Home working successfully after retirement

The picture shows someone home working sat on a soafa using a tablet with their feet up.
The dream life. Home working has many advantages.

I  retired just over a year ago but found I missed the stimulation and I will admit the money from working.   I wondered if there were any interesting home working opportunities that would offer a reasonable rate of pay to older people for a few hours work a week.  After a bit of googling  I soon discovered that quite a few mystery shopping companies had jobs for older people. Now rather to my surprise I find myself home working.  This is all very new to me.  During my working life I  worked in offices, nursing homes, hospitals and even a laboratory but now for the first time I am my own boss and work from home and  I find I much prefer it to watching day time television or knitting.

       10 tips for successful home working after retirement

  • set a target for how much you want to earn each week.  When it has been reached you have done enough.
  • Learn to say, No.  If you are working for several different people you will need to schedule a reasonable quantity of work and schedule some down time.
  • Make sure you get up early and get dressed.  It will make you feel more like work.
  • Keep all your work tools in one place preferably away from day time television.
  • Keep basic accounts recording income, outgoings and time.  (I imagine I am invoicing myself) so you can see what is the most profitable type of work.
  • Pay yourself a wage and keep a float for expenses.
  • Check income tax allowances.  If you work from home you can claim a portion of your heating and other household bills against income tax. (U.K)
  • If you work as an employee tell the tax office and you may be able to offset part of your personal tax allowance against tax. (U.K.)
  • Tell your friends and family that you will be working at certain times.
  • Make sure you schedule in some exercise.

I find it suprising the amount of work that is available for pensioners.   My recent jobs have ranged from sending a tweet to enquire about disabled access at a railway station to asking how to apply for a new driving licence at seventy.  I also do tasks that are not age specific like visiting gardens and local pubs.   Google and you tube have been my friends.  When I am stuck I can generally find a helpful video.  I also use my tablet’s planner and notepad to organise my schedule.

When I was in full time work I used to enjoy helping to mentor students.  I also enjoyed helping my own children with their homework when they were at school so when I found that there were opportunities to help research students I investigated further.  My favourite website for this is prolific academic , My referral link which puts research students in touch with participants.  I have also recently participated in research studies at our local university.

If you work from home do you have any tips to share? Or are you finding the transition to retirement easier than I did.  I would love to hear what you are thinking.  Don’t be shy.

If you are thinking of home working and want to find out more….

For more on mystery shopping and a couple of companies to try see my post https://www.theplatinumline.blog/mystery-shopping/

For more on helping with academic research  see my post https://www.theplatinumline.blog/helping-with-academic-research/

A very useful site for British readers to find out about homeworking opportunities is  The money shed

Quincy, a large ginger cat
Quincy – a cat who used to visit. You can’t take time out to cuddle a cat when working in an office

Prague: A short visit to Czechia’s fairytale capital

 

  A few days in Prague

Last week, we were again acting as roadies for our daughter who teaches English as a foreign language.  This year she has a post teaching in a village school just outside Prague and wanted some help with her luggage.  She needed to take extra clothes for this trip as winters can be very cold in central Europe.

We flew to Prague from Bristol with Easy Jet and stayed at the U Krize hotel which is situated between the Vltava river and the Petrin hill near the Charles Bridge.  We went to Prague for a long weekend a few years ago and my son  visited Prague for a stag weekend. However there is a lot more to the city than cheap beer.

A picture looking over the rooftops
Prague from the Petrin Hill

It is known as the city of a hundred spires and from above you can see the red roofs and green domes of the various churches.  The river Vltava snakes lazily through the centre and while we were there a lot of people were enjoying boat trips or were out in pedal boats.  Many bridges cross the river  including the most famous, the Charles Bridge with its dark statues of medieval saints.

Paddle boats on the river
People enjoying paddle boats on the Vltava river. The Charles bridge is in the background

We caught the hop on hop off bus for a sight seeing tour and saw the enormous Prague castle and the rather ugly Prague Sparta football stadium.  I learnt that the name comes from its former use for Spartacus gymnastics. We were unable to see the famous astronomical clock as it is being repaired and was covered by scaffolding.

The memorial to the victims of communism

 

Some history

2018 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Prague spring when protesters led by Alexander Dubcek rebelled against communism before the protest was crushed by Soviet tanks.  We noticed a lot of people visiting the monument to the victims of communism opposite our hotel and lighting candles.  We also visited a moving exhibition of testimonials by local people who had suffered under the communists in a local church.

