Tuesday, 31 May 2011

The Famous Sally Dog and Other Tails . . .

Good Morning Dear Friends!

Well, just two messages this morning; first of all an exceptionally fine and joyous birthday to  The Famous Sally Dog who is six years old today! Except for a slight twinge now and again in the old legs she is still as sprightly and adorable  as ever! We've been more or less continuously together since she was 5 weeks old and it is through her interventions that I have found many new friends - mainly to apologise for the fact that she is sitting by them refusing to move until they share their sandwiches!

She will be spending her birthday in her luxury holiday apartment because, after seeming like it was forever away, the day for my jaunt to Jura has finally arrived! All is nearly packed and ready; I'm trying to convince myself that I haven't forgotten something vaguely important like the laptop with my story on - my reason for going to Jura in the first place! And so this will be all from me until I return some time in the near future, laden with photographs and, one hopes, a finished story with which to delight you all!

I hope your day - and those that follow - are filled with joy and love and happiness!

'til next time

Be Seeing You !

Thursday, 26 May 2011

What the Caterpillar Calls the End of the World . . .

Good Morning Dear Friends

I began this post a couple of days ago but life seems to have a habit of getting in the way of my writing - something needs to be done, that's for sure!   So here I am on Thursday morning, and beyond the study window the world is a relentless drip of grey; the sky is the colour of pigeons wings and an altogether flat feeling pervades my thoughts . . . I had a bit of a sleepless night which no doubt hinders my cheerfulness to a greater or lesser degree . . . however, sworn as I am to positivity and happiness-spreading I shall try my best not to buckle under the weight of barometric pressure which, conversely, will be low, won't it?

Anyhow, there's been much talk lately of endings; it is just over a week since college finished and I'm due to end with my clients in Bury in the next week or so plus, of course, the news on Saturday that the world was going to end and the great cataclysm would be upon us  - which, as I write, has still not happened or if it has I've been too busy to notice . . . anyhow, as I was walking with Sal the other day I was thinking of all these endings and I looked up from my ponderings, as it were, and saw a structure, the image which is posted above; I was instantly taken back to when I was around 3 years old or so and learned something that I was able to use many, many years later . . .

My maternal grandmother lived in a wee house - now demolished - just beyond this bridge and when I was three years old she died and I found her bed; in the following weeks as we continued to visited my granddad who still lived there but was preparing to move, I asked constantly where she was - I had, of course been excluded from the funeral and, as far as I was concerned, she had just disappeared.

I remember my mum pointing up and saying to me " She's in heaven now" and, looking up, I saw this huge massive structure.  I said " Can she see me from up there? " "Oh yes" said my mum and I waved . . . for some time afterwards I continued to look up at this bridge and wonder what my Nan was up to in 'heaven' ! Many years later, I was involved in a bereavement course and we were speaking about all the different  euphemisms for death and how they could confuse children's understanding and I though instantly of my three-year-old self waiting for his Nan to get down from the West Coast Mainline!

And it is on this very line that I will begin next weeks jaunt to Jura -  in the face of, it has to be said, considerable opposition from the natural world!  Not only have gale force winds been blowing the wrong kinds of trains off the tracks in Scotland but our dear old friend the Grímsvötn volcano in Iceland has manage to wreck havoc on air travel with its clouds of volcanic ash  . . . flights from Glasgow Airport which is, of course, my airport of departure, seemed to be quite badly hit at one point although today things seem to be back on a more even keel . . . anyhow, if all goes according to plan, it is there I hope to have the enforced solitude and muse-filled inspiration which will enable me to finish "The Maelstrom" which is of course the reason behind this trip in the first place . . . 

I've had to do lots of research for this book; The main character Blair is based on George Orwell and the events that occurred to him whilst he was staying on Jura make up some of the story line for the book . . . it has however been changed and manipulated somewhat, not to mention augmented by a few of the myths and legends that surround this lonely and far-flung outpost . . . hopefully the resulting cocktail will be palatable and enjoyable . . . not least to mine hosts the Diurachs of Jura Whisky who will be publishing it on their wonderful website  - www.isleofjura.com -    shortly after completion.

So as one time of being ends, another begins; as the title of this post relates "What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Master calls a butterfly" one of my favourite quotes from Richard Bach's terrific book  "Illusions"  . . . life all about change and embracing it positively; something which, I must admit, I am rather better at in theory than practice but I hope I am improving . . . and as if to reward my little burst of positivity the sun has begin to peep through the wings and into the study windows . . . the rain has stopped - at least for the moment - and small hounds are making "Well? Are we going for a walk or what?" type glances and movements - Sal is so eloquent in her silence!

So I will leave you here and hope your day is fortune-filled and full of love and laughter

'til next time

Be Seeing You !


