PETER RICHARDSON - Our one day Spring

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SO, did you enjoy the Spring? In case you missed it, the season of new life and fresh hope occurred last week on the third Saturday of April.

Elsewhere in Britain, I do believe they have been treated to an extended version but up here, twixt the Lakeland mountains and the Mersey, we got but one single day of largely unbroken sunshine without that accursed gale blowing in from Greenland.

By Sunday, it was autumn again and so it remains at the time of writing.

If the weather gods are smiling more sweetly on your patch by now, then I should also consider buying a lottery ticket while your luck is in.

As my own good fortune would have it, on the very day previous to spring, I had bought a new pair of walking shoes.

This turns out to be a piece of almost uncanny timing as She who must be unpaid then announces that she has planned a good long walk for the following day.

What she fails to explain, almost until the moment I fire up the jalopy in order to transport us to our starting point, is that we shall not be walking through the Trough of Bowland or the Yorkshire Dales.

No, we shall be walking through Ikea, the Scandinavian home furnishings emporium.

Of course, I could still say “no” but one thing I have discovered about retirement is that the accumulation of brownie points is even more important than during those increasingly distant days of full-time work, as there is no ready-made escape route along which to test that theory about absence making the heart grow fonder.

So I grit my teeth and head for sunny Warrington.

Now, to be fair to Mrs R, an Ikea store may lack the traditional trappings of a country walk, such as fields and birdsong and a babbling stream, but it does not lack scope.

Indeed I estimate this one to be roughly the size of Switzerland, a fact with which you will readily concur because, as the male half of a home-owning partnership in our neck of the woods, you will have already been dragged there.

What you will also know, then, is that the place is so big there are arrows on the floor to guide you round, presumably because otherwise the company would have to employ a search and rescue team and possibly a few St Bernards.

As you turn each corner, having ploughed your way through self-assembly bathroom suites and designer kitchens, finally expecting the checkout tills mercifully to appear on the horizon, there are instead more endless rows of towels and pans and casserole dishes to hike through.

At which point I suddenly remember to ask the current Mrs R why we are wasting the first warm day of 2013 in Warrington instead of enjoying wine and cheesy nibbles on the patio:

“We need a new toilet brush,” she says.

Now I know what you are thinking.

And yes, it certainly does take a high degree of self control, allied to a keen sense of self-preservation, not to point out that undertaking a 60-mile round trip while using a gallon-and-a-half of lead-free, seems a mite extravagant for the sake of a bog brush.

But I cannot resist asking

whether there is perhaps something special about the Scandinavian model of lavatorial cleaning utensil that is lacking from the version we could easily have bought from the local hardware shop. |

You know what these Swedes are like.

Shall we henceforth be brushing our new downstairs loo with birch twigs?

Has she been reading Fifty Shades of Grey?

Mrs R tells me not to be sarcastic.

We also need a toilet roll holder and a mirror and, having spent a small fortune on the downstairs toilet project, she is not about to ruin the effect by kitting it out in accessories that are not coordinated.

There is nothing for it but to trudge on.

While the new walking shoes are getting a good workout, I would be lying if I said there was a spring in my step.