Exploring Retirement

"The institutions and instruments which have been created to meet the problem of ageing, are in no position to provide us with a policy for that great majority of retired people who present no problem at all"

Peter Laslett: A Fresh Map of Life.

Welcome to the December 2018 edition of Exploring Retirement. All of us at Exploring Retirement would like to wish our readers a Happy and Peaceful Christmas!

In 2018 we have been exploring some of the roles open to people in "retirement". Not necessarily full-time, not necessarily paid but all of them interesting! This month we have taken a more light hearted approach than usual, in keeping with the festive spirit! Serious leisure sounds about right for the holiday season. As the evenings grow longer and we search for ways to amuse ourselves, many organisations organise a quiz to raise funds and/or support a good cause. We have taken this opportunity to present some practical advice for anyone considering offering their services as a "Quizmaster".

Exploring Retirement is fast becoming the most comprehensive source of ideas for an active retirement lifestyle on the internet.

Exploring Retirement is written by and for retired people, to assist active retirees make the most of their additional years of good health. If you are interested in writing for Exploring Retirement, please contact editor@exploringretirement.co.uk.

For ideas to write about, have a glance at the July 2014 issue of Exploring Retirement, available by clicking on "Past Issues" in the navigation bar on the left of this page. These are only suggestions, please contact us if you have a different topic you would like to share your thoughts on.

We trust that you will continue to enjoy our monthly publication and please tell your friends about the site.

Final Issue

It is with regret that I have to announce that this must be the last issue of Exploring Retirement to be published. For some time I (ed) have been having eyesight problems and these have recently become worse, making the task of setting up the magazine each month difficult. I would like to sincerely thank Michael and Jeanette for their unswerving support over the years. Jeanette's many readers can still follow her blog on "Postworksavvy.com"

. Finally I would like to thank our many readers. May I wish you all a long and healthy life with which to continue to explore retirement!

Writing team

We have three regular contributors on our writing team. Here they are with a brief note explaining their principal areas of interest:

John Copelton, EditorDr John Copelton - well-being in retirementMichael McSorley, contributorMichael McSorley - lively comment on sport and cultureJeannette Lewis, contributorJeannette Lewis - inspiring ideas on retirement living

Positive Retirement Study

Researchers at Northumbria University (Newcastle, UK) are conducting research to better understand what makes a positive, healthy retirement. They believe this is an important topic due to the number of older adults who have a negative retirement experience, for example, feeling depressed, lonely, or have poor physiological health.

The research team are currently recruiting retirees (or soon to be), to take part in a longitudinal study which will track their experience from employment to retirement. We hope that by taking part in this research and contributing to the knowledge around retirement transitions, you can help future retirees enjoy their well-deserved retirement.

To learn more about the study, please click here.

Quote - Unquote

"We give up leisure in order that we may have leisure, just as we go to war in order that we may have peace".


Serious Leisure

Professor Robert Stebbins began his study into what he called "serious leisure"in 1973. He defined serious leisure as the systematic pursuit of an amateur, hobbyist, or volunteer core activity that is highly substantial, interesting, and fulfilling and where, in the typical case, participants find a career in acquiring and expressing a combination of its special skills, knowledge, and experience. The adjective "serious" is meant to embody such qualities as earnestness, sincerity, importance, and carefulness.

Serious leisure can be distinguished from casual leisure which, while perhaps more immediately rewarding, is usually relatively short-lived, requiring little or no special training. Professor Stebbins believes that leisure can be more than simply rest or "goofing off". Leisure activities can be constructive and rewarding both for the person and for society in general. Whether this is in the nature of gardening or undertaking voluntary work amongst the old or with the handicapped young, or even making one's expertise available to another set of people, the principle remains the same.

A number of studies have examined the serious leisure perspective among such diverse groups as older golfers, runners, masters swimmers, volunteers, adventure tourists and football fans. These studies have allowed researchers to distinguish six characteristics of serious leisure as distinct from casual recreation. These characteristics are:

  1. the need to persevere at the activity,
  2. the availability of a leisure career,
  3. the need to put in effort to gain skill and knowledge,
  4. the realization of various special benefits,
  5. a unique ethos and social world, and
  6. an attractive personal and social identity.

People pursuing a serious leisure activity are usually motivated by the desire to get better at their chosen activity. "Better" means different things to different people. It may mean playing a music instrument more proficiently or improving your performance at a sport such as golf or tennis. It might also mean expanding a collection or creating a work of art. Whatever "better" means to the individual, it is a source of motivation and contributes to our self-image. As Professor Stebbins points out in his book "Careers in Serious Leisure: From Dabbler to Devotee", The question "who am I " can be answered with the observation that I am a decent musician, sports person, artist or whatever. By using our talents and abilities to our fullest potential we can live a more personally fulfilling life.

