I always thought keeping a diary or a journal sounded pretty boring. Then, when I retired early, I started my blog, which turns out to be kind of similar to a journal. Go figure, now I think journals are pretty neat.
This week, our daughter has temporarily evicted us from our apartment in the French Alps so that she and her friends can stay there and ski. Ah well, it's a good excuse to catch up with some friends in our old stomping ground of Dubai and enjoy a bit of winter sunshine at the same time.
So on Saturday morning, I packed for our trip with the feeling that I was forgetting something. My solution was to check the packing list used for my early retirement travels to Colombia, Costa Rica and California at the end of last year. I knew I'd put the list somewhere on my blog and soon found it in my Early Retirement Travels v.2 are done post. It turns out I hadn't forgotten anything, but it was best to double check.
I paused my packing to read the post and remind myself of those travel adventures. Then I followed the link to the previous year's four months of travel to Australia and Asia to refresh my memory of that trip too. It was good to remember the fun and adventures that we'd had. My travel posts attract less readers but I'm very glad I did them - they've become my travel journal that I can dip back into now and again to keep the memories fresh. It seems that keeping a journal is much more fun than I expected.
I did wonder if it's a bit weird to be reading my own blog posts, but I didn't let that stop me as I found myself clicking on another link, my Early Retirement Relocation post from mid 2018. That one's about packing up our life of the previous thirteen years, getting ready to start on something new, realising we would miss some things but also having a positive attitude about what the future would bring.
In that same relocation post, I'd made a list of some things that we could do in the next part of our life. I'd forgotten about that list and seeing it again made me wonder whether we'd done many, none or all of the things. I was intrigued to take stock:
Furnishing our new apartment in time for Christmas 2018
There wasn't much choice. We got the keys on 13 December, the kids (now aged 24 and 21, so maybe I need to stop calling them "the kids") were coming for Christmas and, yep, we got the place furnished and organised in time for Christmas. We even had internet connected.
My blog. Maybe Sally can join me in blogging about iRetiredYoung?
As you can see, I'm still persevering with iRetiredYoung, but my idea of Sally joining in with some posts hasn't materialised. I still think it's a good idea. I'm going to ask if she'll write a post - I hope she says yes, but I bet she says no.
Learning French - we'll sign up for lessons, probably 3-5 times a week
Hmm🤔, we did sign up for lessons, two a week, which lasted three months and then I entered the "could do better" phase. I need to sort this, and a good start would be to stop saying "I could do better" and to actually take more steps to really start doing better.
Skiing - alpine/downhill, and I also want to try cross country skiing
Last winter I skied between two and three days a week on average. So far this winter, I've done around 30 days which equates to three times a week. I'm happy with that. I call myself an intermediate with an aim to improve with practice and the occasional lesson. I've just bought some ski touring equipment which is a variation on my cross country skiing idea.
Cycling - I'm talking to Sally about getting her a bike (maybe an e-bike) so we can go together
Sally got an e-bike and we cycled the Route des Grandes Alpes from Lake Geneva to Nice which was way beyond what I imagined. Before that we had some joint training rides and I found some friends to cycle with too. Cycling in the mountains is pretty tough but some good coffee stops and awesome scenery make it worth the effort.
Photos - we have between six and eight thousand photos, stored digitally, that need organizing. A job for Sally!
This isn't done, not even started. Sally, what have you got to say for yourself? Well, she says she didn't know this was on her list...do we believe her?🤔
Videos - we have 10 hours of footage and need to edit these into a few short films. Another job for Sally?
Sally, why haven't you done this either? She's using the same excuse as with the photos - if that's true, then even she doesn't read my blog - I should have put blog reading into our marriage vows!
Visitors - we are looking forward to having lots of family and friends come to visit
We've had a good amount of visitors, it's really nice that people want to come. We even had Andrew from Australia (we met via this blog) visit in February. Maybe we can start a FIRE blog visitor exchange programme where FIRE bloggers/readers stay with each other?
Running - perhaps I'll train for a Northern hemisphere autumn 2019 marathon
I'm delayed on this one so it's 2020 instead of 2019. In January I started training for April's London Marathon, although there must be some doubt whether it goes ahead given the current Coronavirus pandemic - making sure people stay safe is much more important than running a marathon. Once I'm back to being properly run fit, I want to try to run a good (for me) time in an October or November marathon.
Work - Sally will decide if she wants to work again from September 2019. If she does, she'll need to spend time to find a job
Sally decided to extend her career break to September 2020 and her current thinking is that she'll extend it again. Until when, who knows? But that's OK, our early retirement finances are working out so neither of us needs to work.
Work - Investigate possible property renovation projects that we might want to do
This is mostly a Sally idea which hasn't happened yet, although she continues to be hooked on property renovation TV shows. A new idea is on the horizon, not quite the same, but not completely different. Watch this space.
Have time for crafts (Sally's suggestion, I'd be hopeless at this!)
Yep, Sally has time for crafts. Her Christmas wreath making was good, she made something to hang her jewelry on and she's done a few art classes, but it hasn't been very much. I haven't done any crafts, I'm not sure it's my thing.
Have days out - walking locally, picnics in the mountains, and exploring further afield
We've done a little of this, but it's probably something we can look to do more of this summer.
Search for some clubs to join
I would have liked to find a running club (it's harder running alone) but there doesn't seem to be one. No other clubs come to mind. With some friends, we've kind of made a French speaking practice club that meets once a week to practice our bad French. There are nine of us who go and Sally and I are definitely the worse!
Making new friends
We've made some lovely new friends, we're very lucky.
It feels a bit weird to say that I've enjoyed looking at some of my old posts this week but, in reality, it's quite like browsing through a journal or a diary.
I remember those pre-early retirement days when I was trying to picture what early retirement would look like. What would I do and would I be bored? Maybe keeping a journal is an idea you can add to your things to do list - it might be more interesting and fun than you expect. And if you fancy starting your own blog, Joe at Retireby40 has a good post, how to start a blog and why you should, that can set you on the right track.
Then there are those random ideas that you jot down, stuff that might keep you busy while you find your early retirement feet. That's what I was doing as I packed up our Dubai apartment in 2018, just jotting down some things that we could do. Some of which we've done and some of which we haven't. Two things I know is that I haven't been bored and I've enjoyed myself these past couple of days looking back at my journal (come blog). And now, I'm going to the beach!