I like canoeing, I like floating down the river Ceze on a balmy June day with my delighted four year old kid and my grown-up kid husband. I like watching trout and perch slink across the river bed. I like watching dandelion clocks unravel themselves in the slanting sunlight. I like picnics. I like the heron that swooped across us and landed delicately in the branches of an oak tree.
I like family weddings. I like seeing my mum so ecstatically happy. I like her new husband. I like the village that they live in, where two kisses are not enough, and you have to do three, before accepting a glass of icy cold rosé from the local artist, who also grew the grapes.
I like the butterflies that skitter amongst the lavender bushes. I like the warmth of the sun on the nape of my neck, without having to worry about working despite it. I like the heady buzzing of cicadas.
I like lengthy, meandering conversations conducted by candlelight, and accompanied by the local hooch.
I like waking up in the morning, the early sun breaking through the white shutters, not knowing what time it is, but knowing it is time to watch my daughter continue to perfect swimming without armbands.
I like happy children, who are too tired to have a bedtime story because they have been having adventures all day.
I like getting lost, amongst fields of vines, and lavender, and sunflowers, and not caring where we are. I like that my husband didn’t care either.
I like having the time to read, not one, but two books (one was brilliant, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, the other was not, but I still read it ‘cause I could). I like not turning on my mobile phone. I like not responding to emails. I like eating homemade cherry jam with the crispest, freshest croissants. I don’t like French coffee, which isn’t a patch on our local café, but I like remembering to tell them when I get home that they have the best coffee in the world.
I like coming home, and finding the burglars hadn’t bothered, the cat is fine, and the dog has been given a bath by my friend. I like unloading the fine Cote de Rhone wine and the fresh goat cheese, the exquisite lavender essential oil, and the beautiful herb plants we have brought home with us, and working out who will get what from our present cache.
I like holidays.
It’s ironic that we had to go away from Mallorca to remember all of this, when so many people come here for their holidays. Let’s hope this year that we can make other people’s holidays as wonderful. Here’s something to hang on to as we go into the summer season where we to have to work so extremely hard to make a living to carry us through the winter: the beach is still free. See you there.