So it begins. Flat hunting in London. Give me strength she prays.

 

 

So it begins.  I know that I am allergic to morphine, but of late find myself allergic to Estate Agents as well. Who knew?  Not so much of late, have had to deal with them for some time, but lately, and especially since one cretin chose to play the underhanded game, I am not a fan. Yet, like morphine, there are times I need them and in the next two weeks I am going to have to rely on them even more.  Cue in the ‘Phantom of the Opera’ music.

As a result of the one who underhandedly led to the demise of my current home, I find myself having to enlist the help of others to find my new abode.  Today was the day.  It requires, as you know, endless, wasted time on the internet, looking at properties to rent within the said budget. I could be planning a trip to Barbados but no, I am looking a photos of properties to rent. In the winter, in grey light, in the mood of caved bear who wants to sleep and eat rather than engage.

There is something so wrong with this picture.  Rather than have to ask for a new address from college leavers, I should be smiling at the last mortgage payment on my home bought a few decades ago.  Not this gal, she is the ‘all over again’ kind of gal. And they think Dry January is a good thing.

Anyway, to the front I went today. To be fair, some were lovely, patronising and sweet. Others smelt of too much aftershave. My first visit resulted in the Estate agent, not pitching up. Ok, gave up a work day for this and rather than the coronary imminent, chose to Zen and move on.

Let’s talk about some of the properties seen shall we? First one. Could not see out of the windows.  The windows that were filmed with years of London pollution came twofold. Original windows of sash (pretty) did not keep out the cold and noise, so landlord put in other windows that resemble those of bus drivers, or the ones you find in the cockpit of planes – shift and small. No air here, but at least it cuts out the noise.  Dark blue walls, lovely for the winter months.  Depression acute guaranteed. The bedroom was that of a hamsters cage, but some may call it intimate. Bathroom – um, blinked and it was fuzzy and gone. The advantage of this place was the bus stop right outside – with the entire London traffic close behind.

Moving onto two.  Quaint, lovely outside. Quiet location and I thought, let this be the one. It was the one and only place I am sure long inhabited by mould.  Black along the window frames.  There were lovely remnants of past lives, on everything, even the picture outlines on the walls.  Imagine the rush hour on the tube and spaces between people – that was the size of the kitchen. Can I work with this I kept thinking, can I work with this as the boiler stared at me and the gas meter plonked under the sink, sneered at me. Oh my Lord … this would be punishment still.

Third.  Not even going there.

Fourth – already dark so the black bedroom doors, in the kitchen, did not appeal. Where is the taste I wondered? Where is the modicum of decent living, and at the price of a five bedroomed mansion of past living?

But in fairness, the agent was lovely. Thought I would be lovely, and I was, and when we parted, the nausea was kept at bay.

Not their fault on my budget. Perhaps if I move to the island of Orkney, I will find something suitable. But am not daunted, am resilient and have a million more viewings to do.

No more Dry January. Champagne is cheaper than these stupid options.

The search, as Alan Sugar says, continues.  Watch this space.

Image: Cartoon shock.

 

 

Colette – a quiet lesson to remind yourself to be yourself.

 

“Is that you there all alone under that ceiling, booming and vibrating under the feet of the dancers? Why are you there all alone? And why not somewhere else?” Yes, this is the dangerous, lucid hour. Now, whenever I despair, I no longer expect my end, but some bit of luck, some commonplace little miracle which, like a glittering link, will mend again the necklace of my days.

There are times, following a hard day working, flat hunting and generally that phew moment, that you just … well … don’t want to go home.  The city is bustling with after office hours catching up, lots of options on offer.  So I found myself thinking … rather than crack open a furtive bottle of wine in Dry January, I shall to the movies.

Right now, on my office balcony, the singing of post work drinking revelry is in force on the sidewalk below. I have come home to download the hauntingly beautiful soundtrack of ‘Colette’ by Thomas Adas.  I am post wonderful film scenario.  It stays with me still.

‘Colette’ was exceptional.  The story, the film locations (oh the house in the country), the music – all was strong, so strong. I learnt something new – never knowing about the tale of Colette: a young woman from the country, married and ghost writing for her husband – encouraged to engage in different relationships for his, and perhaps her growth, to the point where she realises that it is her story for which credit is absent. Words of her childhood, her nuances, her thoughts … she has instead gifted her husband her tale and he takes credit, urging her to write, for him, until she cannot stay in the shadows any longer and despite financial hardship, she takes control of her own life.

