2018 final summary

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Local wooden bench where I sat in July pondering about the point of doing this blog…

The final day and my final post of 2018 so time for a little reflection…

Producing a ‘doing 50 things bucket list’ to mark the year I turned 50 is a form of goal setting with personal development and self improvement in mind.

I had something of a kick up the backside during a health check in December 2017 when I was basically told I was overweight, drank too much alcohol and had a borderline high cholesterol! And this was just 2 months before my 50th birthday… Staying fit and healthy so I can continue to travel and live my best life is a priority for me so several of my 50 goals were related to improving my health. Thankfully a health check in August revealed my cholesterol was down to ‘normal’ levels!

One of the most positive outcomes of maintaining this blog for the last 12 months has been the sense of achievement I’ve felt. Never before have I kept up a gym membership for longer than 2 or 3 months; I have rarely kept my weight under control and I’m pretty certain I wouldn’t have pushed myself to walk over 2000 miles had I not blogged about it. Publishing regular updates has made me feel accountable and has pushed me towards achieving my challenges. I might well have been tempted to cheat on my vegan month or sober October if it were not for this blog!

Walking was a significant and an immensely positive aspect of my life throughout the last year. Walking over 2000 miles has:

  • Certainly helped me to keep my weight down;
  • Kept me fit and healthy;
  • Most likely helped me to stay positive;
  • Continued to enhance my social life (I’ve met several lovely new friends this year);
  • Enabled me to see beautiful scenery (Switzerland, the Peak District and even local scenery around my home town);
  • Saved me quite a sum of money (by not paying for public transport or using my car);
  • Helped to build relationships with my husband Chris and my friends;
  • Given me little ‘light bulb moments’…

In relation to the last point above, walking is almost like a form of meditation. While I didn’t achieve my meditation goal this year, I found walking is great for switching off and clearing your mind. And I did have several moments of inspiration while walking.

Other than the meditation goal I didn’t achieve, I also didn’t do a cooking class, or watch Greg Braden or get another job or complete the first draft of a book of our 2016 global adventures! Never mind… 45  / 50 isn’t bad… and its best to settle for 90% than try to achieve everything and get stressed about it! Rather than force myself to do a cooking class I just accepted this wasn’t going to happen this year.

Plans for 2019 and beyond: 

While having 50 goals and challenges has been fun and has enabled me to stay focussed, at times it has been quite exhausting! I have several travel plans for 2019 but will maybe spend a little more time at home and a few less weekends away… I have applied for another job and I’ll definitely aim to lose the extra 4 lb’s gained over Christmas!

I read somewhere earlier today something along the lines of “tomorrow marks the first day of a set of 365 blank pages… make sure the story you write is a good one…”. How exciting! Life is what you make it and who knows what will be written in the next 365 pages…

Finally, thank you for reading my blog posts and traveling alongside me on the journey into my 50’s… I’m now nearly 51 so here’s to 2019 and the next 9 years until I’m 60!

Happy New Year! 

Marc and Angel: “You have to make yourself happy. Its not selfish, its called personal development”

 

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Retirement plan

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I’ve finally got round to producing this post in the last few hours of 2018! OK, so not a formal retirement plan as such but just a few notes to keep me focussed for the next few years. I enjoy making plans although never have a problem in changing them if a new and better option presents itself. I don’t like my life to be too rigid although its good to have some direction!

Ideally I would like to retire at 60 so this is my aim. As mentioned, this isn’t ‘set in stone’ as you never know how your life may change or whether you can afford to retire when you plan to or even if you are still going to be around by then! Hopefully things will all be good so this is produced in a positive light…

Although Government pension arrangements changed in 2015 I am still fortunate to have a decent pension. I could still retire at 60 although my official retirement age is now 67 which means I will have a reduced pension at 60. As long as I have enough money to live the life I wish to live, I am OK with that.

If things go to plan (and I don’t have an impulse to pack in my job and go and work in Thailand as a teacher… hmmm there’s a thought…) this means I have less than 10 years left in the corporate world.

