All fine travelling alone, but bloody frustrating at times.

Am all good with the travelling solo thing, really I am.  I do it all the time.

The thing is, I do it to familiar places, places I know well.  Get on the train, or the plane and find myself in surroundings of before.  Got it down pat.

The problem is, and you may find this, is when I want to go somewhere and have never been before. If it is in a city, that’s fine, can just Google and deal with the itinerary – cities are friendly places.  Today I thought, maybe I should go to Lisbon and I have no problem with this.  There are many itineraries and bits of advice about Lisbon.

About to go to South Africa again.  Really have my heart set on a few days in the Cederberg mountains, a place I have never been before.  Turns out, this was no easy feat in the planning of it.  No-one seems to have any idea of a woman travelling alone to the area.  The hotels, the hikes, the road maps – nothing seemed conducive to a woman travelling alone.

For sure, if I had won the Lotto, would go straight to Bushmanskloof.  This amazing, five star haven would solve it all.  Game drives, gorgeous accommodation, luxury spa – who would want for more?  But expensive. A little too much for me, so what else I thought was on offer?

There are a few places in the accommodation field, but I know nothing of them.  Would I be safe?  Would I be able to travel on my own? Would my little hired car get me around to the wonderful sights?  I just could not work it out. There are tours, a guided tour with a guide for three days, just me and the guide in a chalet which did not, quite appeal. Oh dear. Am I just being a softy, scaredy cat or should I blow caution to the wind on this one?  If I had someone else, somehow it seemed a better deal.  But I don’t.

So what am I saying here?  Travelling solo is possible.  It’s invigorating and life changing and I have seen the most incredible places, I knew, would be ok to do on my own.  But the unknown destinations still worry me a bit. Am I seeking for another sole traveller’s notes on this? Should I just go and do it? I don’t know.

For some, and I know many women who have travelled to India, Australia, America and the more unknown places, I salute them. Europe has been my solo travelling space to date. I know her well, she is friendly and accessible.  I could go to Croatia, Lisbon, Rome, Paris and anywhere else with total abandon, but when it comes to Africa … my birthplace … my desire to have a road trip of note … is a little worrying. Have I read too many stories, am I just being paranoid? And it not Africa, or South Africa, would I do it to other destinations I have not travelled before? Does it make me feel whatever? Have not done these trips before on my own, now recently on my own.

So I google forever for advice on travelling solo to places I have not been before.  I am the master of European travel and can advise you on most of it – but I want to do something else now, and find myself questioning the solo travel thing.  Like Namibia – would love to go there but on my own? Help me if you know.

In the meantime I am still going to South Africa. I still want to do a road trip to the Cederberg Mountains, through the Karoo and down to Durban – am I going to do it, who knows?  Why do I hesitate to travel, on my own to places unknown?

It is not about being alone. And travelling.  And spending nights in different places.  It is about my safety, and who will help me along the way. New territory for me – and then again, if I have to wait for someone to travel with, it could be me with cobwebs growing from my scalp – so let’s just say, scary or not, I am up for it, maybe I am the one to be the pioneer in this.

If you are a solo traveller, tell me about it. When you plan a trip – do you go for it, or plan it carefully, being alone, being a solo traveller? And if so, how brave are you in doing this? Would love to know.

Image Pintrest

The power of ‘pause’.

‘A woman who cuts her hair, is about to change her life.’

Coco Chanel

Thought about it. Many times.  The long tresses (wild as they are at times) must go. The new me, the different me … the going to look like a Daisy de Melker, me. For those who don’t know Daisy de Melker, she poisoned her husbands (no comment) and died for doing so, but the hairdo was way more scarier than the act. I don’t want to look like Daisy de Melker.

So I am staying with the ‘Donna’ from ‘Mama Mia/Meryl Streep look for a while. The look would be more fitting in a beach scene, but London will have to do.  Anyway, I digress.

The truth is, I have been trapezing my life since ‘La Divorce.’ Deer in the headlights syndrome. Where to, what to do, how to cope … blah, blah and all that.  Darling gone said … let’s divorce so we can get on with our lives.  Say what?  Come again ? Start again, carrying on with what, where and how, was my mantra following the leaving. You know about that, we poor souls who suffer from the famous ‘gray divorce’ syndrome.

