Maybe I’ve been a bit whingey of late, a bit too focused on the bad and the ugly parts of retirement. You probably won’t remember, (I just about didn’t) that I wrote in a recent blog that that I had joined, through Linkedin, something called The Psychology Network. I did this, I said then, so I could ask other psychologists their opinion about psychology relevant to retirement. I got no responses until now, quite a few weeks later. Strange why now, well maybe the great psychic psychology network just knew I needed a boost. This person recommended positive psychology. This is by way of introduction to this blog.
Mrs Summerhouse said a strange thing last week. She said this is how I thought our retirement would be. She has never really said such a thing before, presenting, in our frequent discussions about our Third Age, as quite content with our set up. She’s like that, basically at ease with life, I see it as my role to counter-balance her contentedness. Something I’ve been doing rather well of late. Life has seemed quite challenging and the wonder of it all is that much, although not all, of it has been of our own, well, my own making. It can be frustrating when, like me, you’re a great planner, an obsessive goal-setter, and things fall apart. If you’ve been reading this blog you will have witnessed some of the ugly side of our retirement. I’ve asked Mrs SH to write a ‘cheer you up’ yoga blog, she says she will – she has.
But I digress, Mrs SH made the comment on our day out. She said she thought our retirement would be much more ‘day out’ oriented and it hasn’t been really. I’ve been so busy constructing my three prong attack on retirement – jazz, vineyard, writing in various forms and of course the pups, that it seems we have little time for enjoying ourselves. That’s a little irony there if you didn’t recognise it. So we decided we needed to get away for two or three days rather than the one rushed day we’ve been engaging in lately. The vineyard, say no more, has ceased to be a time-consuming area although, as you will see, it goes on in different ways, so we are spending less time there which means we have more time now to spend at our cottage in Pateley Bridge. We had tried to rent it out to claw back some of our financial shortfall but without success so we have taken it off the market and now we are making it feel like ours again which generally means we don’t tidy it up each time we leave. On the evidence of this short break I’m really glad we didn’t rent it out.
But I digress, so we decided we would spend a few days up at the cottage like we used to do ironically before we retired. Of course we didn’t have a planted vineyard then but it’s ironic nevertheless that we spent more time at the cottage then than we do now, until last weekend. But, that’s not the point, the point is that in the words of Lou Reed we had such a perfect day. We decided to visit one of our favourite places in Yorkshire – Ribblehead
Viaduct (photo in intro and others of surrounding area. Photo above has Millie doing her Hound of the Baskervilles impression and Archie doing his just standing pose). My excuse for enjoying ourselves in this way was that I was doing research for a ghost story I was writing for an Ebook shortly to be published. In the end, getting the information I needed was the one bit of the day that didn’t work out, must stop staying ironic, so that was a bit strange but perfectly OK in the end.
We actually drove from Leeds taking the pups, of course, with us. This would be the first time they had been to the viaduct and, as you can imagine, they were pretty excited. We reasoned, mostly correctly, that there wouldn’t be any sheep for them to chase and certainly no lambs. As it turned out only two sheep were chased in the making of this blog. We left early and stopped for a posh coffee at a place called The Courtyard, we also had scone, cream and jam. Mrs SH just had to buy that darling little blanket that she saw in the shop next door. Making the total bill £39.40, quite expensive coffee. When we have a day out, we do it right.
Then onto the viaduct. There’s that magical moment when the viaduct, out there in the absolute middle of nowhere, comes into view round a bend in the road. Quite surreal. The closer you get the bigger and more impressive it gets. We were right about the sheep, mostly, so we released the hounds and off they went like escaped lunatics. Fortunately they do stop, turn round and wait for us.
We walked alongside the line towards Blea Moor tunnel another construction that has a majesty of its own although most of it is invisible of course. It’s the longest tunnel on the Leeds- Carlisle line and a place of great spookiness, even in good weather – a lot of people died in construction of the line and the tunnel. It’s bleak and beautiful and it has trains. And possibly most isolated signal box in country (see right). One way or another I find it inspirational. The weather can have quite an impact also which is why one of us was sensibly wearing a waterproof. One of us was not and when I asked why Mrs SH wasn’t she said, it’s in the Land Rover. Not much use there is it? It won’t rain, she said. It rained. One of us was quite wet when we got back to the vehicle. As you’re already wet you should be the one to stand outside at the mobile tea van, I reasoned.
Which brings me neatly to the tea van or, Mrs SH to the van anyway. We’d put in the hard yards and now we could indulge ourselves. The next great pleasure in our perfect day. Sitting in the LR with the wind and rain lashing down outside eating our sausage and egg sandwiches – freshly cooked – with a hot cup of tea. Bliss, no finer dining experience IMO. Fed and watered we headed to Hawes. A pleasant little place, although the second hand bookshop – a rarity these days – was a disappointment. Couldn’t find a single souvenir book to mark the perfect day. So we bought some Wensleydale cheese instead. This, at least, was fitting.
Then the beautiful drive back towards Pateley through Kettlewell and Grassington. The weather now, it’s changeable in these parts, was beautiful. The sun was shining and it threw the landscape – green hills and brown and slightly purple, desolate moorland, into surreal relief. The whole scene was like something out of a fairy tale. Of course we were feeling pretty mellow by then so we’d probably have had the same reaction driving through Gipton, then maybe not.
And so to the cottage, our mini break was not over yet. I went to the pub just to round the whole thing off. Yes, indeed, such a perfect day. Maybe one to conjure up when retirement doesn’t seem to be going to well.
Old-fashioned signal against a glowering Yorkshire sky