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Rediscovering Paradise: A Return to Tranquility in the Heart of Nature

Written by  Apr 21, 2024

If something is worth seeing, it is worth seeing twice. “It is absolutely perfect, what a gem,” said my wife as we arrived at our base for the long weekend away.

So, you may recall that at the beginning of March I had escaped to a small stone house in the middle of nowhere across the border in Herzegovina. That time I had come to complete a massive translation job I had with the Croatian Mountain Rescue Service. This time, I had come for a break with my wife and two dogs.

And what a difference a month and a half had made, what was before brown and withered was now green and budding. Spring had arrived in full force.

Clearly this little stone home had been just a simple barn in a former life, but creativity and what seems like a great deal of hard work have transformed it into what looks like a villa in Tuscany or Provence.

Why do people travel half way around the world when we have this on our doorstep?” said my wife.

I had decided to have a little break before the real slog of the tourist season starts, to charge our batteries to 100 percent. And there is no better way to recharge than to get back to nature.

There was an added bonus that I avoided the last weekend of the bombard of political promises, well maybe not so much promises, more like proposals, or maybe just ideas. Politicians the world over all the same, Croatia isn’t unique. From Trump and “build the wall and the Mexicans will pay,” to UK Prime Minister Chamberlain declaring “peace in our time,” a year before Nazi Germany invaded Poland.

So back to my French Gîte in the wilderness of BiH.

You know that famous saying about real estate that the three most important things are location, location and location, well the same is true for a holiday house. “I feel like I have been here for a week,” said my wife with a smile on only our second day of four. That’s the sign that you are in the right location, when you are immediately relaxed. And she was right, I was in holiday mode after just a few hours.

We had swapped the glinting waves of the Adriatic for the emerald waves of endless grass fields.

Now some people have a small herb garden at home, sometimes it’s just a window box or maybe a small patch in the garden. Well, this stone retreat has a rather larger version. It is basically a house in an herb garden. To be more precise around 6 hectares of various smells, colours and shades. From rosemary to sage and lavender, an explosion of aromas. But the aroma I liked the most had four legs.

Without doubt my favourite cuisine is Indian, the strong and rich flavours are heaven for my taste buds. So imagine my delight when my dogs came back from a run in the fields and with them came a wave of curry.

“I didn’t like I could love my dogs any more, but now they smell like curry I do,” I laughed with my wife. A yellow flowered plant that was hiding in the rosemary, apparently known as the curry plant, and for good reason. I had a Vindaloo smelling Croatian sheepdog and another one that reminded me of Chicken Tikka Masala. I was constantly hungry. Every time they charged in the door I thought I had ordered something from an Indian takeaway.

“Why don’t we come here again when the summer finishes?” asked my wife, who had clearly been bitten by the bug of her calming surroundings. “I guess we probably will,” I answered.

You just can’t get enough of a good thing.

Who needs TV, mobile phone signal and all of the other distractions of modern life when you can get back to basics and reconnect with nature.

"My wish is to stay always like this, living quietly in a corner of nature," once wrote Claude Monet. We have found our corner.

Read more Englishman in Dubrovnik…well, if you really want to

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About the author
Mark Thomas (aka Englez u Dubrovniku) is the editor of The Dubrovnik Times. He was born and educated in the UK and moved to live in Dubrovnik in 1998. He works across a whole range of media, from a daily radio show to TV and in print. Thomas is fluent in Croatian and this column is available in Croatia on the website – Dubrovnik Vjesnik

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