23 May 2013

Life after Melle

What on earth did people do before the days of internet? I literally cannot comprehend a world-wide-web-less world (say that 10 times as fast as you can). Here I am in a tiny village in the Pyrenees unable to Skype my parents, unable to Skype my boyfriend, unable to waste time on Facebook, unable to Google some really unimportant yet niggling question, unable to look up that French word that keeps appearing but I just can’t grasp the meaning of, unable to check the weather forecast to see if this depressing weather will ever transform into the sunny paradise I had envisaged, unable to catch up on Made In Chelsea to cure the Francis Boulle withdrawal symptoms I’m suffering, but most importantly, unable to recount the next chapter of my French adventure to my avid readers, who I imagine have been up in arms in their millions, distraught that I have been absent for the past fortnight. ;)

I am managing, however, to use the house computer every few days to do vital things like check emails. And now, after Rob had the ingenious idea of writing my blog on my laptop in my own time and then quickly uploading it online when I get the chance, I am hoping this will allow me to do fairly frequent updates.

Let’s begin. I’ve been back in France for over a week now. I’m WWOOFing (if you don't know what this is, see the end of my last post) here for 3 weeks, in a tiny village called Mont in the Haute-Pyrénées, on a cow and sheep farm where they make the cheese Tomme. I’m not going to lie, the first couple of days I was homesick, which rarely happens with me. The main contributing factors to this homesickness were:

- Obviously, lack of internet, about which I have already ranted.

- Suddenly going back to full French immersion after having spent a week back in England and the comfort of my mother tongue (yes, I am still rubbish at French after all these months, sob).

- The fact that I packed 5 pairs of shorts, about 10 vest tops, but only 1 pair of jeans and one long top....

....and the first day looked like this:

- I decided, being paranoid me, that the people here didn’t like me.

The shower is in the barn, and there are spiders and cobwebs EVERYWHERE. Let’s just say showers have become slightly more infrequent here.

It has got better since then, I can assure you. The internet issue still exists, but I am learning slowly to adapt myself. I’ve realised that the full-on French thing can only be a good thing and can do nothing but improve my language proficiency. On the rare occasion that the sun shines, it is gorgeous. Here is the view out my bedroom on a good day:

The people are actually very lovely and I was just being silly. The shower situation still makes me want to cry, however.

The best thing though, is the food. With proper home-made French meals twice a day, fresh cheese, yoghurt and milk whenever I want, it’s not a bad deal! We had a bit of a kitchen disaster the other day though, when Julie (the woman farmer) had excitedly bought fresh, live crabs from the supermarket, having had a craving for them after seeing them on TV the previous day. However, this being the first time she’d cooked them at home, nobody knew how to eat them when she brought them to the table. Resorting to crushing the blighters with pliers to get to the meat, by the end of the meal there was bits of crab in our hair, all over our clothes, on the walls etc. And the only edible part was the legs, after all that! So, if you’re thinking of cooking crab, don’t. Biggest waste of time ever.

So this is my daily routine:

07:45 Wake up

08:30 Go down to the barn to milk the 6 cows and the 100+ sheep. If it’s not too wet, we then let the animals out into the 25 hectare park on the side of the mountain.

10:30 On Mondays and Thursdays, make the cheese. Otherwise, rub the salt onto the cheeses, or rub in the mould that grows on the rind. Yum :/

13:00 Have lunch. Yum :)

14:30 Have a siesta if it’s bad weather. Go for a walk if it’s nice.

18:00 Go back down to the barn to milk the animals again.

21:00 Have dinner. Yum :)

23:30 Go to bed.

There are 4 of us altogether; me, another WWOOFer called Marianne who’s 45 and Belgian, Julie, and Tom/Yves (he actually has 2 names, I’m so confused) who owns the farm.

And now I need to go and get changed to do some more milking and get covered in lots and lots of poo…

Ciao for now.

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