does that make me feel?

Didn’t do much really. Went to the bank, did a bit of shopping, washed my car … oh and had my hair cut. Haircut? For nearly a year now, I’ve been growing my hair longer. In fact, I’ve not had it cut for about nine months. It all started, around November time last year. Our ‘team’ were on one of our ‘away-days’ or it may have been a training day. At lunch time I had gone out and  when I returned, I received a text message, just before I entered the training room. As I was expecting the text, I stopped to read it. I then over heard someone joking about the length of my hair and then everything went quite when it went in. Now I don’t care if people take about me behind my back and I don’t  mind if they laugh at me. What I hate is when they do it and then try and pretend that they didn’t. Which was what happened in this case. So I made the random decision to grow my hair long. My intention was to just let it grow and grow to make them feel bad or guilty . However when I put in for early retirement, I decided that my long hair would go when I finished. Hence, todays haircut.

So all in all, the first (or pre-retirement) day went well and now I must et down to the task of finding and getting that part time job. I need to get one soon, before I get out of the work habit. The next few weeks are critical in that search I think.

It finally arrived …


After what seemed like an eternity (maybe a slight exaggeration) today has finally arrived. I am now officially retired. Well not quite! Today was the last day I was working. My last contracted is Monday, but as I had managed to build up enough ‘flexi time’, I was able to finish at 3:15pm today.

It seems to have been a long three weeks back at the main office. Even the days when I was quite busy dragged on. But now it’s over. How do I feel? I don’t know. I don’t really know how I feel yet. I thought it has sunk in, but I not sure if I have got my head around the idea that I have retired.

So back to today. It started as a normal day, except for the photos lifted from Facebook that seemed to be plastered around the office. Nothing was different at all. People were getting on with their work and I was busy tidying up the files on my laptop. Then it all started. The manager turned up at around 11:00 and presented me with the biggest cake I had IMAG0546ever seen.

She had told me that she had ordered cake(s) as a celebration, but nothing prepared me for this. She also gave me a bottle of Cava, as I had said I was not having a leaving party and a card also.

This was from her. It wasn’t a team thing. It was my managers way of thanking me for everything I had done. I have to admit, I was taken aback slightly, and if the truth were known, I got a little emotional, but successfully did not show it.

Then at 2pm came the official presentation. I got my official gift from the Council for such long service and with it was £30.00 pounds worth of Amazon vouchers from the staff. The manager gave the customary ‘things that people might not know’ speech and I responded with the customary feeble thank you. Then it was all over! Hugs and handshakes all round and I was on my way home. The only downside, was that a good friend from the other office thought I was finishing on Monday and has got a present for me. I was a little disappointed … no scratch that, I was a bit upset about it. I think I might have a drive down there on Monday or Tuesday and see him. I will have to think about it.

It’s sunk in … finally


I think it has finally sunk in. It got to home time and J*******, who I have worked quite closely with, shook my hand, thanked me and wished me well. He is on leave next week and will not be in on the day I finish. It was a nice touch of him to say what he did. On the other hand, there are others who are on leave next week, who have said nothing. Quite frankly, I don’t care about those few. In fact, there is one person that is off all week and it pleased me to know that he will not be in. One of the many reasons I’m not having the obligatory ‘night out’ or ‘leaving do’. I’m not a very sociable person, but I could not leave anyone out if I was having a do. I would have to invite everyone, even those I do not want to be there. So not for me.

What amazes me at the moment, though, is the number of times I’ve been asked, what I’m going to do when I finish? What are my hobbies? Have I planned any trips? All valid questions you may say, but my point is, nobody has asked me any of these questions before! Well not in this team. Way back before the numerous restructures, the team I originally worked with would ask. With this team, they don’t even ask where you’ve been if you’ve had a few days holiday. Strange bunch of people some of them.

