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Posts Tagged ‘England’

#The Grass is Greener on the Other Side

image from shangrillama.blogspot.com             This is not a llama?

“Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.”   ― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

How often do we hear that people have uprooted their lives, their family, given up their jobs, homes, all they ever knew for the possibility that “the grass is greener on the other side”? Between 1915 and 1921 a total of 12 million people of Irish or British nationality left those shores to travel to America, Canada or Australia, the lands of ”milk and honey” for a better lifestyle. The government of the day thought they were relieving themselves of their paupers, a burden on society however, a large number were not the poor labourers but farmers looking to acquire land in the “New World”, because “the grass is greener on the other side”. Quite a mistake!

#The Grass is Greener on the Other Side

image from http://www.pbase.com      The English Countryside

This was by no means the first migration of people. Records of early man show the chalk images of man following herds of animals to secure food. Our history is founded on finding somewhere better because “the grass is greener on the other side”, in order to make life easier, more comfortable, a guarantee of survival better than that which already existed. That man has survived until now has, in some ways been through chance rather than through planning. Reliance on animal migration was no guarantee of survival, as many of the great herds were slowly decimated by other predators and to changes in climate due to natural cyclical climate change.

From the days of the Industrial revolution when farmers left seeking better conditions because “the grass is always greener on the other side” there has never been any certainty this was correct. Throughout Canada and America they had to contend with the native Indians. The pre-eminent predator of his time, they were only defeated through the illnesses brought by the emigrants, the addiction to alcohol, also courtesy of the white man, and the vast number of settlers supplanting them. For the Indians it was a war of attrition which they lost and for the settlers a war of survival which they won.

#The Grass is Greener on the Other Side

image from http://www.123rf.com                The American Countryside

In Australia the native Aborigines were nomadic and stayed away from the settlers where possible. They were content to live in the way their ancestors had and remained away from the new settlers – by and large. There is no denying atrocities were committed on both sides at different times, such was the way of man. Take by force or eliminate the competition or both.  It has happened throughout the world and is still happening.

I am not debating the rights or wrongs which have occurred during history. From what I have read, neither man nor beast has changed their methods of supplanting others of their kind to ensure their survival.  Why have they done this? Do  they have work on a conscious or subconscious belief that “the grass is always greener on the other side”.

The real question; is “the grass is always greener on the other side” correct?  The answer, Yes and No! It must be since there are always people moving back from whence they came. Some return again and others do not. Humanity is a sea moving back and forth and when they find their place they stop moving.

“The grass is always greener on the other side.” I wonder. If I had been asked that as we left England I would have shouted a resounding YES! When I hopped off the train in Brisbane I would have shrieked an appalled NO! At different times throughout my life I would have said Yes or No, all depending on how my life was travelling. There were times when I longed for…… snow at Christmas when it is so hot and I am a disappearing puddle on a chair. At Thredbo, Canberra and Sydney I was enchanted and entertained. Tasmania was a green delight for the senses – and I had snow!

#The Grass is Greener on the Other Side

images from bluepowder.com.au              Thredbo

I am told that the outback has a grandeur and majesty unlike anything else on earth. In pictures it looks immense and otherworldly, yet in the ‘flesh’ I fear I would be unbearable as the heat and the flies destroy my equilibrium. Never having seen it I couldn’t say if “the grass is always greener on the other side” of the Black Stump. I’m not sure if I have the urge to find out.

#The Grass is Greener on the Other Side

image from http://www.genkin.org –           Australian Outback  –    Sturt National Park

I feel there will always be people who believe “the grass is always greener on the other side” and uproot themselves and their families because we need the constant ebb and flow of humanity. It ensures our gene pool is constantly mixed (seriously!), and it helps us to grow, as individuals, as a family, as a people, but more importantly as spiritual beings.

