I have called it the missing link of my retirement but I suppose this is a bit bigger than that. The question is would moving home be the answer to my occasional unease about the state of my retirement? Or would this be a bit drastic, somewhat of an overkill solution? The only reason I ask is because I’ve been watching some more of those train videos that I confessed to a few blogs ago. Unbidden by me, and that in itself feels like a sign, just recently I’ve been getting New Zealand train journeys, unless of course my choice of viewing material gives away my predilection for this lovely little country. But I don’t think so, I’m not, as far as I am aware, watching an unbalanced number of Kiwi videos or whatever it is that gives it away.
To begin with the journeys were of the type that any potential or actual tourist might enjoy, quite predictable in a country spoiled for scenic views. The first one I recall was a journey down the east coast of South Island, a trip we have taken many times, although not by train. No matter, it was a pleasure to revisit the area. Then the choices became a little more selective, just recently a train trip from Masterton to Wellington and vice versa. How could they possibly know that Wellington is one of my favourite cities in the world and we’ve seen one or two.
But then, this morning (that would be a Friday), Youtube went beyond the selective to the darn-right unique. This was a train journey between Palmerston North, where we used to live, and Woodville, a small town that most people will never have heard of, hardly on the usual tourist trail, but a place whose schools I used to visit in my role as an educational psychologist. The train trip went through the Manawatu Gorge. It’s not a usual passenger route being used only by freight but occasionally they have ‘a special’ through the gorge. This was obviously one of those occasions.
I’ve never taken the train through the gorge but I have driven through it. I obviously have never seen the road from the other side of the gorge and, had I realised how much of the road is built out from the mountainside rather than upon it, I might have taken the trip less often. Although the schools may have complained that they weren’t getting a fair service from their Pommie, guest psychologist. The point is that this bit of film focusing, as it did, on the area in which we used to live, as opposed to those we used to visit, much like any other passing tourist, brought our time there flooding back, literally as the river, as it often did, was in full spate, is that the word, probably not. It’s quite a sight and, until the flood banks were built, used to regularly flood parts of Palmy.
So nostalgia at best and a resurrection of that hankering to return to the country where we enjoyed (no, not always) ourselves those many years ago. At its most extreme, a re-visiting of our plan again many years ago to retire here. The thing is as long as I’m not reminded of this plan, it doesn’t figure in my ‘missing link in retirement’ scenario. But when it does reappear, quite unrequested, it sets me off again and frankly, and this is unusual, it has the same unrealistic effect on Mrs Summerhouse, she of the ‘be realistic’, live in the moment, approach to life and no, the grass isn’t greener on the other side of the world.
Add this extreme form of pulling up sticks, is that an expression or have I just invented it? Add this to my ‘back to my roots’ idea that I wrote about a few blogs ago and the effect can be quite unsettling. There’s no doubt that this return to one’s roots theory is quite persuasive. I’ve just finished reading a book called Rainsongs by Sue Hubbard that I bought with our trip to Kerry in Ireland in mind, the one that we take quite regularly in May of each year. I think I can say this as this will be our fifth visit and fourth year of travelling to the West coast. The book deals, in small part, with a man (dead at the time of writing) who sort of returns to his roots in the area. And guess what, for the time I was reading the book, I returned once again to the idea / fantasy? of us returning, yes, once again, to our Irish roots. Not that they’d have us I don’t suppose.
At least the last two versions of moving are a little more practical than the New Zealand version. Moving back to Derbyshire or to Ireland at least could easily include the dogs but my 3,000 books they would be an altogether bigger challenge (there’s that word again). And selling however many houses to facilitate the move, we can’t even sell one. I will write all about the trials and tribulations of trying to sell the Pateley cottage when matters have, one way or another, come to a conclusion, although, at this point, who knows what that might be.
Of course all this wanderlust begs the question – why? Why am I even thinking about living out, what will presumably be my final years – ooher missus, in a place different to the one in which we have lived for so many years, albeit in a slightly complicated way (i.e. different houses). My dog-walking chum in the park isn’t helping either. I made the possible mistake of telling him about our land in Colorado (another beacon of escapist fantasy) and since then he has taken some delight in telling me he has found it on Google Earth and describing it to me. I can put my hands over my ears and hum but I can still hear him. As far as I can make out, he’s a big fan of this bit of software.
My fantasies have remained firmly based on actual atlases (as above) ever since I was a child. I love maps, we even have what we call the ‘map room’ at the Derbyshire cottage. And I suppose this must be where my wanderlust originated. All-consuming when I was a child, geography by far my favourite subject when I was at school, (well history as well but I had to give that up when my mother chose my exam subjects, but that’s another story), and coming back to ‘haunt’ (you decide) me now as I try to make sense of my retirement. So that’s why the continuing wanderlust, simply a habit of a lifetime. Why would I stop now just because I’m a retired person?