Then when I got home, the pension company had finally sent my retirement pack. This is the documents I need to complete so that my pension is paid. Surprisingly it only took two emails to get the pack sent. But that helped it hit home. Made it very realistic. Now I’ve just got to find a part-time job to fill a couple of days in the week. It will be a bit of spending money and keep me occupied for a few years until my state pension comes in 2021.

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I had a crack at knitting a rose brooch this weekend. Rose BroochI had seen the pattern and downloaded some months previously, but it looked quite tricky. Stitchwise I was fine, but one of the main techniques was a little more involved as it were. Still, I had a go and finished it quicker than I expected. I completed the making up today and I very pleased with how it has turned out. Just as it showed on the pattern.

One more week …


Well only five more 06:30 wake-up alarms! But it has been dragging on and on and on …….. and on and on.

No luck on the part-time job front yet. K*** thinks I need to get something, in her words “That I would like to do …” My take on that is get something I can do, and wait for something I would like to do. And that is the advice from colleagues also. I have to ask myself though, “What would I like to do?” It has to be something I enjoy doing, and from the past few years, there’s not a lot I like doing workwise. I suppose I would prefer to sit in front of a computer rather than a manual job, but needs must outweigh desire. (Note to self: sounds like a good sound bite “Needs Must Outweigh Desire” maybe a story title?)

As I said, work seems to be dragging on and on. Someone else is now working on the project that I’ve been working for the past 18 months. I have been drafted back into the main team (Team! … more about that another time) to help out with general support calls coming in. The problem is, that being not a part of the main team since way before my operation, I do not have the skills that others have developed, and with my imminent departure, it’s not really worth retaining me. I can pick up odd calls that I do know about, but they tend to be very basic tasks, that lower graded staff pick up first. I also think that ‘they’ may be worried that if I’m pushed into new work, I may just go sick! Others have done it before and I have had a days sick this week already. I have a feeling that next week is going to be even slower.

Building to the “Big Day” …


I’ve been neglecting my blog for a couple of weeks. What with the problems we have had with the transport for R*** and preparing for my impending retirement, I don’t seem to have had the time. Well, maybe that’s not the full story. I don’t think I have really had the inclination to put ‘fingers to keyboard’ so to speak. Apart from this week, even the Weekly Photo Challenge has not interested me. So today I thought I would make the effort.

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Work has been a little ‘strange’ you might say. With three weeks to go, I’m taken off the project I’ve been on for the past 18 months and brought back into the main team. The main issue with this is that I no longer have the knowledge (if I did in the first place) that is needed in this team. After my operation recovery period, I felt that I needed retraining on all the applications and procedures that the team use. I put this forward to my line manager at the time, and the response was that I can sit with E***** who can show me what to do …’ the old’ what used to be called ‘Sitting with Nellie’. That kind of training doesn’t always work … and it didn’t. Well not to any great lengths. Then I was moved onto a project, based in a different office with no real contact with the main team, work-wise. Basically told to concentrate on the project and nothing else. What resulted was, that the little knowledge I gained just disappeared. ‘Use it or lose it! ’ is the phrase that is often quoted and it really does apply in many instances. I’ve picked up a few things, but it has not been the best of weeks.

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I applied for a job! It was a part-time job as a receptionist at my Dr’s surgery. Sounded just what I needed for when I finish. Two days a week, plus holiday and sickness cover. After reading the job description, I felt that this was something I could do with my eyes closed. It was what I was initially trained for 26 years ago. I had set-up two referees, who had both said they would give me a ‘glowing’ reference. But it wasn’t to be. I didn’t even get an interview and the only way I knew that the job had gone was when I went for my blood test on Wednesday. As I went into the surgery, there was a lady being shown how to ‘check for prescriptions that had been posted’. I’m thinking that they may have felt that I was over qualified for the post. Maybe I need to rethink how I present myself. Work in progress! The upside is that both referees said they would always be prepared to give me a reference.

