Tench Detecting

As I approach the finishing line of official retirement – I turn 55 in November and can start to drawdown my pension, if I choose to do it – I spend time wondering what will make my leaving the workplace different the second time around? I recently listened to The Mad Fientist relate his “struggle” to come to terms with Early Retirement in his first year of doing so, and how he found his second year much more pleasurable and liveable than his first. I wondered, for about the thousandth time, if that had been my problem with my own “early retirement” – I was never really mentally committed to it, never really believed it was a realistic option for me when I was still able, and quite willing, to work.

One example of this – a friend of mine in his early fifties who recently retired spends about three of his afternoons a week playing golf with members at our local club. Despite having that option in my year off, I never “allowed” myself to take it up. Why? Basically because I believed that wasn’t the retirement lifestyle I wanted, although I became hard pushed to define what that lifestyle would be. All I could say was that I wanted retirement to bring more fulfilment than I’d find spending endless hours on the fairways with a bunch of old blokes.

These days I find myself looking for something, a hobby or pastime, that I could do in future retirement that might constructively fill my hours. Recently I’ve been watching on TV two old blokes struggle to come to terms with their own semi-retirement and mortality on the BBC’s iplayer. Paul Whitehouse and Bob Mortimer have “Gone Fishing” in an effort to come to terms with the ageing process, Life, the Universe and Everything. The best thing about this programme, by a long way, is the camera work – it’s beautifully done, and England looks like Paradise. It’s educational too, at least for me. In the first programme they fish for tench. Tench? Would I even have know that was an English freshwater fish prior to this programme? And it’s inspirational. I watch the scenery, the skill involved in the fishing, the knowledge needed and applied, the camaraderie of the fishermen and I think, “I’d quite like to have a go at that, when I’ve got the time.”

Another TV show that’s very similar in style to Gone Fishing (and possibly inspired it) has become one of My Favourite Programmes of All Time. It’s the Detectorists, and it’s difficult for me to say why it appeals to me so much. Again it’s the scenery, the camaraderie, the knowledge required that underpins the hobby, the leisurely and reflective pace of the stories and the warmth, humour and humanity that exists between the main players. It leaves me thinking “But I want to be a Detectorist!” , even although I probably don’t. But I do want to do something that delivers the fulfilment, learning, community and satisfaction of the type that these shows suggest is attainable.

I’d have to say that golf does deliver some of what I’m seeking, and I’m happy with that. I couldn’t play it three times a week though because (a) it’s the most difficult, frustrating game ever invented and (b) it can be mentally and physically tiring. It can be quite a slog and, when you’re not in the mood, it does live up to the description of being basically “a good walk spoiled”. 

At the moment, I golf on a Saturday morning and Wednesday evening, looking forward to both outings. One thing I learned in my year off is that routine and structure are ultra-important to have in your days and weeks. The Fientist underlines this point too. However, you need variety too or your days can become quite stale quite quickly. If you’ve come from a highly stimulating workplace, as I did, to face endless days with nothing to do, it’s important to have mental challenges too – four hours a day in the gym really won’t cut it, mentally, no matter how many games of treadmill suduko you attempt to complete.

Retirement, early or otherwise, is often looked at for a primarily financially perspective. Can you afford it? If the answer is “yes”, good on you, start planning for what you’re going to do with your time and start investigating and participating in those hobbies before you reach the stage when you have real time to indulge them. That’s easy to say, of course, so the next question for me is: Will I now head to Amazon with the search terms “Course fishing” and “metal detectors” at the top of the list?


18 thoughts on “Tench Detecting

  1. The better question you might ask your yourself is why you are letting people in various arms of the government tell you when you can retire and what you should do in your retirement. The point of retirement is freedom to choose for yourself. You seem petrified of having to make your own decisions and not having your schedule dictated to you by an authority figure


      • Haha.

        I endorse what Mad Fientist says about structure, it does really help.

