Sorry for the delay, but my wife and I were on holiday and ended up in yet another location that curtailed my Internet access. For those of you unfamiliar with our “in country” holiday routine, our time away doesn’t resemble a vacation as you might know it, it’s more like living somewhere else for a week. We rent a cottage, stop on the way there to do some grocery shopping, then settle in, arrange the place how we want it and establish a routine—all before dinner time of the first day.
The routine includes visiting nearby landmarks and beauty spots that the locals always mean to get around to visiting but never find the time, and in the evenings we carrying on much the same as we would at home, but in a different place. This time, that place was a farm.
It was a little farm—what they call a small holding here—populated by a variety of rescued animals cared for by the energetic and affable landlady. There were dogs, cats, sheep, guinea fowl, geese, three of the largest goats I have ever seen (when I first saw them, I thought they were horses) and chickens. We had never stayed in a place quite like this before, and I was pleasantly surprised at how relaxing it was to sit on the porch and watch the livestock wander about. And most surprising of all was how captivating the chickens were.
I’ve been inside chicken coups; they are noisy, malodorous and frightening places, and I never thought of a chicken as something I enjoyed the company of unless it was deep fried and on my plate. So having these inquisitive fowls strutting and clucking around me was a strangely pleasant experience. This turned out to be a good thing, because, writing wise, the week was a frustrating period of enforced slackerliness. And it wasn’t my fault: I had great plans for the week, which involved getting up at dawn (when the rooster crowed) and writing a few thousand words on the new book before the day began, but the WiFi didn’t work.
The last time we were out in that area, I was disconnected for a week, so this time we booked a cottage with WiFi, but that turned out to be worse. I was able to get on-line, the connection was fast, I could visit any web site (within reason—my wife was with me) and even stream videos. All I could not do was access my e-mail. There was no reason for this; everything else worked fine, it was just my e-mail that refused to work. So every time I logged on, I checked to see if it was working yet, and then I tried cajoling it, reloading it, sneaking up on it until I made myself so frustrated I couldn’t write. So after a few days I just shut the damn thing off and left it.
Now, another person (i.e. not me) might have resigned himself to not getting his e-mail and gotten on with the writing but, as we have already established, I am not that guy. I mean, you can’t take someone’s e-mail away and not expect them to freak out, can you.
All I can say is, thank God for the chickens. Watching them strutting around, pecking and clucking, as the evening drew in, was unexpectedly soothing, like a dose of rural valium. They each had their own personality and were each, in their own way, uniquely endearing. They were curious about us, interested in what we were doing and often seemed to be trying to communicate with their coos and clucks and meaningful looks, especially the little red one, who took a fancy to us and followed us around, even into the cottage and the car, if we weren’t careful.
This was an epiphany for me, discovering that, although I have no great regard for chickens en mass, individually I find them engaging and really quite nice. It’s sort of the way I feel about the French, though I can’t imagine they are anywhere near as tasty when introduced to the Colonel’s secret coating and dropped in hot oil.