Aplogologies for not keepin the blogue goin, but rabit has been teachin English and the start of the year is a very busy time. It is a particularly busy time when rabits is comin home from work and goin out again with pick and shovel and axe to hack his way through the ravine and make a path to work! The first couple of days after I moved into my lovely farmhouse Elca Seriu, were a a bit of a challenge.
On Monday, I got up early and headed for the path to Finestrat where I get my lift into work in a car with two other teachers. Look at the picture of the path: the stretch in the foreground seems to connect nicely with the continuation in the distance, doesn’t it? No way. For between here and there is a precipitous descent into a snake infested ravine, a barrier of thickly matted reeds and canes across the flowing stream, in the territory of the Frogs of Doom.
It was a mistake to get all ready for work on Monday, in suit and tie, wearing my best shoes, and carrying my laptop bag on my back. Having slid down most of the ravine on rough rocks and a landslide of clay, I could not find the path on the other side, having fought my way through the reeds and canes, so I had to climb up a vertical rock face. However, it is the type of loose sedimentary rock which falls apart when you grab hold of it. Consequently, it was like snakes and ladders, with the occasional plummeting back holding a rock that had come away in my hand.
All this time, of course, just like any other teacher on their way to work, I am mentally playing the timetable through in my head, just to make sure it is all properly thought through… “Year 8 English group one… aaaargh! I hope there’s not a scorpion under this loose rock… Year 8 English group 2: did I set homework? Bloody hell I’m falling…!” I pick myself up and dust off the mud and clay from my best trousers, and start climbing again. “Year 8 History: no idea what I’m teaching them: need to look at the book as soon as I get there – if I survive the journey to work – and then Free Period! Hooray if I live to see it!”
When I reached the village I was just in time, and the two teachers who give me a lift into work arrived just as I reached the commonsense tarmac of Finestrat.
“How was it then?”
“Nightmare!” I said. I explained the horrible experience while continuing to brush the mud and clay off my trousers and shoes. I was wearing a white shirt, now sopping wet withy perspiration from climbing up the ravine. We returned to the discussion of the snakes and scorpions in the ravine. It is full of wildlife. I had seen some lovely yellow frogs, but it turned out that they were bad news. Wherever you get lovely yellow frogs you also get snakes. Frogs are snake food. The ravine was a haven for snakes. Commuting to work always had its complications. Usually it was something to do with the ring road around Canterbury or trying to reach a supply teaching assignment on public transport going to a school that didn’t seem to have any buses or trains anywhere near it.
But now my journey to work had become a mixture of Indiana Jones and the Frogs of Doom and Mr Bean Tries Country Living. At the end of the day, after being dropped at the same spot in the village, I made my way back to the snake infested ravine and fought my way through the reeds and canes again to get home.
On Tuesday, I adopted a new strategy to preserve my work clothes. I left for work in cross country running clothes and trainers, with my work clothes and best shoes in the rucsack on my back. Once again I failed to find the path and had to climb the rock face. While crossing the stream, my shoes fell out of my bag into the water.
The girls in the car were very amused. “More Mr Bean that Indiana Jones today then?” they joked.
“I’ll try to do better on the way home,” I said.
Indeed it was more Indiana Jones on the way home. I met a man wielding a machete coming straight towards me through the reeds and canes in the snake infested ravine. For a moment, I thought this was the end for Indiana Rabit. The Frogs of Doom would be eating my body before nightfall. However, it turned out to be the man that my landlord had sent down to clear the path, as I had said I would only rent the farmhouse if the old path to Finestrat was usable, for it is twice as far on the winding tarmac road and I have no car.
I helped with the work of clearing the path until nightfall and the job was completed.
On Wednesday morning I set off for work and confidently found my way through the ravine, effortlessly past the Frogs of Doom, and made it to my lift in good time, with just minimal clay on my work shoes, and no longer perspiring from a mountaineering expedition in the ravine.
Now it is a pleasant twenty minute walk. Part of it follows the gently babbling water of an irrigation channel, then plunging into the ravine I cross the stream, climb up the steep path the other side, and along a road to the village. It has become a rather relaxing walk, either at the beginning of the day, thinking about the lessons ahead; or at the end of the day, winding down and thinking about cold beer and supper.
Commuting to work could not be more pleasant than a walk through the territory of the Frogs of Doom.