Anyhow, in all the turmoil that ensued, I planned so much, and did so little.

Stange thing was, my home, was him … so how to find the home again?  Some do, some like me, just go awol on the world for awhile and imagine all sorts of things … and do so little in the PTSD bolthole.

Anyway, it so happens that the other night, after much coaxing to get out and meet other people, I met a bunch of incredible women who have had it far worse than me.  I mean, far, far worse.  Endling up homeless, mental breakdown and living on the smell of an oil rag, and I came home and thought … whoa, stop and just, well, stop.

Pause.

Frigging pause.

The story does not end here.  And you are the writer of this.  It may be tough but before giving up and playing Camille, just decide not to decide for a moment.  Just breathe. Pause, and breathe.

Take pen to paper.  Work out your living expenses.  If you have a roof over your head and can stay there, tick.  A job, or a career that pays the bills, stick with it for a while, even if you hate it … just cover the basics and tick the box. If you are healthy and appreciate getting up in the morning, good. Friends, sure. Plans, totally, but to get there, this is the plan.  You pause first and do the domestics.  Then you plan, like the swan who glides on the top of the water and paddles like the devil underneath. Looking good, this pausing thing because you are catching up on the chaos that is your life, but not letting it define your life.  How your life is going to be.  You are pausing to plan.

I was going to sell the little I had, run away to who knows where and become the most successful something ever.  Just wanted to cut the ties and get away.  And I was the one who was going to suffer for it. Spring chicken, not so this has to be taken into account, hate to say it. The overwhelming urge to prove I could survive, make a new start, be fabulous, was exhausting.

Not cutting the hair.  Not changing the status quo for now, but pausing.  And planning on my own terms, at my own pace, in my own world with my own dreams.  Maybe for the first time.

If you feel manic driven by the trauma of being in Silver Street, in your job, a relationship, empty nest syndrome, widowed, single all of a sudden,  grief over parents and feeling, oh so ever abandoned and fearful of the future, pause. Quiet those fears and literally stop to smell the now, the everyday.  And then you begin the planning, from a stronger point of view, with your self intact and your heart in the right place.

Truth be told, still not ‘getting on with my life’ thank you very much.  But getting on and it is my life – so watch this space.  I am in pausing mode but this panther will be ready to spring before you can blink your eyes.

Without cutting the hair.  So you will have to look for other signs … but we wil reveal when we are ready. Not so?

Images Pintrest

 

 

Where do you go to my lovely, when your’e alone in your bed …

‘Where do you go to my lovely, when your’e alone in your bed. Tell me the thoughts that surround you, I want to look into your head.’

Peter Sarstedt

You have done well my friend.  Smiled all day, laughed at the right times, demure when it needed to be.  Active and organised. Planning and dates in the diary.  And when night falls, and sleep escapes … what thoughts run through your head?

Heath Ledger said: ‘ I think the most common cause of insomnia is simple.  It’s loneliness.’ If you are alone, or not. Your are alone with your thoughts in the middle of the night. When you cannot sleep.

It matters not what your age is – being alone in the middle of the night is not exclusive to age, it just is.  Single, widowed, divorced, or lying next to someone who does not understand or fulfil your needs, or does, makes those hours of the night the time the mind will not rest.

Some take sleeping pills to fall asleep.  Some, as the stereotype goes, drink wine to help them fall asleep.  Sleep will not come. You are entirely alone with your thoughts and those keep racing through your head.  Endlessly, unceasingly, flipping back and forth like a dingy on the open sea, tossing relentlessly.

Thoughts you had not even thought of for ages.  A party in your brain. Ghosts of past, gremlins of present, plans made, plans scuppered, people come and gone, places visited, memories that are the making of you – all jumbled up and as you turn, determined to let them go, they follow you.  Insomnia is a unhappy guest.

I hear the foxes outside.  The bus going by.  Drink tea. Tired, exhausted, yes, sleep coming, not a chance. So where do you go to my lovely, when you are alone in your bed?

