It’s actually a retirement complex for the over 60s. Situated in a semi-rural town not far from the state capital, it’s an attractive location. Spacious, beautiful gardens well cared for, and independent living units (I’m in one) that, to me, reflect very much the 19th century style of terrace housing that you would find in places like Sydney’s The Rocks. But inside, the units are not 1800s claustrophobic, but airy, light, and roomy. I am gradually putting up pictures on walls, so the place is starting to look more like home. The unit is a great improvement on my former location Bayside, where I lived for nearly 11 years.
The village has various amenities: an indoor swimming pool which I’ll probably use when summer comes; a quite well-stocked library; its own bowling green situated right behind my unit so I have a very nice outlook over my back terrace; and even a croquet lawn! The latter indicates the sort of age-group that mostly populates this village.
There is a large, central administration block, in design rather reminiscent of a gracious, wide-verandah-ed country house where Australia’s landed gentry live. It also contains a very big communal dining/functions area. I’ve been to a couple of community dinners and sausage sizzles there, since my arrival. Very nice and good fun. It overlooks the croquet lawn. So far, I haven’t actually seen anyone playing croquet on it – the bowling green gets far more use.
I already knew one or two people before I came in here; now I am slowly getting to meet more of my neighbours. There is Morris* who lives next door to me. In his 70s, very active, hardly ever home. “My bowls, my golf, and my fishing keep me on the move!”, he proudly boasts. There is Clarrie*who I met at the communal dinner. When Morris invited Clarrie to go bowling, Clarrie replied, with a slightly regretful and embarrassed smile, “sorry, but I just simply don’t have time. I have so many other things I am doing!” I don’t think Morris minded too much – he’s shortly off on a trip to the desert for two weeks.
Then there is Cecilia*. I’ve only met her once so far. She seems to be tagged by some as the village’s grumpy eccentric. The night I met her at a function here, she was complaining about the hoons making noisy merriment on the main road near her unit. She’s so fed-up with it that she is trying to take photos of the offenders’ cars and number-plates. What she quite plans to do with this photographic evidence, is not too clear.
Unlike Cecilia, my overwhelming impression of the place so far – at least my little corner of it – is the extreme quietness. Sometimes when I wake up in the middle of the night, it is so silent that I think I’ve woken up in the middle of a cemetery. To date, the noisiest thing in my little world is the bowling green behind me when the lawn bowlers are at work. They are a happy, uninhibited bunch. Much laughter and shouting. Probably not one of them under 70. Don’t these guys realise that we elderly PHCs** need rest and quiet? I must write to village management …
After only a month, I’m not entirely sure that this is the right age group for me. But then, although I am *** years old, not very different from the others here, I still don’t think myself as being truly old. Vanity, vanity, all is vanity. Still, they are a pleasant bunch, friendly and helpful. And anyway, it’s only a short walk to the railway station and a quite useful and attractive CBD. As long as my electric chairs keep working, I can travel in and out, round and about.
No, the place is not too bad. It’ll probably grow on me.
*Not their real names.
**Poor helpless cripple. (Old family joke. I quite like it, but others look disapprovingly.)