Sunday, 15 May 2011

"You Alone Can Hear the Invisible Starfall ..."

Good Afternoon Dear Friends . . .

 . . . although the level of light has remained much the same throughout the day so it's quite difficult to judge the time; this kind of day makes me sleepy and reflective and, if like today work to be done is breathing down my neck, very creative at avoiding its clutches.  To this end I have managed some words for the final assignment and have crept up to 'halfway there' but have spent much more time in the company of old friends namely Endeavour Morse with whom I spent a couple of hours and then a delightful 24 in one hour and twenty with Richard B et al in the lovely village of Llareggub . . .  I am now relaxed and content; except for all the work I still have to do and the fact that I am getting very mutinous looks from my small canine shipmate who blames the awful meteorology on me!

So to begin at the beginning . . . it is, of course Sunday and the week stretches before me, ripe with possibilities and promise.  Tomorrow I am over to Bury where the countdown has begun - only four more visits - to see clients; Wednesday is the final day at my ivy-clad Hall of Learning - for the time-being at least as I have two more courses lined up (and still waiting to be financed!) and then on Friday I make my second visit to my new placement in a relatively local High School.  In between I have the pleasure of luncheon with the Old Duchess on Tuesday and a high probability of a similar event with Sister Cate at some point and then it's the weekend again - phew!

I'm thinking more and more about "The Maelstrom" which, for those of you with significant memory loss or freshly returned from an extended stay in Ulan Bator, is the name of the story that managed to win me a writing retreat on Jura. I leave in 2 weeks and the joyful prospect of spending time in such isolation and beauty is somewhat tempered by the realisation that I need to produce at least 7,500 words of wonder and joy in a little over 1,984 minutes!  I do have the outline firmly in my head and so it shouldn't be that difficult (ha!)  - unless the story changes - which as, living dynamic things, they are wont to do! I also want to produce a blog of my time there and lots of photographs . . . I wonder if I scratch out the word "days" on the ticket and replace it with "months" anyone will notice?

With thoughts of words in mind, I don't think I had ever realised what an unconscious debt I owe to the Lord Of Llareggub; it was only when I listened to the way his words came and went like waves, washing together and mingling, changing direction and eddying that I thought how my words do the same . . . bizarrely enough as a callow youth I never cared for his writing; nor did I like the music of RV Williams - how one changes over time, from those days when one had such definite views and opinions, very black and white . . . ah me!

I suppose I cannot put off the inevitable any longer; the old sea-dog beside me has wondered in and out of the courtyard a few times but really needs her short hairy legs stretching a bit so it's on with the sou'wester and strap me to the mast  . . . or at least unfurl an umbrella!

I hope you all have a fantastic week and that the weather improves to raise all our spirits

'til next time

Be Seeing You !

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Trials, Tribulations and a Tribute . . .

Good Evening Dear Friends . . .

After a somewhat unsettled period of "monkey-wedding" weather as they term such sun and showery conditions in South Africa we have yet another evening of rain beyond the windows of the study . . . and along with the precipitation and resultant dampness comes an intensification of the myriad of aches and pains that habitually inhabit my body; I suppose one answer would be to up sticks and go all mediterraneo in some lovely village like Deia de Mallorca with oranges on the tree for breakfast - alternatively I suppose  a couple of paracetamol are a cheaper, if less romantic, option . . . and to be honest I love my bijou house which is my own little oasis of peace and tranquility and the rain can be considered soothing . . . have I convinced you yet? No? me neither!

Since we last spoke I've continued in a small way to expand and upgrade the technology and, given that it is a thankless task and somewhat Forth Bridge in nature, I still have some way to go but we are a step closer to living as recommended in the Book of Jobs and closing the Gates of Bill forever . . . I am getting to be more of a ʞǝǝƃ than I thought possible, albeit rather late in life, and obsessing almost exclusively on Ѽ ! 

Talking of such things apologies are due for the still non-appearance of the Myrtle House web site; the blame (if such a concept truly exists) can be placed firmly at my door, as the delightful Sam from Gecko has done her bit but awaits both content and funds from me to launch - the former is no problem the latter a different matter as per usual . . .  Be patient children, you will get your bedtime story eventually!

In other news, I learned today of the death of one of my ex-neighbours; I knew John Martindale for around eight years when he lived just below me in the BPS.  He was a fanatical follower of Wigan Rugby League Football Club, a stalwart steward of the game and an all-round good egg! He was eighty-four and had been somewhat lost and lonely since the love of his life Irene had died a couple of years previously . . . one hopes a rematch is in the fixture list! Sadly, I am unable to attend the funeral as I am booked in with clients but hope this mention serves as a tiny memorial to a great man and a grand neighbour. 