I go home.  To backyard peach trees and swimming in dams. To party dresses, candles and Christmas.  The mind sweeps to lovers whose faces one wants to touch again, bicycles, running without thinking, stubbing toes.  To parents gone and the aching that follows – breakfasts and fires on the farm. To road trips and business plans, to bridal gowns and interviews.  From nowhere sweeps the fear of the future, the nostalgia of the past.  Puppies and Old Year’s Eve. Birth. The Tooth fairy and picking lemons in the garden. Of dinner parties, shopping trips, beaches and mountain trails. Of blowing candles, decorating and entertaining. Of flights, of fancies, or growing up.

Making love, and losing love.

Insomnia has no timeline.

It all comes together in one, fell swoop that is your life.

It is the window, the orchestra of you in the middle of the night.

The loneliest you will ever be, is with your thoughts in the middle of the night.

It is a good thing.  Despite the knowing you are going to feel like death the next day, it is the one time you get to be with you, in your goodness, your faults, your mistakes and your acceptance that is, is.  It is what it is.  And only you can take all these myriad of thoughts and feelings and put them in perspective.  The chance to not fear the lack of sleep, but delve into the world that is you, and accept.  And make it better.

I hardly sleep. It does not worry me for I go the places that I had forgotten and loved, it reminds me of all the little things that are the making of me, the undoing and doing of me and how I, in this Silver Street time, will embrace the thoughts and go forward, for I am not done.  I am not undone.  I am taking this lack of sleep, the dark hours between dusk and dawn, and saying, so … it’s ok, I will live.  And I will gather the threads.

It is a lonely time, insomnia. It may just be the best time, really.

I will not sleep, but I will dream for more.

So where do you go to my lovely, when your’e alone in your bed.  Tell me the thoughts that surround you … they will tell you a story of you that is amazing.

I will make it happen.  Tomorrow. Tomorrow I will go home.  And home, is me.

Image: Pintrest

 

 

Wistful, wonderful Hyde Park.

“It came to me that Hyde Park has never belonged to London – that it has always been , in spirit, a stretch of countryside; and that it links the Londons of all periods together most magically – by remaining forever unchanged at the heart of a ever-changing town.”  Dodi Smith, ‘I Capture a Castle’

My ‘Litchfield Angel’ is blooming, once again.  She is my garden. On my little balcony, in London.  To the parks and open gardens I go, to immerse myself in nature, and this morning, en route to somewhere entirely different, I changed direction to Hyde Park.  Needed nature.

There are parts of the park that are open and spacious, others planted with roses, with beds of flowers and arches of looping vines. To Kensington Palace I first went, for the proverbial ‘cuppa’ and the sunken garden. I like to think of it as Diana’s garden.  The lines were long, holiday vibe, to get into the Palace but I went to the café.  Security was tight, a ‘terrorist attack’ earlier in the morning at Westminster which the security guard was careful to inform me of. ‘Please let me know if you see anything suspicious’, he said. In unison we lamented the attack on this city, our home.  The shop is touristy, but has some beautiful items for taking home when the trip is done.  And I watched him, my security lad, and thought, this job must be tedious to say the least, but there he is, taking it ever so seriously, and I admired him.  He is one of the people of the park.  They come in so many different forms.

Though it is the park that beguiles, it is the characters that find her, the history, the stories that intrigue me.  Like the young lass who asked me to take her photograph beside the stature of Queen Victoria – she is travelling alone, young and unafraid.  Obviously I did a second rate job, for walking away, she asked another to repeat the exercise.

Established in 1536 by Henry VIII who seconded it from Westminster to use as a hunting ground, Hyde Park was first opened to the public in 1637.  My favourite story is the legend that the very young Victoria, woken from her sleep, was announced Queen at the tender age of 18.  She must have looked out of the window, overlooking the park, and wondered at the significance of it all.  The Palace is home to many royals now, including William and Harry.

A few weeks ago, those escaping from the heat wave, were swimming in the Serpentine.  I remember, standing there, snow all around and watching children throw snow balls on the frozen water. Today, children were feeding the swans. Another lad, in charge of the many deck chairs dotted around the park, was sitting in one himself, and I thought: he may find the job tedious, but he has a job, and he too is one of the characters that makes up the life of the park.

Walking towards the Albert Memorial, all sorts pass me by.  The tourists on Santander bikes, cyclists, horse riders, runners, lovers on benches oblivious to the world – nannies and walkers berating the cyclists for not sticking to the path.  Tennis players, Instagrammers, sketchers and some who must simply take a thousand pictures of the ducks. What brings them all here I wonder? This oasis in the heart of a pulsating city. Respite, exercise, a must do on the list? Tiny children learning to play soccer, roller skating classes, yoga on the grass.  I pass them all.

