Everything is different yet completely the same…

We returned to Provence this week; a place we have been to many times. Mostly we have stayed in the same holiday home, high in the hills in the Louberon region. Our cottage is set amidst lavender fields, and as I sit writing this I look to my right and see a swathe of purple flowers, flanked by the mountains of the Vacluse beyond. The gentle aroma of lavender fills the air, like a constant waft of perfume from a genteel grandmamas lace handkerchief.

So far we have had cloudless blue skies, hot, sticky days and the comfortable feeling that the weather is set fair, at least for the time we are here. The days are spent relaxing, shopping, reading and eating. We don’t tend to venture far these days, preferring to chill out and just soak up the atmosphere. That is beauty of knowing somewhere so well; the exploring has been done, the paths well worn to the familiar places,  and the best shops visited and revisited. Of course, there are times when a little voice in our heads urges us to go out and explore, and we do; indeed there is always a little change here and there, enough to pique our interest without taking us too far out of our way.

There is always a feeling of peace here but one can let one’s mind drift and absorb a faint feeling of disquiet when the mist draws in and the sky darkens around the hills. There are centuries of history here that assail you at every twist and turn in the medieval villages, and our local town of Saignon has been a settlement since the Iron Age.

We sat in the gardens here for the first time in 2001; we had not long arrived and had just heard the devastating news that the Twin Towers had fallen. So far from home and utterly shocked, we could only listen to the news in disbelief. As we sat in our tranquil setting we found it hard to think of such atrocities taking place.

Other years have seen us all facing mixed fortunes; such is the see- saw of life. We’ve planned happy weddings, celebrated the birth of various grandchildren, found ourselves seeking rest after house moves and lost people dear to us.

It is interesting to note that during our evening strolls when the sun is setting again over the fields, we discuss at some length our latest concerns and worries; what will happen about this or that, should we move/ change direction/is everyone okay? And yet can we remember what we worried about and talked about this time last year? I’m not sure we can, so I guess that must tell us something.

Whatever is happening, there are some things that never change, yet life always evolves. Sad things happen, people come and people go, hearts break a thousand times. Good things happen, babies are born, grandchildren double up with laughter and your heart bursts with love.

Through changing times the sun will still rise and set over the hills of Provence, new, younger and enthusiastic tourists will discover the delights of Bonnieux as the older ones slow their pace. But the old and well worn paths will always be here; the vines will flourish and the vats will always be filled with wine.

Au revoir until I’m back in Dove Lane

Blessings to you.

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Notes from France This Week..

We are very lucky to be spending two weeks in France,  starting with a drive down through the the country with over night stops,  before reaching our destination in Provence.

Last night we stayed in a traditional chateau where it is rumoured Sleeping Beauty was awoken by her Prince. Looking at the twisty spiral staircases leading to the turrets and towers, I wouldn’t be surprised. Waking this morning, the peace and tranquility certainly lent itself to a feeling of living in a fairy tale.

After a delicious breakfast we travelled onward and are now in Pessac in Bordeaux.  We are staying tonight in a chateau which was originally the home of Pope Clement the 5th in the 1300’s. We are indeed priveleged..the table is set in a private dining room for our dinner, to be taken under a golden chandelier reflecting a thousand glittering lights. A white peacock patrols the grounds and the vines stretch for many hectares. Chateau Clement has the oldest vineyard in the region.

Walking around the grounds, we see gnarled and aged, majestic olive trees, the like of which I have never seen before. The oldest, spread serenely on the soft, lush lawn, was said to be planted in the year 207. I can only stand in awe …I can’t imagine the history it could tell of…

It’s a rather different life here to that in Dove Lane. Tonight I shall glide down the elegant stairs and inhale the scent of the musky candles that light our way. In the oak panelled dining room I will raise a glass to life and the lucky chances that sometimes come my way.

Soon we will be in Provence amidst the lavender fields but that’s a story for another day.

‘I dream of the Olive tree high on the hill, That’s  seen a thousand setting Suns. The leaves on the tree will still sigh in the breeze, When this life is over and the day is done. ‘

Blessings to you….

 

 

The Angel’s Wings

It’s been a sad week this week. A week of loss. A week of asking: why? As I do my usual slow ramble around the lanes and listen to my music, the normal lift to my spirits is absent. Maybe we all need to give in sometimes, and admit that life sucks. Once we do that we can pick ourselves up again and carry on.

My blog is short this week but I hope anyone go through tough times can take a little comfort from the following poem….

Blessings to you.Angel on cloud

 

The Angel’s Wings

The angel sat among the clouds
Amidst the darkening skies,
Her golden curls were tangled
And she rubbed her tired eyes.

The sun was dipping in the west
On Earth it was time to sleep,
But the angel knew that it was best
To be helping those beneath.

She softly flapped her gentle wings
And flew down from above
To silently look at those in need
And surround them with her love.

For that long night her work was hard
She saw the tears and sorrow,
The challenge of the changing world;
Would it be the same tomorrow?