        I was speaking to a retiree yesterday, I asked him how he filled his days and he offered a few things, but he ended by saying that there is much joy to be found in doing nothing. I heartily agree with that.


  2. I’m a year in and loving it. I have been travelling the whole time, and I found the first few months a bit too much, so I’ve really slowed the pace down now, generally not spending any less than a month in a place and I generally “live” there as opposed to doing the touristy stuff. I used to work 14+ hours a day in a very intense trading environment, so it’s quite a change of pace for me. Where I am based that month drives what my daily routine looks like. This month I’m up in Zermatt, so I’ve been hiking and climbing a lot (50k in the past 2 days, +-3000m), but on my rest days I read (a lot), manage my investments, and also teach myself new things (I’m from a technology background, so I’m currently learning new technologies and building things to help automate my investment management workflow). Most of the year I was in SE Asia, and I’ll head back there when the summer cools down in Europe. Exploring these new places and observing the local culture is interesting in it’s own right. I have a lot of friends based in Singapore (old friends / colleagues from London / Geneve), so I try and meet up with them around Asia too, or drop into Singapore occasionally for a catch up. I’m considering setting up camp in Bali for 6 months next year (you can get a pretty amazing villa for pennies there), but there’s still a lot more of the world I’d like to explore, and the “slow travelling” model is working well for me right now. It won’t work forever, but for now I’m enjoying it.

    A few days ago I was setting off on a long mid week hike and was on an easy section close to town when I passed an older couple, one of whom had a walking stick, and the other who was struggling to walk. Time is the only truly finite resource we have. As I nimbly jogged past I felt somewhat vindicated in my decision to eject myself from the rat race ahead of time. Don’t wait until it’s too late to actually enjoy it…


    • It’s good you’re enjoying it, but I found The Mad Fientiist’s admission that three months abroad was just too much for him to be more akin to my view. Maybe it’s a facet of being older. I like travelling, but I don’t think it’s any better or worse than working in a job that you like, or a bunch of other alternative lifestyles you could choose.


      • Like most tastes in life, it’s a very subjective thing. I’m 38 and with no major ties, so for the moment at least am enjoying exploring the world very slowly. The key to enjoying it for me was to slow the pace right down and not feeling obliged to do all the touristy things (which I generally detest), as well as arranging to meet up with family / friends in various places. I’m not expecting to be doing it forever, but I figure whilst I’m enjoying it and have the opportunity and capability to do it, I might as well! I think if I was sat in London/Geneva/Singapore (where I’ll probably ultimately set up camp) not working I’d be bored out of my mind, but I haven’t tested that theory yet!

        Whatever you end up deciding, I hope it works out for you!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Wow – that’s exactly what I hope to be doing in a few years time – slow travel, lots of hiking and enjoying life.

      I think I’ll enjoy early retirement and I always have tons of things going on to keep me busy – but I guess I’ll only really find out when I get there.


    • Do you miss your work at all? Did it provide a sense of purpose to you or did you derive it from elsewhere and it was just for money?

      Sorry I’m like a broken record as this is what my brain is churning on for the last few weeks


  3. At last! I have broken my lurking cover to welcome you back. I am three years older than you and won’t take my work pension till 60 to offset some of the actuarial reduction. But I have some FU money and plan to leave full-time work sometime next year. That will show The Man who is boss! I value the different perspective that you and Ermine bring to the question of how to live well after then.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Good to see you back, Jim!

    One word which you mention in quick succession in your post and which you (and I) have mentioned in the past that we would miss from our 9-5 in the office – camaradarie. I enjoy my own company (and also doing nothing in particular) but would miss this kind of interaction with others so I would seek to join either a club or society which might be able to replicate this camaradarie.

    This might not be immediate, so for you, if it’s not fishing or metal detecting, it’ll be something else which you are passionate with or become interested in. Or how about a combo of the two, ie magnet fishing? https://detectorreviews.co.uk/guide-to-magnet-fishing/

    (I only read about this recently when the news reported that a grenade was ‘fished’ out but perhaps this won’t always be the case, haha!)