In 1987 the people of Prague protested again led by Vaclav Havel a playwright .  This time the Russians were more sympathetic and the wave of protests in central Europe led eventually to the fall of the Berlin wall and the end of the Soviet Union. Czechoslovakia became independent after what became known as the velvet revolution and Vaclav Havel became Prime minister.  More recently there has been a velvet divorce and Czechia and Slovakia have split.

Prague today

Prague is now the capital of Czechia and is a large open and vibrant city of over a million inhabitants with a large expat community.   It is full of Parks and quirky statues.   It has lots of restaurants serving international and local dishes and designer shops as well as shops selling handmade wooden toys and local alcoholic beverages. The area around the Charles bridge is full of buskers playing classical music and talented artists painting tourists portraits. Certainly it is a wonderful city to visit.

Statue of Playwright sitting on the shoulders of a giant.
Franz Kafka statue. The playwright lived in Prague most of his life. Photo Angela Fraser

 

Westonbirt Arboretum: Going for gold, my favourite autumn walk

Westonbirt Arboretum

 

Autumn Colours. The picture shows red and orange trees.
The acers showing beautiful Autumn colours in my photo.

One of my favourite local places to visit at this time of year is Westonbirt Arboretum, which is in Gloucestershire about four miles from Tetbury.  An Arboretum is a word for a collection of trees and Westonbirt has 15,000 of them including 2,500 different types.   The collection was started in 1850 by Robert Holford, a rich Victorian Landlord who owned the estate.

Visitors walking through the trees.
Visitors enjoying the Autumn colours.

 

It is now owned by the forestry commission and has 17 miles of accessible trails. The forestry commission have also been busy planting wild flower meadows.    They are even carrying out experiments to find out how different varieties of tree will cope with possible climate change.  Local naturalists have also identified over 1,000 different types of fungi.

The Stihl treetop walkway which was recently opened allows you to look down on the trees and it is fully wheelchair accessible. A lift takes disabled visitors to the top.   Electric scooters are available for hire but need to be pre booked.   Dogs on leads are allowed in the silk wood area.

Children’s activities

The Gruffulo A large wooden gruffulo has been placed in the wood.
The Gruffulo is hiding in the dark wood.

There are a lot of activities for children including a chance to spot the Gruffulo and several play zones  so children can  climb and scramble. There is also an outdoor classroom which can be used by schools and a bird hide. A large gift shop sells a wide range of countryside books, gifts and toys.

Food and Drink

Westonbirt  has a good restaurant which serves hot and cold food, a snack bar with outdoor seating and  a  picnic area with benches and tables for people to bring their own food.

Autumn is my favourite time to visit when the woods are full of reds and yellows.  The foresters waymark a special Autumn tints trail so you won’t miss the most colourful trees particularly the Acers.

Christmas activities

However there are activities throughout the year including Christmas when  the staff decorate some of the trees  with fairy lights and children can meet Father Christmas.  The woodsmen also hose down the trunks of the silver birches to give the woods a magical feel and Christmas gifts are on sale.

In  summer  the woods are full of colourful azaleas and rhodedendrons.

Admission is £10.00 for adults and £4.00 for children.

More details can be found here:Westonbirt arboretum

The site also has a guide to download in French, German or Japanese.

If you enjoyed this post you might like Two National Trust Properties to visit near Bath.

The Bristol Blitz – A walk in the past

The Bristol Blitz – A walk in the Past

I was a child of the baby boom generation born just after the war.  Growing up I remember large bomb sites in the centre of Bristol in particular the area around Castle Park  which was covered with grass and purple buddleia.  My husband who is older than me can even remember going into air raid shelters to escape the blitz and the big street parties which marked V.E. day in 1945.

However when I saw a walk advertised on the “Walk in the past” website “the Bristol Blitz,”  I realised I did not know very much about the actual details of the blitz itself.  My mother who was a teacher had taken evacuees to Cornwall and my father lived near Bath so they had not experienced it directly.

The Bristol Blitz memorial

Many people know St. Peter’s church which is in the centre of Castle Park close to Cabot Circus shopping centre and the galleries.  It was  destroyed during the blitz and only the shell remains.  It is kept as a memorial to the 1,299 civilians killed in Bristol whose names are listed on a board outside.  The area round Castle park had been filled with narrow bustling streets and small shops before the war.  St. Peter’s Church

The shell of St. Peter's chuch in Castle Park
St. Peter’s church was destroyed during the Blitz. The shell has been left as a memorial.

