Do you believe in god?

What a loaded question! I recall a time when I had recently moved to Suffolk from Devon in the process of making friends. I went to a house party of someone I had known for a few months and got on very well with, it was an opportunity to make new friends – friend of a friend style.

Near the end of this house party everyone was sat in the living room (not very drunk at all as it wasn’t that kind of summer house party) and one of her friends asked the group “does anyone hear believe in god?” now this person stated quite clearly that she did not and was an atheist. I replied that I didn’t feel that I believe in “God” but I do believe there is something bigger than us. Que a tirade of verbal diarrhoea suggesting I was an imbecile! Surely you cannot believe in something you cannot account for or see? By the end of the conversation I was left feeling stupid, ridiculed and frankly bullied for having a different opinion.

 Do you believe in god?

No.  I do not believe in a Christian God or a single God. I believe there are many. I believe in Goddesses and Gods. Having spent the last 15 months learning more about paganism, I understand and associate that there is a god or goddess for many different things. One for Nature, Night, Day, Sun, Darkness, Solstice, Festivals, Weather, Possessions, Abundance, Fertility, and many more. I think it is wonderful that there are celebrations throughout the year to pay gratitude toward each aspect of life around us and what we are blessed with.

Perhaps because I suffer with SAD that it is no great surprise that my favourite festivals are Beltane and Litha. But I also enjoy Samhain – the ritual of letting go of the past year and embracing what we have learnt from it and will take with us into the next year.  Also, a time to reflect on those who we have lost in the last year, and reflecting on the changes within ourselves. We also get to dress up too and I am rather partial to fancy-dress!

Describe a “perfect” day

I wake from a restful sleep in a bright room, a knock on the door rouses me further and a voice calmly calls “room service” and breakfast is brought in on a tray. A glorious spread of warm crossaint and melted butter, a glass of homemade granola with honey and greek yogurt, a tall glass of chilled fresh apple juice too.  It tastes exquisite, bursting with flavour

Slipping out from under the bed covers I take a hot shower in the spacious wet room that doubles as a steam room.  Making my way outside I grab a yoga mat and take a place on the lawn, stretching my body while gazing upon a vast countryside of yellow wheat fields, rolling green hills and tall oak trees lining the bridleway. The instructor is good looking, a cross between Henry Cavill’s bright eyes and broad smile with a slender body similar to Prince Harry!  He takes us through a series of yoga poses and finishes with a sun meditation. I sit still with my eyes closed feeling the warm sun upon my face and the smell of summer flowers filling my lungs and listening to the silence broken only by blackbirds in the hedge surrounding the gothic style fountain in the middle of the sweeping driveway.

I meet my friend Hayley for lunch in the village. The sun brighter and warmer as the day has passed, we sit outside by the river bank enjoying delicious pizza slices, olives, sizzling slices of BBQ pork and slender slices of chargrilled chicken.  Our meal is satisfying; it is hard to express just how much it is enjoyable, cooked to perfection and just the right warmth in every mouthful.  We talk for a couple of hours, catching up on the time spent apart, laughing over memories and new adventures. We grab our bicycles and ride through the surrounding country lanes, stopping to take a picture here and there.

Arriving back at the mansion I make my way to the retreat room. There is nobody else there so I take a seat in the suspended swing and read my book – it is a good book, one that fills me with inspiration and invokes my wandering spirit thirsty for travelling adventures and inner growth. It is nearly time to depart, so I stroll down to the thermal suite for one last round of steam, heat, ice and floating in small candlelit pools. I am chauffeured back home in a spacious town car, I stretch out on the back seat sipping crisp berry cider until I arrive home.

It is sunny here too, so when I leave the car I walk up the drive towards the back garden, I am greeted by Meg at the gate. She is pleased to see me and I her. I spend time fussing and stroking her before throwing down a blanket on the lawn and stretching out under the pear tree, Meg laid by my side, the sun sets over the rear of the garden and I watch the sky change from bright blue to yellows, pinks and orange.  The stars come out, the sky is clear, not a cloud is sight. Dad sets up the telescope on the decking and we gaze upwards for an hour, wrapped under my large smock and cosy fluffy slipper boots. It is difficult to want to go to bed, knowing that when I do this day will be over. But who is to say tomorrow won’t be just as special and sweet.

