An Escape Back to Nature

For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream. – Vincent Van Gogh

Modern life is busy, busy, busy. It’s easy to forget to slow down, take some time to relax and recover until you’re struck down by illness and forced to stop. Thank goodness for those friends who give us a reason to slow down!

Gar and I spent the last weekend at the beautiful River Valley campground with two of my favourite people in this world, Ellen and Chewie (she calls him “Chew” for short, which amuses me endlessly as Chew sounds like “chu” to me. As a former fangirl, I know chu = mouse, and whilst Chewie is a pure gentlemen and quite shy, he’s certainly not mousey). We went up into the Wicklow Mountains with no real plan besides, “let’s set up our tents and eat nice things all weekend”.

I wasn’t sure what to expect. We see these guys frequently, have them over for dinner often and it’s always a lovely, low key and no pressure kind of thing when we get together, so I assumed the weekend would be the same. In fact, it was better.

We had Chewie’s fantastic chilli for dinner on the Friday (though I’m still not totally convinced on the whole “black pudding in chilli” thing) and stayed up until nearly two in the morning, huddled over his mini barbeque trying to absorb all the heat we could (I planned poorly clothing-wise, September in the Wicklow Mountains can get quite cold!). We talked about a little bit of everything from cooking to other trips to writing. Gar and I shared a bottle of excellent red wine. We lay back in our chairs and watched the skies, counted shooting stars. It was a beautiful night and set the tone for the weekend.

Saturday included a trip into Arklow, a good walk and more food. It involved a lot of great conversation. Sunday more of the same until it was time to reluctantly pack and head back to civilisation. It was a fantastic weekend that I hope to repeat many more times in future.

But you know what, it was so much more than that too.

For the last couple of years, the Bliss Festival has been the highlight of my year, and I spend the months before the event in a knot of anticipation, willing the weeks to fly by until time for the festival. This year however, due to poor organisation, a court case and other circumstances, the festival was an utter disaster. Those close enough to the events know the whole litany of problems and I don’t feel it reasonable or appropriate to repeat them here, suffice to say Gar and I didn’t even stay for the closing ceremony on the Sunday, choosing instead to attend the workshop we had been looking forward to the most before packing up and leaving. Unlike previous years, we couldn’t wait to get back home, away from the disappointment, the heartbreak and frustration. I felt utterly betrayed by one party in particular and that the attendees had been badly wronged. The festival I had hoped would help bring me back to myself after the last nine very stressful months fell far short of my hopes and dreams for it.

This past weekend was an antidote to that terrible weekend. It was what the festival in 2014 had been to me – a decompression, a chance to return to myself and a chance to just BE. I could let my guard down, smile freely, laugh as loudly as I liked and sing as badly as I wanted all accompanied by songbirds, crows with unusual repertoires and the cool breeze through the treetops.

It was a weekend spent with people I care for deeply and feel at home with. A chance to see them smile and laugh and to count shooting stars with them. It was a weekend spent in nature with no access to a laptop and limited mobile phone coverage. We fell asleep to the wind, woke up to birdsong. The blazing sunshine of an autumn afternoon left its pink memory on my face and chest. We saw donkeys and alpacas. I fed a goat. We briefly considered archery. I got to ride in Chewie’s new car (and all I want for Christmas this year is 15 minutes alone with his car and a dry, disused runway!).

This weekend was more than just a fun weekend with friends. It was a cleansing and a renewal.

Thank you guys, for a while there, I was worried I had been truly lost.

Love you.

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