Literally takes control, engages in a relationship (which was then still frowned upon) and risks all to live life on her own terms. Bring in the fantastic score.  Would we fare better in our own stories if we had the most enchanting music to accompany it?

What was it about the film that made such an impact?

What did I learn tonight?

We go to the movies to escape, to pause on our own realities, and also to be empowered through someone else’s ideas – the written work, the notes, the ideal of it all. We are transported to what can be, what was, what others have experienced and come out there, in the dark, winter’s London night and think, hey, I have a story too. May not have the brilliant collages and film locations but have the story nonetheless.

Why not be glad for it? Inspired by it? Add to the necklace of our lives and be proud? Sometimes we need to relate to the stories of others to remind ourselves that we too have deep, rich and meaningful lives to lead.

Be yourself.  Others may not like it, judge but it’s ok.  It is your life. Be so very proud of it.

Think of the necklace of your days.  Add the pearls. I put the Fengal in my bath (my mother’s favourite), poured the wine (don’t tell anyone) and thought … this movie has been great for me.

We need heroines to champion the kindle of our own heroism. Mentors and music to get the juices flowing, the sparkling of an idea,  alight.  We need examples of struggle to muster our own.

And the music is hauntingly beautiful.  The idea of Paris is there for me.  Popcorn gone, and hour and somewhat blissfully born and so I shall tell you, watch this film – I even googled the film locations for the country home and thought, this is where I shall go and write, buy a little property and be amongst the wheat fields and poplars, to the city of lights and endless romance – to find it was filmed largely in Budapest (where I have not been) but no matter …. I continue to dream of how it touched me.

And I have the music to write by.

Images: The Guardian, pintrest

 

 

 

 

 

Did Chanel have a toaster?

‘Pardon Mademoiselle Chanel, avez-vous une grille-pain?

Before you think there were no toasters around back then, there were, developed in the late 1890’s in fact.  And I stood here with my toaster a few minutes ago, thinking … do I really need you anymore?  Such is the packing of self – in more ways than one.

When one is about to box up your life, once again in my case, and relegate it to storage, which is a costly endeavour, one tends to scrutinise every item in terms of ‘do I really need this?’ We all know about the accumulation monster – mine is intrepid and has no limit.  Where did all this stuff come from!

The life gets smaller and smaller.  Has nothing to do with age – I am not one of those who goes ‘ah getting older etc, etc’ I loathe the giving in to age simply because another candle has appeared.  In many ways, it gets more exciting, exact.  Handbag has gone from the ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ and all the maybe’s you need when children are small, to the functional cross-over from Guess that contains the wallet, diary and keys.  Liberating and far less cause for harassing fellow passengers on the tube.

So to the packing.  I am going to discard all that no longer serves the new life I am planning, which could well be directionless at present, but easy to store and recover when needed.  So what to pack, and why Chanel?

More like a changing of attitudes.  I was of one order, from one origin and so the collectables suited.  Work hard at school, get a degree, get married, have children and the proverbial picket fence home.  Had everything that went with it.  Boom came next.  For years I continued to carry the Albatross of past life along; the memories of dinner services, old Christmas trees, enough framed photographs to cover every surface, coffee table books, medicine in case and of course the clothes that one day, on a dream day, I would still fit into.  Oceans of luggage.  

Also, oceans of thinking everyone else was doing the same. Can I say that I wondered at those women who chose never to marry, or have children?  Women that worked since they were fifteen and do so still?  Some never other than renting, never owning a car, being on the PTA or holidaying at the beach?  It was coming to London, and Europe that all these gorgeous women became part of my world, opened my mind to individuals other than me … and, how to put this, now that my world is more akin to theirs, the stuff of past life needs clipping.

So I thought of Chanel.  I refer to her on a tour I give.  Success after a severe beginning.  Basics grew to belief. It’s wonderful that she could re-create from nothing, and an inspiration.

‘My life did not please me, so I created my life.’

At present, my life does not please me.  So I am creating a new one.

And the toaster does not fit the brief.  As a child, no vegetables but loaves of bread. No longer.  Sugar too. Don’t do the dinner parties anymore, so why hang onto the ice bucket and tablecloths, baking trays (can count a dozen) only taking up space.  Unused martini glasses in case James Bond popped in. Mouldy Christmas tree in the damp garage.  Mother’s clothes packed in grief, to hold and talk to.  Coffee table books, outdated cookbooks and enough silverware to please a Medieval feast? Know what I am doing?

