This is a blog about the continuing theme of taking risks, of being adventurous in our retirement years. Will I ever get it right? I must tell you about our meeting with the planners about our barn (see right) one day, that was an adventure and an expensive one at that, but, not today. I’m writing this blog first thing Sunday morning from the ‘relative’ comfort of that same barn in Nidderdale after an overnight stay. Quite a rare event.
If I look up from where I am sitting, I can see the pups outside doing their thing, eating canes, digging trenches in the soil, etc. (yesterday Archie found a rabbit’s skull and happily chomped it before we discovered what he was doing – the last remnants just sticking out of his mouth). God, I love the country. In one photo (see end) you can see Archie is trying to garrotte his sister when she was foolish enough to place the Frisbee over her head. Despite the violent subtext, all looks beautiful. The photos I’ve attached, like the one above) show the vineyard behind the pups and the dale beyond.
The morning sunlight is, however, deceptive, it’s bloody cold. Our adventurous plan to drink our early morning tea outside was quickly abandoned. It’s always windy up here, if somebody else hadn’t already taken the name we’d call this place Windy Hill vineyard – if we ever make any wine that is. As I write, the wind rattles the broken guttering. There’s a builder just half a mile away in the village. I stopped a while ago to have a word as he climbed out of his Audi 4 wheel drive, asked could he carry out some repairs on our barn, the guttering being one. He apologised and said he couldn’t do anything at the moment as he worked in London every week. He would contact me in a month when his contract finished. That was two months ago. Builders, you’ve got to love ‘em.
Inside the barn, looking out, without a wind chill factor of -10, the view is, I think, quite spectacular. As I hope you can see in the pictures. The children used to take the piss out of me for over-using this word – spectacular – on our travels. What do you think of the view, dad? they would ask in all apparent innocence and out would come that word. But what the heck, I’m dragging it out again. And totally merited it is too. Sorry, where was I? Oh yes, the reason we were here. Well, we have just spent our first night of this year in the barn, the one attached to the vineyard. I’ve got a separate blog about the vineyard at this time of year lined up so I won’t go into any detail about this right now. This is about the barn. The forecast, for Saturday at least, was good, no mention of the wind, and we do like to spend the occasional night up here. It’s like superior camping or when the generator isn’t working, which is quite often, it isn’t superior at all.
Last night was one of those nights. I had thought we just had a problem with the battery and, if I hooked it up to the Land Rover, it would magically start. Wrong, and worse still, when I dipped my finger in the radiator to check that there was water in there, it came out, my finger that is, with oil on it. Now I’m no kind of mechanic, and I really have no idea why I dipped my digit in the water in the first place, but I’ve been here before. I think this is bad. But that’s yet another, another story to do with our first car, a Renault 4. Yes, that’s the right number. If you are of my age you will remember the Renault 4, if you are not, well, you won’t. I digress. Having no generator means no lights, candle light can be romantic but I’m buggered if I can see to read by it, so early to bed, no problem, we always go to bed early. But it also means no hot water in the morning for a shower. This less attractive but still not too bad and we can always boil up the kettle for a cup of tea. We had a nice BBQ yesterday, when I got the bloody thing lit that is, (the matches kept blowing out in the wind), so food was not a problem. And I think we’re planning a cooked breakfast (although Mrs Summerhouse has just informed me we have left the eggs in Leeds) and the stove runs on Calor gas, so OK there. No generator means, of course, no Classic FM which we always have on in the morning, (the batteries in the radio were flat) but then, on the bright side, no frigging adverts either. Sometimes I wonder why we didn’t get a wind turbine instead of an incredibly expensive and often useless generator. Although a later conversation with my farmer neighbour suggested a couple of reasons – inefficient, expensive and always broken, well, that’s three. I’ve got those covered already.
Even with or rather without the generator, all this would only make the semi-adventurous category (a theme of recent blogs), after all we’ve slept up here before and in colder weather than this, in fact very nearly got snowed in a couple of winters ago, but last night was the first night up here with the dogs and even more crazy, their first night, other than when they had their bits done, when they slept out of their cage/s. Pure laziness prevented us from loading their cages and bringing them up here. What would they do? How would they react to this new and unexpected arrangement? Well, to reduce the suspense, let me tell you straight away, it went not too bad. We made up a couple of ‘beds’ on the floor downstairs out of their old blankets, let them play out quite late, so they would be tired and then introduced them to their sleeping arrangement.
Archie, being the trooper that he is, walked over and, after a bit of circling, he lay down on his new bed and went to sleep, exhausted by all the fresh air. Strike one. But there the good news ended. Millie, our little princess, took one look at her proposed sleeping place, put her nose in the air and headed straight upstairs and climbed into our bed. And there they both, in their respective locations, stayed for the whole night. It could have been worse, they both slept at least until nearly 5 o’ clock, which is when we tend to get up or rather when Mrs Summerhouse tends to get up with them anyway. She likes to do her yoga at this time of day. In fact she’s doing now as I write this incredibly riveting blog. Incidentally, just as an aside, I’ve asked her to pay attention to the health side of retirement by writing, as part of this blog, a section on yoga for old gits, watch this space (and in fact as I’m a bit behind in publishing this blog, a done deal).
So, as I hinted at earlier, the subtext, as they say in the theatre, to this blog, is that of leading the adventurous life in retirement. I feel bad sometimes that I’m not sailing off around the world, you will remember from a previous blog. So I’m offering this ‘night in the barn experience’ up for my sins. I still don’t know whether it’s adventurous enough, or even adventurous at all, but, at the moment, it’s the best that we can do. And, in case you were wondering about the eggs Mrs SH had left them in Leeds, some people, but I hopped into the Land Rover, drove down the hill to the village and bought half a dozen for a pound. Now that’s what I call living the adventure. Buying local eggs, that’s living the dream. You can keep your round the world trips.
Archie trying to garotte his sister with the frisbee