Most of the tourists still come for the Diana magic.  An unbroken spell.  Her dresses are on display at the Palace and her presence strong after all these years. Few know of the remarkable love story that is the Albert Memorial.  So deeply loved, and so deeply mourned by his Victoria: she never recovered from his death in 1861, and the Memorial, opened in 1872 at great expense, was her declaration of that love.  Albert was her everything and it is said she wore black until the day she died.

Would I have been loved so deeply.  Perhaps a bench in my honour, in a park somewhere, someday.

One can spend hours in this great park.  Restaurants, the Diana Memorial, the lake – sit silently, walked briskly, do nothing, be active. Stare at the skyscrapers and realise how much has changed around her, while she keeps her stories tucked within the borders. Many, many stories.

Such as this:

In 1982, two IRA bombs went off, one in Hyde Park and one in Regent’s Park.

Standing in front of the memorial, the flowers now dead in the Autumn sunshine, I could not help thinking of the loss, on this day when terror is still so prevalent, when life means so little. A little further is another memorial, to the victims of the 2005 bombing in London.  Close by, a little old lady was sitting on a hillock, with a suitcase and a Sainsbury packet and I wondered what her story may be?


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love this park.  I love the history, the stories and the sanctuary she offers.  And I learn a little more, as the seasons change, as nature turns the year, and I am grateful.

Still summer, yet the London Planes are beginning to lose their leaves – another change, another year.

My ‘garden’ in London.  And there for all to enjoy.

Mama Mia, here we go again …

‘I don’t know how, but I suddenly lose control, there’s a fire within my soul.’

 

To the island of Vis. The film location of ‘Mama Mia, here we go again‘ want to go and live there, Vis. Third time watching the movie that has, all of us, and I mean all of us, wanting. Happy, sad, on the edge, by the sea-side, all about love wanting to live there. It is one fantastic, piece of entertainment.  I found myself singing, crying uncontrollably (it’s the mother thing) and determined to move to such a place, so much so that I came home and googled Vis. Croatia tourism board in supreme delight. I wonder how many are googling properties in Vis with the hope of being Donna?

Dare I say, escapism is good. Grand in fact for the soul.  Should be more than that. Removes us from the daily grind and should the tempest of escapism lay there, it may ignite some soul searching, with the music of course, into the doing.  For there are times we lament our lives, and circumstances and just wish for beach and gorgeous decor, complete with friends and love in the deal.

Sitting in the cinema with our popcorn, we are transported.  We don’t think about the reality of child care, school bullies, tax accountants and those months of winter when these idyllic places are empty. We only think of vistas and decor, sublime meals and evenings with passion. And then we leave to the gum lined streets and the tube. Okay by me, because in that moment, in that one and a half hours of going somewhere else, we were back in the seventies, with the fashion and careless wanderings. I am crazy about the fashion!

Is it so bad to just let go? To stop worrying about the house, the material things, the heaviness of life and pack a little suitcase and just go … no matter where, but just go?  Would I do it, would you do it? I wonder.

This ‘Dancing Queen’ was my era!  I do believe I need to dance to this song and skip down towards a beach rather soon …

So what am I trying to say here?  Everyone is embracing the movie – the flash back to the seventies and getting all inspired by it. Should I find the dungarees and do the same?  Should I be inspired enough to take the gist of the whole thing and go … there is a world out there for me, one I know but never really had the confidence to explore? Can we, in Silver Street, still take a chance?

Got to get me some dungarees …

 

Thank you for the music.

Mama Mia, here I go again … my, my I could never let you go.

Never …

Images: The bbc and daily mail.

Sister Golden Hair Surprise.

‘And I tried to fake it, I don’t mind saying, I just can’t make it…will you meet me in the middle, will you meet me in the end?’

Nostalgic Saturday night.  Got the face mask on, the music (so retro) and that ever glass of white with the ice cubes in.  Nostalgic indeed.

‘I hope you don’t mind, I hope you don’t mind, that I put down in words, how wonderful life is, that you’re in the world.’ Elton John.

