Last week I went away for a week to a chateau in France for two dear friend’s marriage. And I did something I hadn’t done on holiday for years… nothing.
I mean, there was oodles of swimming, sunbathing, socialising and scoffing. But we didn’t really go sightseeing or to any must eat at restaurants or even to the nearest vinery. In fact apart from visits to see HWSNBN’s penpal, the supermarche and one day in Bourdeux I didn’t leave the chateau at all.
And when I came back I felt relaxed. Like something deep in my heart had uncoiled. I didn’t feel like I needed a holiday to get over my holiday.
Earlier this year we went away for three weeks to Tokyo, Cairns and Melbourne and it was epically wonderful. Like holiday of a lifetime wonderful. But every moment was so jam packed full of awesome, trying to wring every drop of pleasure out of our precious time off that by the end we were knackered. My Japanese friend laughed at us when she saw our itinerary. ‘You holiday like a Japanese person – busy, busy, busy.’
Since changing jobs, I’ve suddenly got a bit more time to stop, to wander, to daydream. And I cannot tell you how blissful it has been. But for the first month I struggled with the nagging feeling that I ‘should’ be doing something/anything. I think being busy had become a habit that was so ingrained I didn’t notice when I no longer needed to rush. So I’m starting to ask myself what do I gain from being busy? And what will I lose if I stop? My counsellor once said to me ‘you don’t have to earn your place in this world.’ And I wonder if in some way all this frenetic activity has been me trying to be enough.
Maybe spending a week in France, sans work, sans laptop, sans to do list helped me realise I didn’t need to do anything, to be OK.
The chateau was surrounded by ordered rows of vines heavy with dusky grapes. And fields of dead sunflowers, drooping like emo 14 year olds in the baking sun.
We flew in while the boys to drove down from Amsterdam (only Joey could have three stag do’s :)). And having just managed to fit ourselves and the luggage in the car went shopping and rather too late realised the issue. Luckily Rich is a master at car jenga and managed to fit us, our suitcases, and a tonne of wine and cheese in the car. Result.
The chateux was amazing. Like something out of a fairy tale. We stayed in three houses our name tags on the bedroom doors: Chateux disco with it’s ornate rooms, Sitges where even the pool was full of glitter, and House Tyrell, my house which smelt of men.
The weather was blissful. There was something about autumn looming and the contrast between the trees beginning to turn, the conkers on the ground only made the endless blue sky and sunshine more precious. I remember sitting on sunbeds reading with Karen and Mariam as the sun dipped beneath the trees because we didn’t want to miss one ray.
Most days the only dilemma I faced was which of the three pools to dunk myself in, whether to float on the lilo or the giant fluorescent snake thing and whether to have cheese or moar cheese for supper.
I’ve been away on holiday lots with my family and with HWSNBN but I’ve never been away with friends. It was so nice catching up with old friends I hadn’t seen who were now living in far flung places. As well as making new friends and getting to know other people better.
We ate outside communal style most nights. And fell asleep to the whine of mosquitoes and woke up covered in bites. Fuckers.
The wedding day itself was so lovely and so them. From Joey’s morning streak across the lawn, to watching Amalie and Joey get married in a gorgeous ruined chapel on the grounds, and the group sing-a-long to Bon Jovi.
On the penultimate night after the BBQ, warm from a bottle of cider I went swimming alone in the pool at midnight. I could hear the laughter and see the candlelight spilling across the lawn. But it felt like I was all alone as I twirled staring up at the stars spilling across the sky so bright it blinded me.
It felt like longer than a week the day we woke in the dark and scrabbled for the cars. I am currently saving up the pennies for my dream chateaux in France. Whose with me? MOAR holidays, soon please.