Plan as of December 2018

  • Retire in 2028 at age 60
  • Pay mortgage off by 2028; I could pay off extra each month but will need to balance this carefully with the following two important points…
  • Spend the next 9 years travelling to more expensive places for example the Galapagos Islands. This is more affordable while I am working than it would be on a pension.
  • Focus on the more active and adventurous trekking holidays for the next 9 years. I intend to continue doing these when I’m 60+ but as I am fitter now than I am likely to be as I get older I don’t want to have missed opportunities.
  • Living the retirement dream… Retire at 60 and spend a few years as a nomad, travelling slowly around the world and spending chunks of time in different places. This is the time for freedom to do things that are more difficult when you only have 6 or 7 weeks’ annual leave a year, for example:
    • 6 months travelling around Australia
    • Long road trips through Europe
    • 3 months in Hawaii
    • US and Canadian road trips
    • 6 weeks island hopping around Greece
    • A few months in Central America
    • Walk the South West coast path
  • Return to the UK and live a self sufficient semi off-the-grid life in a bungalow but with a camper van to continue regular UK adventures…
  • As I want to have a long and active retirement I need to stay fit and healthy! My retirement plan for the next 9  years therefore includes:
    • Keep my weight at 8 st 6 or under (preferably around 8 st 3)
    • Exercise most days
      • Gym 2 or 3 times a week
      • 40 or 50 miles of walking each week
    • Do some stretching and yoga each day
    • Keep my mind as calm and stress free as possible
    • Eat mostly organic food
    • Limit processed food
    • Limit alcohol to an average of one glass of red wine a day (at the most)
  • Get a promotion at work? This would boost my pension if I am to retire at 60…

On the health points above I did a ‘How Are You?’ quiz yesterday to check my health and fitness levels against those recommended by the NHS and thankfully I got a good score of 9 / 10.

Things to improve:

  • Apparently I should be doing more strength exercises at the gym
  • I would benefit from doing regular yoga and stretching
  • I need to watch my alcohol intake!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week 52: final walking week of 2018!

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Running total (to week 51): 2101

Miles walked in week 52: 22

Grand total for 2018: 2123

To put this into perspective London to Marmaris, Turkey is 2,114 miles and the Appalachian Trail (the massively long US hiking trail) is 2,200 miles! So I have walked the equivalent of both during 2018 🙂 

  • Average miles per month: 177
  • Average miles per week: 41
  • Average miles per day: 5.8

The photo below was taken yesterday during a short walk at the RSPB in Sandy, Bedfordshire. After a lazy week with little exercise a post Christmas walk with Chris was in order!

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RSPB Lodge at Sandy, Bedfordshire

This post now concludes my 2018 walking challenge, the challenge with the most blog post updates, the challenge with probably the biggest effort throughout the year and one I have enjoyed immensely. I will continue monitoring my miles throughout 2019!

 

 

 

 

 

 

End of 2018 final weigh-in

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Weight shown month by month in kilograms

 

Final weight of 2018: 8 st 7 lb

Having managed to stick to 8 st 2 or 3 throughout most of 2018 unfortunately I put on a few extra pounds at Christmas… Thankfully my new smaller clothes still fit and at least I am still around 2 stones less than I was just over a year ago! I am keen to get back to 8 st 3, the weight I had begun to feel comfortable at. I’m therefore planning to get back to my exercise routine together with a calorie cut down for the new year…

 

 

 

 

 

Capsule wardrobe summary

Achieved!

I’m marking this as a success as I now have a minimum amount of clothes, all of which fit and all of which I wear. Old clothes get taken to a clothing bank once they are worn out or replaced with new items.

I have spare hanging space in the wardrobe; my jumper and underwear draws have gaps and shut properly; I can find things to wear within a few seconds rather than rummaging around.

Having no need to impress anyone or feel concerned about being judged by anyone I’m happy to wear the same clothes on a regular basis. For example, my black work trousers and range of about 3 different work tops get worn each week on the 2 or 3 days I go into the office. The rest of the time I tend to wear jeans or the odd dress if I’m going out. As well as reducing clutter this minimalist clothing approach keeps life simple 🙂

This does also give me a big incentive not to gain weight… none of my clothes are in a larger size so it would cost a small fortune to replace them again…

 

 

 

 

Plastic reduction summary

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Throughout 2018 Chris and I have made a big attempt to reduce our plastic consumption. We have now started to use natural soap instead of shower gel and Chris also uses shampoo in soap bar form rather than buying shampoo bottles. And even better, they arrive in 100% recyclable materials! Rather than polystyrene chips, the chips shown in the photo above are biodegradable and disintegrate in water within a few seconds!

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We now have a weekly organic fruit and veg box from Riverford where most of the items are either loose or in paper bags. As well as fruit and veg they have a range of organic foods and I was delighted to find the organic muesli comes in a paper bag!

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Some supermarkets such as the Co-op provide decomposable bags which is brilliant. We were given this when we did a beach clean back in October although sadly the Co-op bag was filled with drinks and snacks in plastic wrappers.