1978.  First year fresher at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal.  Arrived with mom and a cake, with pink icing, to soften the goodbye.  First time away from home. Mom cried the entire time. First time in a ‘res’ – tiny room, single bed, knowing no-one. Tough and afraid. All this girl knew is that she had chosen her University based on a thought, a dream to go to Hollywood (all the drive in movies) and my own record player.  This turned out to be the charm. Attraction station, with some snazzy clothes which I learnt, was meant to be shared.

Difficult year, not so au fait with life, with relationships and sex (was still holding out for Robert Redford) and all the messy stuff in between. Way out of my depth with English literature and bohemian professors who had no time for the pretty shoes.  Politically inept. Mama never spoke of politics. Alcohol was new, and surprising.

The music got me through. What do I care for essays and stuff when I had Fleetwood Mac? Bob Seger belting it out in my car (yup, I was one of the few) – singing to the Bee Gees. It was the music that defines it all. And of course America. SGHS – Sister Golden Hair Surprise became my nickname and my friends still call me by it. Those first year, finding one another, still together forever friends that co-produced the ‘pretend you are an Autumn leaf’ in drama classes: the friends that held my held up over the toilet at The Ansonia Hotel when brandy and ginger ale did not agree. Put me on the train when term time ended and spoke of things I thought I would have to pray very hard to forget I ever heard.

Hopeless but happy first year at University. Hitch hiking to the beach. Cheap wine out of the box. Grease is the word. Those leather pants!

Wonder where some of those great characters are now?

Needless to say the first year was the party year, the discovering year, the year of fumbling and failing but ultimately characterised by the music of the time. Still on my playlist.

SGHS – Sister Golden Hair Surprise was my nickname.  Wonder how much I relate to it now? Good times thank you Joni Mitchell, Khoti, Maggie, Jenny and B.

One needs to play the old music to remember how we sort of measure today.  Do you have a favourite? Saturday night nostalgia, the making of it all. Would I have that year again, with all the naiveté and youth – and if so – what would I change?

Image You tube

 

 

The iffy, pissy, offy day. Best close the door and seek some country music.

These things, they do happen. Am literally, whilst scooping ketchup with a sausage roll and shovelling it into my mouth,  mopping up the gravel studded blood injury on my shin. Running down my shin. Blood in the café

Spectacular fall.  Mini ramp meant for wheelchairs like ski slope, legs vector ascending skywards, splayed and show stopping for rain soaked oldies on a National Trust outing for the day. Painful in oh, so many ways.

Thought I would be grateful for the rain.

Strong desire for Bourbon.

Wet dress, pulled muscles and bruised bum, physical injury pales in relation to the rage that bubbles deep within.  And we have these days.  ‘Them’ days when all and all will seriously piss you off.  You want to cry, all the time, and poison all the apples. Leaving the duvet for enemy territory it seemed.

Trip in a human steamed bus is not good, she thinks, sitting beside someone whose clothes smell like a wet dog. Long, long walk in pelting rain. The usual solace of the cafe is packed and my table seconded by others. Ugh, hate it when people have no sense of personal space. Blah, blah and then the fall.

I shall tell no-one on the garden tour, dodging dripping trees, of my aching tailbone and valiantly attempt to deliver.  Sweet people, at the end, for the very first time, a lady slips some coins into my hand, with thanks.  I got a tip!  At fifty-eight my life seems to have become a series of tips in some of the work I do and I am thinking, is this the tipping point too? Anyway, I took the tip, smiled at the entire situation that was this day, and bought myself a lavender plant to ward off the spiders when they come indoors in Autumn. Read this recently and believe me, I have enough spiders in my life.

Imagine if you will, end of the day, this still a little grumpy, very sore but not so much pissed off possum is back on the bus with backpack, groceries and a lavender plant to boot. Party to a couple having a full on fight, much to the amusement of all on board.  She lets him have it, he tries to deflect, she will have none of it – he gets off – he gets on again, she has not broken her accusations and finally he just gives up and gets off again.  She follows and as we leave, the unhappy couple are still yelling on the pavement.  Guess it’s their iffy, pissy, offy day too.

Home. For bath, book, country music and a glass of wine. We are allowed these days when things go wrong – they make us muse and plan for better ones.