#The Grass is Greener on the Other Side

image from http://www.acrossoceania.com              The Kimberley Region   West Australia

We must constantly ‘taste’ all this world of ours has to offer so that we understand all its many varied aspects. We need our artists and novelists, scientists and unique individuals so that everyone is able to share in the majesty and splendour we are surrounded by.

So, No, I do not believe “the grass is always greener on the other side,” but I believe we need ‘the other side’ so that we can tell when we have found the place we want to call home.

#The Grass is Greener on the Other Side

image from properties.mitula.com.au –             Farmland at Byron

 “The most important thing is to enjoy your life—to be happy—it’s all that matters.”   Audrey Hepburn

Blessings,  Susan x

© Susan Jamieson 2014

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Guy Fawkes

image from http://www.channel4.com       The typical bonfire for guy Fawkes night

I’m a little late with this post as you can see, since Bonfire night or Guy Fawkes night was November 5. I realise my American readers will still be on November 5, so hooray, but down-under it is already November 6. I had intended to do this but instead my husband and I spent the evening reminiscing on what bonfire night had been like in both our countries as we were growing up.

Here in Australia it was celebrated with the huge (or small) bonfire and fireworks. It was a night of relaxed merrymaking amongst close friends, at least for my husband and his family, as they lived in the country and neighbours were miles away. With an abundance of wood cleared for planting crops they had a head start on their UK counterparts!

Yet for all the nostalgia of its passing I got the feeling that it wasn’t quite the same as we had in England. However, they made the night their own with a few drinks and a party, and of course, the obligatory high jinks. I’m told that amongst the fireworks was an occasional marine flare and an even bigger flash with the odd stick of gelignite (used for clearing tree stumps as a rule)! It seems when mischief arrives fun will be had and imagination abounds amongst young and the young at heart.

Guy Fawkes

image from http://www.cosmopolitan.co.uk –         My type of bonfire complete with Guy Fawkes.

In the UK things were a little different. Throughout the months of September and October the households participating in their Guy Fawkes bash (and there were many of them), would scour the neighborhood collecting timber, of any kind, old doors, packing crates, furniture, in fact anything which would burn.  It was a competition to see who could gather, and keep their bonfire material. Scavenging was tolerated, if not accepted and raids on each others stockpile were legendary. (We used to keep ours under lock and key in the old coal cellar). Many is the night when I would join the local lads (yes I was a tom boy), creeping through the dark night to sneak under the fence or wire, climb a tree to get over a fence and raid the competition’s stockpile. Adrenaline flowed and it was all in the nature of fun…. there was little violence as a result of our raiding which showed how much things have changed over the years.

By the end of October the anticipation was growing apace. Guarding your stockpile was a rostered affair to ensure your hoard remained intact. It was serious business by now. Halloween was one of the last nights for fun and frivolity before the big event. Being a book-worm I would love telling the stories of how it was possible to see the spirits of those crossed over on this night and as we ran and hid to jump out and scare one another mercilessly, we looked over our shoulders to see if something was following us. Dropping from overhead branches as we crept past trees and suddenly knocking over dustbins to hear the clatter and clang were all part of the lighthearted fun.

My understanding of Halloween only grew in later years, but then, as a child it was simple light-hearted fun and a night when children could safely roam the streets for a few hours after dark and have some high jinks. Trick or treating didn’t exist and a few hours of running amok certainly tired us out, much to our parents delight.

Guy Fawkes

image from http://www.dailymail.co.uk    The traditional style of Guy Fawkes, all ready for the fire.

I hasten to add that this photo even predates my Guy Fawkes but is the closest approximation to the ones I made each year. Dad graciously donated a pair of overalls and shirt. Granddad a cap and socks and usually a scarf and gloves. The stuffing was a mixture of rags and sticks, straw and anything I could jam in to fill him out nicely.

His face was a piece of hessian with eyes, nose and mouth painted on. Sometimes we had a jacket and sometimes boots….it all depended on what we could scrounge in the area. Stuffing it, sewing him up and painting a face really made him come alive. When it came time to tie him into his chair, we always used a donated kitchen chair to put at the top of the bonfire, he became a rather sad person to me.

