The last of our Australian visitors has just walked out the door at 6.30 in the morning. Like the proverbial bus you don’t see one for a long time and then two sets show up, quite coincidentally, at once. Of the two sets of partners only one person is working, so, in total, that’s five out of six of us (including ourselves) who are retired. I have asked them to write guest blogs, you know, retirement from an Australian perspective, that kind of thing. They say they will but only time will tell, only time will tell. I have ‘discovered’ something though and it may be the very thing I did not want to discover. And no they didn’t bring up the cricket, I did, couldn’t help myself. Had to get it out the way. They were very polite about it. Read on.
In the absence of a blog from them I have been grilling them on behalf of my reader. Is retirement different in OZ? Answer, not very, seems to be the staggering conclusion. Or, at least, maybe more similar than different? Perhaps, as might be guessed from the fact that they are over here, Australians have maybe a greater propensity to travel when retired. Particularly when you bear in mind that the first couple included, England, Scotland and Ireland in their itinerary and the second couple went one better by covering Eastern Europe, and a boat trip along Danube and Rhine in theirs (not to mention Dubai and Hong Kong as stop-overs). Listening last night to their future travel plans – for the next ten years – Canada’s inside passage, train trip to Morocco, Moscow, St Petersburg, Peru, blah, blah, made me feel quite tired, they clearly intend to travel in their retirement in a big way. Whether I can confidently ascribe this to a retirement situation I’m not sure. In our experience of Australians and New Zealanders the concept of ‘the big OE’ (overseas experience) has always been a central part of their life experience at some time or other. So maybe retirement brings out that wanderlust a little more. I suppose in the case of Australians when you have a bloody big country to go at, just outside your back door, the idea of hitting the road (as in the American dream) is quite an appealing one. I remember the time we were in OZ and hired a campervan to drive from Melbourne to Sydney. This relatively new vehicle came with a speedometer reading of well in excess of 300,000 kilometres. When I queried this with the hire guy he explained that people hired them and then drove all the way around the coastline of Australia. Impressive drive. No wonder they think they can do the whole of the UK in a week, Europe in 10 days. I must say the idea of this trip has stayed with me but, with the arrival of the pups, it’s receded quite a lot. I can imagine Archie trying to play with a taipan or death adder and getting his silly nose bitten. If we ever took them with us that is.
I asked both chaps about the issue I keep banging on about on this blog, the one that plagues me, the issue of loss of identity, of a lowering of self-esteem. One of them had experienced some of this. He had retired at 58 as an FE lecturer and felt he still needed to work and so is retraining as an immigration agent and is already lining up work for when he is qualified. He also runs his own winery as they call them over there. It produces 4,000 litres a year, just above hobby status he says somewhat dismissively. Sounds pretty good to me. So an identity there as a vineyard owner. He’s a knowledgeable guy and he had some damning things to say about my own ‘winery’ so I hope his knowledge doesn’t extend to the UK. I wr0te more about this in my last vineyard blog, so enough said on this topic for now.
The second chap said he has no difficulty at all giving up work but then tells me he will be working for two and a half days when he gets back. He says this is to pay for the trip but I’m not convinced, I think there may be more of him tied up in his work than he cares to admit. Certainly when he told us next morning that he had had a phone call at 4 o’clock in the morning from OZ (did I wake you he asks?) telling him he had been nominated as the psychologist who had made a lifetime’s contribution to the profession, he seemed pretty damned pleased. It didn’t suggest to me that his was a profession left behind, a neat break, on to new challenges. But, hey, why should he and I’m probably just bitter because nobody ever gave me a life time award.
When I knew our visitors were coming I looked forward to talking to them about this retirement business, to see if I could get a different perspective on it. A view from down under that might prove enlightening in my search for the perfect retirement. Alas it was not to be. In fact perhaps the one aspect of retirement it reinforced as being the way to go was the very one I’ve been trying to avoid, as I said at the beginning of the blog, it is that retirement is an opportunity to travel. I’ve a good mind to hop on a plane and go and stay with them. But I have to say I did not need my need to travel bug reinforcing.
There has been one last ‘discovery’ occasioned by the visits of our Australian chums. It relates to one fear I had of retirement – that it would be dull, same old, same old. In this context any routines we might develop in our retirement days would probably be stifling, unfulfilling. Well, this last week we have had our routines completely destroyed and the irony of all this is that I want my routines back. I miss my retirement routines. Not to be though…
A late addition to this blog, I’m publishing this a little earlier than usual because we’re off travelling in retirement! More later.