Friday, November 17, 2006

And Again

Another blog break.

I'm an intense blogger, my posts mean a lot to me and I pour myself into them. Which is fine. And mostly I love blogging. Love it. But with everything that's happening now I've been feeling burdened and jaded and that is beginning to be reflected here.

So. I need to get my balance back, use some of that intensity elsewhere for a while and not make the laptop my first stop when I get up in the mornings.

I'll be away from cyberspace until at least the end of the month, maybe longer. But I will be back at some point.

I passed these wonderful, joyful red leaves the other evening. Wishing everyone such warmth and colour in their days .....

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Heath (Updated)

An reworked version of the post I put up earlier today. Just wasn't happy with the first attempt. Apologies to everyone on Bloglines!

The afternoon has turned chilly and overcast, the morning’s sunlight wiped off the face of the day. A fretful wind tumbles the clouds and releases a flurry of light brown and yellow leaves from a sycamore at the edge of the copse.

I've been promising myself a walk on the Heath for weeks, and feel calf muscles work and lungs expand as I head up a steep incline. Avoiding the puddles on the muddy track I pass a dozen or so noisy and fractious rooks feeding on acorns in the grass. Ahead a jogger clad in blue singlet and shorts cuts across the russet carpet beneath the beeches, while a young mother enveloped in a fur-trimmed parka waits to one side of the path, her attention apparently elsewhere, as her little boy painstakingly ties his shoelaces.

I pause, listen and breathe. In the nearby undergrowth an invisible dog scuffles and barks, and the faint hum of distant traffic drifts like woodsmoke through the trees. Unseen, the moon wanes and Mercury slows to its station.

Wanderers all of us here, looking down on the city beneath us on this November afternoon, strangers connecting for a split second as we pass, exchanging a glance maybe, then moving on.

Photograph taken on Hampstead Heath. Click to enlarge.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Not much in the way of thoughtful, literary posts around here for now. The brain cells are scrambled. Notes and jottings only.

  1. The black cloud of depression and anxiety that descended three weeks ago has lifted quite suddenly. Hallelujah. I'm used to its cyclical visits but they still lay me low.
  2. About a week ago I ran into an acquaintance, a fellow-sufferer. During our chat she put me onto this book which I later got out of the library. It's a gem. Very helpful. In one section the author echoes advice I received in an email from a blogfriend a while back (you know who you are). I'm grateful to both.
  3. That morning I had almost stayed in bed under the duvet.
  4. It's important to keep doing the next right thing.
  5. Particularly when you don't want to or can't see the point.
  6. Yoga is wonderful. I've always known it but this past week proved the matter beyond doubt. It shifts stuff on all sorts of levels.
  7. Reading Susanne's (A Life in Wales) most recent post has helped.
  8. Thinking once again about how many of the planet's concerns I can/ought to take on board. Worrying about them is only useful if I take action, however small.
  9. I need to take some small actions. One at a time.
  10. The sale of the flat is still up in the air. Fifty/fifty chance that it will go through.
  11. The owner of the Death Watch Beetle house has come back to me. He says the problems are fixed. I've asked for written details. I'm dubious but it's unsettling. A bit like being rung up by the unsuitable lover you finally let go of but still hanker after ...
  12. I will now probably rent a flat in the new place for six months and buy something once I am on the spot.
  13. Walked out of a temp job last week after the first day. Never done that before. I'd love to describe the gory details but it's probably not advisable on the blog.
  14. I need another temp job.
  15. Autumn is the cat's favourite season. He tries to chase the falling leaves through the window.

Click to enlarge photo

Friday, November 10, 2006

5 Facts Meme

Malin Head looking north Malin Head, Co. Donegal. Rep. of Ireland

I've been tagged by Rdl.

Five interesting or unique facts you didn’t know about me.

Not sure that these are either.

  1. I’m good at mental arithmetic.
  2. I believe I have had other lives before this one.
  3. I love to watch stormy seas. Makes me feel truly alive.
  4. I have had two really powerful dreams, one in childhood, one as an adult. I still remember the details.
  5. Tea or coffee? Tea please. Preferably Earl Grey, with milk and no sugar.

Not tagging anyone in particular, but run with this if you like it. Let me know if you do so that I can pop over and see. Incidentally, the blobs in the centre of the photograph are raindrops on the camera lens.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


By paying attention to the little things - the way the sun gilds the branches of the lilac by the door, the way warm water feels on my hands as I wash the dishes, the delicate taste of the honey I stir in my tea, the almost imperceptible sound of snowflakes as they fall - I can often quiet the frenetic pace of my thoughts.

