I am now officially on my summer holidays and Lady Barton St Mary has booked Monday off, when we will be travelling to Birmingham to see Burt Bacharach in concert. This meant we had a long weekend together, alone.
“Perhaps this would be a good way to see what retirement would be like,” she said on Friday night,
“spending the whole weekend alone together, just pottering about.”
It sounded interesting. We’re not quite ready for retirement yet, but the idea seemed appealing. Of course,when she said the whole weekend, she didn’t include the 1 hour manicure treatment with Nancy Cuticles on Saturday morning.
“Well, I won’t see much of you today, then,” I said.
“I’ll only be an hour and a bit,” she replied placatingly, “ you can make a start on cleaning all the garden furniture.”
She left at 11.15am and I made a start to my retirement weekend. I pulled the garden table which had been undercover for 3 years into the middle of the lawn. It was covered in moss and mud. It had also been used by the builders as a convenient position to store their scaffolding at one point, extremely heavy scaffolding that had put all the joints of the table under extreme pressure. So much so that the table formed a perfect parallelogram when finally revealed. This meant that my first duty as a trainee retiree was to fix said table. I collected all my tools and made a start.
After an hour, the table was rigid and fixed. Time for a break I thought, heading indoors for a refreshing pint of cider from a newly opened 3 litre box. It was still cider, not my favourite, but refreshing. So refreshing, I’d finished my pint in no time, so refilled my glass and went outside to continue my retirement.
With a big bucket of soapy water, headphones on, ipod playing, I started scrubbing the table, taking occasional sips from my cider glass. The sun shone, the cider was going down well. I decided it would be easier to bring the cask outside.
Lady Barton St Mary phoned after a couple of hours. She was going to visit her parents, was that OK?
I continued with my scrubbing and drinking.
Lady Barton St Mary arrived home several hours later.
“You’ve had quite a lot to drink haven’t you?” see asked, looking at me askance.
Indeed. I’d successfully finished off the cider, helped by switching to beer every other pint. Quite a lot was an understatement. I was close to another level of reality.
Despite trying to act like a normal human being, I fell asleep in my tea, my salad making a rather comfy pillow.
“Perhaps you should go to bed,” suggested Lady BSM, calmly.
I lifted my head, peeled the cos lettuce from my head and admitted defeat. It was 7.30pm.
The first day of retirement had been rather challenging.
I awoke early on Sunday, somehow managing an 11.5 mile run with Noel and Dave. The last 4 miles saw Noel and Dave head off home, leaving me to chug in, but at least I did it. I was ready for retirement day two.
Lady Barton St Mary joined me to help with the cleaning process. We have some garden chairs that needed a fair amount of work. Now, I have to admit, I have an inexplicable dislike for these chairs. They’re heavy, awkward, and don’t fit under the table. Lady Barton St Mary, however, likes them and refuses to entertain my plans to put them on the wood burner.
After half an hour of scrubbing and rinsing, I suggested that perhaps our old pressure washer could do the job. I’d forgotten we had it; it has been sitting in a battered box at the back of the garage for years.
I unloaded it onto the lawn and tried to change the lance fitting. No joy. The lance would not budge. I pushed and pulled it. Lady BSM pushed and pulled it. No joy.
“Ah! There are some instructions in the box!” exclaimed Lady BSM, pulling something from the packaging with her finger and thumb.
She was right, in a way. Certainly, it was a book of instructions, which had got
wet at some point, sticking the pages together; whether this had happened before or after the mice had eaten half of them, I couldn’t tell.
Lady BSM went off in search of instructions. I tested the pressure washer, plugging it in. It roared into life. After a concerted effort to find the instructions for a B&Q Pressure washer TRY330PWA 1650W, she had no luck. Meantime, after a bit of heaving and swearing, the lance came off in my hand. Problem solved. I attached the brush and turned on the pressure washer. No luck, it wouldn’t start. More cursing, probably overheard by my neighbours, who have heard my cursing before, when I flooded their house with another of my DIY projects a couple of years ago. By now they probably think I have a specific form of Tourette’s.
I sent Lady BSM in search of a fuse, which she duly found. No luck. The pressure washer seemed dead. In on last vain attempt, I took the washer indoors and plugged it in. It roared into life, spitting soapy water all over my feet. Success!
The rest of the afternoon was spent eradicating all muck from the garden
furniture. The playful look in Lady BSM’s eyes told me I should keep my distance; otherwise I could receive an unexpected colonic irrigation if I inadvertently bent down to pick up my bucket.
We stood back and observed our afternoon’s work. Lady BSM reclined on the newly washed bench.
“Shall we have a gin and tonic?” I suggested. She looked suspiciously at me.
“Only the one,” I reassured her.
We sat back in the early evening sun, the ice clinking in our glasses, full of gin and tonic, the light dappling through the trees.
“What do you make of retirement so far?” I asked her.
She gazed out across the garden, a wistful look in her eye.
“What, you mean washing garden furniture and making sure you don’t drink too much? “
Not so bad, then.