This week, I resurrected nights out at Bodega, caught the Cathedral lights show and made a couple of mates in the two days I had in Reims before my UK trip. By Wednesday I was beginning to wonder just why I’d been so anxious about making new friends in Reims, having spent two nights discussing anything from a Brazilian politics to the merits of Mormons over both coffee and wine. It blows my mind just how quickly you can go from saying hello to committing to splitting a bottle of wine to making full blown plans to share a 7 person tent at Oktoberfest with someone you met two days ago. I guess that’s the beauty of exchange.
In between socializing, I kept busy at my favourite place (Carrefour) and my second favorite place (my flat) making sure I had everything I needed for when I jetted off to the UK. The plan was simple but genius: not only would I skip Orientation Week – compulsory for everyone but me who had gone through it last semester – but I would also get to spend time with Rosie. I’d spontaneously booked a week in England with nothing but the promise of a bed at Rosie’s family home and vague mentions of a nearby beach. It was going to be awesome.
I arrived late on Thursday with one bag and a box of Ladurée macarons for Rosie’s parents as a thank you for putting me up. Within minutes I had been signed up for porridge for brekkie the next morning (and as I would later find out every morning that I stayed with them).
So followed three days of bliss. On Friday we walked across Dartmoor before meeting Rosie’s parents and sister for lunch at Chagford. I’ve honestly never met a family who laugh so much together – which became evident as we wandered around the small town trying on anything from fur hats to thigh high Wellington boots. That night we played cards (I won), drank hot chocolate and had a spontaneous swim with a local seal (unintentionally).
Saturday was something straight out of About Time. We picked Gran up for breakfast (I don’t think I called her anything else) and then packed into two cars down to the family beach hut. Paddle boarding, swimming and rock pooling was broken up by lunch (bought from the beach cafe that all four siblings had worked at as teenagers) and what seems like the Bennett family’s signature dessert: ice cream. That evening we drove round to Shaldon in time for the Regatta. As someone who grew up in a rowing school, I expected fierce competition, but we arrived to find the tug-of-war in full swing running simultaneously with the King Canute competition. Kids (and their enthusiastic parents) lined the shore in an epic sandcastle building showdown, where a judging panel awarded points for size, decoration and sturdiness.
On Sunday we woke up, exhausted from a day spent in sea air. Somehow, we made it to the gym for a workout that brought out my climbing blisters – thank you rowing machines – before returning just in time to say goodbye Rosie’s sister Holly. We had planned to go for a long walk in the wet weather followed by a Sunday Roast, but by the time we had picked up Bobbi and Dom, lunch without the work seemed a lot more appealing. I have never in my life been served as much meat as was placed on the table in front of us. It’s safe to say I spent the rest of the day in a food coma while I helped Rosie pack for her new job. Sunday night found us once again at the pub, doing what all twenty-somethings do: eating dessert and playing cards.
Below are some pics of the week, but keep an eye out for my photo diary which will be up soon!