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As the days pass (or should I say drag on) to what everyone seems to be calling the Big Day, I’m getting more and more conscious of  the reality of what is happening. None more so than when I had my blood test. The phlebotomist was chatting about me always the first one, and I was explaining about the parking issues and the need to get in before 09:30. It was then that I told him that it would probably be the last time I was in so early, as I was taking early (always mention ’early’) retirement. That kind of hit home. Then I have all my colleagues asking what my plans are after I finish. Apart from getting a little part-time job, I don’t really have any other plans. I’ll have more time to write here. Maybe I’ll do an online course, there are a few that sound interesting, but I would need time to them … now I will have that time. I want to start doing some creative writing. More creative than the couple of short stories I have posted on here. Everybody is supposed to have a novel in them, so that may be in the pipeline. I don’t have any hobbies really. I take a few photos and do a bit of crafting … I may expand on that. I need to exercise and get some weight down. It has been quite difficult, because of my past work location to take the current required daily “20 minutes walk”. Being located between a sewerage works, a cement works, a Council incinerator and a landfill site is not conducive to walks of any kind.

I think at the end of the day, I just need to take it as it comes.

(The effort I mentioned at the start has resulted in 784 words!)

All starting to get a bit real now …


Well, the confirmation I’ve been waiting for, came through on Friday morning. My boss emailed me first thing to tell me that my application for Early Retirement had been passed by the Corporate Panel. I am now all set to retire from full time employment on the 31st October.

I may have mentioned this before, but Leeds has had to respond to the huge funding cuts that have been forced on the Council. One of the initiatives has been what Leeds call the ‘Early Leavers Initiative’ or ELI as it is known. This is basically voluntary early retirement. Staff over a certain age in services that are at the forefront of the cuts are able to apply for ELI in order to reduce costs. I applied back in July, when it became obvious that our team was one of the teams that could be at risk. I felt it was a case of jump before I was pushed. Going now, I get a reasonable package, that I would not have got if I would have been one of the ‘pushed’ and my Service Head made it quite clear that some people would be forced to go in March 2017.

So now, I need to look for a part-time job. Although the package is a good one, it’s a lot less than I am currently used too. I also need to be able to get out of the house an keep active. My knitting and computer hobbies will not fill all the time and I don’t want to be under the feet of K*** everyday. Fingers crossed I find something quickly. 

… and then it was over …


The holiday came to an end on Friday. Was it a success?  In many ways it was. The celebration lunch on Thursday was great and everyone enjoyed the meal and general get together. However, it did have an effect on me that I will come to later. Some of the family went home Thursday, which left room for S**** and A**** to stay over for one night, which was nice. They were off early Friday morning as they were having a day in York. K*** and me and C**** and J*** (‘the in-laws’) visited a nearby garden that was open to the public and had a pleasant time.

At around half past two, we went our separate ways. K*** and me needed to get some shopping from the supermarket. We did that and then went on to Tadcaster and that cycle shop/bar/café that I may have mentioned before, for a drink before home.

R*** was home a little earlier than expected and there had been ‘issues’ in the taxi. He had been picked up a little early and the driver had had a problem with her ‘sat-nav’ which resulted in them taking a route different to his usual routes. This caused all sorts of problems and both the driver and the escort suffered for it. I’ll not go into too many details, but many will know that people that are Autistic do not cope well with change. I shall leave it at that. K*** is taking him and bringing him home on Monday, and we will await what the transport company make of it.

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Now to the ‘effect’ I referred to earlier in this post. The pub we went to was (as I’ve been told) the same pub we went to for my birthday back in April this year. I had no recollection of the place! Granted, we were in a different room, different time of day and we approached the place from a different direction, but I could not remember any of it. Apparently we had our order taken by the same waitress that took the order on my birthday. Nothing! I got the usual “Don’t you remember blah blah” and “You must remember blah blah blah.” But I didn’t. Even when someone said “You’ve ordered the same as last time … remember?” I had to say that I did not.

