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Saturday, 1 October 2016

It's Good to be Back

I love going away and exploring new climes but I'm always glad to return home, despite the pile of washing I have waiting for the weather to improve. 

We have been to Madeira a small Portuguese  island off the coast of Africa in the Atlantic Ocean on a fortnights holiday. The island is small at 309 square miles and has an approximate population of 209,000.  A huge percentage of these  live in the main town of Funchal.  We stayed in  a district of Funchal approximately 5 miles form the centre of the town. Its a beautiful island, very clean, very safe and very,very hilly! Oh boy you need legs of steel as  the slopes just keep going and going! I do feel at lot fitter having been there which is a bonus. But the all inclusive food has taken its toll, so back to the grind stone to loose a stone before Christmas.  Now I'm retired I am determined to have regular exercise, meal times and me time!

Having thoroughly enjoyed  this years increased home grown produce  I found myself looking at the 'locals' gardens.  Madeira's main industries are: 1. TOURISM 2. MADEIRA WINE 3. BANANAS.  Bananas are everywhere you look, they're slightly smaller and sweeter than the ones we import into the UK but delicious. Fancy going down the garden to pick bananas and grapes.  I passed some allotments and they were growing melons, grapes, various squash, bananas and tomatoes. Despite the steep slopes every inch of the highly nutritional  volcanic soil is used, every inch of land is terraced to allow mass cultivation.    

Squash everywhere

Local allotments with banana plants to the right.
Terracing right into the mountains.
Click on the photo and it will see the detail.
 
Bananas outside the hotel

This post has taken ages to do because my photos aren't transferring from my phone for some reason and I don't know why. I haven't had problems before so its really annoying. I will be returning to the financial implications of retirement and my plans for this month, but I will upload  a few additional photos on  each post to show you what we got up to in Madeira (fingers crossed).  Back tomorrow. Tx
 

Friday, 23 September 2016

TAKING A BACK SEAT

I've decided to take a week off to chill  and have a little more time to get  used to this RETIREMENT malarkey. I hope you'll bare with me while I do this, I promise I'll be back.  I may stay in touch via comments but I won't be posting anything for a SHORT while. 


I'm hoping to put together my financial plan for my first retirement year starting in late October.  As I understand it I will receive a pro-rata wage up to my birthday then my first pension payment will kick in November.  However, hubby says his is paid in advance. So I may get a wage and pension in October. I´m not counting my chickens. Have a lovely weekend. 

Back Soon, take care.  Tx

Friday, 16 September 2016

TIME FOR BED

The garden is slowly going into autumn mode, the plants are looking a little jaded with the extremely hot weather and the produce is starting to dwindle.  So yesterday before the temperatures got too high hubby and I started clearing the garden and greenhouse. Luckily there has always been some cloud first thing because once that's burnt off the temperatures have been sweltering. Down came the runner bean trellis which has been a bit of a waste of time producing very little this year. 

We collected all the remnants of summer fruit and vegetables so they can be stored ready for winter. The winter produce was left in the ground, fingers crossed we will get sprouts, cabbage, leeks and cauliflower. 
 
 There is still some tomatoes in the greenhouse and garden.  The peppers have been picked and will be left to ripen more before being chopped and frozen.
 
The very last of the rhubarb and potatoes. Plums from a neighbour. Raspberries, beans and courgettes. I couldn't resist looking at the sweet potato experiment.  Yes they're 'skinny' but I'm leaving the rest for another month to see if they put on some more growth.
 
 
 

My daughter and niece have both given me bags of apples, they have been cooked and 'portion' frozen using my bun tray. The little apple pucks as I call them make it easy to remove a couple at a time. I stewed the last batch with cinnamon and raisins ready to be added to winter porridge.

The spent compost from the various pots has been put in a large container, this will have manure, crushed egg shells and shredded banana skins added to it, giving it some much needed nutrients and a new lease of life for next year.  We did pick up 4 large bags of manure from the nearby stables and this has been loosely spread over the top of the garden.  We will collect some more today, ready to use on other areas of the garden and greenhouse.
The first dose of manure to replenish the garden
 I think there will be more needed.


