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.

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.

Welcome to the August 2017 edition of Exploring Retirement! In 2017 we are focussing on different creative activities in retirement, especially those that offer the opportunity to make new friends. If you are engaged in an unusual creative activity, we would love to hear from you.

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

Libraries of the Future

I love reading and am a regular visiter to my local library. The library holds books on a very wide range of topics, but considering that older people make up a large proportion of its users, it has very little to offer on retirement. So far I have discovered just two books devoted to this topic! The fact that these books where in the section devoted to raising children didn't help!

A library would seem to be the obvious place to host a Book Club, where anyone interested in literature could meet with likeminded individuals to share their passion. My friend Barbara joined a Book Club in her local library. They met in the early evening, so people could come after work. However funding cuts meant that the library had to reduce its opening hours, so the Book Club had to look elsewhere for a venue. They found a warm welcome in the local pub, who not only offered them a room in which to meet but could also provide coffee and sandwiches! I can't help feeling that there was an opportunity missed by the library management. Some thinking "outside the box" might be in order!

In 2007 I visited North America as a Churchill Fellow to explore initiatives aimed at the older population there. One of my most positive memories came as the result of an invitation from Gloria Coles, National Director, Life Long Access Libraries. to attend a conference for librarians in North Carolina, co-hosted by the University of North Carolina's School of Information and Library Science and the Institute on Aging. Lifelong Access Libraries support the development of libraries as centres for productive aging, lifelong learning and civic engagement. Among it's key goals were the creation of a distinct speciality within adult services, focusing on active, engaged older adults. To this end a number of strategies had been developed -

Some of the exciting initiatives libraries in the US had piloted included -

Featured Activity: Opportunities for Creative Retirement in Libraries

There are many opportunities for retirees to help make their local library a welcoming place for all ages. Here are just a few for you to consider.

  1. Young Readers

    Working with very young children to introduce them to the pleasures of reading. Activities include reading them stories, singing songs, acting out nursery rhymes etc. The primary requirement for this role is a love of children and a willingness to have fun and throw yourself into the role. If you have always wanted to be a presenter on children's television, then this must be the next best thing! If you enjoy helping your own grandchildren, then this might very well appeal to you.

  2. Community History Volunteer

    This role involves supporting people with research in local and/or family history and also the creation and promotion of resources to create a community history centre. The work is usually one-to-one and presents an ideal opportunity to share your knowledge and enthusiasm.

  3. Home Library Service Volunteer

    Volunteers deliver books and other library materials to people who are unable to visit the library because of age, disability or caring responsibilities. They talk to the customers about their reading preferences and liaise with library staff about book selection. A great way to meet people while providing a valuable service.

  4. IT Tutor

    IT Tutors help provide basic IT training sessions. These may be run at a different library in the local area each month, so it may require access to a car. Tutors can also be asked to be involved in a follow-up role in one-to-one sessions where customers require a little more help or practise on a particular aspect.

  5. Book Club Organiser

    Here is the chance to share your love of literature with others. When I retired I joined a literature class at my local university. Every week more then 200 people turned up! There is obviously a lot of people who enjoy a good read. If you are lucky enough to have a coffee shop near the library, this can be a great way to make new friends.

  6. Arts Events Manager

    Libraries are increasingly being used to host exhibitions. These can include works by local artists, such as paintings or sculpture. Decorative arts such as wood carving or making greeting cards are also often featured. My local library showcases the work by amateur photographers from nearby camera clubs. Once again we are limited only by our imagination. If you have a passion for the arts, in any form, try offering your services to your local library.

To view a video on volunteering with a library, take a look at this short clip, which features volunteers of all ages:


Michael McSorley

Michael has been taking advantage of the summer holidays to spend some time with his two daughters. Having just returned from doing the same thing myself I can totally agree that being with the ones you love is the best holiday of all. Click here to share in Michael's memories of an idyllic few weeks.

Jeanette Lewis

Jeanette, has been looking after her 4 year old grand daughter, an experience which provided a wonderful opportunity to observe how children interact with a world where everything is new. She shares her observations here

Ronnie Carser

Every August in Ireland the North Coast town of Ballycastle hosts the "Ould Lammas Fair". a tradition going back many years. Ronnie examines the origin of "Lammas" and how the largest Fair in Ireland came about. To read his article, click here.

When you have read it you might be wondering what the song "The Ould Lammas Fair" sounds like. Click here to listen to an enchanting rendition from Ruby Murray. Dulse is an edible seaweed and Yellowman is a sweet made from sugar with a honeycomb structure.