What’s one thing you quit that you want to pick back up?

This is a personal prompt today rather than a prompt to write from my imagination. So what is one thing I quit that I would like to take back up?  Dancing.

I loved to dance ever since I was little. I began ballet classes when I was three years old and then moved on to ballet and tap from five until I was about seven.  The class was cancelled but I still danced at home. In fact I used to dance so much that I went through two carpets in the conservatory before I was 14 leading my Dad to buy special flooring used in studios.  That particularly became useful when I had to rehearse routines for my dance GCSE exams.

After school my dancing took a back step. A knee injury meant I had to reduce what I was doing, then it became only for leisure that I would dance e.g. clubbing.  I haven’t danced properly for years – a sequence of steps that moves you around the room rather than jigging on one spot and only shaking your hips.

A friend reacquainted me with ‘real’ dancing last year by taking me to a ceroc class. I loved it but I was terrible! I was shocked by how much rhythm and movement I had lost – my head doing one thing and my feet doing something else and neither resembling the teachers examples.

Dancing is something I would love to take back up again – for pure joy purposes. Dance is a beautiful way to express yourself and shake ‘it’ off!

Write down three things you are grateful for

  • Wildlife
  • Family
  • Friendships

Wildlife

Being outdoors in nature is where I belong. Soft grass beneath my feet damp from the morning dew, the wild flowers flowing in the breeze and bee buzzing around them pollinating as they go. Wild animals poking the heads out of dens or burrows. Birdsong overhead from dusk til dawn. Trees standing high above us, giving us cleaner air to breath and fruits to eat.  Bats flying at dusk swirling the eco-energy around us and clearing up the midges. Owls out hunting and hooting from their guard.  Living wildly and freely is where I feel most natural and calm.

Family

Family are imperative, they are my rock bed of support and encouragement, giving it to me frankly and honestly. More than my parents my family are special. I do not get on with some of them and occasionally it is a blessing I live far enough away not to worry about them or what they are doing. But others who I do get along with, it is special spending time with them. Talking about anything and everything, shopping with them, sharing a meal with them or afternoon tea.  Growing up away from them meant the time spent with them was all the more enjoyable and special.

Friendships

Friendships come and go, I don’t have any friends I grew up with or went to school with. I have friends in chapters of my life but each friendship has been important and valued.  Some have lasted years now and it remains precious to have them to talk to.  Forming a group of common friends feels like being part of a tribe – those one my wavelength who just understand what I’m going through and where I want to go as they are either travelling with me or guiding me through life. A tribe to make noise with (we have drums!) and chant with and laugh with (we certainly do laugh a lot). The best thing about friendships is that age is never a barrier to form an understanding and bond.

Talk about something you miss

There is a place down in the south west of England. It holds many memories, some good and some not so good, but it is a place where a young girl learnt who to be. She learnt how to swim in the sea and body board there. She learnt the names of wild flowers and butterflies on its cliffs. She climbed various tors and explored bogs for treasures, fed wild ponies and listened to local ghost stories.  She learnt to drive on its country lanes and main roads, how to control the clutch and hill starts.  She learnt how to love and how to recover from a broken heart and disappointments.  There were kind people there who became friends for a time, there were also unkind people there who taught her how to be strong and self-reliant.

The town market place has a tall memorial at its heart, mounted at the top of three large steps decorated with plaques and miss-you messages. It is a single traffic system around its centre, there is an indoor market selling local produce and pet care and home entertainments. A tackle shop and a sports shop, several chic bistros and cafes dotted between, a listed cinema too.  The small town centre has a cluster of typical highstreet shops and another, smaller, memorial in the middle of a concord in dedication to the local air force.

Just on the edge of town is a hidden garden with a bandstand, couples frequently picnic there any dry day in the year. Sheltered from noise and passing traffic is has a small cottage by its entrance for the grounds keeper-turned-tourist office.

Just the other side is the beginning of the docks and boat slipways, sweeping the coastline for 6 miles up towards the imposing cliffs. The docks developed into its own little ghetto of wooden fronted apartments painted red, yellow, blue and green surrounding the marina of fancy sailing boats. A few fishery shops on its outskirts. When you walk away from the docks classic hotels and B&B’s line its roadway along with a few bars and a large outdoor adventure park.  She spent hours on weekends searching the rock pools for crabs and starfish with her Dad. The rocks coated in thick green algae and full of brown waxy seaweed.  The beach was sandy, tall dunes separated the main beach from the road topped with long spikey grass.

