Let me say right away, the title, in terms of my retirement, should probably, over the last couple of years, read retirement and an absence of physical fitness. In some ways the fates have conspired against me in the sense that apparently diabetes contributes to a certain muscle wastage if that’s a word and add to that my increasing difficulties with my arthritis in my fingers, well, you begin to get the picture.
I also have to confess to a certain indolence when it comes to physical work in any of our properties. My efforts seem to go in fits and starts and now is definitely a fit. The days of serious DIY in the Derbyshire cottage seem long gone. Work in the vineyard has been non-existent these last few months. Not altogether unusual at this time of year but this time last year we had pruned the vines right back, fertilised them and trimmed back the willow windbreaks. Alas, so far this year, we’ve done none of the above. True we’ve had some excuse in the form of Pateley cottage. Trying to sell this property has been a nightmare. We thought it was sold, twice in fact, only for the chain to break at the very last minute.
By that time we had emptied the house of much of its furniture. We didn’t want to leave it all to the last minute so we reasoned do it bit by bit. In this area I have exerted myself shifting various bits of furniture and moving the bits in our van from one spot to another. But the heavy stuff, three sofas and a bed are still where they were. I had younger, fitter helpers lined up for those tasks but now we’ve rather lost the will to do anymore until the fate of the cottage is clearer. It’s now back on the market so fingers crossed.
Anyway the point is that when we’ve travelled to these parts it has been to move the sale forward by clearing the house, rather than carry out all the tasks in the vineyard. But now this Easter weekend our version of getting away for a break has meant here we are. I’m sitting in the barn writing this blog and hoping for inspiration, so far not much has come through but I’m only nearly 400 words in so time yet. What this visit, which has been for three nights, unusually long for us in recent times, has meant is that certain tasks associated with this place, as above, have been nagging at us and nothing to do with the vines.
And so the question, what do you do with 8 wheelbarrows and 7 petrol driven lawnmowers? If you were thinking that’s a lot of hardware for a small house or even 4 small houses with very little lawn and / or garden, you’d be right. They are a relatively small part of the legacy of our ex-gardening business. Incidentally, having our own gardening business has completely diluted any interest I had in gardening. Mrs SH and I used to do all this, now, nothing, nada. Back to the question of the machinery. Originally they were just stuck in the garage on a don’t-want-to-think-about them basis. Then I had the bright idea (see how in a moment) of taking them up to the barn / vineyard where, in the winter at least, they would really be out of sight and mind. But now, in the spring, these pigeons have come home and are roosting.
While we weren’t here the unsightly heap didn’t much matter but as we have been spending three days here we started off by tidying up and rearranging stuff inside the barn itself. And jolly nice it now looks as hopefully you can see from the photo above taken by Mrs Summerhouse. On Saturday, as night fell, as the wind whipped up the snow, yes the snow, on the hills we hunkered down with our log stove and Calor gas heaters feeling quite pleased with ourselves. Until, that is, until we looked out the window. To say that 8 wheelbarrows and 7 lawnmowers took the edge off of the view across the dale would be a serious understatement.
So, in line with tidying up this property, although unfortunately the vineyard tasks above remain uncompleted, un-started in fact, I decided, weakened or otherwise, I would have to make an effort to get rid of them. A couple of points were in favour of this. First, my farmer neighbour had told me that we could dump stuff at his place as he had a scrap man come by periodically to collect any scrap he was chucking out. In a way this was divine justice in that it was his uncle that had led to me bringing all the machinery up in the first place (the bright idea). His uncle told me that his nephew would be interested in taking the mowers (for no money) and fixing them then selling them on eBay. I liked this scheme, I can’t bear to think of anything being thrown away if it might have a recycled life. Sadly, it turned out, his nephew wasn’t interested so we were stuck with a large unsightly heap of machinery.
The second point in favour was that we had travelled up in our van*, one to deliver a chair to a friend in that neck of the woods, two, to collect 6 old doors that will form a part of the Derbyshire cottage outhouses renewal project. More of which later. Needless to say he was letting me have them for free. How could I say no? So I didn’t, and this is where the labour part of the blog starts to come in. Moving the doors, they were old and solid and heavy. And also at my friend’s, lifting quite heavy bags of the fertiliser as mentioned earlier.
But all this was as nothing compared with lifting the bloody lawn mowers into the van. Do you have any idea how heavy a commercial petrol driven lawn mower is and how awkward to lift? No, I thought not. And it’s not as if you could simply roll them to the van because the ground was a) extremely lumpy and b) extremely up hill. So in the process of lifting, with Mrs SH’s help, the fourth lawnmower and wheelbarrow, I thought to myself, bloody hell you’ve completely lost any shred of physical fitness you might once have had. You’re a physical wreck and I strongly believe that the fact I’ve lost nearly two stones (about 10 kilos) in the couple of months (a topic for a future blog) isn’t helping my manliness either.
Whether your average, retired person worries about losing his physical strength more than a non-retired person I really couldn’t say but it was an unpleasant shock when I thought that’s what is happening to me. You’re wasting away, I thought.
*A short PS in the form of the photo below taken by Mrs Summerhouse when we woke up in the barn Easter Monday morning to a blanket of snow, a lot more than last night. At this point having the van wasn’t so clever as it was more prone to being stuck in the snow than the Land Rover would have been. Laugh?