10 Years to Retire…. and Counting

I have always looked forward to finishing work at the age of 60 and using the funds from my online craft & vintage businesses to top up my pension, but when the goverment moved the retirement age to 67 a few years back, I, like millions of other women were left feeling robbed. Robbed of 7 years of freedom and now of having the disadvantage of being 7 years older when we finally get to quit the 9 – 5 to draw our well earned pension. Let’s face it, at 67, we might not actually be as fit and healthy as we would have been at 60. So, with this in mind, in January this year, when I reached 57, I started my very own 5 year plan. I purchased a 5 year diary, wrote a mission statement and started my journey, with the intention and determination to retire at least 5 years earlier than the new age of 67……

I was divorced at the age of 40 so had to start all over again on the mortgage ladder. If I don’t make some changes now, I realise that I will be 65 when my last payment is made. Around about the same time as my divorce, the company who I had been working for for 28 years, went into administration and my final salary pension pot of 25 years went with it, but, with everything else that was going on in my life at the time, I didn’t give this issue the attention that I should have. Since then, the government have stepped in to enusre that everyone who was a member of the scheme gets at least something back, allbeit it is only a small proportion of the total amount we saved. The downside to this is, I am unable to claim this fund until I reach the new State Pension age of 67. Robbed yet again!

Given all of the above, I wish somebody had sat me down when I was much younger and explained the importance of paying down debt and saving for the future. In my opinion, this is a subject that should be taught on the school carriculum.

It’s not that I don’t like working nor do I dislike my job, however, only having 5 weeks annual leave each year proves to be a nightmare when trying to book time off. There is always a busy work calendar and your fellow colleauges to consider when booking holidays, and then you have got the added fact that, once you have booked your weeks off, you then have to pray for nice dry weather. Mike and I have, on many occasions, waited for our long deserved break to find out that the weather in the UK is a total washout and considerably miserable, and given our lifestyle of loving the outdoors and camping with 2 dogs, this has often been a washout. So, back to work it is to wait for our next planned holiday and praying hard that the weather is next time, kind.

And so, back to my five year plan….. I am having a clear out!!! I am currently sorting through all of my unwanted / unused items that are lying around the house and I am listing everything on eBay…. I will use the profits made from this and also my three online Etsy shops to pay the mortgage off early and to top up the pension.

I realise that I have quite a way to go, but with the determination that I currently have, I am indeed hoping to be financially stable enough to at least be able to work part time by the time I reach 62!!!

Fitness Watch, Daily Goals and a Circular Walk Around Tarporley

Mike & I have always enjoyed both our daily and weekend walks with our dogs and it has been one way that we have kept ourselves moving and fit but now that we are both in our mid 50’s we feel that staying active is even more important, especially as I was diagnosed with allergy related asthma last year. So this year we purchased our fitness watches and joined Ordnance Survey online so that we could plan our routes and download the maps to our mobile phones.

The route that we took

On Sunday, we completed a circular walk around Tarporley in Cheshire that took us on part of the Sandstone Trail route. We parked in the car park behind The Rising Sun Public House. The route took us through the lovely village of Tarporley itself and accross the many fields in the stunning countryside of Cheshire with lots of kissing gates and stiles, so bear this in mind if you are walking large dogs.

Our dogs cooling down in the stream

We skimmed the edge of Tiverton and passed Tiverton Hall and at one point along the this part of the trail you get a glimpse of Beeston Castle high up on the hill. This stretch of the walk is part of the Sandstone trail where you cross Wharton Lock, and a small stream where the dogs took a little dip, then several more fields, some of them being crops of corn.

When we came out of the fields we found ourselves in the yard at Beeston Cattle Market where we headed back through the village of Beeston and more fields, crossed more stiles, passed through more kissing gates to end up at the bottom end of the shopping street at Tarporley and a well deserved beverage at the pub was had before heading back home.