He was of course, the person responsible for trying to blow up the houses of parliament. One has to wonder at times if he wasn’t on the right track, but that’s just my musing.

It was an unwritten but accepted rule that once the bonfire building began there were no more raids. The fire built during the day so that as the adults came home we were as wired as a high wire acrobat. One family made baked potatoes, another cooked pies and the obligatory mushy peas (yes mushy peas and I loved them) and I made ‘plot’ toffee and toffee apples. I have no idea why it was called plot toffee as the recipe was no different to usual, except I had to make lots more of it. Chewy or hard there was little left at the end of the night.

Guy Fawkes

image from http://www.mumsintheknow.co.uk                  Fireworks a spectacular display on Guy Fawkes night

A ring of chairs (for the fire later) or from inside the house, logs for the fire or other comfortable perches were arranged in a circle around the fire for the adults. I can’t say I saw any alcohol but then I was a wee innocent back then. Dad was in charge of the fireworks and he managed to let his inner child run free and he slipped the Chinese Tom Thumbs loose behind the adults to see them jump too. I loved the Catherine Wheels, but then I loved it all.

The smell of the fire, the toasty feel of the heat on your face, the excitement as the fire burned brightly and the whiz, bang and whirr of the fire works, plus the parade of ‘goodies’ throughout the evening, on a cold chilly night was almost indescribable.  There was always a “hurrah” from almost everyone as poor old Fawkes succumbed to the flames but I still felt sorry for him.

Parents finally chivvied children in to bathe and bed, still excited and wide-eyed and seeing the fire glow from your window it was hard to fall asleep. Truthfully I was caught on more than one occasion hanging from my bedroom window watching the flames still burning brightly.

Guy Fawkes

image from http://www.theguardian.com     Standing around the bonfire on Guy Fawkes night

This then was the bonfire night or Guy Fawkes night of my childhood. After the long reminiscing last night I really wanted to share with you a highlight from my childhood days when fun and frivolity were just that, simple and light-hearted with no one getting hurt or playing cruel pranks. That came later, but not when we enjoyed it. I hope you can get an idea of what it was like for us.

Blessings and light-hearted reminiscing.

Ciao, Susan x

© Susan Jamieson 2013

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image from bigoldhouses.blogspot.com

In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it. Michelangelo

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England has more than a small number of old houses, mansions, priories, castles and so on, many having their own tales of haunting or ghosts. Whilst I have my own experiences of wandering through these places, including my feelings walking round Port Arthur, this tale is purely anchored in a vivid dream. All I will say is that the house of my dream is one I ‘know’ and have ‘been to in the distant past’ even though I cannot recall the details of it yet.

It was drawing close to winter, the weather had turned cold and a keen wind had whistled around the house for days.  It found any small crack or crevice to keen through and bring goose-flesh to your skin. It was easy to hear strange noises or perhaps whispered voices once the sun had set.

I was at my babysitting job on this bitterly cold Saturday night. I had stayed up late watching the old horror movies starring Vincent Price and Peter Cushing. They seemed perfectly suited for such eerie surrounds. When I was taken home again  had to make my way to the back of the house to get in. Behind me was the skyline of the old woods, trees writhing in the wind and bats silently flitting between the scudding clouds.  I was in a hurry to get inside.

image from theinsideofmyheadd.wordpress.com

It was late and I was grateful to climb between my warm sheets and pull my eider down under my chin. I was sure I would be asleep in minutes. Yet from there I slipped into  a strange land somewhere between wakefulness and sleep, or so I thought.

I saw this old house, so familiar and yet I knew, in one part of my mind, that I had never been there, yet. It had a dark and brooding feel to it, as though it had been long-deserted and had an unhappy history. I heard footsteps, a careful measured tread and with some surprise realised they were mine. I walked up the long and overgrown driveway towards the front door of the house. It felt as though the house was waiting… for me or someone else, I really don’t know.