The Benefits of Serious Leisure

The use of the word "serious" is meant to signal the importance of this type of activity in the everyday lives of participants, in that it's pursuit engenders a deep sense of self-fulfillment. Prodessor Stebbins has found that the pursuit of serious leisure activities has many benefits for the individual, including:

  • self-actualisation
  • self-enrichment
  • self-expression
  • self renewal
  • feelings of accomplishment
  • enhanced self image
  • social interaction
  • sense of belonging

In a very real sense serious leisure allows participants to find the same satisfaction that might otherwise be found in pursuing a vocation.

As the existence of Exploring Retirement has clearly shown, retired people are increasingly searching the world of leisure for ways to express their abilities, fulfil their potential and identify themselves as unique human beings. In his book "Serious Leisure: A Perspective for Our Time" Professor Stebbins makes the point that serious leisure is something that our society takes very seriously indeed. We spend a great deal of time and money in it's pursuit and for many people, it represents the essence of what retirement is about.

Featured Activity: Quiz Master

Becoming A Quiz Master

My friend Ronnie McClements has been running charity quizzes for a number of years, so I thought I would ask him to write about the lessons that this experience has taught him. Here is Ronnie's advice for anyone organising a charity fundraiser and considering running a quiz night.

Running the Quiz

Work on the basis that a quiz will last about 2 1/2 hours with a short break in the middle in order to sell raffle tickets and to have something to eat. Try to keep the rounds flowing smoothly as people do not like long gaps between questions.

While tables can enjoy choosing a team name, I prefer to also give each table a number. It saves time as some people can't make up their mind or can't agree on a name. Also, it saves the need to write long-winded names on the score sheet, which I like to put up at the front of the room. A maximum group size of 6 is recommended as any more than that number can make it unfair on smaller groups.

Check out the room before hand. If it is large and there is an echo, you may need to use a microphone to be heard over the noise. 60+ people at a quiz is a credible number and can create quite a din.. Music rounds have to be very well organised in advance make them viable. I find they slow a quiz down as the music is usually played twice. The recording has to be well done, otherwise people can become frustrated. I do not recommend them usually although music questions are fine.

Setting the Questions

I prefer to mix up the questions rather than have themed rounds. Some people do not like the idea of having to answer 10 questions on sport, history etc. Incorporating such questions in each round does not put people off to the same extent. To save the quiz masters voice, you might consider photocopying a sheet of questions that can be distributed to each table. These could be pictures of celebrities, well-known places or even dingbats, which are great fun!

Compiling a quiz can be very time consuming. Allow at least a fortnight beforehand to do so. Some people like to use PowerPoint to give a more professional appearance. It is tempting to simply download questions from the internet . This can prove a rather sterile approach as it does not allow for questions which are topical or which relate to the local area or, indeed, to your particular audience.

I like to use quotations. Although these can be difficult, the choice of answer can be narrowed down by using well-known figures such as Churchill, Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain etc. Mae West and Groucho Marx are also wore considering.

Always have some extra questions available in the event of a tie break. Decide in advance how you want to conduct it. Three questions for each team is one possible solution.

Know Your Audience

Watch out for semi-professional teams which tour the countryside looking for quizzes to attend. These teams tend to take themselves quite seriously, but they do keep you on your toes!

If the quiz master does happen to make a mistake and is taken to task over a wrong answer, then accept the error gracefully and remind the audience that the 1st prize is a bottle of wine, not a 2 week cruise in the Caribbean!

Some Final Points

If it is a charity quiz, don't ask for a fee as the object of the evening is to raise as much as possible for the cause. However, if someone wishes to acknowledge your effort with a bottle of wine or a book token, that is fine. Asking for your expenses occurred in photocopying pictures and answer sheets is valid. Keep in mind that most charities will have their own photocopying machines which would be cheaper than going to commercial premises,

Finally, remember that the quiz master is simply the facilitator for the evening. He is not meant to be a would-be comedian, out to monopolise the proceedings to the detriment of the main function of the evening, which is to let people enjoy themselves.

©Ronnie McClements


Michael McSorley

Now that winter has arrived, with long dark evenings and chilly winds, it would seem the perfect time for curling up in a cosy chair with a good book! Michael has obviously had the same idea and hthis month he provides us with his recommendations for a good read.

Click here to read Michael's article

Jeanette Lewis

This month finds Jeanette musing on the "festive season". For most people it is a time for family and friends. A time to celebrate and share everything that Christmas has to offer. However, for the lonely or bereaved it can be a sad time with its constant reminders of the companionship they are missing. Even for those of us hoping to spend the holiday with close family, the media hype can lead to unrealistic expectations of a "perfect" Christmas, with an inevitable sense of "let down". Jeanette shares her thoughts on how she intends to cope with making it a good Christmas for everyone.

Click here to read on.