Wednesday, June 13, 2012

dear dicken

A post I should have added a couple of months ago;

Dear Dicken
Huge apologies for cutting our conversation short the other evening.  You just happened to call as I arrived with a friend at someone’s house for dinner and it felt rather rude to keep everyone waiting for introductions etc.  Very French that nothing can happen out of order or if someone is missing.  I once waited 15 minutes, drink in hand, before taking a sip or saying “cheers” because one invited person was absent!!! (No one would continue)
Anyway, you’d have loved the evening, we sat outside under some bushes in the corner of a garden with beers and wine, built a little fire, fashioned a tripod and suspended a chicken from a string just alongside the glowing embers.  Slow food at its best.  There were three of us, me, Simon a chap I met last year on a participative eco building site, the same straw bale site that I stayed at again this year and Marcos, an argentinian carpenter who has lived in Spain for the last fifteen years whom is now earning a living in France whilst the economy dissolves into ruins next door.   We chatted in french and stoked the fire and spun the chicken from time to time, basted it with olive oil, rosemary and garlic and watched it slowly turn from pink to a crispy golden brown.  Day turned to night and it spotted with rain but the theme stayed the same, we were having a bbq and nothing but a torrential downpour would stop us.  The chicken was eventually ready after just over two hours of gentle cooking, it was delicious, absolutely amazing, succulent, juicy and not like any other bird I have tasted.  The whole thing was demolished amazingly fast, with much finger licking and appreciation for the chef, host and for Marcos and I, who had never seen such a feat before, slight awe that it actually worked.  Simon, by the way has a natural knack for outdoor cooking, lives a fairly nomadic existence in a VW van and is always on the lookout for new ideas.
Having written the last paragraph I am suddenly wondering if you are vegetarian, I can’t remember at all.  Apologies again if I’ve made you feel slightly queasy, but as I am dually writing to you and for my blog at the same time, it’ll stay.
Continuing from where we left off.  I have just arrived back in Blighty for a while, it’s as cold and miserable here as it is in SW france, so you aren’t missing much on the weather front.  I worked the winter in Saint Lary Soulan, if you pass through the pyrenees you might come across it and have most recently been helping a couple of families with their eco straw bale building projects.  Fascinating, great fun and an interesting way to pick up new skills and learn the language.  I shall be heading back at some stage in the next year to see how they are progressing and give another helping hand.
In the mean while, I shall spend May circulating between friends and family, catching up with news, helping out and house sitting as is my habit when I visit the UK.  It is great to have the time to really visit people properly and catch up.  Spend the time to help out and get things in order for my parents and give them a bit of a break from everyday life and to share the spirit of my adventures.
Come June I shall head back to france to rendez-vous with some friends in the Dordogne.  We are going to spend some time together, probably WWOOFing or HelpXing and looking for some suitable land for an independent yet joint project together.  The possible plan is to combine our meagre budgets to buy some land together.  Divide it up so that each has their own separate plot for building along with a shared area for garden, orchard etc shared communal facilities, building and garden machinery and tools etc and shared labour, energy, ideas for constructing our dwellings and living a simple life thereafter.  We can appreciate the benefits of community but we don’t want a commune where everything is shared and no one takes responsibility. Its an exciting proposition and I am looking forward to spending time with Julian and Sandrine to see if our plans are along the same lines.  It may be amazing or just a damp squib, will have to wait and see.  I also want to spend some time on a commune or similar to help out and see how everything fits together, I have hears so many stories of disorganisation, lack of direction and excessive pot smoking I’d like to see for myself what it is like in real life.  Just for a week or two.  If you have any ideas or know of any locations that welcome volunteers in the region I would love to know.  Also, before I start my building project I need a bit more experience on roof carpentry and roofing, I think I have the basics but would like to have the chance to practice and learn first hand.  There are plenty of leads, I just need to do a bit of planning so that I am vaguely in the right place at the right time.  That’ll be another map of france with scribbled notes all over to see if I can fit some sort of plan together.
Up until now I have been on foot, hitching or taking the train from place to place.  Good, cheap and fairly dependable but hitching takes time and is very variable.  Covoiturage is good for longer journeys between larger towns but to get deep into the countryside to check out land and to arrive at appointments on time I am contemplating some wheels.  The chef where I was working through the winter has a scooter, he lives near Bergerac and it takes him a good nine hours to get to the mountains.  A bit of a trek but amazingly economical.  He is then mobile whilst there and isn’t stranded without transport. With the right clothing I reckon it could be feasable.  I’d have to minimise my luggage, get a couple of paniers, a helmet a comprehensive map of the region and off I go.  Longer term I could then get a van for bigger trips and keep the scoot for nipping about locally.
So, how about you?  I saw you and Windy discussing properties and opportunities on line earlier in the year so am wondering what your thoughts are?  Needing a change? Looking for inspiration?  tell me more.
It’d be great to catch up later on, when I am back in France, but the whole place is vast.  What are your plans?  Where are you heading?  How long are you there for?  Are you WWOOFing or HelpXing? perhaps we could find a mutually interesting host to stay with for a while?  
Drop me a line and let me know everything.
In the mean time find loads of things to have fun, enjoy what you do, look after yourself and travel safely.
Take good care.

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