My wife and I are lucky enough to own a second home in France, in the Pays D’Oc. Hopefully, when we fully retire, it will be our main, if not only home. At the moment, I get to spend much less time there than I would like, but since I semi-retired this academic year, the frequency of my visits has increased.
I have just finished a two-week spell there, not on holiday, but working from home, five days of which were spent working on a field skills handbook with two former colleagues of mine from Imperial College who used to help me run our two-week long final year Biodiversity & Conservation Field Course. We have been working on this book for more than six years but to say that progress had been snail-like would be an exaggeration, glacial would be a better description.
Being away from our respective campuses, and the day-to-day academic trivia, meant that we were able to concentrate fully on the task at hand. We made incredible progress, and that was despite being connected to the internet and having access to Skype and email. We now, in just five days and with very relaxed lunch-times, have a pretty good skeleton to show our prospective publisher. A proper retreat works wonders; I can thoroughly recommend it. It would be great if I could persuade my Head of Department to fund an official retreat for me and some of my colleagues to get together to write papers and grant proposals. It would definitely repay itself in increased grant income 🙂
The authors, looking relaxed but thinking hard.
The location certainly helps, with an office window view like this, who can help but be inspired 😊
The view from my office
In fact, I was so inspired I turned to verse.
Sends ants scuttling to their nest.
Seeds await the wind
Ants, sensing distant thunder,
Scuttle to their nest,
While seeds pods wait for the wind