Writing Down the Words

Always, the need to come back, to return.

In the link above, Pauline of Writing Down the Words, describes beautifully and clearly the process of learning to live alone - the adjustments, the pains and the quiet, profound pleasures.

And she writes about mindfulness.

I needed to read it. I've been avoiding my frazzled and anxious self lately and substituting escapism. Too much television, junk food, aimless web surfing. A loss of connection.


I took the rubbish out before dawn. Most of the leaves have already fallen from the whitebeam and bare branches were silhoutted against the night sky. The air was cold and very still.

Nothing to run from here.

Monday, November 06, 2006



It’s impossible not to smile: the rolled up trousers, the jackets and cardigans, the good humour. Very British.

I’m there, second from the right, leaning on my friend L’s shoulder as she struggled with her dog. We were on a week’s holiday by the sea with her parents, but I have no recollection at all of the family in this photo. They were probably in a neighbouring caravan and we just fell into doing things together - there was an easy-going camaraderie in these holiday friendships.

I couldn’t have been more than thirteen. But oh, I wince at that come-hither pose which I struck for the camera. I was old enough to understand the frightening necessity of being considered attractive.

It seemed a losing battle. I was ill at ease in my rapidly changing body. Emotionally I was floundering. A pattern was set for the next couple of decades; only in my forties would I really begin to get glimpses of life's grace and mystery. But that's a topic for another post.

So. Could anything have been said to make it easier?

If I were to reach out to this thirteen year old, I would tell her to keep both feet firmly on the ground and face the camera full on. I’d tell her that comparing herself to others shrivels the soul and throws up barriers, and that she truly didn’t need to go trawling for acceptance. She was beautiful and loved, whatever she or anyone else thought.

I'd say that when her thoughts won't give her any peace she needs to stop thinking and do something. Anything that works. Washing the kitchen floor is good. So is talking to a friend.

I'd warn her too about her perfectionism. Making mistakes is part of the package. Her job was to explore and develop those things which gave her joy. Singing would be a place to start .... she had a good voice.

I'd tell her to express her compassion. To look after herself physically and spiritually. To ask for help and to give it. To learn when to say yes. And, sometimes, to know when enough was enough and walk away.

Would the pep talk help? Probably not, but that wouldn't stop me. She would need to hear it. And so do I. Still.

What would I tell her about love, relationships and sex? Don't know. After all these years I'm still confused. I haven't cracked this one. All I know is that whatever happens she should attempt to keep her heart open. Years of numbness set in when I let mine close, when I tried to anaesthetise pain and grief. It doesn't feel like it at the time, you believe you are protecting yourself from more pain, but you're not. I try not to do that now. Maybe that's what I'd tell her.

L and I were inseparable until we reached sixteen. Then she met a biker who looked a little like John Travolta in Grease. Shortly afterwards she left school and got married. We lost touch.

I wonder how her life has been.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Chelsea Morning

The other end of last week's walk.

So peaceful, this view from Chelsea Embankment across the river to Battersea Park, with the chimneys of Battersea Power Station in the distance.

There's a massive difference in water level - approximately 20 feet - between high and low tide on this part of the Thames. At high water the river can seem alarmingly close to overflowing its stone and concrete banks. With the ebbing tide it shrinks down into itself, and strips of foreshore emerge on both sides of the river bed, a feeding ground for birds.

The grey heron.

On the embankment the Sunday morning drivers revved their engines at the traffic lights. Blue exhaust fumes hung for a few seconds in the warm air, then dispersed.

Undisturbed, the birds continued to forage for food.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Going With the Flow

Alternative titles could be:

Rolling With the Punches or Mercury Retrograde or You Have to Laugh. All apply.

  1. My laptop died this morning. Don't know if it can be resuscitated. I've put a call in to an engineer. I'm posting this in an internet cafe.
  2. The survey report arrived for the property I was planning to buy. In my opinion Death Watch Beetle + Damp = Trouble. I've withdrawn from the sale.
  3. The sale of my flat is still stuck in the quagmire of lease problems. Just as well perhaps in view of 2) above.

I was talking to a delightful man behind me in the queue at the railway station ticket office this morning - it was a very long queue. I told him about my laptop and he told me about his broken telephone answerphone that kept repeating one nonsensical sentence to anyone who rang him. At one point in his story we both started laughing. It occurred to me afterwards that this was the first time I've really, properly laughed for about a week.

There's a great relief in letting go. You don't necessarily choose when it's going to happen. Sometimes it creeps up on you .....

No substantive blogging (or reading or commenting) until the laptop's repaired/replaced. I hope this won't be too long.

But I'll go with the flow.