Meanwhile, as always, the river of life flows on and we continue to row, row, row our boat gently downstream to the vast eternal sea that awaits us all . . . however, before that event I have much to do and (I hope) time to do it in: words await writing and journeys lead my footsteps away from these familiar streets - the first of which is now just a mere 3 weeks away . . . I first learned that I'd snagged the prize on St David's day which seems forever ago! I intend to write a journal and take some snaps so that you can all share my good fortune and mosquitos!

And now my stomach tells me it is time to eat; I wish you a lovely evening and hope you're not as creaky as I am - it may be sunny tomorrow, you just never know!

'til next time

Be Seeing You !

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Cloudbusting . . .*

Good Evening Dear Friends

Although it's normally a case of "Whan that aprill with his shoures soote the droghte of march hath perced to the roote" in these parts we've had to wait a tad longer  for the first drip drops of sustenance for the garden; as I write it is pleuting down (forgive the Franglais!) and giving my newly acquired estate the dousing it so desperately needs . . . a number of people have remarked how much they enjoy lying in bed listening to the rain; it is somehow rather soothing isn't it? I was almost tempted to say therapeutic but decided that I had written the word so often in the past few weeks that both it and I would benefit from the rest!   So the week ends and the weekend's looming like a cumulonimbus on the horizon of our expectations; will it be wellies or shall it be sandals? I do find it reassuring that we talk about the weather so much in this silly little island of ours, don't you? If this precipitation continues tomorrow there will doubtless be mutterings of " So that was Summer then!" O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

As always, this time of year is one of beginnings and endings; saying goodbye and hello in the same breath quite often, as the wheel continues to turn and we poor mortals upon it . . . I'm currently in the process of finishing off the last four years of learning whilst planning the next 12 months of deeper and more esoteric education and in between all the paperwork and portfolios there are also people who I've come to know incredibly well; some I know I'll see again as they are part of my fabric as it were but others  - well, it's debatable  .  .  . we put a lot of energy into endings in counselling and I must admit it's something I need to work on; it's not that I find it hard to say goodbye but I sometimes feel as though my farewells are not as valuable as those of other people - those who have known each other longer for example . . . anyhow, the next couple of weeks will tell how successful I am at overcoming my reticence!

Tomorrow  Sister Cate and I are meeting earlyish for a cup of the green stuff courtesy of those Barista Boys and Girls @ Nero - who are always a joy to natter with - then a dash around Sparks and Mensa for cheesy comestibles and ideas for a feast for visiting royalty later in the day before a trek across the valley floor to the Stately Pile of the Old Duchess for our weekly audience . . . Sunday is Grand Prix time again I believe - my one concession to sport - and time for a spot of Turkish delight for Lewis one hopes, but nothing is certain especially with old Mr Cobbler lurking in fourth place?   I shall have to ask the elves to ties his shoelaces together . . . 

And with thoughts of fairy tales loitering in my head I realise that it's past pumpkin time and that I should probably be thinking about tucking myself in for the night; I'm conscious that tonight's offering seems somewhat fractured and I'm not altogether sure why I decided to write it . . . maybe it was the patter of the rain on the windows which is the only sound to stir the silence here? Who can say?  Nevertheless I think we shall call it done and retire from the study with good grace ( a lovely girl) to the domain of dreams awaiting next door . . . I think we are all next door to our dreams, don't you?

So with more questions than are strictly necessary I shall wish you all the sweetest of sleeps, positively awash with love and kisses of an unimaginable magnitude

'til next time

Be Seeing You !

* with credit to the lovely Kate

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

All in the Golden Afternoon . . .

My Dear Friends

I hope you will join with me in my now customary celebration of the birth, some 159 years ago, of a sweet child who was the subject of the first book I ever read and has remained with me as a constant companion throughout the intervening years.

I refer, of course, to the delightful Alice Liddell, daughter of Dean Henry Liddell, sister to Lorina and Edith and muse to the Dodo himself, Charles Dodgson.

I first encountered her when I was around 5 years old (and she was a mere century or so) in a book given to me by the legendary Great Aunt Florence which contained illustrations by a chap called Harry Rowntree who, as you can see from the illustration to the right, stayed much closer to the original than the awful Disney abomination of later years, though she does look a little more Flapper than Victorian!

Nonetheless, the story was, as I say, the first I read and completely took my breath away; I can't tell you the number of times I have read it or quoted it but it has been a constant part of my life ever since.

This "child of the pure, unclouded brow and dreaming eyes of wonder" died in 1934 as Mrs Reginald Hargreaves having some years earlier sold the original manuscript of the work that immortalised her for the (then) princely sum of £15,400!

However, for your edification and enjoyment, and at considerably less cost than that I am happy to reproduce for you the last page of the original work below . . .

I hope you have a lovely day and remember in your thoughts a least for a little while this dear girl from across the years

'til next time

Be Seeing You !