At first, my memory issues were put down to my operation and what is commonly known as ‘Pump-head’ but this usually clears up after a few months, and it’s been over two years since the op’ so it seems an unlikely cause. So what is left? One immediately thinks of Alzheimer’s and the worry starts to creep in. It is certainly something to mention at a future meeting with my doctor, and at times it can be extremely stressful and worrying.

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Back to work tomorrow and it’s getting close to the close down of the project that I’ve been working on for that past eighteen months. After this it will be back to being a ‘senior application support officer’ and all that that entails. Not something I am looking forward to.

I hope to hear something regarding my Voluntary Early Retirement (VER) application this week. It goes to the Corporate Panel on Thursday and as I understand, it is merely a rubber stamp procedure. I intend to chase up my Head of Service first thing on Friday morning for an answer and then the real planning can start.

Having a moan and other things …


I’ve not posted for over a week now. I suppose it’s a combination of laziness and wanting to write a more substantial post. I did try, some time ago, to post every day. I think it lasted just over a week, before I began to struggle to say anything at all. So that fell by the wayside and I returned back to simply writing when I felt up to it and had something I wanted to say.

Now that’s out of the way, it’s back to the moans and groans.

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We, that’s me and K*** had a great day out on Tuesday to Beningbrough Hall. We walked round the gardens, which were really beautiful. We then toured the hall which was extremely enjoyable. Where does the ‘moan’ come in you may ask? Well Beningbrough, as the above link shows is an estate owned and managed by the National Trust. A fine example of a house and gardens of it’s time and a great educational place to for all to visit. So why do some parents (and I counted at least five families) think it is a great idea for their ‘children’ to take a football with them? It’s a piece of important history not a sports field! If you want to kick a ball around, then there are plenty of of open parkland in this country to do just that!

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After our visit, we had a look around one of the large shopping parks in the area. Now I get a little upset with some of the shops and I have mentioned before the issue of clothing sizes, so I’m not going to visit that again. No, my ‘moan’ this time is the price of razors! We needed to get some for R*** to take on respite as we had been told he was getting low. K*** was buying some kind of cosmetic stuff and I was charged with picking the razors. It never fails to amaze me at the price of these things. But what amazes me more, is when they are sold on ‘special offer’. I saw one pack that had the razor handle and six individual ‘multi-blades’ priced at the special offer price of £30.99! What really annoyed me was that at the side of this offer price was the words ‘Worth £45.99’. Who says that these are worth what they say they’re worth? Is it some kind of expert retail gurus? Or is it simply the manufacturers that are just trying to con us? I feel that it could be the latter.

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I made a start on clearing out the garage on Saturday. When I say ‘made a start’ I mean just that. For the past few years, the garage has been a dumping ground for everything and anything that we/I/she felt might come in useful at some point. But it’s come to the point where even I have trouble getting in and out of the place. So something had to be done. I was going to the opticians and the local authority tip is én route, so thought I would kill two birds with one stone. Well I think I must have had a chip in my windscreen, and the numerous speed humps on the one of the roads must have exasperated this, because when I got home, I noticed I had a small crack in said windscreen. Not very happy that I have a £60.00 excess to pay to get it fixed, but even more unhappy, that it cannot be fixed until Wednesday at the earliest.

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On a more positive note, my early retirement figures came through on Friday. They are looking like I expected, and I am going to take up the offer. My intention is to finish at the end of October, but ‘they’ have sort of thrown spanner in the works, so to speak. The figures from the pension company provide me an annual pension and a lump sum. But ‘spanner’ is that they have also offered to increase the lump sum, if I take a lower annual pension! So what do I do? K*** doesn’t know what would be best and I think I know, but cannot be sure. I’m going to give the figures to K***s father to look at, to see if he could advise. It is a bit of a quandary, but at least I don’t need to make that decision first. That can be decided at a later date, but it’s still a puzzle.

