stepping stones of truth

A journey along the path of life - the stones can be rough, smooth or even wobbly!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Enough Zen

Read all about my recent weekend of Meditation and Mindfulness with Zen monks, over at ArkSanctum...

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Surf heaven diary - the journey home

Day three (continued)

In fact the sun did come out again in the evening, and encouraged me to stroll to the village and sit outside a pub in the molten gold evening and sip an iced white wine spritzer. I had given up on getting a wifi hotspot for the laptop to check my emails - when in Saltrock (a trendy surf shop that was open late into the evening) I espied a sign that said "internet access" Hurrah! It was remarkable how detached I felt. It was good to talk again - even if only to the assistant to buy some exotic shells for Youngest Daughter, eat an ice cream, and be part of the wider world again.

I felt calm and happy and suddenly realised I had enough Peace and Quiet and decided to dawdle home the next morning.

Day four

A bright and early start, and it was fun to do the old thing of "following my nose". Just point the car in the vague direction of home and see where the Universe nudged me to go!

A picnic place proved an unpromising start, but it was right on the edge of the moor. I followed a lovely deep wooded Devon valley that cut a curving winding ravine through the high ground. It was quite intoxicating, swinging down the road next to the river - rather like slaloming down a ski slope (not that I ski) - the rhythm was comforting. As the valley widened out at its end I spotted the sign that I had an idea I may see. "National Trust property - Knightshayes Court"

I didnt bother me that the house was closed to visitors on that day, it was the gardens I wanted to wander through. The old stables, that now hold the restaurant and plant shop, were romantic.

The Victorian gothic house stands above colourful traditional herbaceous borders, a little past their best at this time of year, but gorgeous.

And I found a clary sage plant Salvia sclarea "Turkestanica" I think this smells totally divine. You rub it between your fingers and an aromatic oil is given off. Too pungent for most, its citrus/pine/mint fragrance is bliss to me. I grew one once but it only lasted a couple of years. I must try again.

The woods beckoned, cool and inviting. I was reminded of Kew - the huge area with specimen labelled ancient trees, and small intimate lawns hidden around.

I had a funny experience! I was sitting very quietly, hidden deep in the wood, contemplating the forest around me, when I heard the tramping of feet and someone crashing through the undergrowth, very close. I could see male legs through the bushes. Oh dear, some man - couldnt be bothered to go all the way back to the public loo! He enjoyed a long and luxurious pee, while I remained totally still. I stifled a giggle and he turned and rejoined his female companion, totally unaware he had been seen!

I still had an hour or so on the road, and I got caught in some traffic gridlock in a town on the way - but somehow it didnt matter too much.

Dorset was green and quiet in the late evening sunshine - all slanting shadows and cool air. There's no place like home!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Surf heaven diary

Day One

First you must understand that I do not surf! However, it was a nice hot day, but cloudy so not too hot in the car when driving down to surf heaven in Devon.

I had decided to leave about ten a.m and reach Barnstaple by lunch time. Fortune smiled on me, and I found a multi storey car park, that was on my way out of town - and right in the centre of the shopping streets,

The covered Pannier market was a delight, and I bought cherries, some lovely wholegrain bread still hot...

....And I got some lovely cheeses, one soft and creamy and made in Devon. Mmmm. Glad I had borrowed a tiny fridge from the LLF.

Oh and I got some milk, just in case the village shop hadn’t got any. Actually it did, but nothing very fancy (apart from the wines) everything else was very ordinary corner shop stuff AND an assistant that looked like the young Granville from "Open All Hours" on UK TV. I wonder how many people comment on it to him - I didn’t dare, but I did stare!

I’m ahead of myself - back to Barnstaple - I had a wander into some clothes shops, but couldn’t find anything to buy that I liked and/or needed!

So drove out of town, just a few miles - and into a traffic jam in the small village of Braunton - all surfing shops and pubs - and a set of traffic lights! But the hold up didn’t matter, more time to stare at the houses and bungalows.

And on to my first sight of Croyde Bay, over the sand dunes.

For a few days of peace and quiet, I had chosen a slightly unusual place - the holiday camp run by my work union (Unison) But it is cheap and has a brilliant location. Mostly families go there, from all over the UK, and thoroughly enjoy all that it has to offer in the way of entertainment and organised activities

( you can see the tennis courts in the foreground) and of course the beach and the surfing.

But I just wanted somewhere clean, comfortable and near the sea. It is only a two minute walk through the sand dunes.

There are rock pools at either side of the wide bay, but the only shells on the beach seem to be mussel shells, I have become a bit of a shell snob since Iona (and even Shell Bay in Dorset)

The sun set right next to Lundy Island out to sea, and I had the beach to myself. Bliss.

Day Two

A lovely hot sunny day, but quite windy. I saw some people paragliding like huge birds, and turned around to see a buzzard enjoying the similar thermals on the next hill !

I popped in the car and ran the gauntlet of Devon lanes to go around to the next bay. Devon roads are mostly very narrow, single track, deep sided, sunken between fuschia hedges, twisty affairs and it’s a bit like Russian Roulette whether you get a clean run to the next junction or not. Farrm tractors an added hazard! This is the view along Woolacombe Bay, looking north from Putsborough.

I enjoyed idly watching the scene - a kid doing a sort of Nazca lines thing, aided by an excitedly bouncing younger sibling who has no idea what is happening, but its all jolly exciting making lines in the sand; families constantly trekking with bags, surf boards and towels to a distant coveted spot; kites being flown; a sister being taught beach cricket as father and brother will need her to field; canoeists hauling their craft to the distant sea; a lone family pitched in the middle of vast tract of beach…..and the beach café served Earl Grey tea and smoked salmon sandwiches.

Day Three

I got quite a bit of sun while on the beach and strolling around the nearest village, so I wasn’t sorry it was a cloudy day. I had my plans and swung into action. So arrived before Broomhill Sculpture Gardens opened, so I had them deliciously to myself.

I wandered in the wooded valley, all the time hearing the tumbling of the small river in the bottom. The sun decided to come out for a bit and showed up the sculptures, thoughtfully placed on the hillsides and beside the rambling paths through the trees. Delightful. Having been fairly quite for the last two days, it was easy to slip into watchfulness, and soon I was enjoying seeing trees and branches with the same eyes I was using for seeing the “art” What fun - I realised I was admiring some large gunnera leaves as if they were a bronze sculpture, not coated with mud from recent high water!

The experience was delightful, and the small river was just perfect. A separate photo diary of some of my favourites in the next post.

But I had an enjoyable coffee on the terrace, when a couple of immaculately turned out horses and their lady riders tiptoed elegantly between the shiny aluminium tables plus assorted diners, and some of the equally glittery sculpture with total unconcern. Totally British!

The sun had gone for the rest of the day, but I had decided to picnic on the cheese and bread on the top of the sand dunes back at Croyde and would not be dissuaded by a bit of cloud. Here is my view of the scene - not a walking boot in sight, Also totally British in that you cant see the layers of pullovers and hooded tops I was wearing!

Tabor left a comment "Take your favorite drink, blanket and book and music. Then sit facing the breeze and breath in and out...and remember all the bloggers that are sending you their best energies!! "

Well I did just that coincidentally - the drink was Earl Grey Tea; I bought a new "cream coloured soft as you can imagine" blanket; the books were the East Wind Melts the Ice plus the new Bill Bryson book and Marc Keane on Japanese gardens; and the music was the contents of my wonderful Creative Zen mp3 player! And here I am, facing the breeze - and yes, I did think about you bloggers. Such good advice Tabor!!

To be continued...