I am back in France again after a great holiday in Portugal, a couple of months visiting family and friends and helping my parents move house in England. I had expected it to be a bit of a break after my springtime adventures, but as usual my life seems even more full on when I return home for a bit of peace and quiet. This time was more challenging with the moving of my family home, parents are now happily installed in their new house just down the road from my sister and everyone had calmed after the intensity and stresses of the move. It has been great to see them move and readjust to a completely new surroundings so quickly after so many years.
There was other long awaited news too, whilst I was in the UK, on a subject that I have written about on several occasions during the last couple of years. News of my visa. The application for a visa started as a quick few months after filling out the application forms that I had to wait till I returned to California and Love Apple Farm. Difficulties with the original application forced an appeal and, unbeknownst to us at the time, a more prolonged period of waiting for processing to occur. The news finally came through from Homeland Security, two years and three months after the original application was filed, the news that the visa has been denied and that I will not be heading back to Love Apple Farm to work, not now or any time in the future. You can imagine my initial reaction, although on reflection, we gave it our best shot and it was not to be.
I was fortunate that my life was so hectic at the time, what with sorting out and packing my parents house, planning visits to countless friends around London and catching up with folk in Salisbury, I hardly had time to focus on the news for a couple of weeks, and by the time I did, the big disappointment had faded a bit. My vague Plan B had adjusted to become a specific Plan A and the last two years of my waiting and learning and traveling around south western France all made perfect sense. Not one moment of those years had been wasted, the knowledge that I had gleaned, both consciously and subconsciously, has sorted itself into an order, my outlook on life has slowly and steadily reformed itself, (I do believe this started from the time I first began to travel) and I find myself ready to begin a new and exciting chapter.
the old house
the giant truck full of belongings
the new house
Mum, Dad and me
The plan, it has been quite a revelation to me, as well as most of my friends and family, but I think that they probably saw it coming too, is another project. This time though it is different. It isn’t about making lots of money and gathering possessions to find happiness, although I do recognise that I will need some of both. It is about sharing the joy and the bounty of life and encouraging others to do the same. I have realised along my journey that I have been more content with a rucksack on my back and a minimum of possessions to contend with than I possibly was before, a simple life with less frills and expectations, less demands for physical things and a more simplistic outlook on what gives pleasure and contentment.
I have absolutely loved sharing my knowledge of gardening and horticulture with others and empowering people to progress on their own, spending time with folk, hearing their stories and getting an insight into differing ways of life. Learning new skills, discovering how the world is changing and allowing myself time to focus on what to do next.
Imagine a small house, surrounded by gardens of vegetables and flowers, with an orchard and probably a stream. Perhaps cats and dogs, chickens, rabbits, a goat, some sheep and possibly a cow or two, although that is getting a bit excessive on the animal front. Outbuildings for storage and shelter, a small classroom, clearings under the shade of trees where people can gather for workshops, a communal kitchen, camping facilities for several tents.
A place where everyone is welcome to come and get involved, to learn and teach and share their knowledge of gardening, the outdoors and of simple living. Somewhere to relax and soak up the atmosphere whilst contributing to the project as a whole. I think that I want to create an environment like that.
At present it is just a dream. I am starting my search for land with an open mind. If it is there I shall find it, if other opportunities present themselves along the way I shall consider them as well. Who knows what joys life shall bring and what adventures will be waiting along the way. To that end I am back in south western France, close to the Pyrenees, continuing my helpX hosted life with my eyes and ears wide open in search of that perfect piece of paradise.