Tuesday, 12 July 2011

What to do now?

Now that COW2011 is over, the preparations for COW2012 are underway. I already have some bookings to process, and the membership records will need to be updated ... as will the Wargame Developments website. But what should I do now?

Before last weekend, retirement was something that I was looking forward to. I had plans. I had ideas. I had priorities. But now that reality is upon me, I am beginning to feel a bit uncertain about what to do now. The routine tasks that always come after a COW (Conference of Wargamers) are helping to fill my day, and I am beginning to adjust to having time to do things around the house that I used to have to do after I returned from work ... but somehow I feel like I am not quite 'with it'.

I suppose that I thought that the move from full-time work into retirement would be seamless ... but so far it has not been. For one thing, I suddenly feel very tired all the time. Not mentally tired; physically tired, just as one does after being ill for a long time. I assume that this is the result of me beginning to relax, safe in the knowledge that I can do so without feeling that I should be preparing something for work. If it is, then I know that it will pass.

I need to 'sort out' the wargaming side of my life. I have now got the time to do a lot more wargaming ... but before I do I need to have a good 'Spring clean' in my wargames/toy room. I need to reorganise (and possibly prune) my book collection and to reduce the pile of unpainted figures that I own down to something more manageable. I had already set myself some goals ... now I need to start achieving them.

Finally, my PORTABLE WARGAME session at COW2011 made me realise that some small but significant changes to the rules need to be considered. It was apparent that players found one or two aspects of the Turn Sequence and Unit Activation stopped the game from 'flowing' quite as easily as I had hoped, and these need to be looked at long and hard. It was also very noticeable how many of them preferred the squared grid rather than the hexed grid ... and this included players who experienced both and who regularly design games that included a gridded playing surface.

I have quite a few things to think about and do ... but at least I have the time now to do them thoroughly.


  1. Hi Bob
    Your post really resonated with me. I'm not too far off retirement, but I have reacehd a stage where I am attempting too many wargaming ideas - and not actually achieving any of them. I had a huge restructure around what I wanted to do recently ( which incidentally saw most of my non-wargaming hobbies binned) and have - for the moment- narrowed my focus on 15mm ww2, inter war years, acw,syw and pony wars - nothing else!! The unexpected side effect is that I am playing more solo games and spending less time at the "bench".

    Moving into retirement must be similar to many significant changes in life - we tend to miss the past, and grieve a little for it, before we can move on to embrace a new way of defining a normal day. I wish you lots of luck - and I'm pretty envious at your opportunity. Work is harder than ever and the thought of a life based around the domestic world, reading and wargaming sounds like a kind of perfection!!

    Good luck and best wishes


  2. Hi Bob,

    You are feeling the release of your stress. You are not used to be relaxed yet. You are used to being wound up tight. It will pass as you relax.

    Go reread the Tuesday, May 10, 2011 comments.

    Remember, Life Is Good.


  3. Ken H,

    I thought that I had given what to do next some serious thought ... but now it is upon me I seem to feel a bit rudderless. The discipline of a working life is something that helps one appreciate one's 'spare' time. Now that I have lots of 'spare' time, I cannot seem to get motivated to do anything.

    I think that a serious 'Spring clean' of my toy/wargames room and a set of short-term wargaming objectives should - once I am over the initial feeling of 'what can I do now?' - bring back a bit of structure to my daily life.

    Grief is a good description of how I feel at the moment ... but I know that it will pass, hopefully quite quickly. In the meantime, I can do some sleeping, reading, and sorting out ... and then I am going to have a wargame!

    All the best,


  4. Jim Wright,

    You are absolutley right! I used to always get this feeling at the beginning of every Summer holiday break. As the tension and stress lifted and I began to relax, my spirits seemed to drop.

    The comments you made in May are very helpful, and thank you for reminding me of them. I re-read them, and they raised my spirits no end!

    All the best,


  5. Bob, I'd second what the other commenters are saying. When I was made redundant (a year ago this Thursday) I went through much the same thing.

    Put the kettle on, have a cuppa then get out your toy soldiers and put your "little grey cells" to work. This is your time. Do something you love.

  6. Hi Bob

    I found that you have to "work" at being retired, just as much as you did earning a living.

    For us the most important thing was to put a new daily/weekly routine in place of the old one.

    Wargaming is only one part of this routine.

    We live with a lot of retired couples here in Spain, and many of them are bored to tears and always complaining that "there is nothing to do". This is largely because they approach being retired the same as being on holiday. Its not. And if you spend too much time "playing" you will soon get bored.

    The good thing is that you can spend all of your time doing things you enjoy doing. Not just at weekends.

