14/02/2014 08:00 GMT | Updated 15/04/2014 06:59 BST

Love over 50, an Implement of Torture, Perfection Exists

I am two fools, I know,

For loving, and for saying so,

In whining poetry

John Donne

Love over 50

Love in middle age is a quagmire of disappointment, disillusion and forced hope. Why 'forced'? Because one always hopes for the best knowing fully well that the 'best' is nothing more than compromise and jaded acceptance.

I write as a middle -aged woman and one who is quite delighted to be on the cusp of fading away into the sunset. Once the menopause has passed we feel a pang of sadness at the lost opportunity to ever have kids but we look back with clear lenses instead of rose-tinted ones. The ability to see things as they really are is a distinct advantage of getting older. We can spot extraneous bull...t a mile away. We can also separate the frauds from the genuine ones in less than five seconds flat. Even better, we recognise that nothing is ever what it seems.

Take men for example. If you're a middle-aged woman with a pleasing demeanour (i.e. still have hair and teeth) and preferably live alone and are not too impoverished, men see you as an ideal 'adventure'- a chance to cheat on their wives with someone who is sufficiently independent and not potentially deranged enough to boil the pet rabbit. This scenario is ideal for 99.9% of men who hanker for passion and affection, as they all seemingly do. Cue to the 'mistress-in-waiting' who then has to choose whether the lifestyle choice of keeping the house spick and span and champagne on ice is what she wants.

Men, sadly, will sleep with anything. The mistress-in-waiting should therefore be fully aware that it ain't really her mind that's irresistible. I don't wish to sound like the Pope but women who choose to be a plaything should not weep into their cabbage soup when it all goes terribly wrong. The point however that I do wish to make is that one should never lose one's zest for life or love. Yes, men can be @**!!!! who are motivated by something other than their brains but at the same time, it is vital to maintain the wanting-to-fall-in-love aspect of our personalities. Otherwise the alternative is that cliché: the embittered, miserable divorcée who hates all men, stops shaving her legs and doesn't keep her facial (post menopausal) hair in check. And in that state any chance of finding a lover heads deep south (statistically speaking)...


Dancing Canada Goose, Photo copyright S. van Dalen

Implement of torture

The spent outer casing of the edible chestnut. I picked this up on my walk this morning- the chestnuts in the UK are very, very small given our cold and wet climate. The fruit forms in late summer and is ready to harvest in late autumn when the spiky enclosure (pictured) bursts open and falls to the ground. The chestnuts can then be retrieved by carefully pulling them out of their needle-encrusted home. I have collected chestnuts near where I live but the pain ain't worth it. Even picking this one up from the ground hurt like hell and my fingers are now slightly swollen. It is useful to know where food comes from and the effort that goes into getting it to our plates. I can only imagine that machinery does the job of picking and collecting the chestnuts. Or the fingers of the pickers have been so frequently impaled they no longer feel pain. One has to marvel at nature: by making it quasi-impossible for predators to 'break in', the chestnuts have the best chance of germinating into saplings the following year.

The analogy being here that by protecting oneself to the hilt, one is less likely to come to harm. Although I would argue that it is wise to be a little bit nuts occasionally.


Photo copyright S. van Dalen

And finally:

When I stop to take a photo on my walks I trust my instinct to lead me to the right shot. This is a prime example of that- the light, the composition, were all there. All I had to do was click! This was in the early Autumn one afternoon as I ambled along with my trusty hound. This picture reminds me that perfection exists all around us and within ourselves- we just have to look for it!


Photo copyright S. van Dalen