Photographs of all above when used and enjoyed are enough. Tables groaning with food, friends around tables, children decorating – have them all and so the actual articles no longer suffice. Good times still, just going to do it a little differently.  Going to acquire new memories, with a slender inventory and a new resolve.

And so the lady thinks again …

 

Style does not need a million pots and pans.  True living no longer requires post Christmas cards, twenty unused note pads, linen from era dot and cookie jars without cookies (re no sugar).  Thank goodness for charity shops around here, they are on the receiving end of a gorgeous time.

What will I keep?  A single, something Silver Streeter, will need only the photograph albums, some pretty cups and saucers, excellent wine glasses and a multitude of pencils.  These are for drawing and setting up the new enterprise.  Don’t need medicine, or a recipe for jam. dog bowls (no more dogs) or that Jenni Button suit circa 2007. Actually, may keep the suit, just in case the lack of bread and sugar will get me back into it sometime…

So that is what goes. And what next?

Sexy, new linen to slide into.

Fresh, hedonistic towels.

Totally new make up and beauty products.

Holiday planner.

New lingerie to suit the no sugar, no carbs, new body.

New business, finally, to suit the needs of this woman.

New playlist. Face it, I need music to live by, to strut and be empowered by. Think I will keep some of the old songs … they are what I am. They are the ones I love forever …

Keeping the things that I love the most.  Letting go of things I love but no longer fit the new brand.  Letting go of things that don’t fit anymore but acquire those that fit the new experience.  And Chanel, if you could have the fabulous life, perhaps without the toaster, I am converted.

So, what are you going to let go of, to create the new, fabulous life before you? Let me know.

Images: red on line, biography

 

 

 

 

 

Three degrees on a Saturday. Sunset 15.51 pm. Wonderful.

‘The constant rendezvous for men of Business, as well as the idle people, so that a man is sooner asked about his coffee house, than his lodgings.’ Samuel Johnson.

If there was ever a need for a coffee house, a warm place, a sanctuary in the midst of winter, I am sitting in one.  The London day of many seasons: bitter with sun, bitter with rain:  bitter with sleet and … well bitter.  

Waiting to take a tour in the bitter outdoors.  ‘The history of London in 4 drinks.’  And it is wonderful, for it is history, and learning, and learning some more.  Two and a half hours of meeting interesting people, being the drama queen, in and out of that doing I love – cold outdoors to warmth indoors – why do I love that so much? and when all is done,  clients wooed and won, to early dinner with friends in Sloane (the place of blue Christmas lights and true selling of steaming chestnuts) to family.  Grayson is leaving on a skiing trip to Austria – a first in many ways.

Some may feel sorry  for me deep in the European gray, and as I know, I feel dreadfully sorry for myself most of the time in the living quarters scenario part of my life, but today I am witnessing a hundred different stories, and I can only say, I feel blessed.  The morning tube ride began with the kindred Christmas spirit of wrapped up children and wrapped up canines, chatting, barking and breaking the normally austere silence of the carriage.  The ‘day out’ thrill was tangible and I do so love seeing little people with fashionable clothes: he is country squire right down to the beret and she in French Rachel Rileyesque prettiness.

Alighting at Temple and a short walk to Somerset House, Christmas well entrenched. Contemplating a skating session (has the hesitation something to do with the fear of falling?) but veer towards Fortnum and Mason’s Christmas – 18th century particular for Tea and Marmalade.  The combination of Wooden floors, fireplaces, baubles and truffles ideally suited to mood setting for the walk up fleet Street.

Have to remind myself that so much of London was bombed.  Between the new edifice of the city lies so many buildings of old, of history with stories I plan to tell on the tour.  If you take the small alleyways, turn the unknown corners, you will find them.  One being St. Brides.

Built by Sir Christopher Wren, the three tired spire was the inspiration for a local baker to create … the three tired wedding cake.  Truth, we get the idea from there.  Close by, the Old Bell, a pub Sir Wren encouraged his workers to frequent to save time on going somewhere else and he could keep an eye on them.  There still.  St Brides was badly bomed, leaving only … the spiral. Restoration was to the original plan but also revealed so much more: an ancient Roman road and Saxon walls, which tells me this church has so many layers to her heyday stature.  She has survived centuries of life.  More poignant, the church is a homage to journalists – alone in her sanctum, I stood before an alter to all those of recent loss, kidnapping, giving their lives to tell the world what was happening.  Haunting photographs of all, including Marie Colvin and now, Jamal Kashoggi. I light candles and think of their parents, their children, their loved ones. Life … oh what diaries we can create about her.