Strip it down, she says.  Strip it down.  Tomorrow she shall build it up again.

Eish!  Hope you had a better day, but then, when I think about it again, it wasn’t so bad after all. Just called ‘living.’

 

Image Banksy

 

 

 

What little stories lie here in this quiet, calm place near the river?

One Christmas, my daughter gave me this book.  An olive branch as I think it was the first Christmas without our family intact. Quick glance then, only to find it now, and how apt for the soul is calm and the journey to find these ‘quiet and restful’ places, wanting. ‘Quiet London’ by Siobhan Wall.

As I work without an office, I am free to write  in the smallest niches, cafés and wine farms, city and landscape –  and paddle in the most interesting of venues.

Today I find myself working at ‘The Wren.’  A cool, open and quiet space a mere stone’s throw from St. Paul’s Cathedral.  Got the idea to come here from another lovely blogger, Charlotte, who places the crumbs on the path of ‘A Peace of London.’ for us to follow and I thank her for it. I wonder how many of us look for quiet places in our busy lives?  I am fortunate not to have to work in a soulless  office with drab interiors and artificial light, especially now that summer is here, so sitting here in a café/church: wood panelled walls and embellished lead windows, hit by a snazz of aluminium chairs and tables.  Chatter, just like the chirping of birds fall around me, a word here, a sentence there, and laughter – the couple next table discussing a musical they were writing – pretty much leaned over a little too much to catch the title …

Writing about quiet places and chatter in the background seems paradoxical I know, but in a city such as this, total silence is rare.  So quiet could be better described as calm. I like to work in calm spaces. The Wren is a calm space.

The Wren is housed in St. Nicholas, Cole Abbey.  Not sure if it ever was an abbey, but the history goes back to 1144.  Destroyed in the Great Fire, rebuilt by Wren and damaged in the war, I am sitting in a history lesson today, having coffee.  On a church pew, with dead people below the floor, looking up at a golden ceiling, thinking what it must have been like during the bombing and how this place has transpired into a calm, welcoming, coffee shop to work in, in London.

There are many.  Many visited and many to discover. Sort of partial to The Wren, it’s the space and my need for space is well documented.

Do you have a favourite coffee shop that gives you calm? Care to share?

Thank you for the book sweet darling, going to follow the green arrows to all the shady, green places …

Images:  Daunt books

 

How passionately she longed to be important to somebody again …

‘How passionately she longed to be important to somebody again – not important on platforms, not important as an asset to an organisation, but privately important, just to one person, quite privately, nobody else to know or notice it.’

I read about three books at one time.  There is the book for commuting, the book for bedtime and without saying, the book for bath time. I cannot relax in a bath (much looked forward to at the end of the day) without a good book to feast on submerged in bubbles. The bath time ritual is important, I am a ritual aficionado.

Mornings are ritual orientated too. Dailies to be read, the world (why would I read about the dramas so early in the morning she asks) with the Nespresso to bolster one for the day.  But I digress.

Before going to Italy, and wanting a book to sort of encapsulate the journey, I bought ‘The Enchanted April.’ It is dated, it is a classic, a profound comment on society with the universality of human emotion. Transpires that the holiday, and bath time ritual, was less conducive for reading and more for late nights aprés sublime dinners beside bobbing boats, so I continued reading ‘The Enchanted April’ on my return.

You have no idea how many passages I marked as ‘wow’, I must remember this, but the one most true was the passage above.  The longing to belong.

There is a difference to belonging and possessing. Have never been comfortable with the latter, but belonging is something we all yearn for. Knowing that someone out there, wants, needs, and thinks about us all the time.  The stages of our lives gives us belonging – be it as children belonging to our parents, or parents belonging to our children.  In a relationship. We may be single, or with someone that seems empty, or strong,  it matters not, we all have a need to belong: a single entity, a group, a tribe. We are strong in ourselves, but having the feeling of belonging gives us purpose. It’s the receiving ideology of the echo significance.

And I thought of my mother.  In frail care, all single individuals, she fell in love with another. In her late eighties. Really, at her age, what about her deceased husband etc, etc, but I smiled at her fussing and faffing about another – she felt useful, she felt wanted, she felt acknowledged.  Her children were in other cities, loving, but not beside her. Nurturing another in her immediate space allowed her to feel she belonged, for a short while and that was a generous act.