    But we find that its good or organise some contrast in your life. For example each day we try to go out and "do something". It might only be a walk along the promonade, or a cup of coffee in one of the nearby coastal towns. Or it might be a short walk in the valley to a nearby village.

    Its important to have some physical activity as well as more time with your toys.

    Check out our Paul and Jan in Spain blog and see what I mean

    Balance in everything.

    Rise to the challenge and enjoy your hard earned retirement. Its the best time of your life. And if its not - think what the alternative is!

    best regards


  7. Bob

    I know how you feel. My life is project related and can be up to 18 months at a stretch, foreign climes and all. But when the project ends I get withdrawal symptoms. I have found as your other mates here have said that I need to work at doing nothing too. Just relax, take it easy and keep it tranquil. Don't force yourself to do anything. And of course, you may feel useless at times, which is OK, it's a man's prerogative...

    Just don't stress over de-stressing!


  8. I'll be joining you next Friday, though employment doesn't end until 31st August - teaching can be strange. So don't know when things will kick in yet. Will seem strange, though, knowing I won't be back in September.


  9. I sympathize with you regarding the initial feelings. Missing work will pass in a couple months; time to enjoy things in more depth is the reward retirement gives us.
    A few of us here have formed a "breakfast club" and wargame Tuesday mornings! We enjoy being alert and focused, something that was lacking when we met on Fridays after a hard week at work.
    I also agree with others that a new schedule be put into place.
    Why not produce a set of naval rules for mid-nineteenth century warfare in Sooth America!


  10. Dr Vesuvius,

    Thanks for your advice. I have certainly had the cup of tea (in my case, several glasses of Diet Coke) and I have been sorting the soldiers I took to COW back into their storage boxes.

    The general consensus is try to relax, get used to the new way of life, set up some new routines, and then move on. This is what I am going to try to do.

    All the best,


  11. Paul Leniston,

    Thanks for the excellent and encouraging advice.

    My wife will be retiring in the not too distant future, and I suspect that will have to 'work' at being retired. We both like to travel (mainly sea cruises as my wife won’t fly or for long weekends within the UK) and have plans to go to all sorts of places whilst we are still able to. Our garden could also do with some attention, and the local shops (which are ideal for most of our daily needs) are less than ten minutes walk away. Living on top of a hill means that walking there will involve a bit of physical effort, and this will do neither of us any harm.
    All the best,


  12. Arthur,

    Thanks for your advice. I will try to follow it … especially the bit about not worrying about de-stressing!

    Although I have changed jobs quite a few times, this is – with the exception of a couple of weeks some years ago – the first time I have not had some form of paid employment since I left school in 1968. That is quite a major change, and one that I think is going to take me some time to come to terms with.

    All the best,


  13. Xaltotun of Python (Rob),

    It has only been a couple of days so far, but I have got that ‘beginning of the summer holidays’ feeling (i.e. I know that I don’t have to go to work, but still can’t relax yet … and I feel slightly under the weather, just as if I had a cold or bout of ‘flu on the way).

    I must admit that the advice I have been given in the comments to my blog entry have been very helpful, and I am going to try to do what has been suggested.

    All the best (and enjoy your last few days as a teacher),


  14. Brigadier Dundas (Don),

    I like the idea of a Tuesday morning wargames club! Very civilised … and if it included breakfast and/or lunch as well, it would be a very pleasant social gathering to go to once a week.

    The general advice seems to be to develop a weekly schedule of ‘things to do’ to make sure life retains some form of regular structure, and this is something I am going to try to do.

    I also like the idea of developing a set of naval wargames rules for the mid to late part of the nineteenth century … and they would certainly be suitable for South American naval conflicts!

    All the best,


  15. Hi Bob

    Sounds like you already have lots of great advice. I'm a long way off retirement yet, but what you describes seems absolutely normal from my experience of friends and family, so go easy in yourself.

    If you feel ready for it, why not pen some articles for one or two of the current magazines. I'm sure Guy at WSS and Henry at Battlegames would be happy to receive contributions and it may help to create some artificial deadlines to give that sense of purpose (and stress) that work tends to give us.

    Best wishes

  16. Steve,

    Thanks for you kind comments and advice.

    I may well submit some articles to one or two of the current crop of wargames magazines. I am also looking at the possibility of writing a book of wargames rules that use a gridded playing surface and a book (or books) about some of my Victorian military 'heroes'.

    All the best,


  17. Bob, You have received some good advice already so please forgive any repetition. One thing that my sister and I and some friends found is that many of us were more tired than we realized from the stresses of work and that it took months to recuperate to a normal state. So don't feel that you need to solve all the issues in the first few weeks.

    Secondly the ideas of a routine and goals or purpose are important as several have mentioned.

    The third thing that my wife and I have found is that the schedule should include scheduled "days off"
    (as bizarre as that seems).

