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Reluctant return of the native

14 Mar

Leaving one’s homeland for a period of time requires organisation and commitment.  The opportunity to do this and step into the lives of others does not often arise, so when an offer to exchange homes   near the stunning lakes of central North Island, New Zealand, arose last year, we jumped at it.

After weeks of planning we left the  UK just after Christmas for the first month in Australia.

We neatly dodged the first snow fall a week later and felt pretty smug at avoiding the usual chaos of choked roads and cancelled flights.

However, we soon had other extremes to deal with, and we paid for our complacence when  the temperatures rose in Sydney, to a record breaking 50 degrees.

After a month of searing heat in Australia we were ready for something else, and the lush green of New Zealand was it.
Like all iconic places in the world, Venice, Niagara Falls, Uluru or Sydney Harbour, and no matter how many films and pictures one sees, the real thing always amazes.
However, I was not ready to fall in love.
But I have, hook line and sinker. The North Island of New Zealand is my new heart throb. It is a place with all the elements of beauty defined by the the conventions of nature. The huge tree ferns , raging rivers and waterfalls and towering forests, the sense of space and peace invaded me.

This is one of the youngest countries in the world geologically.
The mud pools like vast cauldrons of boiling chocolate, , the sulphurous lakes and rivers and active volcanoes are unlike anywhere else.
This place feels like a microcosm of the world as it began, the start of life, emerging from the turbulence of volcanic eruptions and primitive bubbling slime. I often felt a desire to be in the water, be it a lake, the sea, river or hot spring. I swam in clear lakes, lounged in natural hot springs for free, kayaked on rivers and sailed in the Bay of Islands. This is truly a land of magical beauty. No wonder it is chosen as a location for magical movie making. Nothing can prepare for the real thing though.
The water and light, the source of life, which cover this shining land gave me a sense of newness, of possibility, and even though living with the knowledge of earthquakes, which can and do trouble the land and it’s people, I felt the power and strength of this planet we call home and a glimpse of how the planet was, before we started to mess it up with open mining, industrialisation, intensive farming and chemical pollution.

The newness of New Zealand is like stepping back in time. We can never recover this pristine beauty in most of the world where man has set foot but a glimpse of a shining place is certainly soul food on a grand scale.
But like all new loves, this is an infatuation and I have a desperate need to talk about the beloved at every opportunity, to show pictures, and above all to revisit.
I need to see more of this shining land. I will return.Mt RuapehuHot mud poolriver kayaking


Rising Tides

3 Dec
Bradford on Avon's rising river

Bradford on Avon’s rising river

The last weeks have seen Wiltshire flooded in the most magnificent way. The water rose fast and we heard about the water table being unable to cope with the continual rainfall.
Only nine short months ago I bought a water tank and attached it to my studio roof to capture precious rain because we were told we would have an unprecedented water shortage this year.
The moral of the story is that we cannot know the future. We plan, we store, we protect as best we can but taking what comes when it comes and floating on the rising tide, now that’s the hard part.

William Stafford , one of my favourite poets on the same topic.
It could happen any time, tornado,
earthquake, Armageddon. It could happen.
Or sunshine, love, salvation.

It could you know. That’s why we wake
and look out – no guarantees
in this life.

But some bonuses, like morning,
like right now, like noon,
like evening.

The Judas Kiss

28 Oct

Rupert Everett and Freddie Fox starred in The Judas Kiss at Bath Theatre Royal this weekend. Their performances were mesmerising.
Everett held centre stage for almost the entire performance moving from pathos, arrogance, whimsy, vanity and wit with ease and eloquence.
Fox was riveting with his manipulative Lord Alfred Douglas playing the betrayer and lover skilfully. Fox is certainly a young actor to watch out for and Everett gives David Hare’s drama a power and life rarely seen in theatre. Wilde is a tragic figure in this production abandoned and betrayed by those who purported to care for him, moving from the days before his trial and imprisonment to his last days with Bosie in Naples.  His grief over the loss of his children and Constance’s move to France with the boys is moving .  The hypocrisy and  denial amongst the ruling classes is portrayed brilliantly but in the light of recent events one cant help wondering if so much has really changed.?  When the chips are down those in power stick together to protect their backs.
If you get the chance to see this when it moves to London it is worth every minute.


The walk to Hardraw Falls from Ingleborough, a river runs through it…….

18 Oct

The walk to Hardraw Falls from Ingleborough

Spring in North Yorkshire , before the wettest summer since records began.   Now we are in October and spring is long behind us it is good to remember those few blue sky days and the promise they held.  Summer came and went without showing it’s full glory, the flood waters rose and the rivers were full.  Moving towards winter I am increasingly savouring the  light of  the shortening days.

That's How The Light Gets In

Books, exhibitions, films, music, places - anything that inspires. Here so I don't forget.

Words for the Year

We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world. -jack gilbert

Life as a Widower

A young widowed father opening up about living with loss

The Bookshelf of Emily J.


whistles in the wind