Bye August! You were a joy and provided a life lesson: August should be for holidays and long ones at that. This time two years ago we were tearing our hair out trying to find somewhere to live and sort bank accounts out ahead of our time in the South West of France. We couldn’t sort anything because everyone was on holiday. For the whole month. Seriously, no one replied to emails or answered their phones at my husbands new work place. No out of office emails offered an alternative person to contact. We just had to wait. Failing to work through our to do list was frustrating but no one died. Did it matter, not really, we got it sorted eventually. It’s just the way they do things here, life comes first. And it’s not just August. Everyone we know has a two hour lunch. Banks, shops and newsagents close, every day. For two hours. (Forgive the punctuation but I am trying to hammer the point.) Town shuts down every day for two hours. You eat between twelve and two. When the clock strikes two you can’t eat out in a restaurant, not until service resumes at 7pm. There are no Starbucks or Costa coffee shops offering salads and snacks 12 hours a day. You eat between 12-2 and then from 7. In August it seems you sit on your sun lounger and soak up the sun. It’s genius, massively unproductive, but a nice way to live right?
I spoke to some children playing alongside my son on the beach the other day who told me they were coming to the end of their two month annual summer holiday. Two months! I love it. My Dad used to get a migraine at the thought of a ten day holiday once a year when we were kids. If his friends had told him they were taking an annual two month holiday he would have branded them ‘lazy’ for sure. My Mum often uses the number of holidays a year someone has to describe them: “You know so and so, she’s always on holiday, three times a year she’s away.” Never sure if she’s impressed, jealous or in awe in my family the number of holidays a year someone has seems to be an indication of their appetite for graft. Is it a generation thing, is it a British thing? Who cares. These French families are onto something if you ask me. Extended lunches and extended holidays, as long as you cut your cloth accordingly and spend within your earnings why shouldn’t you spend more time on the beach. I love the idea of long weekends and frequent holidays and sitting here in the sun soaked of France I am promising myself I will do that long after we return to England and to work in a few weeks. But will I? Here we share one car and I live in clothes I buy from the market for a few euro. I actually do. I don't even buy underwear I always wear a bikini under my clothes in case we end up somewhere for a swim. While I know that will change, will my commitment to family time and collecting 'memories' rather 'things.' I hope not. Maybe it's easy to say I will put family time first more, given that I am sitting by a pool in the sun with one baby sleeping and one playing. Maybe if I say it out loud I will do it. Maybe if I keep telling people how happy the French are we will all start indulging in daily two hour lunches fuelled by wine. Not sure my boss will be up for it but I will certainly be making a case for it.