We plug things in to give them energy:
Our phones, our computers, the TV, tablets, games consoles…but most of us have noticed that being ‘plugged in’ ourselves actually saps our energy.
There are lots of positives to the way we communicate these days. I love hearing what my friends are up to on Facebook and I love chatting about writing on twitter. I like that you can send and receive messages instantaneously and for free, it’s practical. But somehow these things can come to seem like an obligation, as though we have to be permanently plugged in so we can respond instantly, or within a couple of hours. And an obligation like that can be a burden, draining your energy.
So, since the kids school broke up early for summer because of the heatwave, I decided to give us all just a few days breather. We got in the car and drove north for about three hours, where we set up camp alongside the Hérault river in the Causses & Cévennes national park, somewhere none of us had ever been.
All gadgetry was banned (although I admit we adults did take our phones and use the cameras, we did switch off from social media). We took water pistols, notebooks, swimming costumes, colouring books and a guitar and bought some postcards to write. We also borrowed a donkey for a while.
We played Story Cubes a lot at mealtimes. If you’ve not heard of these I do recommend them, they are just little boxes of dice with pictures on, so when you throw them you have a ready made story prompt. We all loved them and it got quite competitive to see who could tell the most engaging story.
Of course we all read too, although I had taken along an optimistic stack of books – two novels and a short story collection – but in the end I only read a few chapters because of all the conversation we found ourselves having.
We could only be away for three days (which wasn’t nearly enough time to enjoy the region properly, two weeks would have been nice) as Mr King had to go off to work and we have our gîtes to look after now the school holidays have started here, so it’s not as if it was some kind of gadgetry cold turkey, but it was lovely. We all enjoyed it and no one missed the electronic games or the social media that we sometimes reach for automatically in our spare minutes.
I would love to say that when we got back the kids have turned completely feral and that Minecraft and DVDs have been forgotten, but of course they haven’t. But unplugging ourselves briefly has replenished our energy and set the tone for the two months of summer holidays that lie ahead. I recommend it.
Camp by Robert Louis Stevenson
The bed was made, the room was fit, By punctual eve the stars were lit; The air was still, the water ran, No need was there for maid or man, When we put up, my ass and I, At God’s green caravanserai.
PS: My kids had never heard the word ‘ass’ before (in this context at least), so they loved this poem…