I never liked coming back off holiday when I was working and now I’m retired it’s a similar story although not identical. Confused? I’ll try and explain. Apart from the obvious – you were having a good time and now you’re back to work with all that that entails, there was another reason I didn’t like getting home. Simply put there was always bad news in some form waiting, usually on the doormat in those days in letter form.

Typically this would be a bill either unexpected or expected but avoided until we got back. It always used to feel in those days that we were being punished for having had a good time. With a typical credit card bill after the holiday we certainly were being punished for the next few months until we’d paid it off then we could go again. For the big holidays, those round the world trips, we used to increase the mortgage. In those days, providing you had the equity, mortgage people didn’t ask many / any questions about what you were going to do with the money. They only had to count the number of bathrooms and ask the question, does an average size house with a family of four really need six bathrooms and four conservatories? I guess they never did.

I’ve written before about whether going on holiday feels the same when one is retired rather than working. What I can say is that there remains, in retirement, that sense of a price to be paid for having had a good time even though, in this last case of our trip to Scotland, it wasn’t all that great. The cost, not literally, is still there and it wasn’t any easier for knowing it was coming. There they were, all the little, and not so little, pigeons waiting to come home to roost. I’d written them on page Monday in my diary, a nod in the direction of prices yet to be paid.

As I say these were not literally financial costs, they were decisions waiting to be made, life choices hovering and crying out for attention. Let me explain. At the top of the page for October 1st were the following (a bit like the above) – ring estate agent; visit vineyard; contact garage roof replacement company; decide whether to begin a new jazz class and try and write this blog for Tuesday morning. Failed in the latter but that was because we had to wait for the AA man to come and fix our car. This bonus ball took up a couple of hours of the day that might otherwise have been used to write this blog. But I digress.

Had I been able to actually sleep in our Scottish caravan I would have woken in the middle of the night and worried about the first item on the above list namely selling the Heanor house, the ancestral pile, the house in which I spent the first eighteen years of my life and in which my mother lived for all of her 94 years. As it was I was rarely asleep to wake up, see this blog. Readers of this blog will know we’ve been doing it up and spending time revisiting our roots in Derbyshire. It’s been fun but the truth is it makes no sense at all to be driving up and down the M1 and paying bills for a house we rarely see and, above all, it doesn’t fit with our desire, at 70, or nearly in Mrs Summerhouse’s case, to simplify our lives. So I decided it had to go, painful though this was in some ways.

So the very day before we left for our trip we instructed an estate agent to put the house on the market. To cut a long story – already it’s long – we had one offer, while we were away, for quite a bit less than the asking price and, as it had only been on the market for a day or so, I decided to turn it down. That was three weeks ago and we haven’t had another offer and I’m wishing, how typical is this? I had said yes. So on Monday I called the estate agent to see if this offer was still on the table and to accept it if it was. As I’m writing this I’m expecting the estate agent to call and give me the news. Tense times.

The other biggy, and I’ll write a bit more about it in the next vineyard blog, is the state of the vines. My son-in-law has been doing sterling work in checking sugar and acid levels while we’ve been away (who knew that September might turn out to be a potential picking month) but now I needed to step up and make a decision based on my own observations. So we drove up to the vineyard on Monday. Again long story short, they need picking and we’re planning on doing this on Wednesday and taking them to the wine-maker on Thursday. So it will be a busy week which is why I’m writing this blog for Friday on Tuesday as it is likely to be the only free spot in the week. If things go well that is with the picking and delivering.

And so to the next big decision – whether to join another jazz class to replace the one I’ve left. All I will say at this point about the last group I was in was that the pleasure-pain ratio was wrong and so I thought this is daft. I don’t have to do this, if it’s causing me stress then pack it in. All part of this de-cluttering / simplifying process I seem to be going through at the moment. Makes sense at that level. But of course these life decisions are never straightforward and having made the decision to give up jazz, another keyboard opportunity arose. So the big decision, along with selling the house, when to pick the grapes, the garage roof, the blog, was whether to join this new group. Once again in the cutting-story-short category, I went and it was fine. More pleasure than pain which is all I ask but of course it’s early days. So I will doubtless return to this retirement topic.

So there we are, all this retirement stuff waiting for me to grip it by the throat and wrestle it under control (that key concept for me). Maybe as the week goes on I can fill in a few gaps in this on-going retirement saga. We will see.

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