Spent compost
I'm excited about next year and  have decided a lot more preparation will be undertaken throughout the autumn to give us the best possible start in spring next year.  I'm on the look out for any reduced netting, fleece an plant food.  
 Have a great weekend. Bye
 for now. Tx
 

Thursday, 15 September 2016

SORRY

Yesterdays blog was meant to start of with a  huge, massive, ginormous THANK YOU to everyone who wished me well in RETIREMENT.  But I forgot I'm retired.  Whoops.  I suppose its going to take a while for it all to sink in.  At the moment its just like being on days off or on leave.  It won't become real until I've been off work for a month or so.  AND WHEN I GET MY FIRST PENSION PAYMENT INSTEAD OF MY WAGE!!!  But I know I can cope. You have all been a great source of knowledge and support and I THANK you again.
 
 
 
 
This arrived via post this morning from  friend. 'Many a true word spoken in gest'. Confession time:  I have fallen asleep at work once when I was on heavy dose of antihistamines for my hay-fever. I went out like a light and woke twenty minutes later a completely different person.  I did have a colleague who regularly falls asleep because of his medication having had a hip replacement.
 
 
Just  a short post today back tomorrow.  Bye for now. Tx
 
 

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

More food storage

Like most people who 'Grow Your Own' in blogland  it is the preserving/storing season. Knowing space was at a premium, it was time to have a sort out.   The chest freezer was emptied, working quickly I scrapped the sides to remove as much of the powdery ice as possible. I reorganised it into three main sections. 1) Meat & Fish  2) Vegetables & Fruit  3) Homemade Ready Meals. Dairy (cheese /butter/quark) went in the basket and  ice cream on top, this will be used up ASAP as we don't eat it in the winter.  Its been a much needed process as I know what is in there now,  I shouldn't need to buy any meat until Christmas (unless I see a too good to miss offer).  My berry boxes are full with a great selection of summer fruits ready to use in the winter. There is lots of vegetables prepped and home made ready meals to consume.  Its surprising what you find lurking at the bottom of the freezer.
BEFORE


AFTER
The extra room provided by the freezer 'sort out' will come in handy.  The last bed of beetroot has been picked.  Some  cooked and left  al dente so it can be roasted in the oven from frozen etc. the rest was pickled. The peppers are ripening quickly in the greenhouse and I've been slicing them up to store in the freezer. I will use the occasional one fresh but prefer to store mine as there is  bound to be a 'glut' soon and supermarkets like Lidl will sell tem for 29p each.

Pepper turning red


Pepper turning yellow





 
Butternut squash is on offer this week in  Lidl 59p, as they are normally sold by the kilo its a good time to buy. I picked up 4 large ones to keep in the workshop which would have been at least double in price for that weight.  Check they are rock hard and they'll keep for months.



I have leeks left in the garden, sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower, one courgette plant and two buckets of carrotsI'm thinking of getting some potatoes in the ground ready for Christmas or new year, something I don't normally bother with. I'll give garlic another try this year the last lot was a disappointment. 
 
The amount of fruit and vegetables the garden has produced this year is fantastic.  The runner beans have been few but the French dwarf beans just kept coming.  I looking forward to seeing if I have any sweet potatoes in the tub where I planted the slips earlier this year.  It was an experiment and I've only had one flower form to date. Unfortunately it has been a extremely dry hot summer on the Essex coast.  The rain has been virtually non existent and the water butts dried up long ago, so everything has had to be watered by hose which will probably increase my bill this year.  I will look for more ways of storing water for next year. Bye for now. Tx

Monday, 12 September 2016

Celebration Time I've RETIRED

Although it is just over 5 weeks until my official retirement date I completed my admin shift just over an hour ago.  I thought I would come home and crack on with my blog as I have so much to catch up on.  The final  3 nights shifts last week were gruelling with the last one being extended, making me even more grateful that I won't ever have to do it  again. The job I finished doing was nothing like the job I started, it had changed beyond recognition. In 2010 the government joined the United Kingdom Immigration Service (AKA: Border Immigration Agency) with Customs and Excise to became Border Force and the staff  had to become duel trained in Customs & Excise and Immigration roles.  It was a pass or fail situation which lead to the loss of jobs and a horrid working atmosphere. Enough said!
 