The book is about four women who, on the spur of the moment, through an advertisement, land up in an enchanted villa in Italy.  Each brings their history, their disappointments, thoughts and dreams to this place. Surrender to it, their lives on hold, surrounded by the intoxicating beauty of place and nature, but with time to become introspective about the how, the wherefore and the future. And the need to belong. Each one strong and some pedantic in their rituals – yet each with a desire to belong, in society, in their relationships, in themselves. Do I want to put it down, not yet, will I read it again, for sure. A classic is a classic. I love clever writing.

I don’t need nobody else I hear you say.  I am ok just as I am.  And I am. And I am not – we all need another to manifest us as being important, we all need another to make us feel special and we all need another, or others to make us belong.

The book was written in 1922.  Old for sure! Charming and light hearted and ideal for the bath time ritual. Enchanting.

At tne moment my reading list du jour is:

Commute reading:  The Land where Lemons grow.

Bedtime reading: Beneath the Scarlet Sky.

What are you reading at the moment and loving it?

Image: Amazon (sorry, not a big fan of Amazon)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Chelsea Physic Garden – sanctuary in the city.

 

‘Learn from those whose generosity is given to you.’

In 1673 The Chelsea Physic Garden was established on four acres of land, beside the River Thames, by the Apothecaries in order to gather, propagate and study medicinal plants. In 1712, Sir Hans Sloane, physician, naturalist, collector and founder of the British Museum, bought and offered the Manor of Chelsea to the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries for the grand total of £5.00.  This is still paid to his dependents today. Best £5.00 pounds rental ever!

I always knew about this chap from the famous, and often found in Sloane Square, but little of just how much of a legacy this gentleman has left for us to enjoy.  And it was yesterday, admittedly, that I first entered the secret garden that is The Chelsea Physic garden.  Done nearly all the gardens in London, and England, but this little gem somehow escaped me. Guess I was always turning into the The Chelsea Flower Show gates and never really explored this offering. Until yesterday.

Oh dear, you have missed something special, I though to myself as I turned into Swan Street.  Lotto loving maybe one day street.  The houses are elegant, peeps into the gardens alluring, and running my hand along the secret wall that protects the garden, I almost walked right by. The entrance is unassuming, the anticipation like a bride before she enters the chapel. God lives there.

Perhaps she has found her spiritual home in London.  No photographs in 30 degree heat will do justice to the magic, only the gnarled and mighty trees a canopy of cool beneath the beating sky.  The garden is divided into four quadrants, living libraries of medicinal, woodland, edible and historical favours. I took the tour, as I always, do for learning is never wasted. Of course my heart spiked at the sight of atlantic blue aggies, the vivid cannas so often planted as borders to free state farm houses with familiar friends I planted in my own gardens.

Summer colour is everywhere: plump oranges and grapefruits swollen on branches.  Bella Donna, deadly belle that she is, like glass marbles on the bush.  And it does not matter if the latin genus names escapes, a daisy is as pretty called a daisy as any distinguished label.  Edging of Yew and buxus leads one gently from place to place.

A place of peace, and teaching.  Calm reigns. I wished I could bring my friends, and in particular those who struggle with illness, and life to this sanctuary.  Is a garden not the epitome of spirituality then? Plopped sun worshippers with flimsy clothes and broad hats dotted the lawn, rested on benches and conversed in the shady niches. There is a shop and tea room and I instead imagined an evening party to celebrate love here.

In the fading hours of the afternoon, it was to a quiet corner of repose. Softness around, I wished so much that I was an artist able to capture the moment.  I will bring my children here.

 

Let them see coconuts bloom, deserts create.  Let them meander and muse about the power of plants in a garden.  And it has always been my wistful wish to have a garden again, to be part of the seasons and the soil, but that is for another time.  This is a garden in the heart of London that has a heart of curing all stress and replace with sublime sensitivity for life. For breathing in and breathing out easily: to rest and watch butterflies and bees, hear the birds high above and remind oneself of the power of nature in a pretty place.

If I were to have the space again one day, I would plant a garden that tells a story, of healing, of history, of woodland walks and edible fare.  With the sound of water. I would plant a garden just like this one.

Image: The Chelsea Physic Garden.