I am on a volcanic island off Senegal. Barring an airport, a couple of small towns and our hotel there’s not much here. There are no native mammals except the bat which presumably got here under its own steam. It’s pretty quiet.
So I am going without my daily internet fix for two weeks. The hotel does offer wifi but we have decided not to subscribe as an interesting experiment and to keep the children off it. Usually I would check Facebook and emails as my early morning coffee brews and then be on and off the internet throughout the day. I am curious to discover how I fare without it.
I turn my phone off on the plane knowing that my check in at Manchester Airport will be the last for a fortnight. Seven hours later I arrive at our hotel. It is beautiful – a cross between an Arabian palace and an elaborate sandcastle raising majestically from the dunes. I can see and hear the Atlantic from my veranda but I have to keep that to myself. I think of the photos that I can post on my return. I wonder how ‘A’ level results day is going and hope that everyone has what they need. I cannot check. I miss my Dragonvale dragons.
As I walk through the hotel reception I see a girl sitting in the wifi zone tapping on her laptop. I could just subscribe and log on for a few minutes. I don’t. In the evening the sky is clear and dark. The stars are bright, far more numerous than at home and I see constellations that I don’t recognise. I could look them up but I need a wifi connection to pinpoint my location on Star Walk. I decide to draw the patterns instead and check when I get home. I miss my dragons.
Today, somewhat inexplicably, I begin to sing ‘My Brother’ by Terry Scott, a song that has not crossed my consciousness for at least three decades. Had I been at home, I would have found it on You Tube and shown the kids who would have feigned interest and then scoffed at it behind my back. Perhaps the internet is not as life enhancing as I’d thought! I do miss my dragons though.
Today I wonder about tides. What is vital on the shores of England seems not to matter anywhere else. I remember childhood holidays at home spent poring over tide tables to make sure that trips were properly timed. Such things seem to have no relevance anywhere but Britain. If your towel is dry at the beginning of the day so will it be at the end. Why is that? Had I been within striking distance of the internet, I would have plugged the gaps in my meagre knowledge with a quick google search. As it is, the world’s tidal systems remain as mysterious to me as they were to those who wrote ‘There be dragons’ on maps to signify places not yet discovered. Talking of dragons I hardly missed them at all today.
What is the average number of children per family? It certainly isn’t 2.4 any more. On this international little outcrop of rock the Clarks seem to up the average considerably. The only large groups contain more adults than children and there are a surprisingly high number of families with just one child who tags along after its parents looking bored. Is this breeding pattern common in the rest of the holidaying world then? Whilst no one bats an eyelid at four children in Ilkley, here we seem to be not just bucking the trend but kicking it firmly in the teeth. But I can’t look the figures up. No internet you see.
Today I have a penchant for a cup of tea made properly with freshly boiled water and served in a bone china cup with a saucer. The bone china bit is, I suspect, an affectation brought on by a combination of the heat and my reading material. I seem to think I am in the Raj and should be floating about in white linen and taking tea on the lawn. I don’t even have a bone china tea cup and saucer at home (although I could probably muster a decent coffee cup.) Had this thought occurred to me when not internetless, I would have found my way on to the John Lewis website and wasted 15 minutes choosing myself a new tea service after which I would have promptly forgotten the whole idea and made myself a decent cuppa in a mug. I have no internet so such pretensions will have to see if they survive my unreliable memory and wait until my return.
There are hardly any birds here which is strange. There are lots of noisy little sparrow types which chirrup loudly and stage daring raids on my breakfast table but other than those I’ve seen three crows, a single gull and a large and intriguingly brindled feather. I am used to tropical climes bringing exotic species into my world but here the skies are empty. I am certain that this island is not that remote but we don’t seem to be on their flightpath. Perhaps they don’t come because there’s nothing for them here but toast crumbs? I will look it up – when I get home.
Home tomorrow. As usual, I am not quite ready to return to real life and could happily stay for another few days but I am looking forward to having my computer back. It has been wonderful spending a fortnight with my family and no on else, having all my household tasks undertaken for me and spending most of my time reading but it can’t last forever. It’s not so much that I haven’t missed the internet. It’s more that it has no place for me here. Apart from the odd question that has had to go unanswered, I have not felt the need to log on whilst here in paradise but at home things are different. Life is busy and hectic and at times quite dull and the internet makes things simpler, quicker and sometimes just more fun.
So my conclusion? Pleasingly, I do seem to be able to function without updating my status three times a day and my dragons won’t have died without me but as soon as I get home you can expect to see my internet presence renewed because these days it is just part of who I am.