July 2023 interim update

Just an update on the month with no numbers as decided to get this out while I could and there’s obviously one more working day for my portfolio numbers to change, dividends to be paid etc.

A blur of a month, felt like a lot was going on at home and at work.


Another year of being lucky with Wimbledon tickets, this time, I got to see a couple of cracking quarter-final matches. The weather was great and even the trains ran on time, so it was a great day out.


The news continues to be full of doom and gloom about the NHS but for me recently, the NHS continues to chug along, doing its thing in the background.

As well as getting invited for routine cervical screening, I’m now of an age where I also get invited for routine breast cancer and bowel cancer screening.

None of these screenings are particularly pleasant (although at least with the latter, I can do the test at home) but when I get these invitations, I will always attend/accept because it’s the only time it feels like ‘someone’ (other than myself) is looking out for me.

I got my results when they said I would get them (no issues) and that’s that for now, until the next screenings.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to look after myself and my health so as to try to avoid relying on the NHS unnecessarily – sadly, it seems like all’s fine when you don’t really need them but perhaps a different story if/when you do.


I considered yet another ‘try before I retire’ activity, by attending a life drawing session for the first time.

The last formal ‘art lesson’ I had was when I was 13 before I chose my options at school (I ended up doing Physics instead of Art).  I’ve only ever really done doodles and cartoons so I wasn’t sure how to use charcoal or pastels.

Anyway, it was a challenging yet enjoyable experience, which I found ‘mind-opening’! There was no teaching or guidance, it was just a free-for-all, with attendees’ skills ranging from enthusiastic beginners to more experienced artists. My friends thought my drawings were good but all I could see were the imperfections.

Budget constraints mean I probably won’t attend many of these sessions but I will certainly see what kind of free online resources I can find so that I can improve my drawing skills. And now I’ve found another thing which I enjoy doing, which I can do in retirement.


Having just completed sitting his GCSE exams, my nephew did a week’s work experience at our company. It was weird seeing him in the office and I resisted being a ‘helicopter aunt’, largely avoiding him so he could just be himself.

A product of independent schooling, colleagues commented positively on his confidence and ease at dealing with adults in a new/strange environment.  In his words, he ‘learned a bit and had a right laugh’ (he was with the Marketing team). I’ve also gone up a point in the ‘cool aunt’ stakes as he reckons I work for a good company! 🙂


I used my birthday money to buy a lawnmower (a small Flymo). Thus far, I’d been mowing the lawn with a strimmer, a bit time consuming but quite successfully, I might add.

The strimmer however is an antique, a 40 year old Black & Decker model, and while it still functions, it’s on its last legs so should probably just be used for edging and borders.

Since the new lawnmower has massively reduced mowing time, it has meant that I’ve been able to squeeze in ‘fast cuts’ during brief sunny periods before downpours – yay!

And finally, Friends Fired

I was surprised (but also not so surprised) to learn recently that a couple of my uni friends (we were course mates) have retired at the age of 55.

I wasn’t surprised because they were always the poster couple who I thought would ‘make it big in life’. Met at uni, they were the first of our bunch of friends to get a mortgage (so grown up!), theirs was the first wedding I attended without my parents, they had 3 children in quick succession, in between both juggling what appeared to be hugely successful careers.

However, I was surprised they would retire early due to the ever increasing size of their house (the last one I was aware of was a 6-bed mansion) and his penchant for tinkering with classic cars. Success has come to them through ambition and hard work (as far as I can tell) but it looks like once all their offspring had finished uni/schooling, they evidently realised they had ‘enough’, and decided enough was enough.

They’ve never mentioned FIRE before (but who does?), yet in true FIRE-fashion, they first trialled and then bought a motorhome and will be making some road trips in that! It’s been a while since I caught up with them properly so I hope to find out more when I see them next.

A recent message to me was “Retirement is fab, do it as soon as you can!” Believe me, I’m trying! 😀

Anyway, need to finish my packing for my hols – will sort out a numbers update when I get back.

Hope you all had a great July!

16 thoughts on “July 2023 interim update

  1. Sounds like you are doing alright (who needs numbers anyway, right?)
    On art, I occasionally paint or draw with my daughter (and son – but I’m a crutch to her) and do a bit myself.
    All terrible in every facet of the art – but it is an expression of who you are and is enjoyable even if it only makes you admire the greats a lot more!

    When on our nest hunt 8 years ago, a garden was on the “rather not” list of requirements. In part due to a garden adding on 50k to any house (which is 5k a year in opportunity cost, wasted time or garden equipment or all 3)
    But I reckon a well tamed garden is a huge opportunity for retired folk and upgrading to a new mower is no descent into hedonistic decadence. Gather ye rosebuds while ye may…

    • Hi GFF
      Yes, I have to get past the self-imposed perfection thing regarding art – I was quite good at it when I was younger but even then I had a critical eye. I need to find the joy in it!

      My new mower was on the to-buy list, I had just been trying to put it off as long as possible.

  2. Thanks for your update weenie. Congratulations to your friends on retiring at 55! It’s good you enjoyed Wimbledon and that’s cool about the drawing session.

