Mid November and people watching

I cannot believe how fast this year is going. It is 6 months since I quit my job and do I feel bad about it?

No – not about leaving that office it was not a good place for me, it didn’t suit and I am so much happier.

Yes – I have recently been catching up with other blogs including “Living a FI” which comments about the nagging inner voice that has a go at you for not working. I am trying to beat it and ignore it. It will be a long-term fight after years of working and self-motivation, it is hard to switch off. I keep thinking I need to get a job – but do I really? The ‘do I have enough?’ question keeps nagging when you see your investments losing value this month.

I have been concentrating on getting out there and enjoying cycling and people watching. I have noticed the regular walkers and cyclists, most of them of retirement age. Others have been younger and have been with children, so either parents or child-carers.

I haven’t seen any people of my own age out, being ‘the guy/gal’ sitting looking relaxed and stress free.

I travelled to London this month to see the Celts exhibition at the British Museum. It was a treat for me and I didn’t realise how long it had been since I had visited the BM, I looked back, it was 2010 when I was last there…WOW…that long, just shows how work life had eaten up my free time and stopped me treating myself with outings.

It was a grand day out and I managed to get a reasonable deal on my train tickets, £25 return which given a rock-up on the day price can be over £100 one-way that was pretty good going. It did involve getting the slow train into London, it stopped at pretty much every station and had to wait at one while a faster train passed it. It was full and was a mix of commuters and students, there were a few people like me just travelling for leisure.

I arrived into the bustle of Euston station and I watched as the commuters steamed off the train at a high rate of knots to get to work. They must have understanding bosses to let get into work so late? (It was 11am).

I had researched a walking route to the BM as it isn’t really that far away and it actually was the same time-wise as getting a tube. The weather was great and it would save me the tube fare. I could enjoy the walk and just taking it easy. The route took me pass a Uni and through some garden squares which help to give that sense of green in the sea of concrete and tarmac. The roads were busy and humming with queuing traffic. Escaping this to walk through the gardens and watch the leaves falling from the trees was relaxing. I sat, ate my lunch and then continued on.

When I reached the BM, I came back to earth with a bump; crowds of children with their hi-viz vests on (gone are the days of uniforms and controlled kids!). The adults were struggling to maintain control of the kids, no discipline these days.

I had bought my ticket on-line (do not like the £1 admin fee = 5% of the ticket price! You don’t even get a ticket for that, just an email code number to present at the entrance). No queue to enter, once inside though, it was full of coach crowds of people. In the past when you went to an exhibition there was space and the ability to easily see the exhibits. This time I had to queue to see the items on display in the cabinets. The work was great, no problem there. Such craft and such skill. Even with all the technology and tools available today, we cannot create items with such perfect design and craftsmanship with so much intricate detail. These items were created to last, I wonder what items from today will still be here in thousands of years time? Not much, I’m sure.

On thing I have noticed is how the BM has changed. It is now just as commercial as any company. Originally you would get lots of information with the displays. Now, the info is limited and you therefore need to make notes and lookup details on the internet afterwards or buy the exhibition book at a mere £25. After I had finished viewing the exhibition, I was exited into the shop – of course – to enable me to buy my souvenirs. Plenty of things for the kids to spend their pocket money on.

I had time to walk around other areas of the BM, but first a drink and a sit down. I bought a drink in the cafe (my only treat, given the silly prices) and sat down and people watched. Plenty of foreign visitors and more school groups. Listening to conversations in full flow in French and German around me.

I then went to visit the rooms on my list: Europe (to see the saxon/celt/roman exhibits) again, I noticed that to get any good info, you need to get an audio guide (£££) and so I made notes so I could research them later. I then went to find the Greek and Assyrian rooms. I just love looking at the Assyrian reliefs. They are just so vibrant and again, skills that have been lost.

