Thursday, 26 April 2018

Out in the open.

I'm reading this book at the moment, one of the very many piled up on the bedside table and, incidentally, picked up for a mere 20p from the local charity shop. It's called 'write that novel' or something similar. I would go and check its title but to get to it involves two flights of stairs and I've only just sat back down. One of the pieces of advice that resonated with me is that to become a writer you must sit down every single day for at least ten minutes and write. It then went on to suggest subjects to write about, yourself being the number one subject, and therein lies the problem. Whereas in a previous life I led a somewhat erratic existence nowadays I would describe myself as normal, placid, settled, sane and sensible. The picture paints a mundane '60 something' (just turned) struggling with extra unwanted inches and counting her alcohol intake whilst maintaining a cheery disposition and smiling benignly at strangers.

I did as the book suggested and sat down at my computer. I sit at a handsome walnut desk with a green battered leather top. Outside the window I can see the church, the clock resolutely stuck on exactly midnight. two of the prettiest cherry blossom trees grace the churchyard, one is of the deepest raspberry pink and the other so delicate it could be a bowl of rich cream. People pass by all the time and do not notice me sitting here. Last week when we had that marvellous heatwave which rendered me a completely different person they went by chattering happily in vibrant coloured clothing looking startled by the unexpected blast of revitalising heat. Today they are huddled over as they dodge the quick bursts of rain and brace themselves against a mean wind.

Most days, there is an enormous rack of clothing hanging nearby. Vintage Laura Ashley dresses, Gieves and Hawkes shirts, Mint Velvet, Heidi Klein, Berger et Mikkelsen, Joules, Quba... All to be wheeled out and set up on my Saturday stall, I pray for sunshine for if it rains its a gloomy outcome. And me? I rather like to think I don't succumb to fashion. I always buy second-hand if I can, that's 'pre-loved' in sales speak. This morning I have on faded Wrangler jeans, a cream Charles Tyrwhitt shirt, blue suede Moshulu slip ons and a White Stuff cashmere pullover. I am absolutely allergic to ironing and strive and miserably fail at minimalism being a natural hoarder. In one year I can easily amass over 100 new books even if I don't get round to reading them. They are there for future reference. 

But I still can't write, there is a blockage, and what a shudderingly disgusting word that is but it is the only one that springs to mind and best describes my current state.

I am cross, more than that, I am fuming, seething, bursting with pent up fury and there is nowhere for it to go. It is an old wound that despite the passing of many years is still capable of rearing its ugly head. It is a monster of which I played no part in conceiving and is the cruellest form of abuse that you can inflict on another human being. It is the total rejection of a child by a parent. 

I sat down and wrote about it, I penned the surges of pain and the ongoing misery and anxiety it causes. It can lie dormant for a while, twenty five years to be precise, and then without warning because of the changing circumstances of individual lives it surfaces once again and I am left floundering for words, unable to explain.

And what really sucks is that the perpetrator is free from distress, unburdened by guilt and is so guileless and weak that responsibility and decency are not words that they are familiar with. They have long drifted to pastures new.

And I have to tackle the monster on my own and explain why life is not always fair. 

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Hello Bridport

What was I thinking of? Goodbye indeed to my ancient BlogSpot. After so many years of being together, writing has helped me through thick and thin, in times of need there is always the written word that helps heal. For richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part...etc etc.

It was time for a new persona. The old one was weary, worn out, bored even of being tarred with the same old brush. Sally's Chateau had a good run, Carcassonne Sally endeavoured to keep up the pace but they were never really 'home'. Home is where the heart is and my heart was never there although I put on my very best show. It was an adventure at the time but in hindsight I could have happily cut the time in half and that's being polite. Still I squeezed a book out of it which is currently being reviewed by an agent so we shall see.... Peter Mayle is dead so lets have some true hindsight into living in the middle of no-where and being British.