There were six steps leading up to the front porch. The scroll work railing around the patio was rusted and dark, clinging vines wrapped around it all withered and dry, rustling eerily in the wind. The house had been empty for years, windows broken, boarded over now with jagged edges, the holes gaping into the blackness beyond.

My footsteps creaked on the wooden portico as I approached the door. The wind had picked up in intensity and the door creaked loudly as it moved slightly on its rusted hinges. Without conscious thought I saw my pale hand reach out to slowly push the door open. The screech of rusted metal protesting was loud in my ears and a nearby owl hooted as it flew off into the trees.

I did not want to enter that house so why were my feet pulling me forward?  Some intangible force seemed to be drawing me inside, deeper into the dark recesses of the house. The wind whistling through those jagged holes in the windows blew dried leaves rustling across the floor as the door opened further.  It made a sound like shuffling feet creeping across the floor.

image from cindi.ccfoss.com

I moved slowly forward, towards the old staircase. I could see it would have been beautiful when the house was in its hey day, but now was as broken down as the rest of the house.  As I stood there at the foot of the staircase I thought I heard a whispered voice calling from above. I couldn’t make out what it said and my tongue was clinging to the roof of my dry mouth. My legs had turned to jelly yet were rooted to the spot.

I hadn’t noticed that the little light which had been coming in through the door and windows had grown less. The wind was howling more strongly and I could hear thunder crashing off in the distance. Each time it sounded a little closer and the old house seemed to shake in the rumbling echoes.  Lightning suddenly flashed off in the distance, throwing an eerie light into the house.

The moaning of the wind now began to sound like the moaning of someone in pain, a sound which was getting louder by the minute. Another crash of thunder seemed to rattle the old house to its very foundations and the following lightning flash flared brightly. In the peculiar afterglow I thought I saw a figure silhouetted tat the top of the staircase. A woman in a long dress seemed to be staring down at me.

The crash of thunder pealed directly overhead followed immediately by the whip crack of lightning. Between the wind howling through the windows, the deafening noise of thunder and actinic flare of lightning the shape coalesced into the form of a woman, apparently floating down the stairs. I certainly could hear no footfalls.

Whether I could hear anything or not I no longer wished to be there. Without conscious thought, without moving I found myself once more tucked up in my bed, breathing heavily and drenched in perspiration, my heart hammering to its own beat.

I suppose one should expect strange dreams if one is watching horror movies! After all, it was just a dream – wasn’t it?

I have never seen this house and yet I know it. Another lifetime perhaps, only time may tell, it felt real at the time. I could smell the lightning and the dead leaves, the musty old house. I could hear the wind  and thunder, footsteps and was it a voice moaning? At the time it was real as all dreams or otherworldly experiences are real. It is up to you to decide. Whatever lesson I have to learn from this is still to be revealed.  Perhaps the message was for you?

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image from style160.blogspot.com

“I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”
Albert Einstein

Blessings  Susan x

© Susan Jamieson

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This is the ship which really was the start of my biggest adventure up to that point.

My parents had decided to bring the family to Australia and we were to travel here on the MS Achille Lauro. Since I had never been on a cruise up to that point in time it was a big adventure. Leaving England and coming to Australia was a huge adventure but we had to get there first.

We arrived at Southampton late in the day as everyone was boarding and, I’m sorry to say, I missed seeing the White Cliffs of Dover as we set sail in the middle of the night.  The excitement of the trip down from Yorkshire, traveling around London in a big old black cab, catching the subway for the first time, all these firsts finally caught up with all of us and we were sound asleep when we set sail. One day I will sail past those cliffs so that I can take some photos… it would be criminal in one sense not to.

