On the very day I sit down to write this retirement blog about how busy we are and, as I looked at my diary to remind me of all the stuff we were doing, at the bottom of the diary page was this quote:
‘Growing old is no more than a bad habit which a busy man has no time to form’. Andre Maurois 1885 – 1967, biographer and novelist
OK, that’s a sign or a message I thought. Is it true that keeping busy is a way to stay young? And then I started to compile a list of all the things that had happened in the last week and are going to happen in the next week or so. The improbable list went something like this. Last weekend we had a vineyard weekend, strimming and fertilising and, for the first time this year, we actually slept in the barn for two nights, Friday and Saturday nights. Sunday night we slept at the cottage in Pateley. In between, on Saturday, I went to my first ever guitar auction in Leyburn. It was the Paul Brett collection that was being sold, that’s Paul on the right. This would make a blog on its own, all I will say at this point, is that having reassured Mrs Summerhouse that the last thing I needed at this stage in my life, was another guitar and I was simply going along just to see what might be happening, just for the experience, I bought five guitars.
Back to Leeds on Monday, jazz workshop Monday night, yoga class for Mrs SH Tuesday night. Also on Tuesday night, most unusually it being the night Mrs SH teaches her yoga class and I stay at home with the pups, I went out and had a couple of pints with an old college lecturer of mine. He’s 73 now and still very active ‘intellectually’ you might say. He’s the guy that wrote the poem I published recently and it turns out he does a lot of other stuff as well. They say if you want something done, ask a busy man, so I’ve asked him to write me a blog about a film-making course for retired people, he recently completed. We will see. He is a man who has some contact with a literary scene in Leeds that I did not know existed. Whether trying to become a part of this scene holds any attractions for yours truly, I’m not sure.
Wednesday, I’ll come back to Wednesday. Thursday night, we all went out for a sort of farewell meal with number one son. He’s heading for OZ on July 1st and we have the added task of taking over ‘running’, whatever that might mean, his gardening company. And while we’re on this topic, earlier in the day and after we got back from where, you will find out we were, on Wednesday night, we went to pick up a van. The company is now the proud owner of yet another (the last one went for scrap) large, white van ( as above). Paid for by yours truly. Number one son’s Father’s Day text said I was a great dad, 99% of the time. Well, you got that right son. And I am now Mr White Van Man. Watch out for me on the M1 after picking up my late mother’s furniture so that I can put into practice the cunning plan that I referred to in an earlier blog but which I haven’t told you about yet. You will just have to wait. Incidentally, buying the van means we no longer have enough money to buy land in Ireland. Mrs SH thinks this is a good thing, me, I’m not sure.
Friday is the day that Mrs SH went off on the train to Devon for a sister’s weekend. I have written about this annual event before in these blogs so, suffice it to say, I don’t like them, mainly because I have to do all the walking, feeding and generally looking after the pups for three days. As a man who finds it difficult to look after himself, this is a bit of a trial but I won’t say any more about this. All I will say is that it adds to the complex demands of this busy week. Friday night I was invited by my new son-in-law to go to a wine-tasting. It was run by a company called Naked Wines (see right) favoured by son-in-law. Number one daughter didn’t fancy it so I got the call. I couldn’t honestly say it was enjoyable, apparently there were 700 people all scrambling for a taste of about 150 wines from round the world in a space about the size of an average kitchen. World into kitchen does not go. Not pleasant, but we enjoyed Sam Plunkett’s (Aussie winemaker) wines – a lot.
Back to Wednesday. A common complaint among all this action is the idea of well, yes, I’m doing a lot but am I doing the right things? A missing link, for as long as I’ve been writing this blog, is that we don’t travel and this is because of the dogs. We love the dogs but this absence of travel keeps eating away at me (although not Mrs SH who, as I’ve said before, is happy to be wherever she might be). But, for me, the fact that we aren’t travelling makes me feel I’m missing out, particularly with our on-going contact from friends and family (recently one of my nieces in Hong Kong) constantly reminding me what dull lives we lead. So a bit of lateral thinking is called for here. The question I asked myself was, what form of travel would be practical as far as the dogs are concerned, cheap but still feel like travel?
Answer? Camping. Now let it be said right off, we are not big campers, nor small campers, in fact we’re not campers at all, not since we were students probably. However, I decided that this might be the way to go so I bought a tent, the kind that attaches to the back of a Land Rover Defender, as in photo right and at end of blog, a few other bits and bobs – air mattress, tables (we have chairs), stove we have, one more sleeping bag to go with the one we found unused in our son’s wardrobe, and set off for the Lincolnshire coast. It’s a bit of a long story as to why I chose this area, to do with reasonable proximity, having spent many holidays there as a child and wanting to be close to the sea a) because I like the sea and, b) because the pups can run on the beach, well, some beaches anyway. So Wednesday night we slept in a small tent tied quite literally mate to the back of the Land Rover. The pups were supposed to sleep in the Land Rover, they did not, they slept, or at least Millie did, on us, Archie slept at the end of the ‘bed’ on what little floor space is left after laying down the airbed. I don’t have the space, a bit like the tent, to write any more about our camping trip although there is more, most of it best left unsaid but it was about going for a pee in the middle of the night (one of the pleasures of old age, although that’s not an excuse the pups can use but they joined us anyway ) and what Millie found in the dunes, but, as I say, I’m not going to write about that.
So keeping busy in retirement. The way to go? Not sure at this point, we could do with a little less action probably. We have hospital visits and Mrs SH’s annual art exhibition at How Stean gorge coming up and I will write more about both in later blogs. As for camping being the answer to my need to travel, not sure about this either, we have tentative plans to go wild camping in Scotland after the summer holidays but before the grape harvest (if we have one), weather permitting on both counts. I do hope we try again given we’ve spent a bit of money on setting up this particular scheme. Is this the key to a happy retirement – keep busy and keep moving? We will see.