I suppose the title gives it away – it’s long enough. I complain sometimes about retirement not being exciting enough. I read catalogues like the one on the right (and no, that’s not us) with envy and then when my life has the potential to be so, I back away. Oh dear. In my last blog, the one that reviewed last year and imagined what this year might be like, I suggested that it would be unlikely we would do any more travel than we had in 2014. And then along came Monday, a day of surprises. The first surprise was predicted in the sense that it was arranged. The sister (call her Jane) of Mrs Summerhouse’s sister’s partner who died quite recently, follow closely, arranged for the two sisters to meet up without Mrs SH’s sister knowing about it. My sister-in-law, as she also known, was visiting her late partner’s sister in Doncaster (she lives in Devon so they [Mrs SH and her sister] don’t get to see each other very often) so meeting up seemed like a good idea. She, Jane, thought it would be nice for my sister-in-law. So we all met in a place called Newmillerdam, I think, and we had a lovely walk and everybody including the pups had a nice time. The above photo has a relevance but not until a future blog.You could tell that both sisters enjoyed the surprise because they both cried when they met. Afterwards we went to The Barbara Hepworth Gallery for a bit of culture and that was nice too. Who knew that there is a Jackson Pollock in Wakefield (see right). The programme of events said that the gallery was beginning to rival London, patronising in one way but another plus for Yorkshire (among so many) in another.
A bonus shot of Barbara Hepworth’s sculptures
The bit that came as a surprise for Mrs SH and I and I’m not sure whether it was a pleasant surprise or not, went something like this – Mrs SH’s sister volunteered to look after the pups for a whole week. Those of you who remember these things will recall I wrote a blog about our trip to Oslo when Mrs SH’s sister looked after the pups for a weekend. As I’ve written elsewhere, that this weekend caused us some anxiety, partially on the ‘would my sister in law be able to cope with the pups single-handedly’ front and partially on the ‘would the pups still love us / remember us when we got back’ front. Now, out of the blue, we have the option of going away for a week which raises those same anxiety levels but to a much, much greater degree.
For those of you who read this blog you will understand the irony of this offer as indicated in the first paragraph. No? Let me explain. The irony lies in the fact that ever since I’ve been reflecting on my retirement set-up I’ve been bemoaning our inability to travel because of the pups. The fact that number 1 son is currently in Japan and Australia and number 1 daughter and partner are in the Maldives is particularly galling in this sense. But now here I am hoist, as they say, by my own petard, whatever that might be. It could be time to put up or shut up in the vernacular. You wanted the chance to travel and now you have it, so stop moaning.
And there is a double irony, it is that I found advertised in the Nottingham Evening Post (see right) while reading about my hapless football team a couple of months ago, an advert for 8 days in the Baltic – The Jewels of the Baltic – as the advert has it in typically understated terms, later this year. We’ve been trying to visit Tallinn (we got as far as Moscow last time) for a couple of years before the pups arrived and here was a reasonably priced tour visiting Tallinn, Vilinius and Riga. It does say it’s an ‘escorted’ tour, something in our youth we would have avoided like the proverbial plague. Another set of retired friends, who we met recently, told us they had been to Vietnam on a guided tour and it was fine once they got over the idea that not everybody else on the tour was a moron and in fact some of them were really quite interesting. They’re intelligent people so maybe ‘at this time of our lives’ we should try the same thing. I have to admit there is a certain comfort in having decisions made for you, things arranged. Listen to me, we’ll be going on a cruise next. But then I only have to recall the words of my other sister-in-law’s partner after they had taken a Mediterranean cruise. He said – it was great, you wouldn’t have known you were on a boat. Sorry but for me that’s missing the point by some nautical miles. I like boats and I like the sea and I want to experience this part of the cruise. But I digress.
Back to our travel opportunity. Can we cope not with the travel or even the other people on the tour (snob, moi? Mais non), but most of all can we cope with being away from the pups and an even bigger challenge of the pups growing so fond of Auntie Anna that they want to go back with her to Devon. She used to have two collies and loves them so she might not be capable of turning them off of the train with their little suitcases if they decide there is a better life for puppies elsewhere. So there we have it an interesting possible bit of travel, somebody keen to look after the pups and no excuses for not travelling. All that big talk about finding challenges in our retirement, not becoming too comfortable and suddenly it all becomes possible. What to do? Next time I will tell you about our children’s travels, we live vicariously through them. As well as another travel possibility that may open up in our retirement.