De France!

Having recently completed my Master’s degree in Ethnobotany, and with a craving to be on the move again, I have decided to explore rural France through the power of WWOOFing.com. I begin this blog from a sofa bed in my friends’ apartment in Wandsworth, having just eaten a last English supper of (vegetarian) bangers and mash with onion gravy. In the morning I’ll be starting the 22 hour journey to Valence, then on to Vallon Pont D’Arc in the south of France. I’m flying (actually bussing) solo this time, which I’m not at all unhappy about; company can be great but right now I’m happy to do just what I fancy with no one else to worry about and only my own expectations and desires to fulfil! Besides, solo travelling is a great way to meet new people, and I’m sure I shall become acquainted with some interesting characters  over the next few months!

So, what is this blog about? Well, I’m not entirely sure. As those of who know me are aware, my main passions are travel, ethnobotany, and goats (not necessarily in that order), so the new blog is likely to be an eclectic mix of posts about organic farming, plants, food, drink, culture, outdoor activities, and my favourite four-legged creatures. My first stop is Vallons Pont D’Arc, in the Ardeche region of southern France, where I’ll work for a month or so on an organic, family-run olive farm in the department of Drôme. I can’t wait to post pictures of this farm, it’s so stunning, set up in the mountains at the threshold of les gorges de l’Ardèche. I’ll be helping to pick the olives as well as process them into olive oil, and I’m looking forward to exploring the local farmers markets for local cheeses, liqueurs, chestnuts and other regional products as well. I’ve heard about an olive festival that happens in the town so I really hope my sources are accurate and that I get to take part in that!

I’m a little disconcerted that my hosts haven’t responded to my last two emails, but they seem to have intermittent internet access and I’ve got a mobile number to call when I arrive on Tuesday so I’m trusting that someone will come to pick me up when I get there! There’ll just be my host family, myself and one other WWOOFer working on the harvest and olive oil production, and I’ll be eating and sleeping in the family’s home. I’m looking forward to entering in to the life of the farm and the local town, and immersing myself in the French language (with the help of a GCSE revision guide and a Collins English-French pocket dictionary).

All that’s between me and that picturesque little farm is a tube, a bus, three hours in Paris, another bus, a train, and hopefully a car ride if someone shows up to get me! Armed with a bag of snacks, a couple of books, and a pillow I picked up from the charity shop today, I shall embark on my voyage with a great deal of excitement and a little apprehension, and will endeavour to post an update with a picture on Tuesday!

À bientôt!

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