We’ve been back from our Ireland holiday for a few days now so back to our old reliable, retirement routines – walking the pups, playing a bit of music, writing a couple of blogs, reading, more of which in a moment, and then the inevitable napping. Setting aside the appropriateness of taking a nap in the day time, the question is, does getting back to our life of certainty and predictability feel good or is this retirement code for leading a boring life as opposed to an exciting life on the road, Irish roads anyway? This is a big question and I’ve answered, at least to my own satisfaction, before. At its simplest, the answer is I can do three days of not very much (well the above anyway) at our main house and then I get bored and have to move on to one of our other houses, which we are lucky enough to have at our disposal. I think I prefer this form of difference / change to the big trip away every few months. But maybe I’m just kidding myself because, as I’ve written before – several times, this is a form of travel not available to us courtesy of the pups.
So yes, we’re home and have been since Tuesday. I’m writing this Sunday morning and today we’re off to our Yorkshire Dales cottage (we couldn’t get motivated to visit the Derbyshire cottage even though we haven’t been there for about a month), which means we’ve spent 4 days here, more than the recommended number above but then coming back from holiday gives a slightly different context to this particular week. But with me there’s always the elephant in the room of looking for different things to do in retirement, that, what I’ve called before, missing link. It’s a driving force / source of irritation, take your pick that never seems to leave me even as I approach the end of my third year of retirement.
Maybe I should stop worrying (and start living as the cliché has it). Listening to the radio one morning last week I was heartened to hear that book sales of the non Ebook type, had increased. I like books, proper books, and there is no doubt that I spend more time reading since I’ve retired. We used to read in bed before going to sleep when we were both working, in fact reading got us off to sleep. We still do this but now we regularly read, depending on where we are, after the second pup walk and this is where the nap comes in. Back to the book sales. It turned out that the increase in sales was on account of people buying more adult colouring in books. £20 million, if I heard correctly. I shouldn’t be too snooty about this as Mrs Summerhouse bought one for our daughter’s first wedding anniversary – surely can’t have been a year – among, I hasten to add, other more suitable presents for the celebration, more of which in a moment. I believe the first anniversary has paper as its theme. I think I also heard something about increased sale of Ladybird books but this must have been my old senility problem causing me to mishear or misunderstand. Obviously.
To celebrate the first anniversary, our in-laws of a year very kindly took us and son and daughter-in-law out for a nice meal on Friday night, which was jolly decent of them because, as well as inviting us, they paid. It went well perhaps except when I sent the wine back because I insisted it was ‘corked’. They would be forgiven for thinking OMG what a tosser and, as a bonus, he’s now a member of our extended family. What luck. They’re retired also but probably thought has he got nothing better to do with his retirement than to embarrass us all by sitting in our local (relatively speaking) and sending back what is probably a perfectly good bottle of wine (it cost £31). They drink beer but graciously accepted that beer could be ‘off’ and yes, you would take it back if it was, so I may have got away with it. Anyway it will be our turn next to pay so that might help.
One of the bits of our old (prior to our holiday) life we revisited last week was a trip into Leeds (I like having a city nearby, living in splendid isolation has some pleasures but as I’ve said before I get bored). As part of the trip I went to Waterstones to restock. Our Irish holiday had pretty much cleared me out of reading material. I bought 3 Ngaio Marsh (in one omnibus edition), one Scandinavian crime, a book about the history of Germany that got good reviews and a strange book called Night Walking, a review of which I read before we went on holiday. It sends me to sleep nicely which may not be the best recommendation. It’s quite hard going but I like the balance of fiction to non-fiction that I came up with. I also spent some time, while waiting for Mrs Summerhouse to come and rescue me from temptation, reading a book called, The Joy of Sheds I have three, one more than ‘Two Sheds, Jackson’ of Monty Python fame. I like sheds, so did the bloke who, according to the book, buried his father under his shed to save on burial fees. It’s a thought for my mother but I’m pretty sure I couldn’t enjoy my shed/s with the thought of my mother a few feet below, saying you should be doing something useful.
And talking of useful, I went for a drink last week with an old pal from work days. Also retired but much younger than me. I think he must have been worried about me and my retirement choices. He recommended I should start going to the gym, something about muscle tone? That I should begin attending a philosophy discussion group that met regularly down the road and that I should join his pub quiz team on a Tuesday night, to keep sharp. He must have thought I had gone downhill to a serious extent both mentally and physically to make all these suggestions and more. Oh dear and even more oh dear, he was telling me about having been offered a part-time job in Jamaica, where he is from, which would enable him to sail to parts of the Caribbean he hasn’t so far visited, which is where the image at the beginning of this blog tenuously comes in. Damn him and his exotic potential retirement plans. But at least I haven’t started buying colouring books and the dogs dribble far more than I do. So all not lost.
I like to write these blogs so that they have a theme or even an uplifting message about retirement. Problem is when I start to write I don’t always know what this might be, I just hope that somehow it reveals itself as the writing develops. I suspect, in this case, I have failed to do this. Maybe my friend is right about mental sharpness, but I can’t remember what he said. Something about retirement, blah, blah.