Thursday, 24 September 2009

Wild Hearts & Sweet Dreams

My partner and I went to the Wild Heart Gathering last weekend, an intimate camp-out in the heart of Sussex, where we took part in singing workshops, 5 Rhythms, Enlightenment Intensives, ritual storytelling, listening to talks by very inspiring people and watching some great live music, such as Avalon Roots.

The event is described as neither a festival nor a retreat and the emphasis is on a coming together and sense of community. There were a lot of raw food practitioners there and a strong shamanistic/Celtic influence, with the founders of Spirit Horse leading many of the workshops as well as the closing ceremony on the Sunday, the main focal event of the gathering.

The site is beautiful, with enchanted woods, a lake to swim in and a cosy barn hosting the main events. My favourite bit was sitting in the sauna - a proper wooden sauna I might add - before running down the hill to jump in the freezing cold lake, having a tranquil swim whilst being serenaded with sweet guitar music, and then doing it all over again!

Oh and if you're wondering what the "sweet dreams" refers to, a few days ago I apparently woke up in the middle of the night, said "cupcake" out loud and then went back to sleep again. Bizarre!

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Faces, Places, Bits 'n' Pieces

I thought I'd tell you a nice summery story today, seeing as we're all desperately trying to avoid the inevitable onset of autumn. A couple of weeks ago I was on the beach with my partner - I know, actually sunbathing on the beach only a couple of weeks ago, can you believe it? Being a South African who's only used to dazzlingly white, babysoft sandy beaches, he usually rents one of those green foam mattresses when we go to Brighton beach (well, Hove actually), while I bravely endure the painful bed of pebbles like a true Brit.

The way the mattress system works is that there's a pile of them on every beach, along with deckchairs, parasols and the elusive sunloungers. You help yourself to what you fancy, then a little while later a friendly man comes along and asks for your money. But the amazing thing is, no matter how many times we've done this, whether on a quiet Wednesday afternoon in spring or on a manically busy weekend at the height of summer, this man (yes, always the same one) never fails to approach us for the money and has never asked us twice. Not once. Ever.

We've often wondered how on earth he keeps track of the hoards of people who constantly borrow his beachware throughout the day. So, finally, we asked him. And his answer was "Faces, places, bits 'n' pieces". Basically, he has a photographic memory and uses visual cues to remember who is sitting where on the beach, e.g. the tattooed man with the white baseball cap, the couple with the orange baby buggy, etc. But what if they move, we asked? Well, he assigns several cues to each person based on their location, appearance and who they're with. Fascinating, eh!

And guess what cue he assigned to us? That's easy, he said, how could he forget the man lying on the nice comfortable mattress while his poor girlfriend suffered on the stones beside him?! Ha!

Monday, 14 September 2009

I'm Officially Published!

Well, ok, it's not an actual article (yet), but The Guardian Weekend Magazine did print my letter on Saturday 12th September. You can read the letter here.

Yes I know it's only 3 lines long, but they do edit them you know. The full letter (which was obviously a bit wordy/irrelevant/downright boring) went something like this:

I enjoyed reading about Jon Ronson's ordeal at the Beano offices until I got to his sexist comment about the "Beano boy". What about the Beano girls? I used to read The Beano religiously every week, even joined the Fan Club, and as far as I can tell I'm definitely female. Incidentally, my Granny also makes a version of Marmite toast (Family, p.7), but the buttered and Marmited slices are cooked in her Aga for a crispy, healthy and vegetarian (no beef dripping in sight) yummy treat. Oh and thanks to Robert Griffin for sending in the photo of a sunset lit promenade shelter in Hove - the very one at which my fiance recently proposed to me and which we've aptly named Betrothal Bench!

So, it may only be a small hurdle I've crossed but I am officially published and it feels great! Well, you've got to start somewhere....

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Fighting Grime

This week I have been trying to rid The Eagle's Nest of a nasty little invasion of multicellular filaments of microscopic fungi. Or mould as it's more commonly known. This hadn't really been a problem until recently when an otherwise unnoticed little black spot in the bathroom started getting noticeably bigger, spreading its spores along the bath sealant and even turning a perfectly decent bar of soap (Faith in Nature no less) into a purple and black striped alienlike monstrosity. Apparently, when mould spores begin to grow they digest the material they're growing on for survival. Well that's all very well for the spores but what about our poor bar of soap which is supposed to be cleaning our skin? Yeuch!

Our landlord advised me to buy a bottle of Dettol to kill the mould spores (cheers mate), but rather than spend £3.50 on a bottle of chemicals, I decided instead to investigate more environmentally friendly ways of dealing with the problem. I discovered that clove oil is meant to be one of the best natural solutions, so I can now be found most days with an (expensive) bottle of essential oil in one hand and an old toothbrush/scourer/brillo pad in the other, scrubbing away to my heart's content.

Is it working? Well, I think the black spot's getting smaller, although it is quite hard to tell...... maybe I'll be reaching for that bottle of chemicals after all.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Starting at the Beginning

Welcome to my first blog post and what a journey it's been getting here. 7 months ago I decided to leave my 7-and-a-half-year office admin job in order to do some soul searching and to try and answer that question that's been haunting me (or should I say that I've been avoiding?) all my life: what do I really want to do? What am I passionate about? What vocation would I find truly fulfilling?

I felt pressured into answering these questions and needed to have some sort of response prepared so that when people asked me if I'd made any progress sorting out my life I could avoid those pathetic and wishy washy "I don't really knows". So I decided I would become a writer. Ah yes, simple. Just like that. Or not. You see, if there's one thing I've learnt from studying The Artist's Way it's that the mind doesn't work like that. Or at least mine doesn't. As soon as the idea was formed, my mind turned into this jeering, sniggering evil little being, poking fun at the rest of me and saying "Yeah right, you're going to be a writer are you? Snigger. Snort. Well, we'll just see about that won't we?"

The Artist's Way is a fantastically inspiring book by Julia Cameron designed to help you discover or recover your creativity in whatever form that may be. It's written as a 12-week course with exercises and tasks to follow. And follow them I did. I read every single word in the book, undertook every task and digested every piece of advice. So I was very confused, not to mention disappointed, when I got to the end of the course and felt no different to when I'd begun. I thought I would see massive changes in myself, I thought my creativity would blossom and, most of all, I thought I would instantly become a writer. But you see it just doesn't work like that.

2 months after finishing the course I'm now beginning to see the benefits of it and experience the subtle changes within myself and my thought processes which the book has instilled in me. It's all very well reading other people's advice, but until you actually experience it for yourself it's pretty much meaningless. I'm now halfway through another book, Writing Down The Bones by Natalie Goldberg, which a dear friend gave me for my birthday. I'm only halfway through it because that was all I needed to give me the inspiration and the urge to start writing.

So here I am, 7 months after convincing everyone, including myself, of my exciting new career, actually starting to do some of the things I first intended. You just can't rush these things you know! And one of those things was starting my own blog. And here it is, my first blog post. My first victory. Thanks for reading it. All I had to do was take a leap and the net would appear. I must remember that in future...