The tour today is about the history of London in four drinks. No, not wine.  Wine is not quintessentially about London – if you think about it, mostly imported.  It is about the history of coffee houses, afternoon tea, beer rather than the disgusting water from the Thames back then, and Gin.  The mother’s ruin.  About poor Judith Dufour.  Pelting rain, gale winds that mock my umbrella, hidden pubs and secret squares. The black cat secret, pineapples and St. Pauls and all goes well.  Interesting guests and new friendships, but I am soaked down to the woollen gloves and soggy socks. 

Suitably sitting in warmth with gin – Sir Christopher Wren gin – I bid them adieu and leave for the tube.  Still raining.  Night.  And I am Bridget Jones on the line, for home.  It is the lights I see as the tube moves through the city, the Christmas lights that needs the dark to dance, on the river, in the puddles and sidewalks trodden by generations before me.  One with it all, with my own story, and it is good.  Christmas is ‘Love Actually’. Love shared in this season, with the bending to offer kindness to the homeless outside Waitrose, the carrying of Pointsettias on the bus.  Passing those dragging the Christmas tree bought, the Father Christmas hats, flashing headbands, the patient faithful.  Jingling songs, choirs in the station and the majesty of spirit at this time.

An ordinary day?  I think not.  An extraordinary day – I call it a London day. Missing the life past, the sun and sea, the easy life, but if I had to be anywhere to feel truly alive, I am there. 

So why do Mince Pies have no mince? Well …

 

 

Christmas, dealing with it when you are on your own. And those parties …

It’s Christmas …

Right in the middle of the ‘Christmas Carol’ at this moment, I am.  All the ghosts of past, present and future just swirling and swirling around. Don’t you find Christmas can be the most marvellous, and also the most emotionally profound, all at the same time?  I am such a memory hoarder! Such an emotional button.

Technically not alone, as I have my precious darlings to celebrate with, but technically, and especially when it comes to those umpteen Christmas parties (the office kind) well, it sort of a hit and miss situation at times.  Of course we know this madam is doing about four different jobs (all of which I love) at the moment and that means lots and lots of year end celebrations.

Given that these are not careers but jobs new in the making, the Christmas parties are either with many I do not know well, or mostly those a few decades younger than me.  Interesting when it comes to the Secret Santas and I am National Trust when others are party games.  I am the thinking of leaving pronto for my bed and the rest are only just starting the night’s festivities.  For me, a Christmas party is watching the Christmas movies with loads of popcorn and Sauvignon Blanc.  Oh how dated I seem…

Then there is the single situation.  And the commute situation – getting home seems like Hannibal crossing the Alps. Also, and it must be said, having a great night out and walking to the tube past so many homeless sheltering in doorways from the bitter cold, is upsetting.  On the plus side, I am the chipper versus the hungover brigade next morning.

Then there is this:  The shift.  It has happened.  

My gorgeous children want Christmas at their home this year.  No longer Christmas at mum’s.  If I were still in the family home with a dozen Christmas trees in every room and cooking enough to keep the Romans off oysters, I may just sink into the redundant spot of self pity.  This year I am in the transitory living situation so my abode is somewhat cold in hospitality and I am happy to join rather than host.  But it is something to ponder – is this the ghost of the future coming a little too soon? Has it happened to you?

Find myself thinking of Ghost Christmas past and it gets me so teary.  Little people with big eyes and huge expectations at the Barbie/Postman Pat/lego possibility.  Family large in generation, feasts and fondness all around. God, I loved Christmas then.

Ghost Present and small, but significant.  Survival and change.  Micro family, with greater depth and understanding of the fragility of life but equally loving and kind. More appreciate of the essence of family.

Ghost Future.  Oh this is a nasty thought.  Looking forward to the grandchildren and oh, hugging is going to be my favourite pastime, but to the further than that.  The thought of me being sat at a communal table of white haired grumpy people, paper hat on head and warbled voiced ‘Santa’s coming to town’ as the tissues and tears flow, and a box of ‘Celebrations’ as my only reward for staying alive, fills me with dread. The hoping the children will come and visit the death nest and my teeth in a glass, well some know me – not on my itinerary.  Not going to have a Christmas when someone denies me wine and I cannot chew the mince pie.  But I digress …

Back to dealing with Christmas when you are alone.  Truth, never are.  