Hubby asked me if he could take some photos of me before my last shift as  we don't have any.  It may be nice to show the grandchildren in the future evidence that nanny once belonged to the working population. My colleague also took some photos early hours of the morning just before we realised the shift was going to go pear shaped. I dislike having my photo taken but went with along with the idea for posterity. The BBC filmed me doing various jobs a while back for Stock footage, so I may appear on a TV near you soon. Haha.
 
Before: Bright eyed bushy tailed!
 
After: Contact lens out, glasses on,
as the night shift drags out to 10+  hours
My team presented me with lots of retirement goodies on the last night on behalf of them and the other teams.  I am a very lucky lady.
 
 
 
Prosecco, champagne lead crystal flutes, gardening vouchers, Roberts DAB solar radio and an Elderly Driver Badge! Oh and two beautiful cards with wonderful sentiments. The gifts fit in well with my retirement lifestyle, were I see myself,  sitting in the sun filled garden sipping bubbly from the beautiful lead crystal flute glasses, watching the plants growing I bought with the vouchers while listening to the Roberts solar radio......HEAVEN.
 
I have been stripped of all the tools of my trade and will spend the next few days clearing out my wardrobe  of  used uniform.  Any new things went to the office for others to utilise.

As for my pension.......unfortunately it took 3 phone calls and a lot of angry persuasion to the Civil Service Pension Office to get my pension quote. Apparently they had sent the letter 3 times since 11th August but as I never replied everything had come to a standstill.  I have never had any letters.  The address on file is correct and   I still haven't had the 4th one they put in the post Thursday!!! (WHERE ARE THEY) After a standoff Friday afternoon when my Inspector said they would get involved they agreed to email it to my works secure address.  Hubby and I discussed things and I have sent off the reply slip with my marriage certificate.

My journey will continue throughout September and October when I will reveal just how much Money I have managed to squirrel away to help us with our 'old age'. I will also have to think of a new name for the blog as I won't be a RETIREEWANNABEE anymore.

 I hope you all had a lovely weekend its been hot, hot, hot again and we desperately need rain!  Back soon. Tx


 


Saturday, 3 September 2016

The last time, 1 week until RETIREMENT

Yesterday saw me complete my very last 6-2 shift, this afternoon will be my last ever 2-10 late shift. Tomorrow I will start night one of three night shifts, that I will never have to work again. YIPEE!! Basically this week will be filled with lots of 'lasts'. I will be saying goodbye to numerous people from other teams as it will be the last time we work together before I retire. It will soon be time to put on my uniform on for the very last time. I have an admin day on the 12th when I will hand in my warrant, personal epaulettes, unique landing stamp, note books, handcuffs, baton, spare uniform, keys, door passes, security tags and personal tracker for driving Govt vehicles (Big brother is watching). I will miss the people I work with but not the job.  I'm not having a leaving do and have requested an 'no fuss' exit.  Six of my team took me out for breakfast last week which was lovely and I'm having afternoon tea in October (nearer my birthday)with some fellow female officers. 
 
It will be the last mortgage payment on the 'rental' property which means as from next month we will finally see some profit from our investment in the form of income.  So far the rent has only just covered the landlord insurance, general maintenance and mortgage which was taken out over a short period of time, hence the higher payments. I have been paying the tax bill out of my wages at a whopping 30-35%. Has it been worth it?  I think it will be as my income reduces to pension level the rent  will be welcome boost to my purse.  In addition, in the 3+ years its been rented the value of the property has increased  considerably which means when we come to sell there will be a handsome profit despite having to pay capital gains. But anything can happen
when it comes to the property market.  I will make my last pension contribution this month. Octobers pay will be pension contribution  and mortgage free which means for one month only I will actually have a decent pay packet. TYPICAL!!
I had to work over the weekend (my last) but the afternoons were spent digging up the last of the beetroot and generally tidying up bits and bobs around the garden.  As each plant finishes harvesting it is being pulled up, composted and the old compost from the pots added to the heap ready to revitalise with manure and other nutrients. We had some rain on Saturday late afternoon and evening but it hasn't made a lot of difference to the garden.  Time to get off to work now. Bye for now. Tx