Trying to write a retirement blog about cheerful, positive things by reading through the weekend’s newspaper for ideas? Forget it. Gawd blimey, what a trial. I don’t just mean retirement-related positiveness, I mean the whole world is just one bad news story after another. Quite depressing it was, if I believed in such things. I pressed on through one misery after another until I found this one. The headline was, ‘If you run, you can do anything: over 65’s head for the park.’
Given the headline is about as long as the article there are no prizes for guessing what the article was about. It begins – ‘Every Saturday morning, 9am sharp, 74-year-old Eileen Barlett lines up for the start of her local park run… having become addicted to the “endorphin high and exhilaration” that it gives her. And so the rest of the article goes. How ‘thousands of pensioners across Britain are defying preconceptions about their age and taking to the track’. It’s about an organisation called parkrun which tells us that ‘over-65s have notched up more 5km runs in 2018 than the 18 -24 age group for the first time in the charity’s 14 year history.’
Well I’m flagging this up as a rare good news story amidst all the rest of the dross even though I don’t indulge in such organised activities myself. Quite a few years ago I ran a half marathon for charity, 13 miles in 1 hour and 52 minutes since you ask, And a hilly one at that. Oh, you didn’t ask? Well I’m telling you anyway. At the time I was quite pleased with myself. I had trained hard and met the challenge (that word again). But, maybe, like the jazz night, having done it, I never pulled on another pair of running shoes or baggy shorts and a T shirt (no lycra in those days), again. I hated running. I’d done it in a good cause, have pizza and lots of red wine for lunch, end of story.
I’m assuming the ‘good cause’ in the above story is a person’s health and therefore, I assume, the anticipation of a longer life. I have to smile a bit when I hear this term – living longer – my mother, who lived until she was 94 (well over double my father’s age), and a tad on the negative side, somehow managed to work into every weekly visit, the sentence – ‘they say people are living longer, well, God help them, I say’. She was not joyous about her long life. Although I noticed when she went into hospital for an operation she was most insistent that we ticked the ‘yes, I do bloody well want to be revived’, box (without the bloody). So who knows, maybe she was having more fun than she let on.
So no running, cycling, swimming, aerobics etc etc. for me, not now anyway, although in the past… Nope, I hide behind the idea that two one hour dog walks will help me pass the 74.1 diabetes deadline. Ha. And I’m feeling, I nearly said smug, but that’s a bad word in my book, so I’ll settle for positive. I’m feeling particularly positive as I write this because last Sunday, which was incidentally the 70th birthday weekend for Mrs Summerhouse, we walked for 5 miles and over two hours, me, Mrs SH, daughter and son-law and two enthusiastic dogs.
Mrs SH did not want to spend her birthday weekend in that London as I had for mine. She wanted somewhere restful and bucolic with a dose of the seaside thrown in. So I took her to a place called Ravenscar on the Yorkshire coast and we stayed in a lodge in the grounds of Ravenhall Hotel (that’s the picture above and the view is below). We did Scarborough (where we had fish and chips in the Land Rover while looking at the storm clouds out to sea) and Whitby where I bought two second-hand books and Mrs SH bought herself a jet ring (that’s the black stone common -in a nice way- in these parts not the propulsion mechanism), so she got the bright lights and presents as well. Not to mention sub-zero temperatures.
But what we really got was a magical walk (of 5 miles as above) along a disused railway line (see map below). Which had to be walked to be believed as it defied gravity in parts. I could not see how a steam train, or any other train for that matter, could get up the slopes this line involved. No rack and pinion, just metal against metal often with rain, snow and sea frets thrown in for good measure. Talking to the lady in the National Trust office who rode the line as a child, apparently it often didn’t (get up the hill that is), having to go back down the hill for another attempt at getting up it. You obviously got your money’s worth unless, of course you were in a hurry, in which case you’d be quite pissed off.
Bloody mad those Victorians – no lycra or aerobics classes for them, they were too busy simply surviving. Building a railway line like this one was a dangerous business. No health insurance, National Health service, health and safety regulations, in fact pretty much a complete disregard for human life if you were one of the rich businessmen who thought a railway line in this remote part of Yorkshire was a jolly good idea. Sounds like an environment Trump would have embraced doesn’t it but then we don’t need to go abroad to find Trump figures, but then this is not a political blog. Well it kept the poor people fit, provided it didn’t kill them of course.
I have to admit I’m not a huge fan of walking either as a purely keep-fit activity but we have the dogs so no debate, it has to be done. If you can throw in a disused railway line especially one as unbelievable as Sunday’s which used to run all the way from Scarborough to Whitby and beyond, then I’m happy. Well not actually happy, say content, well maybe not content but reasonably OK about this method of keeping active which is what this blog is supposed to be about.
But then very few of my blogs end up being about what I thought they were going to be about. That’s if I knew what they were going to be about when I started, which is rare. The clue being I often don’t give the blog a title until I’ve finished, which it is now.
PS for some reason the format of this retirement blog on WordPress has changed. I didn’t request it but I’m trying to work with it. Whether it looks any different at the front end I don’t know yet.