As depressing as your situation may seem, you have it good.  The need around Christmas time is greater than any other time of the year and you have the ability to make a difference, no matter how small.  Charities are desperate for people like you, for an hour, a chat, a touch of hand upon lined hand, for making food, saying a prayer, simply being there.  You have no excuse not to be part of another’s story at this time of the year.

It is then when I look past the shiny shiny, the glitter, the surge in celebration.  Then I can say, I cannot walk past the homeless and not stop, moan about just about everything and know a mother is struggling.  Someone is lonely, another is grieving.  Alone, no, not alone, rather a little timid at getting out of the comfort box to be a fairy for good.

The thing is.  The other night I lead a tour (in blisteringly cold weather, wind chaffing, fingers numbing cold) of ex-pats joined by a singular company on a Dickensian experience through South London.  There were all – religions, cultures, ages and gender.  What London was like in the earlier centuries when kitchens were unknown and heating was scarce.  We were all different yet all together, far from home, new home and linked.  A little mulled wine, some mince pies and story telling and another Christmas story was written. 

Ending along the ever riveting Thames, Christmas was good.  I had made a difference to their Christmas, in my small way, and that is what it all about.

To Bridget Jones, The Holiday, Love Actually and all the movies that make me cry buckets for Christmas past … to the joy of being able to watch them in Christmas present and again in Christmas future.

Don’t feel alone and stand in the corner at the Christmas parties.  Be yourself and give of that substance that is you, to others.  The gift will be returned.

Images: BBC, history.com and pintrest

 

 

 

 

Sometime serf visits The Sanctuary – faith, law and feudalism.

THOMAS PAINE: Founding father of the United States.

“Persecution is not an original feature in any religion; but is always the strongly marked feature of all law-religion, or religions established by law.”

little date cocktail this morning, as I sit in The Celerium; off the Dean’s Yard, through the Sanctuary, in the depths of Westminster Abbey.  My journey –  to deliver, (and not happy about it)  the deeds to my little home in this place, armed with city mapper (without I will be lost), the irony did not escape me (it was not lost.)

Following the little headlight (which is me) on my app, I stand before the Abbey.   I am before the entrance to the Greatest Abbey on earth and yet I have a date with solicitors.  The Sanctuary.  Ever so politely, the security detail (who I am sure prays all day not to bite a tourist in anger) reveals that I am beside the law firm I seek  … right there… number 1 … next to the gift shop.  What is this?  Church and Law?  Law and Church … smacks of Medieval practice.  Circa 476 AD.

During the perpetual darkness of the Medieval period, death and taxes – what has changed? The Church was in control of the landowners and if you wanted ‘everlasting life’ you paid them taxes.  The landlords forced the minions, called Serfs, to live on the land, work the land, give the landlord your produce, which included blood and sweat and all sanity, in return for military protection.  The only thing you may be lucky to own, was your teeth and back then, not guaranteed.

Me, Third from the left.

So, the situation has me entering the hallows of the Law world. Could not be more of a cliché:  panelled, dark oak, royal red carpet with golden detail that is so deep and spongy, no sound will escape these walls for sure.  Traditional, stoic and serious happens here.  Feeling like a puppy going to the SPCA.  Sit and wait, for fate.  With apologies to all my wonderful friends in the legal world (you are awesome), I also remembered why I never finished my law studies:  

‘You should do law’. I was told.  Was it, now I think, a compliment or because I talk too much?  Anyway, my experience of the law (wee bairn back in the day I had the visions of justice and pretty solved relationships)  has always meant sorrow.  The world of the struggle and I am not for that world.  I struggle enough to decipher my own heart, let alone deal with the others breaking all around in those deeply carpeted chambers.

‘The Sanctuary’ is the incorrect address for my legal date.  But I am not sad or unhappy anymore, and as I leave through the ancient stone steps, one, two, to a different kind of chapter, I need only to look to the right and the Majesty that is the Abbey.  Our little love affair goes back a long, long way.  My virgin pilgrimage took me to St. Margarets next door, and then the looming edifice of the Abbey, young and ignorant of poets till later, my first sighting of the tomb of the unknown soldier left his mark forever.  A mother’s son lies there.  Overwhelming story.

