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Eco-retirement

Good retirement blogger Pat Norton still lives in the home her husband and her bought 45 years ago in the days of the quarter acre section .Now living on NZ superannuation, she shares how it’s even more important to her now to recycle, repair and maintain what they have, while also decluttering “stuff ” she have accumulated over the years.

It’s hard to do things right nowdays. I stand in the supermarket studying shelves – organic? Free range? Made in NZ? Gluten free? (I’m coeliac). Chemicals? Additives? Ethical? Sometimes I just leave it in the too hard basket and go home.

But one thing we’ve done right is change to one car. We had a very handy 1998 Mitsubishi lancer station wagon, complete with tow bar for bikes,’ and plenty of room for children/ grand children and dogs. It was highly abused as my husband was a self-employed handyman and it regularly carried vast amounts of wood and tools. We also had a little red sports convertible that we bought as we reached our 60’s, and suddenly realised we hadn’t yet indulged that youthful passion. It was great fun, but as the years went by our bodies got stiffer, the hood leaked and the grandchildren kept growing bigger so we traded it in for a little, green, Citroen C3.

We had always planned to change from two cars to one at some stage and thus halve registration, WOF and insurance costs, so when our daughter- in- law had an car accident (uninsured) the time seemed right. We passed on our elderly station wagon (with WOF and new registration) and kept our small, economical Citroen C3. Having just one car works fine for us but I did miss the tow bar. It used to carry my bike to safe areas for me to practice cycling. I had a total knee replacement and my leg lacked the strength and mobility I needed to ride my sports bike, so I had bought an electric bike. The pedal assistance is great but I’m still needing to gain confidence riding it, especially on scary Auckland roads.

We don’t regret the one car decision at all. Modern public transport is wonderful. Buses, trains and ferries are clean and comfortable, and the staff are very kind and helpful, especially when we are accompanied by the guide dog puppy we are caring for. The gold card ( thank you Winston Peters) is of course wonderful, free transport, freeing up road congestion and car parks for others. I love retirement.

We became puppy walkers for Guide Dogs when our own two elderly dogs died within a few months of each other. The house was so empty without them. We were dubious about having another dog of our own and through puppy walking we are doing something helpful for others and we have the pleasure and company of a dog without paying for the vet bills and food. Being a puppy walker is a great interest.  Our guide dog advisor meets us regularly to check the puppy’s progress. Its lovely to be able to take the puppy wherever we go. Buses, trains, shopping malls, church and meetings, are all valuable parts of its training, and so many people are friendly and interested, that going out is a very social event for the puppy walkers as well as the pup.

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