I aim to close all of the rings daily
  • Distance: 6.85 miles
  • Total Steps: 18,130
  • Calories Burnt: 1,081

So my question is โ€ฆโ€ฆ……… Are these watches worth it?

(I think they are)

The Caledonian Canal – Our Open Canoe Adventure

Our 60 mile (96.6km) Canoe Trail included a series of canals and lochs with links to Loch Lochy, Loch Oich and the great Loch Ness. Mike, myself and our faithful Cocker Spaniel Harry, started our journey at Corpach, just north of Fort William, on the west coast of Scotland, where we slept in the car overnight with a magnificent back drop of Ben Nevis. The route took us through the Great Glen and should have ended at Inverness on the east coast, however, due to a change in weather conditions we decided to call it a day at Dores after spending a very windy and wet night in the tipi.

Having chosing to do this trip in October, we were extremely fortunate that the weather conditions were excellent for that time of year. The lochs were mainly like glass making the reflections look surreal.

And so the journey begins….. Loading the Canoe with our kit at Corpach

Day 1 – Corpach to Gairlochy and across Loch Lochy to our first nights camp at Laggan Loch….. Fuelled on fig rolls & orange & mint club biscuits, we decided to start at the top of Neptuneโ€™s Staircase to avoid the portage around the many lochs so our journey began immediately at the canal which would take us to Gairlochy where the swing bridge gives access to Loch Lochy. At the swing bridge we were delighted to watch the golden retriever, who apparantly makes the walk daily to meet a lesuire cruise boat. The crew on the boat tipped off the passengers to save the dog a sausage from their breakfast and at the same location every day, they would throw the dog his treats. It was such a pleasure to watch.

The waters were like mill ponds

On entering Loch Lochy, we were met by complete tranquility and again, the waters were like mill ponds. The wildlife was in abundance and we were in awe of such beauty. After a full days paddling we reached Laggan, were we had a well deserved comfort break and portaged the loch to the river system that was to join the canal with Loch Oich.

Our camp at Laggan Loch

Our first camp was on the banks of the river and to say it was an idylic site would be an understatement. After putting the tipi up and sorting out our sleep mats and bags, we headed off back to Laggan where we had a few well deserved drinks on the converted Dutch barge, the Eagle. The next morning, we woke to a famous Scotch mist, packed up the kit and headed off for the next leg of the trip…..

Day 2 – Laggan Loch to Loch Ness via Loch Oich and Fort Augustus. Another long tiring day but the beauty of the journey made it a very pleasurable trip. When we finally arrived at Fort Augustus there was another long portage around the numerous lochs and we made a few trips back and to to collect our kit, so after a good stretch of the old legs, another comfort break and a fish and chip supper, we finally set off and entered the mouth of the very awsome monster of a Loch – Loch Ness.

The Great Loch Ness. This photo was taken on a beach just after leaving Fort Augustus

We decided to head to the South East side of the Loch where there is very little access to the roads and civilisation as we both felt that the whole adventure deserved to be experienced in total solitude. So, after a further hour or two of paddling, we found ourselves a lovely little beach, complete with a fallen tree and lots of fire wood, so here we chose to set up our next camp. Mike made a fire and cooked a curry while I made up the beds and poured a wee dram (this is customary apparently!!) That night, we slept under the stars rather than putting up the tipi and enjoyed the clear black skies that was full of the brightest shining stars.

Day 3 – The next morning we woke to the sound of the wind getting up and the waves that were quite choppy were lapping on the shore. We had two choices now…. we could either stay on this little beach with no access to civilazation until the wind dropped or to get in the canoe and battle the elements. We chose to move on….. The journey was somewhat of a challenge and we were both tired and horrified to find a salmon farm further along our journey that we had to paddle around in order to make headway to get to our next stop, which was the beach at Dores at the end of Loch Ness. This is where we would set up camp for the last night of our adventure.