I occasionally struggle to be polite these days. Say what you mean, mean what you say. Life is too short for shilly-shallying and wasting time on indifferent places and people. There are books to be devoured, walks to be embraced, cycle rides to be explored, new cameras to be focused and held in awe.

Meanwhile amongst other things I run a market stall which is an education in itself, a real 'eye opener' to be sure. Where do people get the notion I am a charity, worse still a car boot stall. Someone has to source it all you know, that someone is me. 'You're having a laugh aren't you' I might retort as someone might attempt to knock down the price to an obscene level. Clearly not in some cases. Gives me a chuckle though..... afterwards.

I do sobering stuff these days too. Gone are those long, lazy, languid lunches around the pool and pootling around in a eye popping classic car. I work with a charity that helps people who are struggling to make ends meet. It's called Cupboard Love and is held weekly at the church opposite. It is in such stark contrast to my former life that I am humbled by some of the people I meet. Everyone has a story to tell, some are so sad you wonder how people still manage to plod on but against all odds they keep surfacing to the top.

I have more in common with them than you might first imagine. They would never know that. Some of the chaps the other week asked me why I was always so jolly. 'You're always smiling' they said. 'You have to' I replied.

I went home and thought about it and as I do every so often think back to the many things my Father would say to me. Life is like a glass half filled with water, it is either half full or half empty depending which way you look at it. In the past I am ashamed to say that despite having materialistic things some people could only dream of I would look at life as though my glass was half empty until one day he told me off, told me he had had enough of my moaning.

Look at that picture above. A slice of heaven if ever there was one.

And I live here.

Tales from Bridport here I come.....

Monday, 6 March 2017

Back in Dorset

I am a very lucky person. Always have been, always will. If anyone lands on their feet it is me.

There are some people who know me well that might doubt my sentiments. They may gently remind me of  'past experiences' in my life that would have floored a lesser person. Not me. Pull back your shoulders, lift your head high and you will land on your feet. Cast aside negativity, rid yourself of people who doubt your ability. Say what you mean and move on. If people love you they will move alongside you, accept you for what you are. If they don't they won't. Life is tough.

My Father could never understand people that made such a drama of their lives, took every single incident or comment to heart. 'Why do people make such hard work of their lives' he was frequently heard to quietly bemoan. An intensely private man he knew how to behave and how to conduct himself when life flung some unexpected incident at you. And now he is suddenly gone and all of his words have come back to haunt me. I should have listened.

I promised him I would write in my last letter to him. I wrote a book for heaven's sake. It's been sitting in my computer for three years. I have poem after poem tucked away in a battered folder. I would sit and recite them to him, read snippets from my book. He would relish them. I look at them and inwardly cringe. The outpourings of anguish, pain and suffering. Who on earth was that creature? The woman who had to endure all of that to become the person she is today. A woman who in the past few months has amazed even herself for her tenacity and strength.

So now it's time to say farewell to this particular blog spot. I've sat here for too long and the view has changed dramatically in every sense.

I now live in a street where life plays itself out before my very eye's. Opposite I have a magnificent church whose bells chime out on the hour or gloriously and endlessly peel on a Sunday morning and once a week for bell practise. Only the other evening i saw the sliver of a new moon hovering behind the steeple with the star Venus shining out brightly to the right. It was an uplifting moment and surprised me in it's simplicity.

Outside my window is a bright red pillar box where I see all sorts of people posting their letters. Some scurry and look anxious before moving on, others languidly pause as though contemplating what the sealed envelope holds. Down from the pillar box stands a truly British and traditional sight, the good old red phone box. If ever there was any doubt in my mind where I truly belonged then my view right now is all I need in life to verify I am right where I want to be.

It's a quirky little grade two listed house on three floors. It exudes happiness, it oozes charm, it's karma wrapping itself around you and protecting you whilst you heal.

It has been such a terribly long journey to this spot but something has been released, a shifting has taken place and even though my heart feels enormously heavy I can sense a new beginning, I see the light of a new life on the horizon.

