Retirement blog about best moments of 2018 I wasn’t sure that I could, or should, write a retirement blog that fit with the above title. Not because there weren’t any such moments but because I thought I’d probably written about them in my last blog. Then I happened to read an article in Saturday’s Guardian by Ian Jack, one of the few bits of the aforementioned paper that seems to have any relevance for me at my tender age. The title was, “A year that gave me so many moments of joyful escape” by the above chap, Ian Jack, who looks about the same age as me. I often read his stuff, as I say, he’s a rare find in a paper that seems relentlessly aimed at the young and the politically correct.
He had complied a list of 10 one-off experiences that had given him pleasure. As I read on I realised he wasn’t being ironic and, I thought, well perhaps I could get another blog out of this end of year review business. I consulted my diary and came up with my ten. His list started with a stained glass window by David Hockney. Hockney has been one of my favourite artist for many years. In fact we both graduated from art college about the same time, well actually eight years apart. He went on quite rightly to fame and fortune while I went on to obscurity – again quite rightly.
Second on his list was a visit to a second hand bookshop. My immediate reaction was I can identify with this one as I had thought I spent too much of my life in bookshops, second-hand or otherwise. But I would have been wrong. I couldn’t in fact think of one joyous moment in a bookshop in 2018. This surprised me. He also had as another ‘joyful escape’, a ‘good book’. Here again I thought I can match that given the number of books I’ve read in 2018. Again strangely I couldn’t name one outstanding book unless I cheated a bit and chose the book number one son bought me for my 70th birthday entitled ‘A Diary of an English Vineyard’. Well out-of-print and a first edition and, as he pointed out all the way from OZ, very expensive. Subtlety never was his strong suit. This best book idea might need revisiting at a later date.
Third for him was his step-counter. I had to smile at this because I too had tried to improve my fitness by using this little gadget, although on my phone rather than as a separate item. Thank God for the cheap option because I think I lasted about a week. My 5 or 6,000 steps while walking the dogs was not reinforcing, so I stopped. Its use definitely did not constitute a joyous moment for me in 2018.
There were however two walks that do live on in my memory – the Ravenscar to Robin Hood’s Bay I wrote about as part of Mrs Summerhouse’s 70th birthday. And a walk along the Cromford Canal, Derbyshire, in a ‘back to our roots’ sort of way. We caught the train from Ambergate to Matlock then walked back along the canal. Simple but effective.
Next in Ian Jack’s list were ‘strawberry tarts, London’s infinitude, speeches in parliament and swimming’. The first three drew blank looks from me although I confess the only reason I can be enticed to IKEA is for coffee and a strawberry tart. They’re not great but certainly better than battling one’s way around the store itself. A ‘good film’ was number 9 on his list but not mine (we may have seen one film this last year, it was enjoyable but not joyous).
And finally, on his list, some form of bird-watching. I kind of admire bird watchers but not enough to actually become one. And before I leave his list just let me return to item 7, swimming. I read an article the other day about wild swimming and just for about 5 minutes I thought maybe that might be for me. After 6 minutes I thought don’t be so bloody silly, no matter how slowly I got in I’d almost certainly have a heart attack and that would rather undermine the joyousness of it of which many quoted in the article referred to.
My own list continues a little more prosaically. To a great extent they are connected to my achievements, those I mentioned in my last blog that led to an 8 rating, but not entirely. This is more of a list of moments rather than processes. That said, the moment when, after 2 days hard picking, we finally delivered our grapes to our winemaker and drove away, was one of my 10. Unsurprisingly music figured in my top ten joyous moments. Two examples in fact, quite different but both pleasurable. When our group leader said of one of my solos, ‘brilliant’, that was a highlight, nobody had ever said anything so nice before – or since. My birthday visit to Ronnie Scott’s was just like a music event should be, perfect size, audience, ambiance, everything apart from the price of food and drink but compared with other musical one-offs in 2018, it was close to perfect.
Travel / holiday similarly contributed to my list. There’s a moment when driving from Dingle in Kerry to Dunquin that if you take the road over the mountain you crest the hill and look down for the first time on the house we’re renting, the Atlantic Ocean and the Blasket Islands down below. I always try and play ‘Have I told you lately that I love you?’ by Van Morrison as we stop the Land Rover and think this is bloody good, at least until I lost the CD, now we just sort of hum it. We did this in 2018 and it was still magical.
Finding an equivalent Scottish moment was, for some reason, more difficult. Not that there aren’t many equivalent views maybe we just don’t feel the same affiliation. Don’t know, but the one moment I do remember, and look back on with joy, was taking the train from Brora to Kinbrace (I think), a station in the middle of nowhere in the Scottish highlands, waiting for about 30 anxious minutes and then getting on the train coming back, although not the same one. Yes, sounds like fun doesn’t it? Maybe you need to be a train fan.
Elsewhere, on my list, there’s dining-out. We’ve done a lot more of this in 2018 albeit often in pubs that let dogs in. Discovering we could take our dogs into our local pub and that they enjoyed it as much as we did was another ‘joyous’ moment. But the two most memorable food eating-out events could not be more different. Fish and chips in the Land Rover at South Bay, Scarborough looking at the storm out at sea, all four of us cosy and munching way. On the other hand my 70th birthday treat from my daughter was lobster curry at Veeraswamys on Regent Street in that London. I can’t bring myself to quote the price but it was outstanding (the food not the price) and the whole evening was special. But then so was Scarborough.
And there we have it, the joyous moments of this retired person in 2018. When you’re a tad inclined towards the negative, as some people say I am, it can take a bit of digging to remember and record such moments but the effort is, I think you will agree, worth it.