This summer has been for me a celebration of life in the slow lane. The beautiful weather (such a welcome, much-loved but, alas, frequently absent friend to us Brits) meant that the munchkins and I have spent much of their summer holidays outdoors. We’ve been on lots of walks, picked blackberries, spent time with friends, been swimming, played in the garden, had water fights, got the paddling pool out, grown tomatoes.
At the end of July we travelled to France en famille to spend a fortnight camping in a sleepy part of the Northern Dordogne. I know camping isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but we love it. We love being able to stay right in the middle of stunning scenery and spend two weeks effectively living outdoors. The girls love the fact they have a bit more freedom than at home. I love the fact that Graham does all the cooking on the barbecue (and even does the washing up, too- result!) I love eating all our meals outside, and having loads of picnics. I also love the fact that we have no TV, no laptop, no wi-fi, no Facebook, no e-mails, no Twitter. Just a paperback, a bottle of rouge, and an impossibly big blue sky. Bliss.
I find the pace of life, snail-like compared to the rat race that is the South East of England, immensely therapeutic. There is time and space to think, reflect, dream, pray. God always tops up my dream-banks when we’re away on a holiday like that.
There is more time to spend with the children, too. We went swimming in lakes, gave them rides in the inflatable dinghy in the river at the bottom of the gorge, played tennis, played mini golf, taught them to play cards. It has become a family tradition for me to tell them made-up stories before bedtime when we’re camping, too. These stories feature my munchkins and their adventures with an assortment of talking animals- this year we had stories about the herd of rather handsome red limousin cows that grazed in the field next to the campsite. That time snuggled up together in their tent bedroom is so precious. They won’t always be impressed with my ramblings about Colin the Clumsy Cow so I want to make the most of an appreciative audience while I still can. At home, we would be negotiating about when to turn off the TV. When we’re camping, they don’t even miss it.
And now, we’re back home. I always love the first night back- the novelty of lying in a comfortable bed, and of being able to go to the toilet in the night without having to first put my shoes on and go for a walk. But the challenge for me is to try to retain some of that tranquillity and serenity now we’re back home. To be disciplined with myself, to try not to do a million things at once, to choose how I spend my time wisely and carefully. It is our most precious and finite resource but so often I squander it doing pointless things- watching something mindless on the TV that I didn’t mean to watch, but it was on, so I did; spending an hour on Facebook looking at the holiday photos of people I barely know; playing a game on my phone; the list goes on. If I am a bit more choosy about what I spend my time on, and what I don’t, then maybe I will find that, even when I’m not on holiday, I have more to spend with those who really matter to me- especially my Daddy in heaven and my wonderful little family here on earth.