A lot more than serious …


Following on from my last post regarding Early Retirement, things have moved on somewhat. When I first mentioned it to K***, her initial response was that ‘… I should think about it …’. It has gone from that via ‘… I think you should really consider it …’  to ‘… think you should go for it…’ very quickly. She thinks that we could over-think this and although I’m not an impulsive person by any means, I think she is right.

Therefore the decision, I think has been made. I’m speaking with our service lead on Wednesday to discuss the matter, and I’ve an idea, that he is going to ask me for a date when I want to go. From what I understand, if I say I want to go at the end of … say September, then the request will go to a corporate panel on the 8th of September and then then directorate panel on the 18th September. If it passes both panels, then my last day would be the 30th September. It is that quick.

So now all I need to do, over the next few days is to pick a leaving date! I suppose this is another one of those life changing moments.

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I opened another Individual Savings Account (ISA) last week. I know that people now say the ISA has had its day with the new Personal Savings Allowance (PSA), but I can’t help feeling that my ISA is a better saving option. I’ve been saving using ISA’s for a few years now, but did not transfer the 2014/15 to my 2015/16. No idea why, but I think I just never got around to it. But I decided that this time I would. So I spent a good hour filling in forms to transfer the funds across. It seemed a little bizarre, that I had to manually fill in the details of the transfer as there was no online facility to do this at all. Bit odd in this day and age, but it is done now. Already to post tomorrow. Just need to set up a direct debit to put some money into the account now.

More than serious …


A few years ago, after one of the many ‘restructures,it’ I volunteered for the Council’s early retirement scheme. They call it ELI or ‘Early Leavers Initiative’. It gives staff over 55 years old, the opportunity to leave before their official retirement age. The main aim of the scheme is to save money and its premise is that it is cheaper to let staff retire with a offered financial package than it is to keep them employed. It has worked well for all the people that I know that have taken up the offer.

At the time, my application was turned down on the basis that the department did not have any staff that could be trained up quickly enough, to do the work that I was doing. Therefore, they couldn’t authorise it. I spoke to our HR department at the end of February this year about applying again and was advised that they didn’t know if the initiative would be running this year.

Last week, we had one of our regular ‘doom and gloom’ meetings, where we were told how bad the budget was, how much we had to save this year, and the next three years. All told, it does not look good for local Councils in the future. In almost a passing shot, at the end of the meeting, our Service Lead announced that he would support any member of the team wishing to take this ELI. Basically saying, anyone who wants it can have it.

So after talking to K***, we have decided that it probably would be for the best to jump before I get pushed, so to speak. It would mean a great reduction in monthly income, but I would look for a part-time job to help make up for that. Let’s face it, I’m not happy in the job anymore. I haven’t been so for a long time. I’m starting to be at that age when learning new things becomes a real challenge and I simply cannot keep up with the pace now. Then of course, if the future does mean losing staff, I would have to go. What usually happens, is that a post is deleted and staff at the same level have to reapply for their jobs. It happens all the time and given the fact that the people I would be up against having more experience of the work we are doing … speaks for itself who would lose out.

So that’s all I’m going say on the matter (for now!)

Easter … what a flop!


Well not just Easter. The whole weekend was a bit of a flop. K*** was not working on Sunday, so we were set for a quiet lazy weekend, after the hectic Friday. But, Saturday afternoon she started with what seemed like flu. S**** and A****, his girlfriend had both been quite ill with it during the move, and now K*** seemed to have the same thing. It would only be a matter of time before I went down with the same. So she spent most of Sunday in bed, and a great deal of Monday too. R*** seemed to be fine, and by some miracle, I appear to have escaped the bug also. From what S**** says, quite a few people have gone down with this bug. K*** ended up going to see the doctor, who told her she had a viral infection and gave her an inhaler to help it clear up. It’s beginning to work, but it’s taking it’s time.

