The old man and the shed 16



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I have known my husband (my old man) for most of my life. We were childhood sweethearts, married young and had our children early. We have a happy marriage, but I’m not saying there hasn’t been a few bumps in the road. There were many, mostly minor and usually rows about the kids.

Realists know long-term relationships aren’t always as romantic as they were in the beginning. There is a wonderful paragraph in a Marian Keyes novel that sums it up. The character says something like ‘my parents will not be walking along a sun-kissed beach wearing white linen and holding hands.’ Most of us have seen the picture; most of us know our kids could have written it.

Time changes everything. Those endearing little habits (the way he whistles through his teeth when he concentrating) are now the things that drive us mad. He has a go at me about jigging along to the radio while I am washing up. He swears my mother used to do it, I don’t think she did.

We are older, not necessarily wiser and certainly no more patient. The general rush of daily life has taken on a different pace. We are both retired and could be together 24 hours a day seven days a week.  The energy has changed.

About two years ago, we moved to a retirement resort. It took a bit of a push to make the decision and sell the family home but it was the best move we ever made, apart from buying the family home in the first place.

We had lived in the same house since 1978.  Back then it was a new estate and just about affordable. You would have seen plenty of houses like ours. Four bedrooms, a lounge and a rumpus room on a quarter acre block. It had one bathroom when we bought it but we added another one when the kids were growing up.

The house was nice but the repairs and maintenance had started to add up. The last few years had been difficult, I had a health problem, he was forced into early retirement. Money was a little too tight to mention. We sold the house – couldn’t believe how much we got for it – bought the new house and for the first time in our lives had a sizeable nest egg. 

When we started to talk about selling the old house, my biggest wrench was the familiarity, his was the shed. He had always liked making things. He made the cot for our first-born and a few toys but since retiring, he had spent a lot of time in that shed and made nothing at all.

Most days his mate from down the road came over and they sat in the shed talking up a storm about everything under the sun. What those two don’t know about running the world isn’t worth mentioning. If Obama could have heard them he would have realised all those other wannabe presidents are a very minor threat.

A man’s shed is an international phenomenon; it crosses the boundaries of countries, cultures and class. This is his haven; he may have gardening stuff, bits and pieces of inventions that are never going anywhere, a train set or Scalextric. It doesn’t matter, ‘keep out’ is the message.  

It’s fine by me, I was busy in the old house, I’m busy having fun in this one. My days include going to the gym, (yes, me), the odd game of bowls and my arts and craft group. My friends and I talk sense, not a lot of rubbish about the international economy. 

The new shed has now replaced the old shed, it still smells like a new shed but it contains all the perceived wisdom of the old shed. He now has his old mate over and together with a bunch of new mates they set the world to rights.

But bigger and better than the shed is The Workshop. It deserves capital letters; this shows how important it is. The Workshop is a brain wave by the powers that be at Living Gems Resorts. I don’t know who thought of it but when I find out I will bake them a cake.

The Workshop is the centre of male bonding, a few women use the equipment but it is mostly men who hang about sharing their wisdom (or lack of it as the case may be).

The difference here is they actually make things. Some men are more expert than others but they all work together while they natter on. They have a good time, I hear them laughing when I go past on my way to meet friends for coffee.

One of the old man’s friends has made a guitar. He isn’t adverse to playing a few cords and showing off his memory of hits from the ‘60s. The best thing is all the men go home happy. The wives are happy to have had time to themselves doing what they want to do without feeling guilty about doing it.

We are grateful for the shed but we love The Workshop.

What’s preventing you from letting go of the family home? Are you concerned that your partner will struggle to find meaning in a new environment? Have you ever visited a retirement resort and seen for yourself some of the amenities on offer? Share your stories with us.

This article has been sponsored by Living Gems Lifestyle Resorts for Active Over 50s. Living Gems is recognised as an international over 50s housing industry leader. Independent industry monitors presented Living Gems with The Best Over 50s Housing in Australasia Award last year. These lifestyle resorts have now been nominated for The Global 2015 Best in the World Awards to be announced in London later this year. Contact Living Gems now on 1800 785 594 to discuss the best active lifestyle options for you.

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  1. My husband used to make things for the home, little tables,and a block for knives and I wish he was still with me!!

  2. I spend more on cutting discs and welding rods and wire for my husband than I do on groceries, but he saves us a fortune on making equipment.

  3. I’m in the process of building my shed( man cave) as the wife says. I do make things but it’s also to get me time with a friend or two.

  4. My husband was an engineer & he could just about fix anything or build a new one…From bricklaying, carpentry, electrical, plumbing, the car, engine & panel beating & paint…etc…. He would also make his own tools. I would draw plans, he would build it & he liked a challenge… I was extremely lucky..

  5. My husband had his dogs . He spent hours being sure everything was right for them.

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