This is my usual hat post with an added twist at the end – I have some news for you, my friends!

OK, it’s the end of another year and another hat to share with Judith and her #hatattack session.

It’s quite cold here in the UK.  We’ve had some frosts, which makes the day bracing but also lovely if there’s a blue sky to go with it.  Today, though, is that damp foggy cold that’s so typical of English weather.

Although I love my Toulouse hat, when I wore it last week I found my ears got cold, and the same would go for today.


So, despite my love of hats with big brims, these days you can usually find me wearing one of these two woolly hats.  They’re great because they’re big and sit over my head in an almost snood-like way.


They’re in two colours, so I wear each one with an appropriate coat; the purple one with a black coat, the mustard one with my green parka and so on.


I love sharing with Judith. She writes many posts, and her latest talks of her love of writing her blog posts.  Oh how I share that love of writing.  Like Judith I cannot not write my posts.  And just like her I’ve found that writing is a discipline, a muscle that I cannot resist.  I must use it.  I sit at my laptop and words pour out of my fingers.  So much so that I now have another blog for more serious subjects.

But I don’t have enough time for my writing. Mr Frugalfashionshopper and me, we do lots of things in our community.  Soooo, to cut a long story short (because we have, the two of us, deliberated long and hard over this) have you noticed the little hints I’ve dropped in one or two of my posts – the weeding out of my hats, the culling of my wardrobe?  Yes, we’re retiring from our community commitments and moving away from them.  And, moreover, we’re down-sizing big-time to a flat in a retirement block.

I wonder what you think of that?

We’ve had some very varied comments and reactions ranging from, ‘oh, what a good idea’, to ‘what!‘, and ‘no way, you’re far too young‘ (I’m 70), to ‘you must be desperate’. Hmmm.

I shall write more about that in another blog, because I’m absolutely fascinated by people’s reactions.

But what I haven’t said is that we are moving to a retirement flat in Brighton. Woo, hoo! Yes, back to that wacky, buzzy, urban city with a big cultural life, which I can dip into at any point because it’ll be on my doorstep.  And I’ll wear a big brimmed hat every day and never get a backward glance because that’s Brighton for you!


But the clue to one of the reasons for a retirement block is the price difference between where I live now and Brighton (hint, it’s very big, that difference) and retirement blocks are the cheapest and only way we can do this move.

And there are other cogent reasons, which I’ll write about in another post, for putting yourself into one of these places, but in the meantime, we’re embracing the whole thing, me and Mr Frugalfashionshopper.  We are go for the bright lights of Brighton, we are.

But what do you think? What are your thoughts on this, what is for some, quite an epic change to our lives?

And yes, last but not least, what’s driving this change is a yearning for fewer responsibilities (I long to be a bit more irresponsible).  And why wouldn’t I want this?  I’m 70, ffs, it’s my time now, and in doing this I’ll have more time to communicate more often with you! Why ever not.

With love

Penny, the frugalfashionshopper

P.S. The move is not imminent – lots of hurdles to get over, not the least, we have to sell our house first! But the idea is a given.

P.P.S. Sharing with Judith and Catherine Summers and her weekly #iwillwearwhatilike post.





24 thoughts on “Hatwalk 20 – December 2016

  • 6th December 2016 at 2:32 pm

    Penny, I love your blog, your photos, your fashion sense, and most especially (being an American) your very British persona. So any reason to get more of those things sounds wonderful to me! Here in the U.S. we have “over 55” communities, but it sounds like a “retirement block” is something government subsidized, or for an much older crowd, which is perhaps why some people have a negative view of them. If so, rubbish! You will be spending more of your free time out enjoying the many perks of living in a larger city and widening your world, which is important because as we age our world tends to get smaller. Moving also gives you an opportunity to clear out clutter and that can be very freeing also. I have been to Brighton many years ago, and I will be so interested in your take on the city now that it has gentrified. Perhaps a little tour on a future blog?
    Thanks for providing so much reading enjoyment and good luck on the sale of your house and move!

    • 6th December 2016 at 4:44 pm

      Hi Lorraine and thank you so much for your feedback. yes, a retirement block sounds a bit institutional, but I’m not exactly sure what to call it. We do have retirement villages in the UK but they’re quite rare, and I would think that’s probably about the lack of space on our small island.

      What is more common, for people over 55 to buy into, are 1 or 2-bedroom flats, as we call them, in a block or condo, do you say? All of them are quite tastefully appointed and look from the outside like any other block of flats. Inside the flats all the rooms have red pull-cords to alert the warden if you have a fall and there are communal activities if you wish to join in. That won’t be for us to begin with! These are mainly but not always privately bought, but there are versions of these that you can rent. Then if you’re frail there are ‘care homes’ and then for the very frail there are ‘nursing homes’, which are incredibly expensive and will take every penny you have.

