In some ways, many of the things which I have chosen to do since retirement are a bit stereotypical. I haven't bought a Harley, nor have I acquired a pond full of coy carp. However, I have taken up fitness activities such as Pilates and also like to mess about on the water. Both of these are fairly common things for newbie retirees to undertake.
Another new interest which many of my retired friends share is Ancestry. It was something I always knew I would be interested in 'when I had the spare time'. Well now I have.
I began by buying a brilliant beginners book which told me pretty much all I needed to know in order to start my new hobby. It is called 'The really, really, really, easy step-by-step guide to creating your family tree using your computer' which should get in the running for a longest book title competition!
There are two distinct areas involved in the study of genealogy. Firstly there is the obvious aspect of tracing your ancestors. This entails both discovering who they were and also where they lived, what work they did and so on. The second aspect is to trace living fellow descendants who you don't yet know exist.
In Britain, population censuses started in 1841 and it is fairly easy to use those to trace most of your ancestors at least that far back. All that is needed is to join one or two of the popular genealogy sites and search away on your computer in the comfort of your own home. These sites will put you in touch with other people who share some of your ancestors and you can then copy information from their family trees to quickly build your own.
As interesting as finding out about your ancestors is, I soon became obsessed with tracking living relatives down. I chose to start from my paternal great grandparents who had eleven children. Of course, I knew my grandfather's descendants but only a handful of those of his siblings.
It has been a long, hard search but I have now found them all - there are 149 of us! Most are in England and a few in Australia. I have met some of my new found cousins and in the process, I encountered one who had no idea that she had any relatives at all. To see her joy in discovering what a large family she belonged to has inspired me. I now plan to host a family gathering for the 149 relatives. Even if only half attend, it will be a wonderful day.