No one saw her standing there
As they sought to find some peace,
But they felt a lessening of fear,
And the grip of worry cease.

‘Dear Lord,’ she prayed, as she reached home,
‘I just don’t look my best,
My wings are shabby, my dress is torn,
But there was much unrest.’

‘Oh precious child,’ the Lord replied,
‘There is kindness in your heart,
You do not judge, but gently guide
With all that you impart.’

‘Look not upon your ragged wings
For they will soon repair.
Just know the hope your presence brings
To those who feel despair.’

And those upon the Earth were blessed
As they faced a brand new day,
Embraced by a silent angel
Who had helped them find there way.

© Lyn Halvorsen

 

Just for a day…..

I feel like having a bit of fun this week. Sometimes I read articles in magazines or newspapers about the ‘day in the life of’ a glamorous celebrity and can’t help but think – ‘wow’ what a way to live…

So here is a (pretend) day in my life:

I awake to the sound of a gentle alarm at 8am after a restful nights sleep, full of pleasant dreams. I have four homes; a country cottage in Cornwall, set just far enough from a sandy shore not to be affected by a high tide but near enough for me to stroll down to the water’s edge in my pyjamas with my morning coffee, a town house in Notting Hill with beautiful neighbours, a rooftop apartment in Paris overlooking Montmartre, and a luxury beach house in Florida with ten bedrooms and a large salt water swimming pool.

Today I am in my Cornish cottage, and I take breakfast in my rose garden. This morning I have crushed avocado on home baked bread and a kale smoothie. I have no urge at all to eat a bowl of porridge with clotted cream and sugar, or a full English breakfast with hot buttered toast and a mug of tea. None at all.

Feeling lithe and full of energy, I jog down to the sea and frolic happily in the waves. Following my swim I sit for a while on the sand and feel the sun beat down on my face. It is going to be a beautiful day without a cloud in the sky. Heading back to my cottage I do an hour of yoga on the lawn, then take a shower in my outdoor rain-forest style shower. The smell of roses drifts on the breeze and the bees buzz around the lavender.

Upstairs my clothes for the day have been laid neatly on my bed. I never have trouble deciding what to wear as I keep my wardrobes fully up to date and in line with the current fashion, and with enough outfits to cover all eventualities and weathers. I lather myself in fragrant lotions and dress in a cool and comfortable shift dress which never seems to crease, the soft blue colour matching my eyes. My make up goes on like a dream and I am set for the day.

I skip downstairs and say hello to my secretary who is pouring some freshly brewed Moringa tea. We go over any important business and she goes off to book our flights to America for our next trip away. Himself is up and reading the paper before going out for a spin in his new Porsche. He doesn’t bat an eyelid when I tell him we have several visitors coming tomorrow. In fact he smiles and looks positively delighted.

I sit down to write. I am writing my latest blockbuster. I have been payed a huge advance from my publisher so I like to put in a good few hours each day. Luckily, I never get writer’s block and the words just flow. My characters become friends and I am soon engrossed in their latest escapades.

In the afternoon I take a break and talk to my children on Skype. I get brilliant reception and we make plans for the coming week.

I have afternoon tea; usually a cup of Lady Grey with some slices of fruit. Himself wonders in and asks if there is any cake. I tell him not to be silly. He should know I’m never tempted to have cake in the house. Especially not chocolate. Or scones with jam or cream.

We dress to go out for dinner at our favourite fish restaurant. We sit on the terrace as the light fades, and the lights come on all around the harbour. The whole area looks magical and is bathed in romance.

Driving home with the roof down and the summer night still warm, we reflect on a perfect day, and the man in the moon smiles down on us.

                                                 *****************

Writing the above was a bit of fun and although I would probably like some of it to be true I realise how lucky I am with what I have. And I will never not have cake in the house!

Blessings to you.

In or Out…or on the see-saw of doubt..

Today the country prepares for the crucial vote on its future in, or out, of the European Union. This vote is possibly the biggest and most historic decision the country will take for a generation.

Watching the news this past week, and listening both to the views of politicians, and people generally, has been surprising. Some of those who I expected to support remain have done the opposite and vice versa. It seems that this referendum has brought politicians from different parties together in an unexpected way. It was strange to see David Cameron and Harriet Harman standing side by side, applauding the same ideals and working together. It shows politics in a completely different light; one could almost imagine a total shuffle of the current political parties with various members turning up in different guises. The referendum is a short-term thing of course, no matter how the country will change afterwards, and perhaps these unusual alliances will soon be forgotten, but for now it shows that there can be unity from opposing sides. And maybe that should be our main concern. Unity.

If we are on the see-saw of doubt and listen to the passionate outpourings from representatives on both sides of the debate, we know one thing; we love our country, its place in the world, and the values that make it great.

As a proud and devoted mother, and a grandmother of 8, soon to be 9, grandchildren, my wish is for them to grow up in a fair, peaceful and just world.

