Thursday, August 17, 2006

Back to School Blues

I don't really have to go back to school, just to work, but it feels like those last few days of holidays when you're thinking about all the nerve-wracking tests, new teachers and old bullies that you gleefully left behind in a swirl and a skip at the end of the summer term.

Truth be told I have had great holidays this year and they're not really over just yet. I visited the Dordogne region of France recently for a wedding - a high school friend of G's.

The village where we went, le Verneil, is an amazing place. It was created, literally, in the early seventies by a group of friends who wanted to leave Paris and live in the country and in true hippy style. They bought some old ruins of an empty hamlet and set about reconstructing the ruins into habitable houses. Now in their fifties, these people have successfully built their very own village, and bought the forest of several hectares surrounding it to avoid unwelcome newcomers to the area.

As friends, we were welcomed with open arms however, and life in the place is very warm and friendly. No doors are locked, people move in and out of each other's houses with a freedom rarely seen since the fifties. All the houses (there are 4 or 5) are private and there are common areas like the swimming pool (hippies but not poor...) and the grange where we had the wedding reception. The bride is the eldest daughter of one of the inhabitants of the hamlet, and the love they all share was palpable during the whole time we stayed there.

They are not completely self-sufficient in Le Verneil, but they grow vegetables, flowers and there is even a very generous man who picks mushrooms (ceps, no less) from the surrounding forest and sells them for a living and gives the rest to his friends. Suffice to say that we ate delicacies that in Paris cost over 20€ a kilo completely free.

Arriving on the périphérique yesterday evening I heard a carhorn beeping for the first time in over a week and it gave me the little stomach flip that nerves bring. I do have another four days before work starts again but knowing that I'm not going anywhere new or doing anything different does make me feel a little down.

Now, that pile of dirty washing is not going to put itself in the wash, and my newly purchased mosquito net seems to be winking at me from its sleek casing. Where's my stepladder?

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