We had been at our very first campsite for an hour or so. Ramona was busy filling her bag with the bare necessities- a balloon, a shoe, a tiny hippo. She looked up and, with her bag in hand, hand on hip, said “RIGHT! Let’s go!” “Where to?” I replied (confused, as she seemed to have much more of a clue than I) “To see what we can see!”
Tim and I have found it a bit harder than we thought we would, this settling in to doing nothing business. We spent the first couple of days almost down in the dumps, intimidated by the gaping hole of three empty months – where our biggest achievement is getting to the end of the day having bumped our heads less than the day before. (Becoming used to living in a van is a headache- I feel like how Ramona’s Cabbage Patch Kid feels being made to hang out in her tiny doll’s house.)
We realised on our third day that we’d be a lot happier if we just acted as if we were on a short holiday- something about knowing you’re going back to Real Life and Work in a few weeks somehow frees you up for nonpurposeful living. (And then strangely, sometimes holidays can be hard to get into because there is so much pressure to relax and have fun BECAUSE you are going home soon. At least we don’t have to worry about that…)
So we are trying to take each day as it comes, to get used to being aimless. And just by waking up and “seeing what we can see” we have come across some cool stuff-
A campsite where every tent had a caged parrot (we obviously didn’t get the memo about the BYO parrot thing) – one of them kept chatting away and Ramona totally didn’t believe me when I told her it was the parrot; “You’re tricking me!”
Some amazing azure lakes and crystal clear rivers (and one flipping MAHOOOSIVE LEECH- it’s a whole blog post in itself) where we have swum and swum and swum.
Loads of incredible free camping spots, with views and forests and swimming- the French are well cool when it comes to wild camping.
A perfect nest of swallows who all slept with their bums straight up, poking right out.
A little family from the Midlands whom we spent the afternoon with, drinking tea and talking about childhood, attachment theory and emotional health (some of my favourite things)
A forest full of the tiniest frogs, we chased them around and around for an afternoon.
A path up a waterfall that we could climb and splash and float twigs, leaves and berries down.
A meal with a French couple of fish baked on the campfire – we had very little shared language (I did French for 3 years at school but there’s a limit to how many times you can say J’aim le tennis) so it was a conversation made up almost entirely of hand gestures and wild facial expressions.
We’re not quite good enough at this intentional nonpurpose yet but fortunately we are with Ramona who is the PROFESSOR of it. Most children are perfectly expert at simply BEING- hopefully we’ll learn a thing or two from her.
We have been following Dan Start’s Wild Swimming France around the Jura region but we’re about to gatecrash my sister’s family hols in the Alps. Will try and get to a McDonald’s soon (we are totally abusing their free wifi) to tell you about the leech, as I know you are on the absolute edge of your seat waiting to hear about that little sucker…