Local Patch

In around 6 months’ time, on 28th May 2021, I plan to retire at the grand age of 59.42, leaving my job in Information Technology behind and spending the rest of my days doing something far more interesting instead, such as cycling, fat biking, kick scooting, birding, sand collecting, cloud spotting, photography, trigpointing, brick spotting and so on. To allow me to do that I need to cut my living expenses and one of the largest expense is transport. I’m spending around £4000 a year on running my own car and not having that outlay means I don’t have to wait until I’m 65, or even later at 67 when the state pension kicks in, to retire, so time to get rid of my own car.

On the plus side, I won’t be without a transport as my wife and I will share a car between us, but this got me thinking, do I really need to travel anywhere? And the answer to that is an easy no. And why is that a no, well, because of my local patch. I live in a small town of Bonnyrigg to the south of Edinburgh, and the local area is rich in walking routes, cycle routes, woodland and farmland and plenty of interesting places to visit, all perfect for the types of interests I have. My interest in sand collecting is one exception as I’ve pretty much collected most of my local patch. However, at the age of 60, I get a free bus pass, so can continue my collecting further afield then, probably over the Firth of Forth into Fife.

The great thing about having a local patch is that it’s, well, obviously, local. And that means you don’t have to travel far to get there and that’s also means you can spend more time there and really get to know the area. In my local patch I’ve explored just about every footpath, game trail, woodland or the like within about 3 miles from the house, either on foot, by bicycle or on my kick scooter, and both during the day and at night.

One of the reasons why my local patch is so good is the range of routes and locations I can visit, there’s woodland and farmland aplenty for birdwatching, industrial heritage sites for general interest and brick spotting, there’s way-marked trails, designed walks, long distance trails for walking, cycling and kick scooting and there’s even a few wind farms to visit. In addition, there’s the rivers North and South Esk, where I hope to explore from the sea at Musselburgh to their sources in the Pentland and Moorfoot hills respectively.

Then there’s the City of Edinburgh, an easy journey by public transport and endless opportunities for street photography, there’s the Seven Hills of Edinburgh to walk, cycle and kick scoot as well. Add to that the majestic splendour of Holyrood Park, with hills, archaeological sites, birdwatching sites, masses of geology and paths and trails all over the place. The city is also criss-crossed with cycle routes and there’s the Water of Leith walkway to explore as well. So, plenty to keep me busy and everything within easy reach by public transport, bicycle, kick scooter or simply on foot.

A few people I’ve spoken to about retirement have concerns about retirement, mainly about how they will occupy their time. I’ve never had that problem and certainly don’t now as I approach retirement. Yes, you do need to keep yourself occupied when you stop working and I’m fortunate that I have so many interests. Having this blog, Planet Gary, is perhaps the key, as it gives purpose to all the above mentioned activities, allowing me to share my interests online, posting a few words and not a small number of photographs.

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