I find it hard to believe that I, as a retired person, should seemingly have so little time to write this blog especially given how up-beat I was in my last blog about the pleasures and pay-offs of writing it. Yet here I am starting to write on Sunday at the Derbyshire cottage with every likelihood of having to finish it driving up the M1 tomorrow – Mrs Summerhouse driving and me typing while sitting in the passenger seat just in case you were worried for our safety. It’s true that writing on the move has some benefits, it makes the one hour forty minute (assuming no hold-ups) journey from Derbyshire to Leeds pass that bit more quickly, but leaving my Tuesday blog until Monday undermines everything I stand for as a writer even though I’m not in any way sure what this might be.
Part of the problem lies with the geographical setting, as above. We’re spending Friday to Monday at the Derbyshire cottage in line with our attempt to regularise our house stays. A weekend here and a weekend at the barn and remove the Pateley cottage which we are still trying to sell but that is another story. So here we are and it’s nice, different. Maybe it’s that back to our roots thing again. Yesterday’s walk with the dogs for example encompassed a walk along the River Derwent from Duffield, next to a railway line, through a church yard and ending in a pub we used to frequent about 50 years ago and which we really haven’t been in since. I mention the above because old churches, trains, rivers and pubs are four of my very favourite things as I believe Julie Andrews sang. OK, it wasn’t quite as ideal as it first sounds because the fields were muddy, the church was closed and the pub bore no resemblance to the pub in which we did our ‘courting’, having turned into yet another chain restaurant. Still the day had the bones of a pleasurable one and, as we know, nothing is perfect.
But the reason I mention being at the Derbyshire cottage in the same breath as struggling to write this blog, is that, when we get here, a kind of torpor overcomes us, a weariness which leads to indolence. Our DIY tasks here have dwindled to zero. To us the place looks fine, if we don’t look too closely. My only goals for these three days were to hang a picture (achieved) and screw down some floorboards upstairs that move under foot every time I visit the bathroom in the middle of the night. And here I am on Sunday afternoon, with the dogs waiting for their afternoon walk, for this blog to be at least started, the floorboards to be screwed down and the papers to be read. In truth it’s the papers that won out even though, at first read, I don’t like the literally down-sized Guardian and Observer. Even in truncated form they take a couple of hours to read and the activity of reading (in line with our indolence) is easier to engage in than screwing, walking or writing this blog.
I’m somewhat reluctant to abandon the relaxation side of these visits because I’m generally notoriously bad at relaxing, so better make the most of it. All of which means that writing this blog is being left to the last possible moment and, thus far at least, has been to the detriment of the other pressing tasks. If you’ve read these blogs before you will have gathered that I am not, by nature, a relaxed person. This, in turn, has made retirement quite a challenge. Even as I simplify – gardening business closed, son safely in Australia, sale of one house, please God or whoever organises this life business – I’m complicating the retirement agenda by, meeting with a planning consultant about the barn; planning any travel projects (Scarborough on Thursday, Ireland in May and a recently booked Scottish holiday in September to mark our joint seventieth birthdays, more about all of these escapades at a later date) and possibly agreeing to a couple of live jazz gigs (ooer Mrs) in the next few weeks.
Yep, try as I may, it doesn’t get any simpler this retirement business. Got to keep active I think is the mantra. OK I’m going to have to stop now, it’s time for my soup (a part of my new diabetes unfriendly diet more of which you are guaranteed to read about at a later date in this blog, suffice it to say, at this early stage, that my calorie-reduced diet has led to several hypos in the middle of the night, reinforcing in a way but definitely unpleasant and of course ultimately potentially dangerous. After the soup there are the dogs to walk and then the floorboards to screw so probably see you tomorrow on the motorway.
And here we are driving North with Mrs Summerhouse at the wheel. I should be in the back of a limo (anything further from a limo than a Land Rover Defender would be difficult to imagine) with Mrs SH wearing a chauffeur’s cap in the front. Incidentally talking of Mrs SH, I have to report that she has had a pre-70 crisis. After years of threatening she has finally hennaed her hair. Hmm, I think she might be regretting it. I’m not saying it’s bright but if we were a fire vehicle we wouldn’t need the flashing red light on top and I certainly couldn’t lose her in the dark. Anyway I screwed down a few floorboards but now we’re going to need more rugs because the new silver screws stand out somewhat, rather like Mrs SH’s hair. Not much DIY but a gesture.
So apart from wading through the mud twice a day with the pups, it’s been a relaxing, verging on the indolent, three days. Do I feel guilty about wasting my retirement like this? Well no actually, there is something about going away that is relaxing even if it is only to one of your own houses. Relaxing that’s all part of retirement isn’t it?