It seems like the outcome is too close to call. Who knows how we will feel when we wake up tomorrow and all the votes have been counted and the decision made. All we can wish is that  it is for the common good.

Of one thing I’m sure. It will probably still be raining.

 

Finding the Opposite of Bleakness…

What do we do when we feel really down about the state of things; when the world seems bleak and our hearts are blackened by the sorrows that have befallen ourselves and others? In a week where there have been terrible tragedies affecting innocent people, where do we go to find some comfort? More importantly, how do those involved find peace?

How do we find a way to deal with all the bad news we hear seemingly day in, day out? Pictures of harrowing sufferings unfold in front of our eyes on our television screens 24/7, and the memories leave their mark and come back to haunt us. Some people tell me they avoid the news; they ask what is the point of listening to it all when the problems are out of our control? I understand this viewpoint and I agree that we need to take ‘time out’ at times, but I liken this to sitting in a darkened room; by turning off the lights the bad things will be cloaked in darkness, but they will still be there when the lights come back on. Best to stay in the light and let these things show themselves.

I know that I do feel like saying: ‘What on earth is happening here, what is happening to our world and its people? Why do such innocent people suffer.?’ A much wiser person than I may have an answer. I certainly don’t. But the old adage is true: one candle can be enough to cause the darkness to go away. Once I choose to raise my own awareness I will have done what I can to defeat the dark side of human nature and to discover that a higher reality can be found and lived.

And perhaps the only thing that seems to help in times of worry and sadness is life’s routine. Getting the chores done, watering the plants, preparing food and feeding the family, walking the dog; all these things demand our attention whatever else is going on. By focusing on the small things we realise that those are the things that get us through. After being out in the frenetic world, watching and listening to what seems to make some people ‘tick’ and the seeming importance of riches, I return home and walk around the nearby meadow and feel the grass under my feet and revel in a pleasure that costs nothing and soothes the soul.

When I go out and walk, I usually put on my headphones and listen to my favourite music or listen to one of my favourite motivational gurus. Soon I seem to find some perspective and realise that this world keeps on turning whatever unrest occurs, and will still be turning when we are long gone. I have to have faith that those taken tragically and senselessly from us, whoever they are, and whether we know them are not, are held somewhere where only love and peace abides. For the mother cut down in her prime, I hope the example she set by striving for a more peaceful and fairer world will stay with us and encourage us to carry on on her behalf. I pray for her children; bereft without their loving mother. I pray for an innocent family mowed down in the street on the sunny last day of summer and the heartbroken ones they leave behind.

I pray with all my heart that the little girl who died at just six years old, at the cruel hands of her own father, will be safely looked after by the angels. I hope that she will be cradled and loved, and feel all the happiness she should have felt all the days of her life on earth.

In the dictionary the definition of bleakness is: cheerlessness, desolation, despondency, dis-consolation, heavy-heartedness and more.

Antonyms of that include: cheerfulness, encouragement, happiness, HOPE, hopefulness.

It’s going to be okay, maybe not today, but someday.

‘Where there is hatred let me sow love.’  Francis of Assisi. 

Blessings to you.

To keep on keeping on…..

I guess we all have weeks when it’s harder than normal to get motivated. I was going to write about all sorts of things this week but then I realised my words might have a negative air – not something I would wish to pass on here.

I have so much to be grateful for, including being taken for a wonderful day at a spa yesterday by a very kind and lovely friend. I came home with shining skin, mad hair and a calmer outlook.

Someone posed the question this week about how one would handle the outcome of the EU vote if it is not what one would have wished. My answer was to keep on keeping on, as it is to most questions in my life.

In the meantime, I shall talk to my trees……

                                                                         The Tree

I once read about the healing power of trees and learned that sacred trees with healing powers are found in almost every culture and age, and seen as a gift from the Earth Goddess. I was urged to go out and find a tree I was particularly drawn to, and sit and lean against its trunk. This I did and I have to say it did feel a bit absurd at first! But as the sun filtered through the leaves and my feet connected with the earth it did feel like a very positive experience.

When times are busy, or I’m in a crowded, hectic place, I think of my tree standing firm and resolute in its peaceful woodland setting.

Just off the path in the leafy wood
Stands and old majestic tree,
Its branches spread like open arms
Reaching out to me.

There’s a canopy high above my head,
With leaves of green or gold
Depending of the time of year
And the seasons that unfold.

I can lean against the scratchy bark,
Plant my feet upon the ground,
And feel the gnarled and twisted roots
That are circled all around.

I can dream of all that happens here
As I lay tucked up in my bed,
Hear the hooting owl who roosts aloft
And nods his wise old head.

I imagine the fairies that alight here,
After their midnight flight
From behind the spotted toadstools
Where they stay hidden until night.

And in the early morning sun
Like a landmark to show the way
The tree stands in the filtered light
Of yet another day.

And the leafy boughs that dip and bow,
Freshen the dampened air;
Bending to sweep the forest floor,
So tread softly if you dare.

 

Blessings to you ……Lyn's tree