  5. You’ve stumbled upon the whole reason for me wanting to retire early. To go fishing!
    It can be a bug that, once it bites you, can consume a large chunk of time and an even bigger part of your thinking.

    I think Weenie has it spot on with the camaraderie aspect too – there’s a surprising amount of it in fishing once you have settled into a group or aspect of the sport which you enjoy. Fishing can be as sociable or solitary as you like. There’s lots of action groups fighting for better habitat or political assistance so I can imagine that there’s something for everyone… of course it helps if you like fish too!


  6. I agree about The Detectorists. I find most TV unwatchable but that show was a little gem.

    As for what to do: I had intended to learn to fly. Alas, bad health put the kibosh on that. Happily, it rules out golf too. I have recently “flown” a drone. That’s fun.


    • One other thing. I have sworn never to try to develop any ability that I simply lack. Therefore I shall not return to the piano lessons I gave up before I was ten. I am a musical dud and that’s that.

      I wish I were well enough to work on my leg break though.


  7. Welcome back! Long time lurker, first time commenter. I’m approaching the point of early retirement and am reading this kind of post with keen attention. 18 months and counting…

    The idea of what to do and how to fill my time in a meaningful and (potentially) structured way, while also getting involved in a new community, is something that fills a lot of my thoughts. Basically I’m spending my time now worrying about how I’ll spend my time later – the irony isn’t lost on me!

    I found this post to be quite useful in terms of looking at what I enjoy now and in the past, and how that might influence what I do after I no longer need to work full-time:

    Liked by 2 people

  8. If you’re someone who needs a lot of interaction, then you will need to think carefully about how to build that in to your retirement. Not everyone is content with self driven solitary projects. I can do some of that, but I need to see people too, or I start to feel lonely and isolated, and I need some enforced structure to make me do things I’d sometimes rather not.. I’ve found a new job, which gives challenge and interaction, but pays badly. Two or three days a week is a good balance which gives enough contrast with downtime to feel luxurious.


  9. A year and ten months away from taking that early retirement plunge. Quite looking forward to it. Couple of hobbies Id quite like to revisit, plenty of travel, be able to spend more quality time with my family (it’s ALL quality time), and the chance to throw my leg over the motorbike and feel the wind in my hair while I still have some.
    Quite simply fallen out of love with work, I look back on all those years of climbing up the greasy pole and quite frankly wonder why I bothered. As for a safe withdrawal rate on the old pension savings, well I’m not too bothered by that. If I have to get a few hours a week part time to see me over a rough patch then so be it. I’m very lucky in the fact that my lady and me have very similar outlooks on retirement and life. Enjoy it. You are a long time looking at the lid as they say.


  10. I stopped working in April 2018. I do not call myself ‘retired’ as I am way too young for that.

    In that time I went travelling 4 months in southern Africa, came back. Sorted our house for rental and downsized to a small flat. At the same time we go a van converted. Then we went across the Balkans with the van.
    Currently we are pet and home sitting 6 weeks for a friend in Wales. Then we will go to South East Asia for 4 months. Then, after a bit of summer in the UK, we will take the van to southern Europe. And late 2021 we will crossing the West coast of Africa all the way to Cape Town, overland.

    I am trying to fill our life with as much travel as I can.
    What will happen when we set roots somewhere? I get very easily bored. Boredom for me is the worst thing ever. I intend to keep discovering the world as much as possible. It is possible in a budget.
    But in between trips I get bored. Days can be long. I play online, read and work on preparing our next trip or on my website. I am not keen on group stuff. I am just not that sort of person. Maybe I will settle eventually. But I always need a “project” to keep my hyperactive mind busy. Going back to work (out of boredom) is possible but maybe not in finance anymore. I have done my time there.
    So for me I need to keep looking a new projects. Usually travels, but maybe later on something else.
    I don’t feel 100% settled as a ‘retiree” but i don’t miss work.


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