Saturday, 6 July 2019

Living as if we were on holiday

When my twins, who are now nearly thirty-six, were just a few months old, our family went to Spring Harvest. We were Grandma and Granddad, Rosie who was four, Buzzfloyd who was two-and-a-half, me, and their Dad. 

Unlike many big Christian gatherings, Spring Harvest is neither in a hotel nor under canvas. It happens at a Butlins camp, where people stay in chalets like this.

Or this.

The grassy spaces between the chalets are open and safe for kiddies to play, and though there are roads, cars only creep through slowly and occasionally. There's an adventure playground and a swimming pool, a grocery store and places to eat.

Inside, the chalets might be this kind of layout:

— with bedroom decor maybe something like this:

— and the family room and kitchen areas being this sort of thing:

Simple, comfortable, basic and unpretentious. The kitchens have a fridge, cooker, kettle, probably a microwave these days, and some saucepans, utensils, crockery, cutlery etc.

Spring Harvest lasts for five days. After we'd been there three or four days, I began to wonder why we had all the clobber we did, back at home. The chalet wasn't big, and should have been cramped for space, but it was fine because we'd only brought what would fit in the car. We didn't have as many implements in the kitchen as we had at home — but that didn't matter, we got along perfectly well without them.

I felt a deep, powerful, groundswell of longing to get rid of all our bits and pieces and live just the same as in the chalet, after we went home.

Back then, I assumed I was just being silly, and suppressed the idea. But it never quite went away.

Because England is definitely a four-season country, I have more clothes than I could fit in a suitcase. We also have some kitchen items — a juicer and a water distiller, for example — that were very expensive and we do use them. Then there are things like paint brushes and garden tools that we need, because we are our own grounds staff.

So — for the moment — it doesn't seem realistic to pare down to having as little as we had in the chalet. 

But I am slowly, little by little, inching in that direction. And the electronic revolution is a big help. In the 1980s when we went to Spring Harvest, the record player we left at home looked similar to this (we had that same gas fire, too):

On the record player, we played large vinyl discs:

We had lots and lots of books:

And a phone that plugged into the wall —

— plus a phone directory to remind us of our friends' numbers.

We needed a wall calendar:

And I enjoyed taking photos with our camera:

We had a radio with an integral cassette player:

— a calculator:

— a torch:

— an alarm clock

Some people had watches, but I never did. I can't wear rings or bracelets or necklaces or watches because of their forcefield. I stop watches.

Now, all these things — music, torch, camera, calendar and diary etc, and the reminders that once had to be left prominently displayed on bits of paper — are in my phone, my books are for the most part in my Kindle, and I can watch TV on my MacBook (without disturbing anyone else). I enjoy Sudoku and playing cards and crosswords: but I can do these electronically. The stack of books I used to have beside me to write a book or a sermon has greatly increased, because I have access to so many more. But they're all invisible, open inside my computer. And as the day ends, I don't have to turn the light on to go on reading, and chase away the beautiful shadows of evening. I have a bedside lamp, because it's nice to have a glow of warm ambient light, but really I only need one, because it charges with a USB jack, so I can carry it to where I need it to be. I do also have a powerful angled light for seeing difficult things — sewing, maybe — because my eyes are getting old. But that folds down and sits neatly in a corner, and charges from a USB jack so I can use it anywhere.

All these inventions are helping me patiently stalk chalet-life, the simple, basic, bare essentials kit of someone who is on holiday. Every day I discover something else I no longer need.

There's a song about this. 


greta said...

could you explain a bit more about your 'forcefield' issues? one of my daughters seems to have the same thing but we've never understood what's going on with that.

Pen Wilcock said...

It's electrical in some way. When my children went to school in the morning, I used to give them a kiss goodbye, but I had to stop kissing Alice because we always gave each other electric shocks! I remember I used to get electric shocks from the metal handrail on the stairs in our University library when I was an undergraduate back in the 70s. One time, I was trying to but a bra and had to give up because the display stands kept giving me shocks.
If I wear a metal bracelet or necklace, it gives me a really terrible feeling. It's not a pain but it's like a pain — a strong, powerful, unpleasant, heavy, deep, dragging feeling like a force. I'm okay with earrings — I suppose because they don't encircle anything. I have a bangle I absolutely love that one of my daughters gave me when she was only little, so I treasure it but I keep it on my altar. I used to be able to wear a wedding ring, but that started giving me problems too, so I keep that on my altar too. Watches I *cannot* wear. They set up that terrible feeling; and I stop them, too — they just stop working. I've sometimes tried to wear necklaces/watches/bracelets just because I thought I must be able to overcome this, but after a few minutes I have to take them off. I've also tried wearing something like a wooden cross on a leather cord, which is okay-ish if it's really lightweight, but I start to get the dragging feeling where the cord touches my spine — and that doesn't even involve metal so doesn't make sense at all.

Suzan said...

Pen I understand. Years ago my ex threw out my jewellery. It was replaced with some heavier pieces and far less. Anyway I cannot wait to take it off when I wear it. I used to not wear my wedding band because my skin blisters and wept. I have a beautiful cross my father bought me and the chain it is on cuts my skin.

We are currently in the town of Hobart, Tasmania. Much slower than my hometown. I am suffering badly from my allergies here and feel quite awful.It isn't very big but this morning my daughter and I walked to a church to find it locked well before midday. I used to go to a camping ground that was then sublet to another denomination and all of a sudden our holiday spot was not allowed to us anymore. Pretty sad as I miss those days.

God bless your Sunday.

Pen Wilcock said...

Gosh, that sounds like a frightful day! I hope you soon feel better. x

Jenna said...

Ah--the camera. Did it have the little cube that flicked about for flash? :) And I still use a stand-alone calculator that I've had since my 36yo kid was a little boy, that went along on market days to keep to budget.

Pen Wilcock said...

I remember those cameras! I don't think ours had the little cube — I think we had the more basic sort, and in the 80s I seem to recall we a disposable cameras where you just sent the whole thing in to be processed and went back to pick up the photos.

greta said...

you are correct - it IS electrical but i still don't understand why some of us have this. my daughter and i can feel electrical currents that others cannot. we also shock ourselves frequently, can't wear jewellery and don't like anything around our necks (even those wooden crosses on cords!) who knows?

Pen Wilcock said...

Odd, isn't it? I've read it also happens to people who've had near-death experiences, to do with electro-magnetism, apparently. There are some books about it. There's one (I haven't read it, mixed reviews) by Robert Becker called "The Body Electric: Electromagnetism and The Foundation of Life", and the book called "Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever!" looks interesting, too.

Julie B. said...

This was fun to read. I remember going to Disneyland when I was a little girl (at least a yearly occurrence), and at "the building of the future" or something like that, they had fake phones with push buttons on them, and people could line up to try them, to see what it would be like to pick up a receiver and punch in a number instead of dial it. Because dialing took 15 seconds, which apparently was way too much time. I remember punching in our home number in 5 seconds, and turning around to look at my dad like,"Can you believe it?!? How amazing would this be?!" It was years later before push button phones were the norm, and when I got my first one I thought it was pretty special. :)

Pen Wilcock said...

Oh yes, I suppose the push-buttons did speed things up. I didn't like the way they gathered inaccessible dirt (as also do the knobs on the front of our cooker). The silicon keyboard covers that stop the grunge accumulating offer an important inventional accessory, IMO.