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An odd thing happened tonight. I’ve had a LinkedIn profile for quite some time, and I don’t really do anything with it. I’m connected to a few people from work, a couple of random people that seem interesting and one or two Facebook ‘friends’. Well tonight, I got a LinkedIn email connection request. I usually ignore them if the the name is not familiar, but this one was different. The name was one of the (very) few names I remember from school. I checked his profile, and it was indeed someone from school. Strangely, I could picture him in my head, which given the issues I have with memory was quite a thing. It must be nigh on on 45 years since I last saw the guy, and would love to know how he found me. I think it must have been some kind of search on schools or something, but it was quite a shock to hear from him.

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Work is a bit strange at the moment. There seems to be a few people that are taking early retirement. One person, who I worked with for over 20 years went last week, and another goes this week. It all seems very surreal and makes me feel old. I will really have to give it some thought, if the Councils early retirement scheme runs again this year.

Goodbye to a long year


     By the time you read this, 2012 will nearly be over. It’s a year that has had it’s ups and downs and I’m probably glad to see the back of it. Some the downsides have been quite traumatic: finding out that the job you’ve been doing for the past seven years, will no longer exist; Mrs H finding out she had a Melanoma on her arm; coming home to find the Police in the house after R*** had had a melt down; discovering that there was a plan in place to section R*** if needed and that the ‘plan’ had nearly been invoked twice, must all rank at the top of the downers. Then of course there was the uppers: getting a new job; R*** settling in at his new place; R*** taking to his respite without a problem; S**** getting a great review for his part in the local panto; surviving Christmas (still have New Years Eve) are all up there with good times. I also got a new laptop, and I was not sure if it was an upper or a downer. It was struggle to get it to how i wanted it, but when it was all done, it was brilliant!
     My writing is coming along. It is a slow progress, because I think in my own mind, that I’m not good enough to do it. I will have days when I will just sit at the keyboard, and do not know what to write. Then on other days, I will hammer out a couple of hundred words. But then i read back what I’ve written, and realise that it is nonsense, and I have to start again. I’m currently writing a story that has a troll involved. I’ve got up to 4000 words, but I don’t know where I am going from here, or even if going to take it any further. I may just use this a practice piece whilst I figure out what I really want to write about. I did start writing a blog for a national magazine and wrote a few  posts, about the local area and what was happening, but the stats were very disappointing, with no comments neither good or bad. You do need people to comment. Even if they just tell how bad the piece is, it shows that they have interested enough to read it and offer advice. I gave up after four posts and have not written anything for it since December 2011.
     I have recently taken one of the pieces I have written and turned it into a sketch/play. It still needs some work, but with that one, I know what I need to do. I’ve been reading and bought a couple of books about Creative Writing, and am now beginning to understand where I have to start from, and how to develop ideas. It is going to a long process, but as I have indicated to HR at work, I am interested in taking voluntary early retirement in March 2015, I need to get my skates on, so to speak.
     I suppose, that the last sentence needs a little more explaining. I work for local government, and without going in to the politics of it (especially my views) a number of staff in the 55 – 65 age bracket, have been asked to consider either early retirement (VER) or voluntary severance (VS). As I fall in to that age category, I decided to apply for VER. I have sufficient service to give me that maximum payout, and although the pension will not be full amount, I would only be eligible for a further £2000.00 a year if a I stayed on until I was 66. It has yet to be passed by management, but at my level, I do not think there will be a problem. It will mean a massive change, and I will need to get some kind of part-time job, to help with the finance situation, but I think it will be okay. So you see, if I can get my head around writing and develop the skills I need to write creatively, the boredom factor that people get when they retire should not creep in. Who knows, I may even make a few pounds from the experience.

 

     Well, I think I have blathered on for long enough. All that is left now is to wish you all a  very prosperous and successful new year, and hope that 2013 brings you everything you wish for.