    Working for the NHS, I can tell you that it really does motivate me to do anything I can at the back end level to help with the current back log, I really think it was a case of we didn’t know how good we had it before Covid; being able to easily get a doctors appointment and the backlog and waiting times for critical path services being so much better. I myself have only had good experiences for the most part too, the situation is very different trust to trust and GP to GP that’s for sure though.


    • Hi TFJ
      Yes, NHS service does seem to vary from trust to trust and perhaps I have been lucky, or perhaps it’s just that my expectations have been met. Thanks for doing all you can to help with the backlog from the back end level!

  3. Hey Weenie,

    You were lucky with the Tennis, I should try for tickets again (only been once). I wish I’d had a few quid on Vondrousova, as I liked her style of play from early on.

    NHS: This is topical. Where I am (South East) my local surgery is broken. Trying to get an appointment means everyone ringing at 8am (ok for office grunts, how about if you’re a scaffolder, work in retail, climb up telegraph poles?) and it’s a lottery to get through, and appointments are given only if it’s “urgent”. I’m lucky, I have private health through work, so I try and relieve the strain on the NHS by using Babylon Doctors for referrals through BUPA. However, I’m genuinely very concerned about what this means in retirement. Choices are move house (incredibly expensive and who’s to say the new area will ultimately be any better) or get private health cover. This is another expense I hadn’t factored in, and naturally starts to push that retirement date out again…

    Life: Conversely I ditched Physics for Art. I’d love to give it a go again and I salute you for giving it a go. Currently I’m contemplating Yoga classes to compliment the mountain biking and running (badly) and walking/hiking.

    FIRE(d): Like you, I’m “trying!” A few things are not helping, i.e. possibly having to factor in private health care as mentioned above, inflation, and a deferred corporate DB pension which has had 5% annual increases over the last two years, meaning I’ve lost 11% against the advertised inflation figures in just TWO years! My spending power is getting eroded. I know we’re pretty similar in age and targets, so where I’m at is I’m 54, my mortgage will be paid off in 2 years, 11 months (roughly, not counting ha ha) and as I’ve got an NRA on my DB pension of 65, I’m shovelling 40% of my salary into a DC pension every month to lower my tax and use it ultimately as a draw down between leaving work and collecting my DB pension. It’s realistically looking like I can go at 58 (for the time being)…

    • Hi Starla

      With my previous GP, it was also a case of calling at 8am but as I was never able to get through, I used to just make my way down to the surgery for 8am, pick a waiting ticket and was always able to get an appointment later that day. I guess I was just lucky that I wasn’t so ill that I couldn’t drive there. I have yet to use my current GP services but have been told by my neighbour that they often practice online consultations, so that will be interesting.

      Well done to you for having your mortgage paid off in 2 years, 11 months (haha 🙂 ). I’ll be in a position to pay mine off with my 25% DB lump sum at 65 – will just wait and see I think if I do this or not, or just continue with the mortgage. I too would like to aim for 58 but increased cost of living and my mortgage fixed rate running out soon means I need to really watch my pennies to keep saving/investing otherwise I’ll need to be moving goal posts again…

  4. I rather fancy one of those lawn mowers that scoots about on its own. On the other hand lithium-ion batteries are a bit of a fire hazard, especially when they are being charged but not only then.

    Enjoy your hols!

    • Cheers dearieme. I did look at those lawn mowers as a matter of interest but what put me off was the cost and the fact that I’d probably have to supervise it, else it would get nicked from my garden!

  5. Experience of NHS varies enormously from area to area and location to location – particularly post-covid. At my local surgery, it used to be possible to ring early morning, and get an appointment that day or book in advance. I once had a serious acute problem, and they somehow squeezed me in. Now, you can’t get through after 8am, and by 8.30 everything has gone. That said, their online consultation service was great for something minor, but potentially serious – fill in a few forms, inc a photo if necessary and reply/advice by next day.

    Escalation was good pre-covid around here. I’ve had GPs ring and book X-rays or even a hospital bed. The second occasion almost certainly saving my life.

    Post-covid, I have a number of friends who work for the local NHS and they all warn – don’t get ill, the system is failing due to lack of capacity and all of the staff over 50 are counting down the days to retirement. I also have a chronic condition which while perfectly fine at the moment can benefit from preventative care. Zero follow up since covid, while I would normally expect 2-3 calls/appointments a year.

    • Hi G
      Thanks for sharing your experience and sorry to hear of your chronic condition and hope all’s well.

      I try to heed the NHS warning of not getting ill – I’ve always very much been for prevention rather than cure, hence try to look after myself in the first instance, particularly now that I’m older.

  6. We recently visited friends, and their six year old and I did a drawing by following a how-to-draw video on YouTube. It certainly wasn’t art, but it was fun, it was fast, it was free, and I was able to sit back and say “I made this!”. It was also interesting to see how our final drawings differed, even though we were both following the same instructions. What a great leisure activity, especially as it’s zero effort to start.

    • Hi Mrs ETT

      I think there’s a wealth of stuff on art on YouTube, it’s just finding the stuff that will engage and inspire me! Great to hear that you enjoyed your art session!
      At the life drawing session I attended, I too noticed how different drawings were, how some people focused on things I didn’t even notice! I’m looking forward to doing more!

  7. Used to love art at school. Bit of a graffiti nerd at heart, not sure that’s something to get back into at the age of 50+ though .

    Enjoy your holidays!

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