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Trouble is, as a retired lady (or dame, or broad, or whatever) every day can be different, so I thought I’d describe some nice things which might be part of every day.
We wake up anywhere from 6 to 8.30 (GMT), with our furry creature, Bella, down at the foot of our bed. With three large windows looking south, we often enjoy a cup of tea in bed (very British) while watching the thrilling aerial exhibitions put on by huge flocks of crows, sea-gulls or now, swallows and swifts. These moments are, quite simply, perfect.
(Left Crows over Nungate Bridge, Haddington, Scotland. This is a copy of a tiny drypoint print which I used to trace for a new one; I liked the effect and kept it!).
As retired folk, we can stay at home, go into town (Edinburgh) or travel in our Motorhome (RV). If we are at home, we will often ‘baby-sit’ for our actor friends’ daughter, the multi-talented and gorgeous 12 year old Iona. Actors can lead a very unsettled life; we are here to support them. Along with Iona comes Maya, Iona’s still young Golden Labrador Retriever. Maya is a very affectionate dog and thinks she is about the size of a loaf of bread and can fit on a lap with no trouble. The reality is quite different. (Right, Maya the Lap Dog)
So we are happy, honorary grandparents and enjoy serving up lunches, dinners, teas and providing emergency over night care for our busy friends. The theatre takes no account of family life. Having no children of our own, this ‘rent-a-family” has added a rich dimension to our life and we simply enjoy doing all sorts of grandparenty things, like attending Iona’s recent ballet school’s end-of-year performance.
If we go into Edinburgh, it means a 40 minute bus ride, free here in Scotland for us happy retired folk. This is where we get some of our best exercise, clocking up several miles good walking as we pursue our usual round of delis, commercial art galleries, bookshops and a coffee somewhere. Since Bella, the most gorgeous rescue dog of all times, is always with us, finding a place for coffee or lunch can be difficult on a cold day (and yes, Edinburgh has a few of these). But the glorious old High Victorian ticket hall of the main train station allows dogs in and has good coffee. I often sit here and sketch the crowds of travellers while my husband, another Brian, browses through the nearby paper shop. We love this place. (Above, an ink sketch of Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano, right in the middle of Edinburgh).
Since Christmas we have spent nearly half our time away in our lovely motorhome (RV) which we have ‘gypsyfied’, adding plum red and purple spreads, cushions in more deep reds, three brass cherub candle holders, a Khazakstani tent band, two sheep skins for the driver’s and passenger’s seats, and self crocheted lace edging. All this looks splendid with the pretty wood interior and is much better than the original and tasteful beige. Whether in Antwerp, Amiens, Canterbury, Oxford or in some Scottish town nearby, we do essentially exactly the same things we would do at home: walk, buy nice things to eat, look at bookshops and delis, cook nice dinners, read, sketch and do crosswords.
Come Friday, whether we are at home, away or baby-sitting, I have to do my IF illustration; I even have a scanner in the motorhome and have produced cartoons from Germany, Belgium and many UK towns. Needless to say, the IF contacts have brought me a lot of joy. The Friday cocktail hour also takes place, wherever we are: a few cashew nuts, a G&T and a crossword puzzle.
Another activity which we pursue every day at our age is looking for things. We did find one of the two missing paring knives the other day in the pot with the pens and pencils
Bella tells us that it is bedtime at 10 pm; she starts out in her own little bed; I read for a few minutes and go out like a light, with my wax earplugs firmly in place (See Studio Lolo for a discussion of husbands, all of whom seem to be named Brian). My husband continues to read well after Bella and I are away with the fairies. We recognise every day that we are fortunate and are about as content as it is possible to be.