      Yes, the move is a big change but less upkeep and fewer possessions, I’ll go for that! Plus the culture of Brighton and the slightly better access to London. What’s not to like. Actually there’s always a down-side and we don’t think it the absolute answer to everything. But it’s our way to move into a new and different phase of our lives – and we are embracing this change! Thank you once again for your comment x

  • 6th December 2016 at 4:20 pm

    I think this is an incredibly sensible idea. You’re planning for your future. You will have less ‘home’ to look after, maintain and heat; you’ll be in a city you obviously love and if your or your partner’s health deteriorates in any way it may be that there are facilities on site to assist with this.

    There is an over 55 retirement block opposite me and down on the other main road a defunct school was converted into a retirement campus. It looks lovely!

    Go for it!
    PS. I love your black coat.


    • 7th December 2016 at 7:32 am

      Thank you so much Veronica! Yes we are going for it because, as you say, there are things there ready for you when you become frailer. In the meantime there’s the city of Brighton, old friends to re-engage with and new things to do, what’s not to like!

  • 6th December 2016 at 4:30 pm

    Wow! I suspected there was a move coming up but certainly never thought of Brighton. How exciting! I am one year older than you are ( 71, turning 72 next month!) and , at some stage, we are going to have to make a move. In our case our only child lives some 3,000 miles away and the rest of my family ( 2 brothers ) are still in the U.K.
    I think it’s grand that you are doing this!

    • 7th December 2016 at 8:01 am

      Thank you Jan, yes for us it is the right time to do it. And it will be exciting to move back to Brighton! Not everything will be rosy and there are a lot of hoops to go through, but even so, we’re going for it!

  • 6th December 2016 at 4:41 pm

    Hi Penny,

    I have been enjoying both of your blogs this year, though I may not agree with everything on your ‘political’ one. It must take some preparing!
    I’m interested to hear of your plan to move to Brighton when you can. I believe you moved from there to Newhaven some years ago so I’m sure you’ll enjoy the possibilities on offer.
    Good luck with the selling/moving thing, and keep up the good work!
    Best wishes you both, Margaret.

    • 7th December 2016 at 8:07 am

      Yes, we lived in Brighton for a long time bringing up the children, then we had a mad moment and moved to Ditchling which got rid of the idea of moving into the country for ever. I mean we really tried it and stayed for over 6 years. But we decided life was too short to always be in one’s car for the slightest thing, so moved back to Brighton for a short time, before Newhaven. (Are we serial movers, errrrm, maybe!) Anyway, undoubtedly, we’re urban people, and I’d much rather have the scruff of where I live now to anything pastoral!! But the time is right for another move!

      And anyway, you of all people probably understand one of our reasons for moving very well! At the moment we are very reliable, community involved people, and we want to retire from all that! And be a bit more unreliable! Will keep you informed about our progress – early days yet. Thank you for the good wishes x

      • 8th December 2016 at 2:32 am

        Please explain, is a move to Brighton a simpler way to be in the thick of things and also way cheaper than a move to London?
        How easy is it to get from Brighton to London? Train, bus?
        Why is this the best move.
        I think you are doing well but I do wonder how and why?

  • 6th December 2016 at 5:22 pm

    Good luck with your move. I think you’ve made a clever decision. You don’t need that red pull cord now, but there might come a time when you do, and you’ll be far less able to make a lifestyle change then. It’s also an excellent plan to move to somewhere as vibrant as Brighton where there’s lots of fun to be had, an you’ll have more time and (hopefully) cash left over to enjoy it. Have fun.

    • 8th December 2016 at 8:32 am

      Hi Marina, yes, I just love that Brighton buzz. A move never solves everything and there are some things to sort (short lease etc) but yes, we are also thinking about our future. However, we also aim to have a lot of fun in that city which we can participate in now, but having it on your doorstep will be much better – thanks again for your comment x

  • 6th December 2016 at 5:37 pm

    I am absolutely with you on the move. We have friends who have left it too late and just can’t face the thought of a move now. I want to move whilst we are still not just up to doing things to make our new home as we want it but excited about the prospect too. I think 70 /71 is a pretty smart age to make such a move. I have three years to go so shall watch this space and see how you and Mr Frugalfashionshopper get on! Brilliantly I am sure.
    There has, though, been a lot of media attention re retirement apartments that are for sale and the punative fees for resale if e.g. you go into a care home or pass away. Is this something you have encountered and, if so, what is your take on it?
    Anyway, one step at a time and good luck with the sale of your house.

    • 7th December 2016 at 7:47 am

      Yes, some of the friends and acquaintances who’ve been positive about our move have said, ‘oh yes, we aim to do what you’re doing when we’re 80’. I don’t say much because I don’t want to be rude or too strident, but 80 is too late, in my view. At the very least you will have to be moved with a great deal of help from your family, which is absolutely what I don’t want to do having gone through that with my own mother. So early 70s, imo, is the right age to do it.