The final camp on the windy, wet beach at Dores

The next morning, we again assessed the conditions and decided to call it a day. The waves were far too high to attempt to carry on. So, while I stayed at the camp with Harry the hound, Mike headed back to Fort William in a taxi to collect the car. That evening we booked into a hotel where we enjoyed a much deserved shower, a hearty meal and a few drinks. The next morning, we headed back home…….. back to reality!!

Things to consider if you decide to do this trip:

Get a British Waterways Licence. This Licence gives paddlers the opportunity to purchase a key for the toilets & showers along the way which costs approximately ยฃ10 per person. The lochs are extremely cold even in the summer. Set an example, and make minimal impact by leaving no trace of your camp. Take litter home with you and remove all traces of fires. Only light fires on sand or shingle spots, never on grass or peat. Use only dead wood.

Glamping on the Island of Anglesey

So this year, with the unpredictable ever changing weather forecast, Mike and I decided to leave the tent at home and opted to stay dry and try out a little bit of glamping on the stunning Island of Anglesey. We are regular visitors to the island but had only ever passed through this particular area. So, with sleeping bags, cooking equipment, walking gear and our two hairy hounds, we set off for our next adventure…..

Our days were mainly mainly spent doing circular walks where we took in the stunning views of natural outstanding beauty from the coastal paths and enjoying watching the different birds and spotting grey seals bobbing about in the many little hidden coves along the way.

Mike and the dogs enjoying some beach time
Camping Pod – Anglesey Outdoors, Holyhead

The Beaches were plentiful and many were only discovered if you ventured along the coastal paths. These stunning rugged bays with little rock pools were just waiting to be explored and the dogs just loved them as much as we did.

We set up camp in a very comfortable pod at Anglesey Outdoors Campsite just outside Holyhead. The location was amazing and being just a ten minute walk from the nearest beach and the coastal path made it ideal. From the pod, we had spectacular views of the Snowdonia Mountain Range which was a lovely back drop for when we were enjoying our early evening barbecues.

Making daisies for my next afghan blanket

And to put the icing on the cake, I even managed to do a bit of crafting in my spare time. Making crochet daisies ready for my next Daisy Afghan, Blanket. Happy days!!!

Living the dream ๐Ÿ™‚


Hand Crochet Daisy Throw / Afghan

Easy Beanie Knitting Kit

Knitted on circular knitting needles. A perfect gift for a perfect someone!!

Knitting Kit

These beanies are ideal for both men and women and being super light, they are great for both winter and summer wear.

This project would make a perfect gift for someone who is already a knitter or is a knitter but has never attempted to knit with a circular needle. The yarn is super soft and chunky so it doesn’t take long to complete the project.

There is enough yarn to make either a standard beanie or a longer slouchie design if you would prefer.

There is also an option for purchasing the kit with the needle or without it if you already own one. A great purchase for somebody who doesn’t want the hassle of shopping for all the requirements.

Currently, the kit is available in 2 colours but if you would prefer a different colour, you could request by private message or keep coming back to the shop as I will be adding more colours soon.

Contains everything you need for your project

The Kit Includes:

Full Instructions to make the Hat.
100g of quality Chunky Wool.
1 x 7mm / 40cm Circular Knitting Needle (if selected at checkout)
6 x Stitch Markers (these could be either metal or plastic depending on availability. And a drawstring bag to hold your project when not working on it


Inspired by the English Countryside !!

One evening, while watching a programme on television about our beautiful English coast and countryside, I was sat looking through my book of crochet blocks trying to choose a design for my next Afghan blanket, however, nothing was inspiring me at all. It was my partner, Mike, who suggested sunflowers. Wow! what a fabulous idea, so this is where it began…..

This blanket is MTO and can be made up to any size you want. Contact me for prices.

Now I had the vision and idea locked into my mind, I began searching the internet for the correct colourways and, after a lot of research I was happy with my choices.

I have made this stunning Afghan a few times already, and as I write this post, I do have one completed and ready to ship in my Etsy Shop, JillyMix. However, they are also available as a made to order item, so I can make them up in any size to suit depending on your individual requirements.


Thank you for looking :0)