I wrote last time about relaxing in retirement. I’ve been thinking more about this topic, two ‘events’ brought the subject to mind – again. I probably have done it to death but the problem, for that is what I think it is, keeps coming back to challenge / haunt me. I suppose that in the years prior to my retirement (coming up to three years ago) I really did imagine, dream almost, of a period in my life when I would have earned the right (that’s an important concept for me, earning something) to chill out, take it easy, not worry so much, yep, just relax. A bit like the picture above right. And guess what, far from this being the situation, thinking about it some more as I have done these last few days, I think I’ve experienced none of the above. A horrible thought but I think I may be both more stressed and less relaxed. Can this really be true? Perhaps not but let’s say again if a person isn’t very careful how s/he uses the extra time retirement theoretically brings in its wake, it can be, at best, a mixed blessing and, at worse, something worse – the curse of the retirement years. Boy you can tell that all these external events – referendum, football have knocked me off balance this last week or so.
The two events I was going to reference at the beginning of the blog before I went off on a negative spiral, were paradoxically relaxing but, and here’s the paradox, because they were relaxing they reminded me of just how unrelaxed I felt the rest of the time. The first ‘event’ was this morning and led to the writing of this blog a few hours later. It was simple. I realised it was Sunday and we weren’t going anywhere (we often go up to the barn on Sunday but see later in the blog). Hard on the heels on this realisation came the realisation that I felt relaxed at the weekend or on a weekend as they say in these parts. This was good – and bad. How come I could only feel this way on a week-end? That’s the perspective of a working person, not somebody who has been retired for nearly three years. I guess I can simply say that the patterns of a working life and the thinking that go with them are more difficult to shake off than might at first appear to be the case. But there it was, Sunday morning walking the pups and I felt light and in good shape and for no more reason than it was the weekend and we weren’t doing much.
The second ‘event’ happened last Thursday. The day started with us driving to Ripon to look at the stained glass windows in the cathedral. I’m hoping to show you the video a member of the group made on Friday on this blog. Even though the cathedral is hundreds of years old (hard to date it exactly because it has so many different bits – an architectural term) with the exception of one window every other window was Victorian, from the 1850s onwards. Apart from this the visit wasn’t a great success for me although Mrs Summerhouse enjoyed it. I couldn’t hear what our guide was saying because the bloody choir was rehearsing – California Dreaming would you believe – and I couldn’t see even with binoculars because looking up made my head hurt and I needed to lean against something or somebody to stop falling over. Then I got a bit low-blood sugarish at least I think this was the problem and I had to bail out and go and buy and eat a sausage roll and an iced Belgian bun. I know you’re thinking this doesn’t sound like much fun but bear with me, you’ll see what I’m getting at – I hope.
I also bought two cheap books from a nice cheap bookshop then met up with Mrs SH who had had her fill of Victorian glass and we went off to Studley Royal (aka Fountain’s Abbey) for lunch. Only coffee and cake but this was accompanied by a strange feeling of being on holiday and a vague sense of this was a good thing and I could relax. With this mind-set and time on our hands, on account of having curtailed the stained glass part of the day, we drove around an area of North Yorkshire we like but don’t get to very often. It’s pretty. We drove to Masham, an appealing market town where we walked the dogs around the cricket field and had a very nice conversation with the groundsman. Told him what a great job he was doing – the ground looked green (as it should after all the bloody rain we’ve had) and immaculate (as it shouldn’t after all the bloody rain we’ve had). From the cricket ground we walked to a very nice little wine shop – Corks and Cases (I think) where I bought 4, new to me, bottles of wine. Then, still very much in the holiday spirit, we called in at one of the pleasant little pubs round the market square although I’ve forgotten the bloody name of it. We sat inside with the dogs at our feet just like proper dogs. Which was nice and relaxing and like being on holiday.
With 4 bottles of wine and four varieties of sausage, bought by Mrs SH while I was buying the wine, we drove over the moors to our barn and, a rare treat, we stayed over-night. As we sat with candles – remind me to tell you about the generator some time – and a fire in the wood-burning stove, watching the rain lash against the windows, we felt cosy and relaxed, at least until I thought of the vines outside and the impact of the rain on budburst (again a story for another time). So we hadn’t planned the day beyond the stained glass part but it had worked out a treat, an unexpected day of fun and frivolity, sausages and beer and wine, sausage rolls and Belgian buns and cheap books.
At some point during this day, I couldn’t say when exactly, it dawned that this was the kind of day I had expected to be the norm rather than the exception. You know those dreams / anticipations of retirement three years ago – a life of relaxed, laid back, stress-free ease. Those halcyon (nice word) days of retirement. I think I need more of these but then again, I don’t want to be bored of course. Sounds like another plea for a balanced retirement.