I've just spent a very Slow, peaceful hour sitting in the garden in complete darkness. It was warm, but not silent: the rhythmic sounds of crickets (grilloux), grasshoppers, bushcrickets and the occasional insomniac cicada filled the air along with owl calls and the usual unidentified scrapings and scufflings of Grillou at night. It was the perfect end-of-day retreat, better than the best chill-out music.
I had an email from Carl Honoré this afternoon. Not that I know the guy personally, you understand (Carl, in case you've not encountered him, is the author of the book In Praise of Slow) - we've only ever exchanged a couple of emails - but I've been a member of Slow Planet since its inception. The email was announcing the 'first-ever' Slow Retreat, programmed to take place in Umbria this coming October: a week in a delicious looking farmhouse offering the chance to "explore and experience the ideas behind the book that defined the international Slow Movement with the author himself; a chance to connect with your inner tortoise, reset your metronome and reinvent your life". Sounds good ... and only £1299, too. Hmmm. Clearly you need to be pretty wealthy to be Slow (for most households around here, ours included, that represents over a month's income ...).
Readers who've kept up to date with our plans for Grillou, and who dip into our 'proper' website from time to time, will know that for several months we've been planning to offer Slow Retreats here. And indeed we shall do so, though they'll cost you considerably less than £1299. (But there again you won't get a famous author as your mentor - just yourselves, and us, and of course Grillou, which could probably do the business all on its own ...). In case this is all news to you, here's the blurb:
"For people who want to take some time out and discover for themselves how to live more Slowly, we'll be offering Slow Retreats, periods of three or four days during which we'll explore our own relationship with time, and practice the art of slowing down. Good (Slow!) Food and wine, simple meditation practices, Slow Walks and play will form the core of these retreats, with plenty of time for reflection and space simply to be in Grillou's bucolic surroundings. This is a retreat to lift the spirit and (re)discover life's slow and simple pleasures, not one for existential angst or self-flagellation ... but beware, it might just change your life!"
End of Shameless Plug Number 654 ....