the beach at Inch Strand

the beach at Inch Strand

I wonder how being on holiday when you are retired differs from being on holiday when you are a working person? That’s if you retain that sense of enjoying a holiday when you’re retired. Maybe being retired is just one long holiday and actually being on holiday is just another version of this life of ease we call retirement. Well, maybe, but I have to say that retirement doesn’t feel like this, not for me at least. By the time we’ve run the gardening business, tended to the vineyard (kind of business) and busied ourselves with various DIY tasks at the Derbyshire cottage, not to mention all the other life chores we engage in, we feel we definitely need a break, or at least a different kind of challenge, hence this trip to Ireland.

Yep, we have returned to the land of our ancestors, yet again – the third time in just over 12 months. There are good reasons we are here, again mainly to do with being able to take the pups with us which we couldn’t do if we jetted off to distant lands (as I thought we would before we retired and before we adopted the pups). I’ll return to this in a moment. I’ve written before that we miss this kind of travel and taking the ferry to Ireland has scratched that itch, to an extent at least. I said this trip which is for two weeks rather than the ‘usual’ one week, has been not without challenges. First of which, ironically, is the time it takes to get here. On Friday we left our house in Leeds at 6 in the morning and arrived in Killarney (another two hours from our destination next day) at about 6.30 in the evening. That’s nearly three hour’s drive to the ferry, two hours on the ferry and then the very long 5 hours (including an hour’s break to walk the pups in a place called Mallow) to Killarney. After a pleasant evening in Killarney, made more so by the fact that the two pubs we visited let us take the pups in  with us and, miracle of miracles, they were impeccably well-behaved, we set off next day for Dunquin just about as far South-West as you can go in Ireland. We got to our dog-friendly cottage after 2 o’ clock on Saturday afternoon having given the doggies (can’t keep calling them pups) their first taste of the beach and what a beach, as can be seen from photo above – my kind of beach, Inch Strand – very few people, although perhaps a little windier than I would have liked. As it started to rain I said to this lone fisherman, we’re going to get wet. “I would say so,” he replied. Lovely turn of phrase the Irish have and another reason why we like this place so much.

So, as I say, we arrived at 2 after our now traditional shop at Aldis in Killarney and a supplementary shop in Dingle for flour so Mrs Summerhouse could make pancakes inspired by her breakfast in the hotel. Another doggy walk at one of our local beaches, a home-cooked chilli, by Mrs SH’s own fair hand and that was us done. As we lay in bed we reflected upon the fact that the place was unchanged, felt like we’d never been away, we said. Also unchanged in the sense that all the houses that had been for sale when we were last here, were still for sale. I said then they were asking too much money and it looks like I’m proved right. So the place was unchanged but what about us? Are we different this year? We’re two and a half years into retirement and one would like to think a little wiser about this whole retirement business.

Sadly I think it is not so. For example, one of my little weaknesses is thinking about buying property in any place we visit. One of my grandma’s many sayings was, the Devil makes work for idle hands. In retirement, this translates into – the Devil tempts the retired person with (theoretically) time on his hands with evil thoughts of buying another house. Before this holiday, and prompted by an email from an old chum in New Zealand, I found this house on the internet (as you do) in the small town where he lived, not far from where we lived when we were there, nice little place and cheap as chips as NZ housing tends to be. I was off fantasy-wise, even checking the price of flights for pups, and, when discovered, the scheme was off, £3,600 for two, one-way flights just for the dogs, an unclear period of quarantine, either 10 days or 6 months, I couldn’t work it out. Anyway common-sense prevailed and buying more property was temporarily postponed.

for sale, a snip at 150K euros

for sale, a snip at 150K euros

Which brings me to this trip and those houses still for sale. One of my favourites I’ve included here. A little genuine Irish cottage with, as I hope you can see above, fabulous views and all for a mere 150,000 euros. Chips don’t come into it. I admit all my bad habits came flooding back. Any reservations about how long it takes us to get here and the inconvenience of having the pups in the Land Rover for all that time, forgotten. And so it was that at one o’clock last night (Sunday), my idle musings were punished. The devil decided I should suffer great pain for my sins (this is a Catholic country so the connection is an obvious one). I had what I can only describe as the very unpleasant sensation of somebody sticking a hot needle into my inside right ankle at intervals of anywhere from 5 seconds to a minute. Now I have had pain in my toes before, unexplained and painful pain but this was a step up from that pain. Its randomness and unpredictable, intermittent nature made it very hard to bear. It was excruciating, lasted from one in the morning until six when I got up, no sleep, pacing round the room, trying to concentrate on googling ‘stabbing pain in ankle’ (God what a can of worms that was and no help at all) and is still hurting now.

The only vaguely good thing about it was that I went to the local health centre where I received prompt and free treatment (if we vote to leave the EU next month then I would be paying for this visit, PS. I shall vote to remain in The EU) from a very nice doctor. She prescribed stronger painkillers (we will see tonight if they work, they’re not at the moment) but had no idea what my problem was. And this was annoying. If you fall over and do yourself an injury, you know why you’re in pain. I thought trapped nerve she thought not pointing out, as she shoved my leg above my head, that I wouldn’t have been able to this if it was a nerve problem. She took my blood to see if my red cell count was in the right place, she lost me there. Well, I thought, you’re the doctor. But the sheer illogicality of this pain made me quite emotional, not to mention the pain itself.

So yes, going on holiday when you’re retired is different, for me at least. Different in a number of ways perhaps but, in this case, it’s different because I’m older and as I get older I continue my physical decline and this means that as a part of this holiday I get to visit the local health centre, get my blood taken and that’s never happened to me before. I have written about retirement and my health, not in a good way, but this is the first time I’ve been in such pain while on holiday, that I spent Monday morning visiting the doctor. Retirement and being on holiday, quite surprising. I’ll leave you with the view as you come over the mountain and down into Dunquin.

that's our cottage down below

that’s our cottage down below


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  1. Still the Lucky Few 2 years ago

    I spent a few years in the grip of that devilish desire to buy any house I saw, especially if the view was spectacular. It always ended badly, as it never was a good financial decision. I even did it once while retired. But those days are gone, thankfully. I’ve been in the same house now for 10 years, which is a record for me. We did end up with a view of the harbor in Victoria—can’t improve on that, we decided! You didn’t elaborate about that pain, so I’m hoping it eventually went away!

    • Author
      summerhouse 2 years ago

      Agree with you about Victoria and the view we were there once for 20 minutes, time to get off the ferry, go through immigration and get back on the same boat, the last one of the day back to America. Liked what we saw in those 20 minutes though. Strangely this was not long enough to look for houses.

  2. Peter Wilkinson 2 years ago

    Sorry to hear about the pain in your foot. What’s your best guess? I remember having something like this when I did long stints of driving on holiday! I think it’s called “plantar fasciitis”. Let’s hope it’s temporary and why not ask Mrs summerhouse she doesn’t mind taking the wheel? Time to put your slippers on for a lazy stint back in the summerhouse at home……
    Unaccountable pain is always a worry, especially in retirement. Sets the imagination running wild. Hope you feel better soon.

  3. Peter Wilkinson 2 years ago

    Forgot to say that I enjoyed the piece, especially as I’m going down the west coast of Ireland in June on a boat. Maybe I’ll send you some views of the shore from the sea rather than the other way around!?

    • Author
      summerhouse 2 years ago

      Hope the weather is kind to you or you might have trouble keeping the horizon level. Keep me and the blog informed.

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