It’s been over five months since my OH, dogs and I moved to a tiny coastal village to live through the summer. It’s only 30 minutes from our farm and so it hardly made a dint in that side of our lives and from the POV of writing, it made no difference at all because laptops travel … amazingly!
But the summer sea change is drawing to a close. Next week daylight saving finishes and the Australian flag comes down, to be folded and stored until the first weekend in October when it slips up the mast again. The poplar trees lining a friend’s driveway have started to colour up, willow leaves float by constantly when I’m reading in the garden, the night air has the freshest, crisp feel to it and the seawater has cooled by three of four degrees.
It’s been a wonderful thing to do and we’ve learned a lot about ourselves.
House is deliciously small, and we’ve learned we don’t need a big home to be comfortable. I can cook as good a lamb roast in a galley kitchen as I can in a large kitchen. We’ve found we don’t need the buzz of city-life which is just as well as OH is a country-boy born and bred and has found city-life unattractive for all of his life … it was a necessary evil.
We’ve found that the one mini-market here is fine, that the staff know us and we chat (I’ve been a part of this area for 60 years, my family for 90, so I guess that helps), that the tiny library is more than adequate when I want a paper book. That we don’t need restaurants and cinemas, coffee shops and delis. That our best friends are here at their cottage as often as they can and we see them for dinners and such, more than we ever did in the Big Smoke. That the dogs get terribly depressed when we are in the city.
I’ve learned I don’t need an extensive wardrobe. I’ve existed on four pairs of shorts – some as old as Methuselah, a few poloshirts (some old and best-friendish), two rugby shirts (one v.old, one new), and a pair of jeans. A couple of pairs of boatshoes (one pair old, one newish), swimsuits and a towel. When we get together with our BF’s we have a dress-code which is called ‘shack-ish’ ie: we basically wear what we put on that morning with never a care and sit around on in the dark watching the tiny bats fly through the trees.
We’ve watched our blood pressure drop, our weight drop (we’ve both lost more than half a stone), we are sleeping better and eating better and I don’t care one bit that I have developed fresh sun wrinkles and freckles. (Besides, if you look at all the actresses in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, they don’t give a damn about wrinkles and I love it!) We have our veggie garden, fruit and nut trees and we eat fresh fish from the bay. I love my fresh herb supply and every meal has the most beautiful flavour from fresh picked everything. We make jams, chutneys and pickled walnuts. We take time before dinner to sit on the porch with a glass of wine and talk about the progressions of our separate working days. I am more motivated to write here than there. I achieve more. My day begins at 7.30 and includes work and play. For some reason I have managed to achieve the Divine Balance here. I’ve learned the simplest things are the best and to ‘Breathe Deep and Seek Peace’. (quote Dinotopia unquote)
By the time we leave, it will have been a six month sea change. We’ll be here for the weekends of course, but it won’t feel the same. There will be no boating and very little kayaking and it will be a rush to try and cram our favourite coastal experiences into two days. The farming year here is busiest in autumn/winter with shearing, lambing, tree-planting and fencing and quite simply the balance we achieved will go out the window.
The question is will the memory of the state of calm stay with us?
If I wasn’t here in The Gambia I’d be extremely jealous.
But with the first rain of the year still at least three months away I’m happy my balance is more divine than yours and shall refrain from joining you. 🙂
Mark! Thought your friendly snake had swallowed you, you’ve been so quiet!
And don’t make me jealous of your balance!
Mind you, with St.Mall’s to publish and my movie contract to organise … your balance might be a little this side of busy!
Having our potential last boat trip round the island in the pics on Wednesday, so hoping for more pics to warm the cockles in winter.
And yet when I write about galley kitchens and shirts and shorts and sitting quaffing wine, it all sounds indulgent when I know there are families close by in you in The Gambia with nothing … that their simplicity and grace is a lesson to us all.
*giggles* Silly me I was wondering why it sounded like fall. Thank goodness you mentioned the Austrailian flag or this northern hemishpere girl would have potentially remain confused. (actually it was the cooling sea water that made things click.) *grins*
Wow, that sounds so cool. I remember one winter, my mom’s bf rented a cottage on the beach and I had a lot of fun there. but then I’ve always been a simple child and could amuse myself with books and block and walks on a cold beach for a whole day without complaint. (well in my mind, I’d have to ask my mom if that was really the case). Some day I’d like to get back to a simpler life.
Cathryn, hi. Yes, I am from the deep, deep south. 42 degrees south latitude actually!
The sea is my friend and my solace. Always has been. We’ve been immeasurably lucky to live like this. It’s always been a dream to do it.
Cold beaches in winter are scintillating, aren’t they? The air is clean and crystal clear, the ocean even clearer – like looking through glass and the waves are often pounders, belting the hell out of the coastline. It’s inspiring!
Lovely post. Wish I could be there with you.
Hi Jenny. Thank you for the compliment but judging by what you said today, you’re flat out rejigging your blog to come to this farflung place!
For heaven’s sake, stay there all year! I’m sure there are all sorts of reasons why you can’t, but I’m sure winter at the beach has it’s own wonders. Maybe go into town on the weekends instead of vice versa?
There are quite a few reasons why we can’t stay on. And I guess that makes the times we can all the more special. Either way, my book must get written and edited before Christmas, so I’m under the pump either way.
Lovely … you made me feel more relaxed just reading this. I hope you manage to keep hold of that sense of well-being.