    Good luck going forward.

    - Ross Mac

  18. I have a job for you, sir.

    Pick a time (say Monday morning or whatever) and each week devote that time to work on the following:

    Take close-up photos, unit-by-unit of each of your armies and post them on a separate blog (perhaps with unit histories).

    This will do a number of things. For one thing, it will create a verifiable inventory in case something untoward (like fire or theft) occurs.

    But more important, it will rejuvenate your interest in some of the periods and armies which have "rested" for too long.

    This might also encourage you to paint some of the "lead pile" that has been sitting untouched for too many years.

    And, of course, in order to photograph your units, you will want to repair/replace missing or damaged weapons and equipment . . . which is always a good thing.

    Now don't try to do this all at once. Only one army (or perhaps part of an army) each session; but make it a regular session.

    I hope that this helps, Bob. And, of course, all of the other suggestions are good ones to follow as well.

    Enjoy your retirement, sir. Enjoy!

    -- Jeff

  19. All the best Bob for the interim period of adjustment and planning,I am sure all will fall into place with a little reflection and planning. Fellow posts have offered good advice already...
    Enjoy,chill ,change and make your future what you both want it to be!
    very best wishes

  20. Ross Mac,

    All advice is helpful, and thanks for yours.

    I must admit that I expected it would take me a bit of time (a couple of days or possibly a week or two) to get used not to be working full-time ... but I am beginning to suspect that you are right, and that it is going to take longer. The crunch will come in September, when the school return to normal and I won't be going back to work.

    I have begun to set up some basic daily routines, but they have yet to 'shake down' into something that could be called definite. I suspect that until my wife joins me in retirement, that is how they are going to remain.

    Taking time off from daily routines sounds like an excellent idea. It will be just like having time off from 'work', and will make that time much more valuable and likely to be more productive.

    All the best,


  21. Bluebear Jeff,

    Sounds like an excellent idea ... and one that I may well take up once I have completed the 'Spring clean' in my toy/wargames room. By then I will know what I have, and where it is (hopefully!).

    As you say, not only will it be an interesting record, it will be a useful one should anything untoward happen.

    All the best,


  22. Tradgardmastare,

    Thanks for your support and advice.

    It looks like I am going to take the long view with regard to getting used to retirement, and that it will require a bit of 'work' on my part to make it a success.

    As you comment, I have had lots of very useful advice, and I am going to try to heed it over the next few weeks and months.

    All the best,


  23. Bob,
    After a year out of the classroom, I can recognise some similar symptoms to my own. Perhaps the tight structures imposed upon us by curricula, timetables and interminable and often unnecessary 'planning' to satisfy management and Ofsted, leaves us ill-prepared to enjoy freedom from such things.
    In addition to the sage advice you've already been given, I'd just offer this from my own experience: when it became clear I was very unlikely to secure another job this academic year, I volunteered to work behind the counter in a local charity shop two days a week. This got me out of the house, introduced me to some really nice people and a very different style of working in which I could simply enjoy being pleasant and helpful to customers, rather than having to encourage, cajole or dictate to pupils. No marking, no planning, no fear of inspections - and I'm helping to raise money for a good cause, rather than helping the sons of the wealthy to pass for public schools...
    [And I found a RISK set with 300 18th century figures for only £1!] Every day is different and I find I look forward to the days when I'm in the shop.
    Just a thought.

  24. Arthur1815,

    Thanks for the advice

    One thing that I will be doing more of over the next few months will be visiting my father and my father-in-law more frequently than I have been able to do of late. This will easily 'absorb' at least two days each week, and will keep me busy.

    I may not go down the charity shop route as yet, but it is something that I will keep in my mind for the future ... especially if you can pick up such good bargains.

    All the best,


  25. I don't have any sage advice concerning retirement (whether permanent or not) as I am probably 10 years or more from it myself. Besides, it seems you've gotten enough (good) advice already.

    I was curious about one comment in your post though - you wrote that the players "preferred the squared grid rather than the hexed grid"> Why was that? Was it aesthetics? Mechanics? Or?

  26. Fitz-Badger,

    I warn you now ... those ten years or so will zip past!

    As to the hexes vs. squares discussion, the feeling seemed to be that:

    1. Squares were more aesthetically pleasing on the eye (this might have something to do with the starkness of the Heroscape hexes I was using in comparison with the squared board Nick Huband brought to the session);

    2. Maps were easier to translate onto a squared board rather than a hexed one;

    3. Arcs of fire were easier to sort out on squares;

    4. Squares seemed more in keeping with an era when Units fought in linear formations.

    These all make sense, and I am giving the comments serious thought before the next stage in the development the PORTABLE WARGAME.

    All the best,