I am lucky.

*In memory of my Father*

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Reflections from Carcassonne.

I hadn't realized that scientists had potentially discovered evidence of former signs of life on Mars. There's an awful lot in life you don't realize. That's because you don't perhaps know how to spot the signs, or don't possess the ability to see matters that go beyond explanation. It's a neat trick that's free but it's a journey that takes a while to get there. Not everyone has the patience or stomach for it.

This week I have been reflecting. That is reflecting not looking back. Huge but subtle difference and an enormous step forward in shrugging off a previous life's shackles, ones that had me tethered and unable to concentrate on what really mattered to me. My friends and family matter, not useless materialistic possessions which to me are worthless.

To be an interesting book it helps if you have a few previous pages filled with words. They may be happy and uplifting or they may contain sadness and thoughtfulness which runs deep. No matter really. They can't be erased but they can be improved upon. Everything in life can be improved, even if you think its impossible. I can't write it for you and neither can anyone else. Previously I have had people cling onto me, thinking that I can save them with my strength but I can't. I could only throw them a life jacket, the rest was down to them. Some drowned, some survived. Such is life.

So I'm reflecting now with someone I held fast to. Someone I kept above the waves and steered away from the rocks. And when we sit in contemplative silence I wonder if the next chapter of both our lives will have happy words scrawled in huge capital letters right over the page.

You can say everything and anything and it will mean nothing if you don't love your life and the people in it.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Ma Maison - My Home

In an idle five minutes I type in two addresses of places I have loved and lived in.

From a tiny cottage nestling in the folds of the undulating Somerset countryside to a majestic 'maison de maĆ®tre' in South West France surrounded by vines and sunflowers. They are both online for me to view. The first has my deeply loved and treasured oil fired rayburn in classic cream, the walk in fireplace and bread oven that I unearthed, my lovingly built wooden window seats. It was deemed 'uninhabitable' but I moved in with my babies anyway. Our beautiful London home had simply been walked away from, a legacy of over speculation during the 'Thatcher years'.  I scutinize the interior carefully and note that all of the original features are still intact. The stark furnishings make me sad but years later I am still very much in evidence.

I move onto the extreme opposite, the discreet mansion that we completely renovated, again with hindsight uninhabitable, but breathtakingly beautiful also. The dream four oven Aga, the handbuilt kitchen, the restored wooden panelling that lined the wide hallways, the pool, the garden abundant with wild flowers. The present owners heavy stark furnishings and harsh colours make me shudder but years later I am still very much in evidence there too. Luckily I have pictures of how it used to be.

They are both unloved, unlived in and are not a home to any family. One is too small for todays families needs and is a holiday home and the other is too large unless you have a bottomless pit and is a loveless let for large groups. How strange then to think both were once thriving family homes full of love, parties, endless laughter, boundy dogs and steeped in memories but with plenty of tears shed in both. The houses despite being so incredibly different in size felt like 'home'. It was where you could express yourself, paint the walls whatever colour you chose, move the furniture around to suit your mood, build a wall, knock down a wall, cover it with a hundred pictures of your choosing.

You could plant only wild flowers in the garden of muted colours where butterflies could flit and dance and sit on your grandparents old wooden bench. You belonged, you had a sense of identity, security let you sleep gently at night, the four walls of the house wrapped themselves round you in the darkest hour and whispered silently as you blissfully slept.

Then one day you wake up and everything had changed. It has all gone overnight, at least it is no longer available to you so you must up sticks and leave it all behind. Say farewell to your friends and family pack a small suitcase and enter the unknown zone of 'house rental'. It is somewhere you can eat, sleep and work from. But here is the difference albeit a subtle one that only a few can understand and very few do. It will never be your home however hard you try. There are no decisions to be made because you don't own it.

This is the price you must pay when your heart has ruled your head in life. 'impractical', 'daydreamer', 'foolish', 'rash', 'brave' are some of the names I have been called when I've bought various houses throughout my life.  In each and every one of them I nutured a dream and now they are stamped with my personality.