Watched the weddings, and the funerals in this Abbey.  First foundations laid in the 13th Century, though King, Church and Law still closely connected. It still feels spiritual and I contemplate going in again, but the hoards of umbrella following selfie stickers deter me.  Sanctuary when tourists are around, it is not.

Remember buying the smallest of English soldiers for my son in the gift shop.   Little boxes of chain mail wearing fighters – and now he is in the British Military: okay … my eyes lift up to the heavens and I am having a little conversation …

In refuge of Tea and Lemon Drizzle cake, the realisation that my own path has been too much entwining of Church and Law.   Raised in the Dutch Reformed Church, schooled at The Convent of Notre Dame with Jewish friends – doctrine rather than faith to put the fear of God into me, rather than the Love of God into me.  Here, the Law and Church lies side by side – an idea, perhaps practical who knows, but I am fascinated by it this morning.

Felt like the serf for a little while.  At the mercy of … the law intervening and dictating, once again, my life.  Strangers making rulings.  All the loving, the messiness, the dreaming and stumbling of relationships cold in the archives.

Liberating actually.  Good to know history is once again jabbing the curiosity  for learning is fun.  Excellent to know that irony can be delicious.  Serf no more no more – would rather be a smurf.

And the most important thing.  FAITH. 

Faith is not a set of rules, limited to time and place, class or power.

Faith is not judgemental, critical or pompous.

Faith can be in yourself, in family, in nature or religion.

Faith is calming, accepting and spiritually rewarding.

Faith is hope and hope is love.

Images: FEE and Pintrest

 

 

The Autumn soul.

For someone who is never at home, lacing her life between jobs, commutes and contacts, today was a gift.  A nothing day, and an everything day.  A day, now darkening beneath the first of the true grey days, that I have not spoken a word to anyone.

The beginning of Autumn.  Light hides now, the sun weak and rain draws patterns on glass. On waking, with a day to myself, the urge to turn into the duvet was tempting, but for me, the first, true Autumn day, is the soul day.  For cleaning of life, of space and spirit.  Inward time.

Preparing for the winter, and myself to get through it.  Most know I take little responsibility for my misery dans the London Winter, Lord knows that I struggle with it still – but for the first time, I choose to stay this year.  Much has happened with little choice of my own, so I am sort of surprising myself on this one, and may I take the opportunity now, to yet be held unaccountable when the grey monotone smallness of post Christmas slithers beneath my heart. 

I do love Autumn though.  Always have, its my birthday season, as nature sheds her clothes and stands naked, without fear, as one does when the lover loves regardless and still finds the beauty.  Land becomes carpets of jewels, the fox blends and rosé turns to red. To bed and fire and books and stories of closeness – and family.  Of memories and the world can wait a little – the pace can slow a little – the questions are left unanswered and the messiness of life matters not – for in Autumn I refrain from questions and trying to prove.  Resolve to linger a little longer, love a little deeper and bring the threads home.

In Autumn I still have the faith that though things have changed, beauty remains.  In Winter I grieve for the things that have changed.  Autumn is soft, voluptuous, rounded with berries, scented with earth and passion.  Winter is a grave yard of buried hope. Unless it snows, unless it’s Christmas, unless love still lives there.  Autumn is falling, yet landing softly.  

The Autumn soul is a kind one.  And I hope above all, I can still be that.  So, in this quiet day of preparing for Autumn, the things of others are packed to take out another day, to reminisce about with care and affection.  The candles are lit, the wine is poured, the lack of hearth is not yet lamented but the soul is calm.

‘Seasons of mist and mellow fruitfulness …’  Keats

Mellow we shall be.  Mellow and still moved by the magic that lingers.

Autumn brings the heart to a quiet mindfulness.  And it remains the same.

Painting by Madison de Villiers

Image: Wow247

 

To childhood friends. Bless them and keep them.

And Fox is saying hello this evening. ‘Hello’ I whisper.

I have written before about my true blessing of having childhood friends still with me at this time. For over fifty years of life, a pocket full of friends who shared the early times, the grazed knees and bicycle jaunts, still remain, and it is to them I return for validation when life gets just a little too much.

To find more are spilling into my life. Thank you Facebook for today, whilst planning my trip home, a message from a friend I grew up with, wanting to say ‘hi’ again. The swimming forever friend who, and I did not know, has been through much, and meeting up with her again when I go ‘home’.

