When we lived in France, we would go for around three walks a day. One mid-morning, one late afternoon and one after dinner. Mostly we would up to “the cross”, as we called it, the end of the small road we lived on, marked by a metal cross at the edge of a vineyard. On this walk we would walk over two small rivers and pass our almond orchard. We would often (on the mid-morning walk) run into the postman, who would stop for a chat but then take our post home anyway to save us carrying it.
I hadn’t thought about these walks for a while until Rupert woke up the other morning and said “I’d like to go for a walk to the cross.” It was the weekend and I think he was wondering what we could do for the day. The heat is still pretty unbearable and so there really is a limit. It’s basically the mall, or stay at home or drive to Dubai and go skiing, in a mall. Faced with those options, a walk to the cross seems like heaven.
I think one of the most unsettling things about living abroad is the constant question of ‘when are we going to go home?’ It is becoming more and more difficult to make any kind of decision. The longer we stay here, the more complicated it becomes. The kids are now all in the British School where they seem to be blissfully happy. In fact Olivia says she won’t leave here until she has finished school. Bea is literally blossoming and comes home every day with house points. Leo is just about to get in to (fingers crossed) the football, rugby and cricket squads so will be utterly content.
As for us, well things are fine, obviously we can’t walk to the cross, but we do have more time to hang out with our children because the lovely Nirosa does all the domestic stuff, leaving me free to read Winne-the-Pooh (genius book), play tennis and write. I remember my stepfather once advising me never to move in with a boyfriend “because you won’t leave until it gets really bad”. Which I suppose is the case with us and going home. And unless we fall foul of the (sometimes less than predictable) law or disaster strikes, I can’t see it ever getting really bad.
There is that Latin saying, Solvitur Ambulando meaning ‘it is solved by walking’. I remember we used to chat about problems on our walks and often come up with solutions. When I walk alone I come up with plots and ideas for the book. We do walk now, but instead of rivers we cross major road intersections and instead of our almond orchard we walk past a royal palace. And of course one of the major topics of discussion is how long to stay here. Most often we come up with the same conclusion. A while longer.
The cross will have to wait. The good thing is, even if we don’t go back for another ten years, chances are it will still be there.
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2011