The cliffs were her favourite place of all, right at the end of the prom, separating her town from the next.  Red clay walls, bumpy and ridged going up many feet high. Often climbing them to the top and sitting a while looking over the estuary and sea to a town not too far away but by car a good 40 minutes.  On clear days she could watch the train pootling along the coastal line from her town to theirs.

This place is home (Exmouth, Devon).

Where do you dream of traveling next? 

There are expectations and dreams to travel to exotic places and far away destinations such as Germany, France, Bali, Cuba and Austria. Then there is curiosity to explore the homeland – walk where Chaucer travelled, trace a scientific route and inspiration for National Parks where John Muir once went. Although the next holiday is already booked and it will be a fine, cultural adventure in Italy (Florence), the next place on the list afterwards is a little homeland. Weekend trips to Canterbury, Kent and Bath. Several National Trust properties are built into that list and a single weekend may not be enough but enough to provide a flavour of what is there and what to go back for later.

Canterbury: An historical English city within Kent, a popular pilgrimage to Thomas Becket’s shrine housed at the cathedral until the Dissolution of the Monasteries.  Inspiring Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales it is consistently one of the most visited cities in England.

Bath: Previously visited on a school trip it represents the romanticism of Jane Austen novels, strolling the famous Royal Crescent.  Various historical roman baths dotted around along with architecture museums, Holburne museum, art exhibits and umpteen other places of historical interests. Bath must be one of England’s oldest centres with a wealth of art, culture and education to be shared.

Of course there are other adventures too such as revisiting Cheddar Gorge, Buckfastleigh, and Gardens of Heligan. There is a long list to get through and plenty of time to enjoy each and every place.

Describe how you met your best friend

I have two best friends.

The first:  I was 18 and had just finished my GCSE’s, my parents suggested taking a trip along the coast and stopped at what looked like an old farm. As we drove down the driveway it lead to a large pleasant white building full of light, a paddock, a small pond with ducks. There were smaller bridle lanes leading away from the building at the back.  I stepped out of the car and smelt the air – warm from the summer sun and musky from the surrounding fields recently mucked. I walked into the main building and looked into the caged rooms.  A massive Rottweiler barked at me, I commanded him to sit, he did not and I walked on.  Next there was a side room of three smaller units, a spaniel was barking away and again I commanded sit, he did not and I turned to my left where a small brindle Staffy was sat looking at me, he barked once and I said hello. He stood up and went over, he wagged his tail and I knelt down and commanded sit, he did.  That was the day I met Leo, my best friend of 14 years and counting.

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The second: I was 25, it was coming up to the one year anniversary of owning my own home. Living alone. I longed for a companion, alas no human was on my horizon and so I considered other types of companionship. Leo was now comfortable at the family home, used to a detached house with little noise and having company all day (my Mother home worked), moving in with me was too stressful to him. So I took a drive partway to work and turned off onto a small lane.  Pulled into a wide open farmyard and went to the little wooden office to meet a kind looking middle-aged woman. I told her I was looking for a companion, I worked in the city but my parents were not far away to help with midday walks, I told her all about Leo and how I loved our talks (Staffies have a wide vocabulary and you honestly can be fooled into having conversations with them).  She smiled and said “I have the perfect companion for you, take a seat”. I sat in the only chair, a wicker chair with lumpy cushions covered in fur. In barely five minutes a panting noise could be heard and all of a sudden out of nowhere, before I had chance to get to my feet, this small little ball of fluff was in my lap, paws on my shoulders, giving me a wash. She jumped off and leaped straight into my Dad’s lap to do the same and then jumped down and sat at my Mother’s feet much calmer.  I took the lead from the lady and led this bouncing lunatic over to the field with a kennel maid and walked around for a bit. Gathering her story from said Maid of how she came to be there and how this little dog had recently had six puppies. If I wanted her I would have to wait 7 weeks.  But it was instant, from the moment she landed in my lap we were best friends, the best companions for each other.  This was the day I met Megan.

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