 

Before the war the government did not think Bristol was  a major target so did not make much effort  to protect the city.  The Germans however disagreed.  There was a large aircraft  factory in Filton and Avonmouth was an important transatlantic port.  Bristol was also a vital railway hub for South Wales and the South West.  Pilots could easily find the city at night by simply following the rivers Avon and Severn.

1941-1942 Blitz

There were several major air raids in 1941 and 1942 in which thousands of houses were completely or partially destroyed and many civilians were killed or injured.  Many eyewitness accounts exist.  People recalled how at first they watched the flares and bombs and thought it was   a rather grand Guy Fawkes celebration.  However they quickly realised the horror of the destruction and how the centre of Bristol would be changed for ever.

Our walk

We met by St. Peter’s church and looked at the names on the war memorial

This picture was given to my parents as a wedding present in 1947.We explo

and then explored  the area round Castle Park and the site of another ruined church St. Mary Le port .   We also looked  at pictures of the rather beautiful

This rail was embedded into the grass just feet away from St. Mary Redcliffe Church. It has been left to show how narrowly the church escaped damage

old Dutch house (right)which was destroyedduring the blitz and other photos of the pre war city.   we then headed  to St. Mary Redcliffe church and saw  a section of tram track which narrowly missed the church.  We next  looked at the ruins of Temple church, close to Temple Meads railway station which was originally a round temple owned by the Knights Templar.  Temple Church

We then climbed to Beckinghamham Road in Knowle where a large unexploded bomb nicknamed Satan lay undiscovered under the road for two years.  It  was estimated to weigh 1800 kgs and was one of the largest bombs to have been dropped in England.  It would have caused considerable damage if it had gone off  but instead was paraded through London for V.E. day.

Reflections

This walk was very different from previous walks looking at the medieval city or for Tudor   architecture as many of the walkers could remember being told stories by their parents or grandparents who had lived in Bristol during the blitz .  Some knew   the people who used to live in the houses that had been damaged or destroyed.  We also talked to some of the current occupants of Beckingham Road .  It was a real experience of living history  which brought the past vividly to life.

If you enjoyed this post you might like Roman Londinium A walk in the past

A cruise around the British Isles.

A cruise around the British Isles

I  have been lucky enough to have travelled quite a lot in Europe but there are still many places in the British Isles that I have not visited yet.

So when my husband saw an advertisement for a cruise going right round the British Isles departing from Avonmouth, our local port we thought it was too good to miss.   We booked with CMV, cruise and Maritime Voyages.  The ship used was the Marco Polo.  This liner has an interesting history having been built sixty years ago for the Soviet Union.  I had never been on an ocean cruise before and was not sure what to expect.

We were very lucky to be given a cabin high up on the 11th floor well away from the noise of the entertainment and the bars.  I had wondered whether I would be bored being on a boat for a week as I normally enjoy walking but in fact there was plenty to do with lectures and shows. Some of the entertainment reflected the age of the passengers who were mainly elderly with games like throw the bean bag and rock and roll evenings.

I had booked walking tours at our various ports as I thought I would get cabin fever but instead I found I was surprisingly tired when I came home.  This might have been something to do with the amount we ate.  There was a lot of good food provided.  If you wanted you could have six meals a day, breakfast, eleven o’clock snacks, lunch, four o’clock tea and cake, dinner and even a midnight feast.

I certainly needed those walks.  My favourite places were the Scottish Isles which I had never visited before particularly Tobermory with its colourful houses instantly recognisable from the children’s television show, Balamory and Kirkwall in Orkney with its whitewashed stone houses.

A photo of the womble Tobermory outside a shop in Tobemory
Tobermory in Tobermory wombling free.

I also enjoyed my first visit to Dunfermline where we saw the birth place of Carnegie and learnt something of his life story:  How he went from Weaver’s son to one of the richest men in America.  He did not forget his native city and endowed it with a concert hall, library, park, swimming pool and technical college.

A statue of Andrew Carnegie
This statue is of Andrew Carnegie, the philanthropist in the park which he bought for the city after not being allowed to play in it as a child.

   The homeward leg

We then sailed south visiting Honfleur, a well preserved seaside town at the mouth of the Seine  in France and Jersey the largest of the  channel Islands.

Bronze cows wandering through St. Helier
Realistic statues of cows in St. Hellier Jersey.

 

Our last port of call was my  favourite Tresco in the Scilly Islands where we were lucky enough to be taken on a tour of the Abbey Gardens by a retired gardener.

A picture of chocolate colour succulents.
Succulents in the Abbey garden in Tresco