What was interesting was her message.  She is happy, fulfilled, and yet longs too for the connections of those who knew, not only her, but her family.  Parents passed. I have not seen her for nearly thirty years and the connection is as strong as ever.  And I am keen to hear it all … the journey.  Like mine.  Those days of whispering about who we will marry (had to be dreamy) , how many children we will have, how successful we shall be – and now, bless us, how much we just want to return to the roots.

Believe me, it is not about missing.  Not about being disappointed in how things turned out, how life has handed us love and lemons.  About the halcyon days of wonder is what we reach for.  The clean slate days. We want to connect for we remember the parents, the childhood homes, schooldays and all that.  We want to be close to purity. Our purity in childhood. And talk about life in-between. Be proud of what we have become, the children we have raised, relationships we had, the paths followed, to in a sense, bring us together again to say ‘ we did ok’ and have someone else say ‘wow’ you did ALL that and good on you.

To talk of our parents.  Of Sunday afternoons in a small town. Of sports days and how terrible we were at hurdles. First crushes and surfboard necklaces that meant we were going steady. Of nuns on bicycles and those awful matric dance dresses. We want to remember stealing peaches from the neighbours, swimming in rivers and Gatsy themed birthday parties. Television crush idols. When just breathing was enough. Just being was enough.

I did not know she had lost a sister. One I remember and life let me forget.

Did the ballet lessons pay off?

Did the education pay off?

Did love happen?

Did we become the people we thought we would?

Doesn’t matter.  We lived.  We loved. We are still the same, deep down and we want to know.  We want to connect.  We are blessed if we can.

Growing up in a small town does this.  We had nothing else but each other and when life and times move us into different places, into other avenues, it is really good to go back and just say ‘you knew me’ and perhaps, just perhaps, those are the friends we have to be with at this stage. Friends who sang the songs, danced in the living room, wrote in the diaries and went to the drive in. To dream of better.

And perhaps we did get ‘the better’.  We did live the dream.  And old friends, childhood friends are the validation that we came from that to this, and make us proud.

Childhood friends have a bond that transcends to lifetime friends.  And I am so blessed to still be able to say .. you knew me well, and you are still here.

Images: smartgirlsgroup, relationsmatters

The fox in my life and planning for good.

How did Sunday come around so fast!  Here I am at the end of another week and on my little balcony having a good think about it all.  The week, the month, the year is seriously flying by too fast – and I think it may be because I am making plans.  Could this be?

In the past, when life was the perfect storm and me the one with the tiger in the boat, plans were something I was totally incapable of making.  Existing was hard enough, breathing something I had to remind myself to do and getting out of bed, my daily gym.  Especially when that black dog was sitting right beside it, looking at me early morn and late at night as an ever constant, incarnated witch.  But not now.  Now its, all about making plans, and in particular wedding plans with my daughter early next year. Nothing like a wedding, and in particular a family wedding to get the creative juices flowing.

Oh, ‘hi’ fox. I have to tell you about fox. Habitual specimen Fox is.  Seems as if every time I step out to my ‘office’ – at some point Fox makes his/her appearance. Till I came to London, foxes were mythical creatures that belonged in the English Countryside: to be hunted, or in children’s books. The fox of Beatrix Potter and Farthingwood friends. Remember ‘Fox and the Hound’?  Cute little critters. In London, foxes are common place and urban scavengers. Always looking a little mangey and thin. Furtive and wild eyed, but I have come to like Fox, my pet of sorts, and we greet one another every evening.

Back to the planning.  So much to do!  In the wine lands of wonderful South Africa, but it is the planning that is the motivator of spirit.  This is a BIG plan, but the little ones are just as important.  We have to make plans, always, to get the juices going, bring the future close or we are simply humdrumming the day away. And that gets tedious.  Planning a trip, a lunch date, they matter but I am talking BIG plans – we are just in making them. Even when all seems small, this is the lesson of the day – I feel amazing in the making of BIG plans, for me, for my family, for whatever, I cannot sit any longer with a what to do today, tomorrow, maybe next week?  I need to make HUGE plans from now on – it’s plan play time. Frigging tsunami plans to be made.

They always say, think big.  Easier said, but not so easy to put into action at times when the ego is wilted and the future seems as empty as the last glass of wine, so let me just say, Fox is motivation.  Simply lives to survive – I aim for higher things.

What about you?

Image: essencialife

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