The next morning we were well out to sea with not a landmark in sight. The air was balmy, sun shining and the sense of adventure was almost enough to stop me eating. Almost, but not quite! I had never seen such a massive array of food offered for breakfast. It wasn’t a three course meal, it felt like a ten course meal. Being too excited I restricted myself to some nice and easy to digest oatmeal… I wasn’t taking any chances of being ill. I was almost beside myself with eagerness at getting up on deck and exploring.

However, my father had decreed that since it was an Italian ship, Italian crew, and everyone knew what Italian men were like, I had to be chaperoned at all times! What a balloon buster!! But, I couldn’t be down for long, there was simply too much to do and see and experience.

On the Achille Lauro, travelling to Australia

On the Achille Lauro, traveling to Australia

The dining room was enormous, of course, and each meal was an adventure. The waiters treated us like royalty, which was really great for the ego! But there was so much more.  From the front (bow) of the ship I could watch the dolphins flying past, seeming to dodge directly under the prow and leap forward once again. I could have spent all day there mesmerised by them.   This became my personal escape if I wanted to spend some quiet time and daydream about ocean travel, mermaids and dolphins and being carried away by gorgeous Italian men. (Sigh).

We, as a family of course, explored the ship from ‘stem to stern’ and as many places in between. We seemed to find ourselves in the lounge often as there was coffee there all day long and morning tea, afternoon tea and supper were served there every day. The waiters took it upon themselves to try to teach me a few words of Italian every time I had to get something, and as the eldest child, that meant quite often. I was in heaven.

Our first port of call was in the Canary Islands where the crew promptly went on strike! They claimed the ship had been loaded incorrectly and if we hit bad weather the ship would turn turtle! The Poseidon Adventure had not long been released and I had visions of drowning at sea since swimming was not my forte.

So each day we had to disembark and head into the town of Tenerife to buy our food with the vouchers the ship gave us. What an experience that was! Walking down the gangplank was the first obstacle. The local Spanish population of males seemed to congregate at first light and line the bottom of the gangway and along the pier. This was in 1972, the era of the mini skirt and ours (Mums and mine) were pretty much par for the era, that is fairly short. As we descended the gangway grubby hands darted up our skirts and pinched the tops of our legs or bottoms depending on how high they managed to reach.

It didn’t take long for us to be covered in black and blue bruises. Dad and my brothers became the rear guard to prevent as much grabbing as possible. It saved us from being crippled before the week was over. At the end of the week half the Italian crew went home and we were given Spanish crew members to make up the quota. This presented quite a problem as the Italians spoke little Spanish, the Spaniards spoke little if any Italian and we spoke neither Italian nor Spanish. I should add that the Italians at least spoke English. We managed but it became interesting in the dining room.

On one memorable day, when the Captain had decided he was going to cut close to the Cape of Good Hope to avoid ‘rough’ weather we were entertained by a few interesting experiences. To start with it was hellishly rough close to the Cape. My youngest brother was terribly seasick and the warder brought copious amounts of lemon for him to settle his stomach. For the rest of us it was fun and games getting up to the lounge. The ship was rolling badly and we had to time our dash up the stairs to the roll of the ship.  In high heels too!

Once there we thought everything would be fine. As we looked out the window on one side of the ship we could see beautiful blue sky and at the exact moment on the other side we could see nothing but blue water…. very interesting and exciting.  The bartender had few customers that day and was polishing his vast quantity of glassware. I’m not sure he thought about it too much since as we rolled through a particularly wide arc the glasses began to slide of the right side of the bar. He spread his hands wide around his glasses as we started to roll back the other way. The glasses he couldn’t hold onto went sliding noisily off the other end of the bar.  Thank heavens the tables were bolted down!

And we were only halfway there. We stopped in Cape Town for a day. There was a tour of the city which was disturbing. As we were walking along an African man fell to the ground with an epileptic seizure. As calmly as you like our tour guide continued talking and shepherding us across the street. When we suggested going to help we were politely but firmly told to not get involved. “His people would look after him”.  Our first exposure to Apartheid. It put a dampener on the excursion, but the sight of Table Mountain, right out of Wilbur Smiths books helped – a little.

