In my second year of uni we were advised by our tutors to spend the summer getting some work experience. I decided to get some life experience instead, and spent a long, glorious summer living in the south of France, surrounded by families who knew very little English.
It was quite an experience, and one of my favourite summers ever. Staying just outside a small village, there was nothing in the immediate vicinity, so every morning I rode an ancient bike into the nearest town to buy fresh bread for breakfast and anything else the family needed.
Mornings were spent writing, drawing and making pretty things. I was just a little obsessed with beaded animals at the time, and spent many hours creating tiny butterflies from rocailles and bugles. One morning, while beading in the garden, I was kindly informed by a local artist that there was to be a craft fair in the town centre the next weekend, and that I should set up a little table selling my beaded butterflies and some bracelets I had made. It was quite a challenge as a shy, foreign 21-year old, but once I'd got my head around the currency and money-related words, I was good to go. My French teacher would have been proud to see me selling my wares in French!
Mornings may have been for work, but afternoons were for more adventurous pursuits - canoeing in the local river, chasing tiny lizards in the garden, wading around watching kingfishers, cycling through the nearby forest on the search for butterflies, or swimming in the nearby lake.
It was absolutely incredible, and feels totally surreal thinking about it now - I had forgotten loads of it, until I found a bag of beaded butterflies in my studio a few days ago and the memories came flooding back!
How did you spend your favourite summer?