Off the Rails

You might expect that, now I am at leisure and living beyond the end of that line, I’d have had lots more opportunities to write, and would be producing blog posts by the dozen – but in fact it’s not been until now that I felt one coming on. It’s partly the need to reorientate my perspective on everyday life, while at the same time getting to grips with all the jobs around the house and garden that have been neglected until now. And of course I don’t any longer have that strangely stimulating combination of movement, crowding and solitude which, as I mentioned a couple of posts ago, daily train travel provides. So far I’m actually finding less time to read, rather than more – a matter I shall have to put right.

But, behind it all, I do feel some sort of altered perception quietly forming itself. I’m finding a quiet pleasure in repetitive, mentally undemanding tasks – maybe many of us need more of this sort of offline activity in which to make some sort of space to stretch our mental limbs. However for now, I’d just like to revisit my first week of retirement, which was something in the nature of a holiday. We did a little bit of gentle travelling which gave me plenty of opportunity to just look, in the spirit of innocence that I wrote about last time. And so here are a few highlights, revisited with the help of some photos and not too much commentary.

The middle of the week saw us in Sussex, up on the South Downs. I hope this picture, taken in the high clump of trees known as Chanctonbury Ring, gives a feel of the day:

Chanctonbury RingAnd a few days after this rare rural idyll, we were in  a city – Norwich, which I often visit for family reasons. Like all cities which have a long and rich history but are still thriving, there are piquant juxtapositions of old, young (and perhaps middle aged) wherever you look. Here’s one I happened to record:

In NorwichOr there is just the old – sun on the cloisters at Norwich Cathedral:

Norwich Cathedral cloistersAnd in the cathedral itself, there’s an evocative artwork by the Brazilian sculptor Ana Maria Pacheco:

Ana Pacheco sculptureWe are told it’s based on a scene from Virgil’s Aenead – Aeneas carrying his father from the ruins of Troy. I found it quite compelling – it’s the size of the faces, and the way their expressions are rendered, that commands your attention. The style seems like a blend of contemporary and medieval, giving a sense of the timelessness of the emotions depicted; and the cathedral setting adds to this. It put me in mind of some of the topics I’ve thought of writing about here: current attitudes to religion, and how humans and their ways of thinking can change (and also how they don’t change) across time.

More about the artwork here while the exhibition is on.

4 thoughts on “Off the Rails

  1. As you well know I’m a way ahead of you on this retirement business and still can’t fully understand what it’s all about. After a week or two on ‘holiday,’ I found myself working a seven day week: house & garden maintenance, Open University and the home education of a granddaughter … … and drawing … and trying to write but not finding time…and…

    It came to the point where I was forced to retire from retirement. We sold up the house in Yorkshire, that we had spent 27 years restoring, and downsized to a modern house in West Wales. Here we are on permanent holiday apart from we got it wrong and it was a bigger house than the one we left, and it needed bookshelves and some four poster beds needed making and a studio needed building. Studio? Well I forgot to mention I became a painter… don’t ask. I’m back on a seven day week… and trying to write but not finding time…and…

    Advice: Make a Work To List, keep it simple and stick to it and don’t be drawn into ‘good idea projects.’ Having said that, there are some great courses coming on-line which would be right up yo–

    • Yes John – I can believe all that. “Trying to write and not finding time” might end up as my epitaph too. at least, on the strength of the first weeks. But – when I’ve got through all the jobs that have been neglected owing to lack of time – maybe about a year, perhaps? But the painting sounds a really good alternative, although I don’t think that will ever be part of my skill set. Nevertheless, I’ll raise my glass to the next Simlett book!

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