From there we sailed to Durban. Just a brief stopover, but it whetted my appetite to return, one day! From there we sailed across to Fremantle.  Once again we unfortunately didn’t get to see very much. Our week delay in Tenerife meant we were behind schedule and arrived there in the middle of the night. Dad and I walked the pier for a time and I got my first little koala. I still have it today.

Next stop was Melbourne where it was raining and freezing. This was supposed to be Australia, we had left the English winter behind! We  made a dash into town to get some jeans since all our warm clothes were in the steamer trunks. We were running back up the pier to the ship as it took longer than expected, with the crew chivvying  us along saying the ship would sail without us. I’m here so we obviously made it.

image from blogs.harcourts.com.au

After this it was smooth sailing to Sydney where we were met with another problem. Originally we had sleeper berths organised for the trip to Brisbane which was our final destination. Being a week late meant that other arrangements had to be made. So, we had a lovely day being taken round Sydney, The Rocks and Botany Bay as our introduction to Australia. We were still confused  because it was still cold!  Onto the overnight train to Queensland and our final leg of the journey was commenced.

image from http://www.dreamstime.com – Botany Bay!

Excitement eventually won out and I fell asleep during the night only to wake and find Dad had left his seat next to me.  Of course that meant I had to go find him. I did track him down in the bar, having a quiet drink and a smoke with a few other stalwarts who couldn’t sleep. This meant he had to return to keep me corralled for the rest of the night. Arriving at midday the next morning was a shock to the system. It was 42 degrees Celsius and we were wearing heavy denim jeans! OMG we all thought we were going to pass out. We wanted to get back on that air-conditioned train and where were the kangaroos? We had been fed a long diet of tales of kangaroos hopping down the street and koalas in every tree and not a one in sight, just a huge golden orb that was frying our brains.

image from news.domain.com.au –

Of course no one thought to tell us that most of the houses were timber either. It was all so new we wondered if we were on a different planet. In some ways we were, aliens in a foreign land. The summer was long and hot and we burned and burned some more. And they (the school) expected us to play sport in the heat!  Cruel, sadistic and totally heartless. Fortunately we survived… I’m still here. I never recovered from the shock of getting off the train into that furnace-like heat and still dislike the summer. Then again, not everything is meant to change.

I hope you enjoyed my trip to Australia and I want to finish with the last sight anyone had of the Achille Lauro.

image fromhttp://www.ssmaritime.com/achillelauro.htm

“You can’t prepare for everything life’s going to throw at you. And you can’t avoid danger. It’s there. The world is a dangerous place, and if you sit around wringing your hands about it, you’ll out on all the adventure.”
Jeannette Walls, Half Broke Horses

To Grand Adventures, wherever we find them.

Ciao, Susan x (c) Susan Jamieson

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image from 8tracks.com

“Every man carries the seed of his own death, and you will not be more than a man. You will have everything; you cannot have more…”     Mary Stewart, The Hollow Hills

Down country lanes in old England I roam

And feel neath my soft booted feet the soft earthen loam

To reach that corner away down the lane

Where Merlin awaits to teach me again

The fairies and elves have kept me too long

Playing their games and singing their songs

Where has the night flown I really can’t tell

The gnomes and the dwarves rarely yell

To spoil the slumber of those who dwell

With the old  folk neath the Hazel and Rowan

There, Merlin I see in the distance ahead

We travel once more down an old winding track

It leads to the castle, of fame and misfortune

Of Tintagel Castle with cliffs so sheer

No man nor beast could ever get near

So thought Gorlois when protecting Ygraine

But he forgot Merlin who helped Uther

To reach the castle in the shape of old Gorlois

And a son to Ygraine and King Uther Pendragon was born

Arthur, the saviour of the magic of old

Which Uther had tried to banish by fire.