      Now the down-sides are i) some management companies not only charge a commission but also the executors (the usual situation) need their permission to sell! Thankfully the one flat we like (but can’t progress much until we sell) is OK there and doesn’t do either. Then ii) you have to watch the length of lease. Here, the one flat we like has a length of lease that is way too low, it will have to be increased. And actually our solicitor informs us that us buying it must be based on an increase, which, apparently, we can’t initiate – it has to be the sellers. It’s complicated but not unusual. But it is a hoop to go through. And finally iii) there is the service charge, which is totally under the control of the management company and could rise steeply if there are works to be done and not enough in the kitty. That’s definitely one to watch. Because once you become a leaseholder you are effectively a tenant. So not at all plain sailing. Swings and roundabouts, definitely.

  • 6th December 2016 at 6:23 pm

    Brighton – how exciting! My love of this vibrant city is only second to my love of France. There is so much to do in Brighton and it has such an eclectic mix of ages, cultures etc. I think it’s brilliant that you will be moving there. We are barely an hour’s drive from Brighton and we often go shopping or to exhibitions there. I would love to live in Brighton but, sadly, my husband isn’t as enamoured as I am. I’m looking forward to reading future posts about your move.

    • 7th December 2016 at 7:52 am

      Thank you June! And yes, I am looking forward to living in Brighton again – lived there when the kids were young. I want to experience the Brighton buzz once more!

  • 6th December 2016 at 9:46 pm

    Lucky you, in the centre of Brighton, with the cinemas and theatres, not to mention the shops! How I envy you! Re the hat, have you thought of tying a scarf underneath it? Very Bolivian! I used to do this in the 60’s.

    • 7th December 2016 at 7:57 am

      Actually you’re right about the scarf under the Toulouse hat – I’ll try it. And yes, if we go for the particular flat we like (might not get it as we haven’t sold yet) it won’t be quite in the centre, but there’s a bus that takes approx 15 minutes to the centre, 5 minutes to London Road with all its charity shops (!) and it’s easily walkable to an outlying station that will get me up to London quickly – if that is, the service itself improves. Throughout the south we’re having terrible problems with trains at the moment.

  • 6th December 2016 at 9:52 pm

    What a wise decision to make the move now while still fit and able. I also know of individuals who left it too late and we never know when too late will be do we? Brighton will be fabulous for you with lots to entertain you and keep you on your toes. I look forward to reading about this journey you are about to undertake as my husband and I are also contemplating this next move.

    • 8th December 2016 at 8:41 am

      Hi Christine. It’s so interesting to hear people’s reactions and that indeed some are thinking of doing the same as us. There are other ways to retire into a more sheltered environment. There’s co-housing, for instance, but that’s quite complex and sounds a bit of a faff, to be honest. And so, actually is a move to a retirement block of flats managed by whoever. There’s lots that you need to be aware of that a good solicitor will point out if you aren’t already. There are downsides. But there’s a downside, definitely, to remaining where you are in an unsuitable home of your own. The main thing for us is to move to a city, because at some point we will give up our car and I want all things cultural to be on my doorstep not a long bus ride away as it is now – don’t mention the train!!!!

      Yes, there’s lots to think about and it is quite stressful, but I cannot imagine doing this at 80, that would be too late. For us the time is right. Very best of luck with your thoughts about this.

  • 12th December 2016 at 2:50 pm

    I can quite understand why you would like to retire from your community commitments! It can be a big drain on your time. Good luck and much happiness for the future.

    Great hats!


    • 13th December 2016 at 8:39 am

      Hi Gail
      I’ve followed you! Great to meet you and thanks for the good wishes!

  • 12th December 2016 at 3:20 pm

    Penny Great site. Just about to start blog about style ocer 60s charity shopping and vintage on aite of my firmer shop
    . Ran vintage shop for 6 years and now creative writing therapy groups.I also love big hats and Brighton had very wild seven or eighr years as student and 20something in the 70s.
    Have you discovered Vintagebrighton website yet?
    We are in East Grinstead and reluctant to downsize from 20s cottage want to hang on as long as we can I’m 62 and ither half 69.. Good for you re move though soynds great. Feel like I’ve found another friend when I read your blogs
    Fiona Friend

    • 13th December 2016 at 8:32 am

      Hi Fiona, and great to meet you too. Let me know when your blog starts and I’ll follow you! And you like hats and Brighton – we think alike!

      Well, re: the move. I wouldn’t have been ready for this move at 62. At 60 I felt no different to 40 and I was working. And that’s the thing a lot of people will be working until they’re 70+. No, you’ll know the time. For us it was wanting the cinema, exhibitions and other cultural things to be on our doorstep not a car or long bus journey away as it is now for us. Then, I’m going to say something that might not be true for everyone, but reaching 70 made me think. It is different to turning 60. I want to embrace life and just enjoy it rather than have loads of commitments. I mean my writing is a commitment and I want to do more of that but we have a lot of responsibilities as well – and that has to stop. So are we running away from these? Yes we are! But we are running to the bright lights of Brighton – now that feels very positive!
      Regards, Penny

  • 16th December 2016 at 9:42 am

    What an adventure, all that culture and great charity shops on your doorstep! well done you. I think you’re doing it at just the right time, you still have a lot of life and energy to enjoy yourselves!

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