I tried to avoid the kids running riot around the rooms and find some peaceful areas to just sit and relax and take in the view. Soon it was time to leave, so retraced my walking route through the squares and back to the train station. The train I was planned to catch was one of the last ones before peak begins. Wow, when the train platform number was displayed there was a big rush to the train. I managed to get a seat and by the time the train left, the train was full, no spare seats and this was the 3:45pm train?

It was full of a mix of leisure passengers, like me, and commuters. Mid-week and commuters leaving the office before 5pm? How is that possible? I never left work until post-6pm, maybe London working is different?

Lots of people sitting reading work notes/tapping on their laptops. It was reasonably quiet until one person took a call. She was amusing everyone with her conversation. Talk of work/life balance and how she would not accept the job unless she can leave the office before 4pm so that she could have a personal life?

The facial expressions from some of the other passengers was a picture. I was talking to a guy the other week, who has no choice but to work in London, he gets up and catches a train at 5am and does not get home until after 8pm in the evening, he can’t leave work until after 6pm. He is shattered by the time he gets to the weekend and spends the weekend trying to recover ready for the next week. It made this person seem like a ‘Do you know who I am? type’ or just someone who has the ability to chose!

Wow, I have never had that much command on job offers. Its been a take it or leave it situation. I arrived back just before 5pm and walked home. A great day out and I am so glad that I am free of the workplace, after watching some of the commuters.

I sat waiting for the train in the morning, watching the commuter trains pass with lots of sad, unhappy and tired people travelling into work…another day…another dollar.

No wonder people are demotivated, we have become drones and work life drains us so much, it was a driver to go for a FI/RE option and I am glad to be currently taking some time out and enjoying the freedom from work while I can.

My FI/RE pot is currently below the value required to be FI, so it worries me that I don’t have enough but I just need to sit it out, the markets are tumbling again and I need to just hang tight and ignore it and learn to wait.

Now to find my next adventure outing and research and read.

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4 thoughts on “Mid November and people watching

  1. Interesting to hear of your recent tales. I almost never go to London in the week because the weekend tickets are SUPER off-peak, where you get a discount on top of the already discounted off-peak tickets… of course, London can be heaving at the weekend, but places like the BM are always heaving anyway. Don’t think I’ve ever been in there on a ‘quiet’ day… probably because it’s the best museum in the country, even if it has become more commercialised.

    Just wondering (again) about your work situation and if there’s anything part-time/contracting/self-employed you can do instead of maybe looking again for a normal job like earlier on this year? That might alleviate the worry of the FI pot getting low with the recent market volatility…

    • I find weekends are troublesome as the maintenance works are on so you end up on buses. I will be glad when the maintenance is completed. It is the weekends when I manage to catch up with my working friends too. They work too hard to have time to see me during their ‘school nights’.
      I am trying the contracting angle at the moment but the agents I am talking to are only coming up with London based work. Someone else I know is struggling to find work since resigning from his job, I contacted him to see if there was work going at his place, that’s when he told me he had left and was looking too. Just seems to be the issue now. If you resign – then its harder that if you are fired!? An old boss who was a terrible bully and was eventually fired 3 months ago has found a new job locally…Ahhhhhh… (So it seems that being a bully is on the skill set now for a manager role) I guess I need to learn some tips from ‘The Apprentice’ – dog-eat-dog and all that.
      I am working on some side hustles and looking at the self-employed aspect. It will happen, it will just take time. After jumping into a role that just didn’t work for me, I want to learn from that and find something that fits. I just need patience.

  2. It’s funny when I think back to my “pre-Early Retirement Extreme” days, I never even thought about an alternative system or approach to working for a living. Or, if I did, my thoughts tended to focus on the long-term unemployed or hippie dropouts. But to have an ambition of not working because you’d saved enough to retire in your forties? It just didn’t figure, unless you were a millionaire. Now, like you, I find myself looking for FIRE “outliers”, but all I tend to see during my days is pensioners, mums and everyone else scurrying around, working for a living.

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