When the planned closure of Ebbw Vale was announced, I was 45 years old (or thereabouts), and was astounded that people only 5 years older than me gratefully took the offer of retiring aged 50. Maybe their circumstances were different from mine, since I had nowhere near sufficient years of service to make for a decent pension, and if you started work aged 15 you would have had 35 years in the bag.
Still, not only was I grateful that I managed to find further employment in Llanwern, but when it came to job content things started to become really interesting. So no way was I planning on retiring early. When the Operational Research team was formed in 2006/07 and was asked about my ambitions for the future, I had to gather my thoughts at first, but then realised that there was still so much more to do and that I did indeed have plenty left in the ambition tank.
At this stage I have to mention that my wife is a few years older than me, and had continued to work past her state pension age of 60 because there was little point in her retiring while I was still doing long days five days a week. But then came the time when she had a scare with a detached retina, which put her plans of continuing to work on hold.
So in the end we were in the situation where one person had retired and the other had no immediate plans to do so, totally contrary to our original plans. That’s when I requested to work a condensed week, i.e. doing my normal working hours in 4 rather than 5 days. This gave us the opportunity to have an extended weekend, and spend more time together. At this stage the plans were still of me retiring some time between age 60 and 65, exact time still to be decided.
And then, as I explained in my first blog, the scare of the pension scheme came along, and it didn’t take me long to realise that this time I WAS ready for early retirement, especially since the gift of turning 60 before the deadline fell in my lap. I must admit that I was a bit apprehensive about retirement since until then I hadn’t given it much thought, but I suppose I had nearly a year to get used to the idea.
Fortunately there was little time to contemplate and get all anxious, since there was plenty of ground to cover to finish off existing projects and make sure things were documented properly. And once Theo had arrived, there was an added impetus to make sure that a hand-over could be achieved before the deadline.
The good thing about the first few months of retirement was that the calendar was already full, first with my daughter’s wedding, then a week spent with family in the New Forest, and finally a 6-week driving holiday to Sicily. By then summer was here, and there’s never much chance of getting bored when the weather’s nice and you can enjoy all the summery things.
Do I miss work ? Not really. It would probably be hard work trying to get back into the pressure of a full working week, and I like the relaxation of being able to do things my way and at my own pace. Besides, chances that I would be recalled are diminishing by the day, and to be honest, it’s not something that concerns me all that much.