We are mindful when we shop to now buy items in glass jars rather than plastic containers (e.g. olives) and chocolate in paper and foil rather than plastic. Only a few short years ago people would purchase large TINS of Quality Street… these are now large plastic tubs… millions of them sold at Christmas and all ending up in landfill…

Below is one of the most powerful video’s which sadly illustrates the damage being done to our planet… selfishly destroying it for future generations. Brilliantly produced by Steve Cutts and available on You Tube.

 

 

 

 

Declutter summary

Still room for improvement on this one!

I would like to think our apartment is fairly clutter free:

  • I’ve completely thinned out my clothes and have spare hanging space in my single wardrobe
  • I get rid of unwanted items and gifts on a regular basis… and have to be a bit ruthless sometimes.
  • I keep our limited kitchen cupboard space as clear as I can by getting rid of out-of-date food (things like spices that you buy once for one recipe and never use again…)
  • I don’t buy items unless I actually need them.

But I would like to be even more of a minimalist… I still have a great deal of books stored in flat boxes under my bed that I never read and I’m probably not likely to. These need to be sorted and taken to a charity shop.

And while I would prefer less physical clutter I also need to look at my lifestyle. This is the last weekend of December and the first weekend I’ve had at home since October. Having a busy life of weekends away is fun and exciting but sometimes its good to slow down a bit, relax and enjoy the freedom of doing nothing. Except for catching up with blog posts! Apologies for the little flurry of them today 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Mindfulness update

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I haven’t made too much progress on this activity…

Earlier in the year I enquired about another meditation course at our local little ‘Healing Centre’ but I missed the start of the September course and the next courses don’t start until January.

So I decided to buy a couple of book and teach myself how to meditate! I took the Mindfulness Pocket book on holiday to Grenada and read a couple of pages but didn’t really get into it…

I also brought another book called ‘Mindfulness: a practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world’ by Mark Williams and Danny Penman. But haven’t started this either…

So I have to say, I’ve learned zero about meditation and mindfulness this year! Hey ho… will try to get on a meditation course in 2019…

 

 

End of 2018 book challenge results

Achieved!

Until January 2018 I read very few books with most of my reading material coming from articles on the Internet! However I’ve enjoyed reading books throughout 2018 and regular reading is something I am going to continue.

Not surprising that most of these have been travel books… I tried a couple of ‘chick lit’ type fiction books but didn’t really find them too inspiring or exciting. For me, they were a bit of a slog to get through and I could take them or leave them.

This is the full list:

  1. Kamikazi Kangaroos! 20,000 Miles Around Australia. One Van, Two Girls… And An Idiot by Tony James Slater
  2. Just Off For A Walk (South West Coast Path) by Stephen Reynolds
  3. No Wrong Turns: Cycling the World, Part One: Paris to Sydney by Chris Pountney
  4. Travels with Rachael: In Search of South America by George Mahood
  5. Balancing on Blue (Appalacian Trail) by Keith Foskett
  6. The Long and Whining Road (around the world by camper van) by Simeon Courtie
  7. Neither Here Nor There by Bill Bryson
  8. Lone Rider (female motorcycle around the world) by Elspeth Beard
  9. High and Low (hiking around Scotland) by Keith Foskett
  10. Together by Julie Cohen
  11. Five Years From Now by Giovanna Fletcher
  12. Moods of Future Joys: Around the World by bike Part 1 by Alastair Humphreys
  13. What Happened That Night by Sheila O’Flanagan
  14. The Little Princess by Casey Watson
  15. Thunder and Sunshine: Around the World by bike Part 2 by Alastair Humphreys
  16. Cycling the World Part 2: Into the Sunrise, Sydney to Mori by Chris Pountney
  17. Grand Adventures by Alastair Humphreys
  18. Walk Sleep Repeat by Stephen Reynolds
  19. Step by Step: The Life in my Journeys by Simon Reeve
  20. It’s on the Meter: One taxi, Three Mates and 43,000 Miles of Misadventure Around the World by Paul Archer and Johno Ellison
  21. My Life with Che by Aleida March
  22. The Bolivian Diary by Ernesto Che Guevara

 

I enjoyed all of the adventure books which makes up most of this list! Books with real people having amazing adventures around the world from Keith Foskett’s long distance hiking to journey’s in camper vans, motorbikes and even a taxi! In particular I would recommend Simon Reeve’s book (no. 19) and the Alastair Humphreys cycle adventure books. These were the well written exciting books I found hard to put down although all have given me plenty of inspiration for future adventures!