In my day-to-day life in Brighton I had started to wonder, what life is actually all about? I was generally able to perform my days satisfactorily and get by, but I remember walking down the stairs one day and having a thought. I could either carry on going through the motions of this life for years- years and years could pass me by -or I could do something different. After that there was a growing feeling of disparity between myself and the lifestyle I was living and it didn’t go away. The gap between how I wanted things to be and how things actually were was not going away.
I know I want a vocation that I love, get satisfaction from and believe in. I want to do something with variety, were I can see through stages of a process. I want to be surrounded by people who share similar passions and interests, I want something that gives me some financial security and I want to be near people who are working towards the same kinds of ideals. It has become clearer in the last two or three years that food and farming are my key interests. For me this includes health, sustainability, positive lifestyles and wellbeing. Food is the lynchpin that holds all of this together.
I have always wanted to learn French after making a start at school and so when a friend came back from a trip to France with a leaflet about local farms I started to do some research and then suddenly I had joined WOOF France (Workers On Organic Farms) and I was booking up dates with hosts. When I found my time from August to December assigned to various farms and I hit Christmas in the diary, the reality of it surprised me and I thought I might want a break at Christmas to take stock.
I chose where possible, to approach hosts that were running businesses, rural enterprises making a living and a life from the production of organic food. I have had some experience of vegetable growing already so I decided to follow my interest in goats and arranged to stay at two goat farms that make cheese, a bee/honey business, a farm school for children (that also has goats) and I would spend the final few weeks before Christmas volunteering at a Buddhist retreat centre. I then quit my jobs moved out of my house and packed my bags. Whether it is an idea, a business plan, or an intention for the future I hoped that something from the adventure would take root for me.
Arriving somewhere alone, completely new, when you don’t speak the language after over 12 hours travelling (tubes, trains, metros and cars) is a bit like jumping into a big black hole. The only things that I had to cling onto were the arrangements I had made and email agreements I had received. But slowly things began to unfold around me and now I learn new things every day, from new French words to new details about goats the making cheese to choices in lifestyle that I discover either suit me or don’t. And I remember that this is why I am here, to learn and collect new skills and ideas that might one day mean that I can create a life that I can love.