“What’s it like being sixty?” my younger friend had asked me last year as the big birthday had just happened. https://thisissixty.blog/2017/04/22/whats-in-a-name/
It was as if she had expected that upon the flick of the ‘sixty-switch’ I would somehow give in and become noticeably older. I took great pains to assure her that I was no different – perhaps a little different to when I was twenty or thirty, but certainly no different to forty and I named my blog after my reply to her. Well, I now concede that maybe there is a difference…just a little one but noticeable nevertheless. And that difference is that I get more tired more quickly. I hate admitting to the fact but it’s true.
Thursday is my day for looking after my Two youngest grandsons. The two little boys (aged 26 months and 11 months) are totally adorable but there is a reason why nature prevents us from having babies in our sixties! Just getting two of them ready to go out and into their car seats has me wanting to lie down and recover. In term time I take them to a playgroup. With travelling time this fills up almost three hours and I never thought I would say this, but I have missed it during the summer holidays. We tried a holiday group but neither the eldest or I enjoyed it (the baby couldn’t care less) so this week we went to town. We did a few mundane jobs like going to the bank and to Boots where I knew my favourite silver shampoo was on a buy 2 get 1 free offer. Truly, it is quite amazing how excited a grandmother can get when she thinks of things to fill up the baby-care hours!
“Cafe, cafe,” shouted the elder one as we passed Coffee 1 where I’ve taken them a few times before. There were no seats available (at least none with an adjacent space large enough to accommodate my twin pushchair). He wasn’t happy. I knew this from the vociferous vocal objection he raised but we soon found a comfortable spot in Debenhams and settled down for a rest. The boys had some suitable-for-toddlers wafers, banana and drinks that we had taken with us and I had a large cup of strong coffee. After lunch back at home we went for a short walk. Daddy returned at 2.30 which was a nice surprise as we had expected him an hour later.
That evening husband and I drove to Warwick (a little over half an hour away) to meet up with my cousin and family who were in the area for a few days to attend a sporting event. We met up last August for the first time in about thirty years. It was a great success – good food and good company – and we enjoyed it just as much this time round. However, the drive home was not as much fun. I drove thousands of miles annually as part of my work for several years and in the winter this often meant motorway driving in the dark. I never had a problem with it but for a couple of years now I’ve been finding night driving increasingly difficult. I have begun to feel unnerved by the huge lorries which thunder past and, despite my glasses being the right prescription (I got them checked recently) I just cannot seem to focus properly when night-driving. By the time we got home I had come to a decision and said that I am no longer prepared to do motorway driving at night. Fortunately we don’t go out a lot at night and when we do it’s local which I’m fine with. We have agreed that when it is necessary, either husband will not have a drink and he will drive (although am a terrible passenger) or we will stay wherever overnight. I feel like a bit of a wimp but the decision is made.
Friday was another grandchildren-focussed day. This time we took the granddaughters (12 and 6) out for the day to The Valley. From its beginnings as a garden centre it has, over a number of years, morphed into country park which has shops (not the high street variety) , cafes and play areas including a temporary summer attraction – ‘The beach’. Having imported fifty tons of sand they have set up a giant sand pit surrounded by deck chairs. There are a few fairground rides, bouncy slide, swings and water based activities. The eldest granddaughter looked around a little disdainfully at first, probably thinking it was all a bit too babyish but, once she realised that there was no-one who knew her (Oh the indignity of being seen to make sandcastles at her age!) she soon got over her reluctance and both girls had a whale of a time. They most enjoyed bobbing around inside a huge plastic bubbles which floats in water. I was invited to join them but used the excuse that I wouldn’t fit through the entrance hole! Later we rode on the mini steam train through the park to the picnic area where we were lucky enough to take possession of one of the picnic tables. After devouring the picnic they played for a while on the large wooden climbing frame in the shape of a fort. The train then took us back to the little station and we returned to constructing sandcastles and bought fresh, warm, sugary donuts as an afternoon treat. Grandparent duty done we returned them to their parents and spent the evening collapsed in front of the TV.
Saturday was a l-o-n-g day, albeit a wonderful one. First a seventy mile drive to Headington, Oxford where we joined the long queue at the Park & Ride. Then a walk to Oxford Brookes University for my mature student son’s graduation. Lunch was not on the menu as the timing made it very difficult so we bought coffee and chocolate and looked forward to the reception and promised post-ceremony refreshments (Champagne and cake!) The fifteen seconds of fame whilst one’s child (they still are, even at thirty eight, aren’t they?) walks onto the stage to shake hands with the Vice-Chancellor and collect the certificate that is testament to their hard work (and it was – he did it whilst working full time and having a very young family who, on this day of celebration were thankfully being looked after by their other grandparents) is worth every moment of the entire day it takes up. The photograph of the stage is the best I can offer as I consider that this blog should respect the privacy of my family. Post reception we did the walk/bus/drive in reverse and took son and his girlfriend for a meal. The evening was spent similarly to the one before – exhausted.
And now it is Sunday and I had a much needed and appreciated lie-in. After two sunny days when the washing could have gone on the line (Assuming that I had had time to do it), it’s now raining. Thank goodness for tumble dryers. I’ve swapped the lightweight quilt for the warmer one (the story of bedding-weight in my house could fill a post on its own: there are half a dozen different combinations to enable the warmth & weight variations we seem to need), and have dealt with some essential paperwork and sorted unwanted clothing for the charity bag. I am now going to read the Sunday papers and reflect on the fact that, tiring though the past few days may have been, I am extremely fortunate to have my lovely family to take up my time.