Builder of Camelot and gatherer of proud knights

Fair Guinevere was his wife

And Lancelot First Knight of the round table

Who led the search for the Holy Grail

And Arthur, whose star shone so bright would finally fail

Killed by his son, Mordred, sired on his sister in the night

And so fell Camelot into ruin and decay

Excalibur lost back into the lake from which it came

Where the Lady would keep and watch over it

Til once more it was needed and a saviour was fit

To finally keep and hold it

And Merlin would return from his crystal cave

Not just in my dreams where I see him and wave

Deep in my heart as we soar through the sky

He as an Eagle will fly and I as an Owl

Or running so fast as wolves on the prowl

Crossing the ground as the grasses speed by

But who am I to speak of such things

The heroes are gone

The light has no longer shone

On fair Camelot or the knights of old

And Merlin in his cave of crystal has grown cold

So in my dreams only he will wake once more

So we can wander the lanes of the England of old

And learn of the lore which Merlin knows well

Of Vivienne Lady of the Lake and the magical well

Fairies and Elves, Sprites and Sylphs,

Pan and the Wild Hunt

And magic and spells til the sun shines once more.

Ah slumber, I crave thee to bring back my friends.

And I will no more feel so heart sore.

image from zinkroniandonoz.webs.com –

“I am nothing, yes; I am air and darkness, a word, a promise. I watch in the crystal and I wait in the hollow hills. But out there in the light I have a young king and a bright sword to do my work for me, and build what will stand when my name is only a word for forgotten songs and outworn wisdom, and when your name, Morgause, is only a hissing in the dark.”
Mary Stewart, The Hollow Hills

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“If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with.”
L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

North York moors

North Yorkshire moors, courtesy of wonderfulwhitby.co.uk

I was asked today what sights, sounds or scents were evocative of the place which I thought of as the most special place of all.  Its something I’ve often given a lot of thought to since I came here as a teenager, oh so many years ago.  Yet, after all this time it is a relatively easy question to answer. This is my home now. It will always be my home. I have lived here longer than ever I was in the country of my  birth and my family are here. How could anywhere else be home?

Yet for all that, my “soul home”, the place where I belong, is still in England. There is something there which, whilst I love Australia and will never leave here, still draws me to those “unquiet shores”.   So what are those memory triggers which send me back to the land of my birth?

The sight of the heather in full bloom, such a rich deep purple, and so high that when you lay down you are surrounded by a thick prickly carpet of purple flowers.  Surrounded by the sounds of birdsong, the rustle in the heather as my dog burrows his way through, and the sight of those lazy cotton ball clouds floating serenely  across the eggshell blue sky.

Then there was my favorite ‘go to ‘place during the spring, when the trees where budding and their leaves just unfurling. The oaks were my favorite. There was a place, Chelodean, a reservoir where during the second world war anti aircraft batteries were built. They had been boarded and blocked up for years, but they were still there and you could see the external walls.  permanent reminder of days gone by.   Best of all was the carpet of bluebells under the trees.

bluebells under trees

Bluebells flowering underneath the trees, courtesy of  nationBaltrust.org.uk

Perhaps one of the greatest memory triggers is seeing a Border Collie. I had a beautiful dog, my best friend, who followed me on my ramblings every day. He would scrabble through the heather or chase the butterflies through the bluebells, but he never chased the rabbits, although he looked longingly at them from time to time.

Border collie

Border Collie, courtesy of sciforums.com

So, in many ways there is no simple way to explain what the sights, sounds or scents were, since they were all a jumble of the burgeoning spring days after the cold and bleak winters. Although, after saying that I did enjoy my winter wonderland, despite its cold winds and wet feet.  Perhaps that’s the benefit of looking back, we see the happy memories and replay the happy scenes.

Yet for all that I will remember the heather prickling into my back under the clouds and the smell of crushed bluebells under me and their gentle heads nodding in the soft breeze.

“Oh, to be in England
Now that April’s there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England – now!!”
Robert Browning
Home Thoughts from Abroad.

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