a day for reflection…

…with nothing much happening. Time to ponder on life and love and why the staff in the mobile Starbucks kiosk outside Paddington Station make a better Caramel Macchiato than those in any of the Starbucks in Oxford.

I slept really badly last night, taking ages to drop off and then waking at 5.30 a.m. I gave in, came downstairs, had a cup of tea and read for a couple of hours before feeding cats and dog. Sleeping under the roof is fun, but the dawn chorus seems to kick off before it gets light at the moment and is extra loud in the loft. Not that I’m complaining. Being up there is a bit like being on a galleon sailing through cloud and wind, starlight and sun. When it’s very windy, you can feel the house flex and hear the creak of timbers. And on sunny mornings, we have dozens of rainbows cast by the faceted glass crystals hanging in the windows.

At the moment, we climb to bed up a stepladder – a proper one designed for residential lofts, but a ladder none the less. I wonder if, one day, we will be too old. I remember  (and I think it was on one of Michael Palin’s globetrotting TV series) seeing a little old woman in some place like Ladakh or Bhutan, leaping nimbly up a nearly vertical ladder to the upper floor of her dwelling. I seem to remember she was in her eighties.

So why do we, in Western culture, assume this strange cut-off point after which we need to live in one storey buildings or sheltered accommodation? Many years ago, when looking for a house to buy, my partner and myself were shown round their home by a couple in late middle age. It was obvious how much they loved the house, which was immaculately cosy. She had her sewing room and he had his shed with pristine tools on hooks and shelves. The garden was well-tended and obviously cherished. But they had reached a certain age and, although they were still physically fit and active, had decided that they now needed to go into a retirement home. Why? My own grandmother was rolling and mowing her lawn till the day before she died at the age of ninety. She obviously hadn’t heard of the law that says we have to give in gracefully to the aging process and stop enjoying life.

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