stepping stones of truth

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

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Checking in....

.... to say that I feel a little under pressure - not that anything has radically altered in my life. Probably just the contrast with the lovely relaxed holiday recently!

This is how the countryside around my village looks right now. I am facing north east, and the village is in the valley, out of the picture to the right the trees. The sun can be quite warm on a day with no wind.

There is still huge uncertainty over the future content of my job, it will probably be downgraded to even more purely office admin type tasks *sigh of boredom*. I shall find out in a week or two. And it is definitely ruled out now being able to offer myself for voluntary redundancy. I shall have to stay on, as I cant afford to lose any of my pension by leaving "early". So I shall have to get used to the idea of working for a while longer in a job that doesnt appeal to me. My chances at age 61 of being able to get another interesting job at my pay scale in local government (in the same pension scheme) are practically nil - but I am looking. There is only the one public library service in the county (within two hours' drive) and we are cutting jobs!

But I shall have to try to look on the bright side, and enjoy all the other delights in my life!

So to that end, here are some snapshots of Spring!! More things flowering in the garden, AND I took down two old large tree stumps (well my neighbour did it for me!) and that has opened up more possibilites for redesign - should I ever get the time!

One of the hellebore self sown seedlings

A more colourful hellebore - always a shame the flowers droop down shyly

Clematis armandii flowers nestling among the evergreen leaves

Such a welcome sight on the patio - daffodils and tiny early tulips

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Three good things about February

  1. Snowdrops
  2. Longer days (ie going to and from work when it is light!)
  3. Holidays to Sinai

For a few years now, I've been taking a winter break in the Sinai peninsula of Egypt. A small place called Nuweiba. Firstly with the local Bedouin, in their village by the sea (with Youngest Daughter) - to swim with the wild dolphin who had adopted the village and one young boy in particular. I went with Ruth, who now lives and swims with dolphins in another part of the Red Sea coast. I owe her thanks for the discovery of this amazing place.

Then in a locally run small hotel, and culminating in several all inclusive holidays at the Nuweiba Coral Hilton (with Youngest Daughter and Life Long Friend) It should be called the No Coral Hilton, because when they built it 18 years ago, they damaged most of the coral apparently! (But shhhh, there are still lots of fish and bits of coral off the beach for snorkel beginners and loads nearby)

For a general background , you canread my post over at ArkSanctum

This winter it was just the LLF and me. So here are a few holiday snaps......

The view looking down the Red Sea from the beach.
Ahh those blissful ancient mountains.

Wonderful gardens out of desert sand.
Palm tree maintenance, stripping off the old leaf stalks

Sunrise over the mountains of Saudi Arabia (across the Red Sea)
Rays of shadow are thrown through the peaks, right across the sky just before it appears

Sunrise on "our" mountains opposite. A delicate pink tipped blush to already red granite.
Ive gone with the Bedouin camels through that dip on the left, into a place of total silence.

Palm tree shadows in the sunrise

A trip into the desert to St Catherine's Monastery, a deep stronghold fortified and safe

A remarkable place, a real spiritual sanctuary - despite the tourists (in the morning only)

Looking back on the road to St Katherine's.
Magnificent scenery. My heart sighs just looking.

Outside the boundary of the Hilton, but tolerated by the management, the local Bedouin bring their camels - hoping for a few tourist dollars. The local jeeps in the background held a surprise, which we didnt realise when I took the photo of the baby camel. I was talking with the young camel owner (who recognised our Bedouin scarves) about swimming with the dolphin years ago, and the local people we knew then. "Fallah?" he said, when I gave the name of the young boy who the dolphin loved "but he is over there, fishing". The Bedouin are the only people allowed to fish the Red Sea for their food, as it is a protected area.

LLF on the left, and Fallah in the centre.
When we visited his family two years ago, he was out in the desert with this camel. So its several years since we saw him. What a delight to see him all grown up. (He is dressed in Tshirt for fishing, would normally be in "proper" Bedouin attire I may add) He gave us news of the family, but he isnt married yet. In all the excitement I forgot to ask about his sister - who looks like Catherine Zeta Jones, only plumper.

We went on a trip into the desert one evening - NOT on camels - to star gaze in the clear cold air.
This image of mountains, thorn tree and Bedouin rug somehow captures my feelings.

A very different place to stay than the Bedouin village,
where we lived right on the beach in small huts.
But just as blissful, and with as kind a welcome and attention.

A room with a view. *sigh*

The sun on the palm leaves was a constantly changing delight.

LLF in "our" day quarters. It took me several days to get over the guilt of Doing Nothing.

The often requested "boot shot".

One of the best places in all the world.
Along with Iona in Scotland, (of which there are uncanny similarities)
it is my Happy Place
I carry it within me