Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Going west

My bags are packed and plans are made. I have dug out the maps and printed out the family tree. I have already been heard to mutter the words "Are we nearly there yet?".
I am off on my holidays the first week of September, going west to Cornwall!

I have many fond memories of childhood holidays in the far south western tip of the country; Marking the passage of the days by the height of the tide along the river channels where bright white little egrets stalked the shadows beneath over hanging oaks and grey herons flapped slowly upstream. Eating pasties, so hot they burn our mouths, hunkered down out of the wind behind a lichen encrusted wall, where Shetland ponies graze the serpentine headland. I followed the call of a cuckoo around the Cheesering, counted the Merry Maidens more than once in both directions, and planted my feet in centuries of history at Chyauster whilst watching the weather pass over Mounts bay. I used the last photo on the roll of film in my camera for yet another shot of St Michaels Mount. Sunshine streamed through stain glass windows, making rainbow patterns on the stonework of Truro cathedral. 

This year's visit is a chance to pursue a deeper connection with the land beyond the Tamar, and research my family's ancestry. 

Whilst I am away, Autumn will settle in here in Sussex. I look forward to discovering all it's beauties and delights on my return home. 

Friday, 21 August 2015

Nature: My cup of tea

There is a great English tradition, of turning to the tea pot at the slightest requirement for calming, comforting or celebrating. 
It has been a long week. I am clutching a mug and gazing contemplatively out onto a rain-damp, increasingly autumnal garden, and considering going for a walk.
Getting outside and in contact with nature is my go-to-therapy, especially after a stressful day, or when I need to think, or when I simply need to remind myself to breathe. 

The red admiral butterfly that has been visiting the buddleia bush all week must have been tucked safely away out of the rain last night, because it is already back flitting around the fading blooms. Below the butterfly bush, water droplets in the grass sparkle in the sunshine and a single self-seeded nasturtium is flowering from a crack in the paving. The cool, fresh air feels more like autumn than august but the house martins are still twittering in frenzied parties overhead and the sun still retains some fiery warmth. 

I was taking the rubbish out yesterday evening when I had an unexpected encounter. I was tiptoeing up the garden path one way (you have to tiptoe, to step around and over the plants that overflow and pop up across the path at both head and foot height, and avoid squishing the slugs or scrunching the snails!) and met a small but determined toad making its way down the garden path in the opposite direction. I was afraid it would get squashed so (with the aid of the nearest container to hand which happened to be the currently unrequired dog bowl) I moved it gently from danger in the path to the dampest corner of the garden, the undergrowth near to the pond, which was the direction it seemed to be heading in anyway. 
It crept under a fern, nudged beneath the leaf of the marsh marigold and launched itself into the pond.

Thrilling and wonderful, this visit from Tiny Toad made my whole day significantly better, helped put life into perspective, and more than made up for my week of  feeling rotten and being laid low by a 'bug'.

Contact with nature is vital to my every day life, it is both restorative and inspiring; it is my 'cup of tea'.