On Sunday night Heather and I had a walk around the ponds at Blaydon, you’ll know where I mean, the back of where the old swimming pool used to be. I’ve never been down there before, but it was the perfect place to gently work off that Sunday dinner. I thought I’d show you a couple of the photos I took.
I’m not getting on so well with my bike. I still love it of course, and I sit for hours just looking at it, but riding it is a different thing altogether. I’m quite good at straight lines, as long as the surface I’m on is horizontal, and I manage a bit of uphill. However….. I don’t do –
Getting on and moving is problematic, though not as difficult as stopping and getting off. Actually I will clarify that. I can get off, but not always painlessly. We cycled through Chopwell Woods last Friday evening. I took an unexpected turn through a leafy glade and Heather followed. I came to a stop, dismounted, and began to push the cycle back up the way we’d come.
“Why are we turning back on ourselves?” Heather wanted to know.
“Because I don’t want to go down here.”
“I see, so why exactly did you come down here then?”
“Because I didn’t know how to stop.”
I seem to be finding it additionally troublesome since I had the saddle raised, and predictably it wasn’t long before I fell off. My fall was broken by a conveniently placed hedge, so the only thing dented was my pride really, but more practice is needed. We are going out again tonight on to the disused bit of road where the tip used to be in Greenside, and we plan to chalk up a little obstacle course for me to manoeuvre in and out of. I forgot to mention that I don’t do corners either.
Email is gradually usurping proper letters, and I’m not sure that this is a good thing. A few days ago a handwritten missive arrived, addressed to me and with a Dumfries postmark. It had actually been sent to my old address, but it found me in the end. The letter was from my cousin Shield. You may think that Shield is an unusual name, but believe me it isn’t in my family. It seems to me that every male relation on my mother’s side is named Shield Rochester.
Anyway, I was delighted to hear from cousin Shield, whom I’ve only met once – when I was a very small girl and he was a teenager. Heather marvels at the number of cousins I have. How many? I really have no idea but I’m certainly not complaining. Shield isn’t on the internet so we’ve been corresponding the old-fashioned way, letters through the post. There is something lovely about spending an hour or two sitting at a table writing a letter. Bronte’s heroines passed away countless afternoons doing this very thing. It’s a whole ritual. Carefully sealing the envelope, walking to the post box, (never driving) posting the letter, hearing the plop, and then Bob’s your uncle, or indeed Shield is your cousin, and a few days later the reply arrives direct to your door. There’s something inexplicably reassuring about it, like watching an old Carry On film or listening to the shipping forecast. I’ll be meeting Shield in the autumn after I’ve retired.
There is something reassuring about retiring too, although it isn’t inexplicable. I’m ecstatic at the prospect of doing nothing – endless mornings of Jeremy Kyle await. I put my notice in at work three weeks ago; my last day will be 2nd October. Since leaving school at sixteen and completing my first ever day at work (in JG Windows, Newcastle) I reckon that 10,240 of my days have been working ones. I stayed with Windows for two very happy years, and then I did a short stint in the Civil Service, until finally my current employer made the ill-judged decision to take me on in 1979. I’ve been there ever since, and this is down to two reasons. First of all, no one else would have me, and secondly; whilst I’ve been on the receiving end of numerous reprimands for different transgressions, I’ve never come quite close enough to be fired. Nearly, but not quite. I’ll tell you about it of course, but it might be prudent to wait until after October 2nd before I do. I’m joking when I say I’ll be doing nothing apart from watching dear old Jeremy. I’ll be stepping up my blog, and I’ve enrolled on a writing course with the Live Theatre. I’m confident that the autumn of my life will be the best. I’m very fortunate to be able to take early retirement, and I plan not to squander it. Exciting times ahead!