I found the withdrawal difficult for the first two days but then I spent long periods forgetting that the internet exists.
And, as much as I love the internet, this was a Very Good Thing.
But nothing personal, you understand.
2. Jacques Demy was a genius. Not only did he make mind-bendingly beautiful The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) but -- thanks to Arte -- we can also report that his The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967) is just the thing for getting into that summer vacation state of mind.
Just take a look:
I mean, really: what more do you want?
3. Beaches are a wonderful invention. One has a very different outlook on life when, well, the outlook is like this.
And when the most exciting thing that happens all week is the occasional docking of a dredger, you can be reasonably sure that you’re achieving the right level of relaxation.
(Sharp eyes will note that this vessel is the brilliantly named ‘Britannia Beaver’. Further comment, I think, would be superfluous)
4. Reading is a joy. This may seem obvious; however, I mean 'reading' in the sense of ‘reading something from beginning to end for the pure enjoyment of doing so and being able to linger over the better parts for as long as you like while pleasantly lost in thought’ and not, ‘desperately skimming a book or article to get what I need out of it in the shortest time possible.’
I (and we) spend a lot of time doing the latter and not nearly enough doing the former.
And they are very different experiences.
The joy is only increased by being able to focus on beautiful prose, of course, and I thank Erich Kästner, Ian McEwan and Thomas Mann for providing it.
(And, in Herr Mann’s case, in such enormous quantities: Buddenbrooks is pretty epic, and its German – parts of which are in local dialect or a bit archaic or both – is not the easiest for a non-native speaker used to humbler fare. However, it’s a gripping read, both deeply moving and very, very funny. I’m now encouraged to take on Magic Mountain: any advice? For those of you who're looking more simple -- but still beautifully written -- German reading, I can't recommend Erich Kästner's Emil books too highly. They're meant for children, apparently, but I found them to be a delight.)
Finally: The French, in their creativity, civilisation and love of state-supported civic life, have managed to combine point #3 and point #4 by putting libraries on the beach.
How awesome, dear reader, is France!?