Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Stealing the last piece of summer

Far too early in the morning, I took my holiday feet back out for a stroll, accompanied by three pairs of lovely shoes. Before the sun rose, I put my sandy plimpsolls on a boat bound for Jersey, to the nearest bit of England from here. The plan was to steal the last bit of summer, continue to drift in an unplanned way - keep loose before life tightens. It felt almost right, this last snatched day, felt almost right - despite the fatigue - to tease the summer out before la rentrée, before timetables loom on the horizon, before school, before workshops, before manuscripts are to be written, train whistles blown, before time is cut into predestined pieces and improvisation cast to the administration dogs, who are asking for papers, appointments and my signature, just at the end of the page, s'il vous plait. Before all of this, we took the time for ice-cream, to dip our limbs into an art-deco swimming pool, dream and admire the turquoise. 

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Nostalgia : a wistful yearning for the past

Going to wrap my journeys up, all of them, in bus tickets printed in alphabets that I don't understand, in the taste of Spanish cakes and Korean spice, in the smell of otherness as I step off the plane, train and out of the van door, bouncing on a hotel bed and sleeping on a mountain floor, I'll put the thoughts of wandering in my dreamland, until I repack my bag and start moving, all over again.

nostalgia (n.)1770, "severe homesickness" (considered as a disease), Modern Latin (cf. Fr. nostalgie, 1802), coined 1668 by Johannes Hofer, as a rendering of Ger. heimweh, from Gk. algos "pain, grief, distress" (see -algia) + nostos "homecoming," from PIE *nes- "to return safely home" (cf. O.N. nest "food for a journey," Skt. nasate "approaches, joins," Ger. genesen "to recover," Goth. ganisan "to heal," O.E. genesen "to recover"). Transferred sense (the main modern one) of "wistful yearning for the past" first recorded 1920. 

Saturday, 25 August 2012


We are still returning to everyday life. We joke that summer is going, "Away, away, away..", as we finish salted almonds, drink the last bitter orange drop of Vermouth, the plastic carton bought from a dusty mountain shop. We cling, with tenderness, to the memories of hot days that stretched from the morning to evening aperitif, new friends, mountains, cards games and a Jeff Koons dog. I have left some of the bags unpacked. The smell of summer crouches, hiding in folded clothes, crumbs of earth from our journey roll inside, whispering to each in foreign tongues: Matarana, Navarre, Pamplona, Bilbao, Estella, Charentes. There are rollos de anis aniseed Spanish biscuits that are yet to be eaten - squirreled for a rainy Breton day, there are wrinkled black olives and garlic octopus in jars. I wear shorts and a misshapen T-shirt as I work, tackling revisions of my book, the clothes make me feel free and the hours suspended and open, (somewhat silly, but true.)

Sunday, 12 August 2012

This morning - before breakfast

From the wall of Santa Barbara hermitage, La Fresneda, 2012

I planned a series of posts about Spain, a list of the things that I love: eating dinner at ten at night, eating lunch at three, days reconstructed by the very hot sun, siesta dripping, endlessly, the tortas, the tapas, the wine, The Guggenheim, the plastic curtains separating the inside of houses from the outside world, the surreal ice lollies, the olive groves, the greenest river pools you ever saw, the hermitages stuck onto the sides of dry mountains, rivers sewn through the heart of stone, the old men gathered in white short sleeves, the teenage swimming pool girls who serenaded mine, the drive across the desert, the second breakfasts ( we think of ourselves as hobbits when we travel), the cortado, the living in the van ( which a man called Dusty named our wagon), the sleepy Charentes, the Navarre mountain plateau where horses rode wild, the...but the day is dawning and today is back to work time and today - before breakfast, I must eat something -  I imagine time going backwards, the unpacking of bags, the unreading of maps, the places travelling back from my mind to the page, evrything becoming unknown again, the unpicking of a path.