scratch headI don’t think in all of my 200+ blogs I have ever complained about being bored or not having enough to do. Worried about whether I was doing the right things, or that there was some missing link in my retirement, yes, but not being bored because if I ever have, I’d be seriously regretting it right now. Life this last couple of weeks has been manic, out of control and you know how much I hate that. This period of retirement started to go a bit wobbly a couple of weeks ago when we nearly lost one of our pups – poisoned we think although by what or even by whom, we do not know. She recovered TG but things remained a bit hectic. My mother went back into hospital so that meant driving to the hospital in Nottingham, sometimes twice a week. This was just the beginning.

In addition, we’ve been running number one son’s gardening business while he is having fun in Australia. You might think there’s not much to running a gardening business in winter with just two workers but you’d be wrong. Problems with his van that needed fixing, jobs to be allocated but most of all, money this has become the key thing – paying the chaps wages in the absence of a cash flow from the antipodes. It is my intention to write a blog about this aspect of our retirement (running a small business) a little later so I’ll say no more about this challenge right now. Then there this the other child, number one daughter. She is finally getting married – in May – and last Friday night she and her partner came round to tell us all about the wedding preparations. Gawd, it made my head spin, so much to think about and organise but she seems to be enjoying it, not so sure about number one son in law. Mostly I thought, well, that’s nothing to do with me but there were some things that definitely were – being fitted for a suit, putting the pups in kennels for two nights, helping choose the wine, helping choose some appropriate classical music for walking down the aisle, stumping up a percentage of the cash for the wedding (although not all of it thank God) and, most important,  not embarrassing number one daughter in my speech. She stated that Mrs Summerhouse has to read it and remove any potentially offensive parts which would probably be the bulk of it if I were left to my own devices. Like saying that, after two previous ‘unsuccessful’ engagements, how relieved I am to be standing up here now. But the censor of my speech, is the same Mrs SH who fell in a small river trying to retrieve a ball one of the pups had playfully dropped in there. Possibly not a smart choice on her part. It knackered her third mobile phone in a couple of months – number one, fell in bath (trying to multi-task she said); number two, broken when dropped on the base of a sculpture and this one in her pocket when she went into the river. So I have to say that all in all her judgement may be questionable.

There’s the roof rack for the Land Rover, definitely a story in its own right. Then there was our decision to continue with some ‘around the house’ tasks like clearing out the garage (as opposed to the actual house). Clearing out the garage, doesn’t sound much does it when you say it like that? Using one of our son’s chaps we hired a skip for him to fill. It was a surprisingly emotionally draining experience. Items were put in the skip by the guy and taken out again by me, put back in the skip by Mrs SH and so on – exhausting. The last time I hired a skip it cost me about £50 as I recall. This one and not the biggest one either, cost me £230 plus £30 tip, well bribe actually. When the driver picked up the skip on Friday afternoon, he got out of his truck, looked at the skip and said, “I’m not taking that, it’s overloaded.” To cut this bit short, the idea of unloading a considerable amount of crap such that it did not come above the sides of the skip, well nigh reduced me to tears. What would it take for you to overlook it, I asked, mustering as much empathy as I could dredge up. The £80 fine that I would get for driving illegally and the 3 points on your licence, was his opening gambit. Would £30 do it? I asked. “Go on then,” he replied and I slipped him £30 and off he drove. Have a drink on me I said. You bastard, I thought. Bye now. The whole  thing had taken up two days. Now with a cleared garage Mrs SH can start up her stained glass work but that again is another story.

Then, this last week as if all this was not enough, and these alongside all the other retirement stuff – jazz workshops, vineyard tasks, writing blogs, walking pups – God, or whoever organises these things, decided that I needed more, more, more activities to occupy me. Bizarre really, I wrote a while ago about feeling let down by a certain building society who had made a great thing about asking me to write for their retirement blog, please send us examples, marvellous, love them and then nothing – at all for months. Well to hell with that I thought and then on Thursday, as I was heading for the dentist (yes, even they figure), I got the contract (about 40 or more pages of contract and guidance notes) which would commit me to writing blogs commissioned by them on demand. And it seems to me this arrangement could be quite challenging, stressful even. Will I sign the contract and commit? Dunno.

And the same day, perhaps even more bizarrely, I received an email asking if I would be prepared to do some consultancy work in a school in Doncaster. I have been retired for about 18 months and this is the first offer of work I have received. When I first retired I could not believe that people were not beating a path to my door, begging me to come and work for them as a consultant. They didn’t, so gradually I accepted this was to be the way of my future. I came to define myself in a different way. But, but, there was a small part of my brain that missed work and all that went with it, particularly the self-esteem, but, just as I’m getting used to it, along comes this email. I’ve been to see the school and I’m trying to decide whether to take what may well be a backward step. At the risk of repeating myself, I will write, at a later stage, about how giving up work can affect you and how this opportunity (if it does) fits into my retirement situation. But you know, you’ve got to laugh. Just when you think it’s safe to embrace the full retirement experience, it substantially falls apart. Where will it end? It’s a long way from a blog I wrote some months ago.

PS.Our friends from Shanghai came round Thursday night, they were making a trip home as it is Chinese New Year. Did we envy their very full lives? Hell no, we haven’t got the time. Retirement is full on and when you think you have some control ….

PPS. I must apologise for missing last Tuesday, I didn’t know I had because I put a blog out as usual but, owing to a technical issue, it didn’t go out, sorry.

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