And all of this passes quickly through my mind as a friend recently remarked how very lucky I am to be able to work from home. But is this my home I think to myself or merely somewhere that I now live. Home is surely where the heart is which is somewhat ironic as matters of the heart and working on that very subject from home may well come to fruition.

I am no longer the mistress of my own home, simply the master of my own destiny.

It really is now all down to me. Again.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

A year on, a year in, a lifetime.

Moving back to England is one huge learning curve. I thought I was English until I came back and realised that everything was alien. From driving on the wrong side of the road to bakeries opening at 9am instead of 7.30am enabling you to have fresh bread for your breakfast.From no-one having a siesta to combat the exhaustive heat of the midday sun ( don't let's go there) to people eating their evening meals before 9pm and sitting inside. There is no-one having the audacity to lounge around pavement cafes enjoying a carefree bottle of wine or two.

Yes actually I do miss the South of France and my friends and family. I look back to days spent at Le Chateau and Carcassonne and it seems a lifetime ago because in reality it was all a lifetime ago and yet there are countless exotic pictures, and some not so exotic to remind me 'I did it'. And that's what makes it all so much easier to adapt, 'I've done it', I have the stories and memories that fill my head and now I'm busy creating new ones and learning afresh.

When I awake in the mornings it's not to the sound of the dust cart emptying some of the city's wine banks or the screech of a late night revellers tyres accompanied by thumping music, the bass making my thin windows rattle. I don't wonder whether I can briefly open the windows lest the air is too hot, . Here I awake to the sun rising (it can sometimes be 5.30am) and listen to the seagulls screeching overhead and I look out onto hills gently covered in sea mist.

Here, supposedly, I don't have to explain myself or apologise to anyone. People didn't enquire as to what I did with my days back in France because I never stopped moving, I simply did not have time to think. And perhaps this is what is so alien to me and so puzzling to others, I have the space to breathe, to sit down, look around and survey the landscape of life. It is both uplifting and painful in equal measures.

It is approaching the year anniversary since my life stopped hurtling along at break neck speed and I was required to climb off the merry go round and stop and evaluate what was important to me. It is a peculiar road and one that requires you travel it alone. There have been casualties along the way, but as well with the inevitable disappointments come the surprises which keeps the scenery fresh and interesting as you meander along.

You learn that you can only cover so much ground in a day and that some days/weeks it can all go horribly haywire for any number of reasons and I am having to get used to this. But there are times when it all flows so fast you can't keep up. Ideas pour forth at an alarming rate and you scrabble to keep up with them. Folders are purchased, files are opened, notepads are furiously scribbled in and you go all topsy turvy again as a fresh idea swirls around your head.

You feel like a piece of clothing going around and around in a tumble drier and that's fine with you because this is who you are, whereas you learn that some people are best pegged out on the line and left to dry...

Friday, 15 May 2015

Blogging Love.

About time I tiptoed in and gave my blog some serious TLC. Blogs are fickle creatures, like flowers and friends they need to be nurtured or they wilt and fade away. I'm full of excuses, meandering around the wilds of Scotland to observing the wild in Carcassonne. I mean, writers need inspiration, right?

So I've been catching up with old friends, laughing far too much and hugging like crazy. Oh, and scribbling, writing, pouring out the prose. And so it goes on, until one day I typed so hard and fast until the split second I reached the end of the story. Then I sat back, breathed a huge sigh and felt the most overwhelming relief that can only be felt when those two words scream back at you. The End.

And then when you have finished celebrating the awful truth hits you, this is only the beginning.

Whats one supposed to do? Go out to play. Get on your bike, focus on life through your lens, upload instagram (finally) and yes, I would love to connect with you Sally on Instagram.

Meanwhile I have to gather up my friends (those who have hung around till the bitter end), sit them down, ply them with wine and be very brave and read aloud....

And maybe catch up on some cleaning....