Tuesday, May 30, 2017


“Nothing in the world is permanent, and we’re foolish when we ask anything to last, but surely we’re still more foolish not to take delight in it while we have it.”
W. Somerset Maugham

Sometimes it’s good to simply get out. Look up. The simple action of looking up takes you out of the spaghetti bowl of worries in your head into the sky and birds and sunlight in leaves. Step out of the ordinary. Which is precisely what we did yesterday at school. We stepped out of the class and into the bus. How glorious it was trundling along the back roads, the sky wide, wild flowers tangling up the hillsides, the wind in my hair and simply watching the beautiful world slip by...We were heading out to a farm on the edge of the world to learn about animals and how to take gentle and good care of them. The rest of the school are: Climbing Kilimanjaro (I heard this morning most of my Year 10 class have summitted. I could cry I am so proud and happy for them); climbing Mt Meru (should summit this afternoon); Zanzibar (learning about history and cultures); Kenya (an adventure center, white water rafting and scaling cliffs). What a brilliant school I work at. Braeburn International School Arusha. Learning isn't about hours and hours of classroom time. It's out there - in a sensory vibrant world. 

Yesterday I felt free for a moment. A true sense of freedom is something I can never quite recapture again from when I was young – the exhilarating sense of being alive, flying with wild wings, fearlessly, with no tomorrows. Somehow, the years, the experiences, the ‘wisdoms’ of adulthood, weigh you down ever so slightly. Perhaps it’s the succinct awareness of death - ever present, ever lurking, ever on the periphery, between each hello and goodbye. The certainty of brevity. I wish to be free of it yet I spent my youth searching for what outlines our existence. The irony is one deletes the other.

Now the work is to celebrate precisely that; to celebrate impermanence and truly realise that Life is a dream, an illusion, the physical body, a cloak. Each moment is to be truly lived, truly experienced, truly loved - even the bad ones. They're growth points. Speak your truth fearlessly and laugh. And smile. As much as you can.

I'm giving it a twirl. . .

Friday, April 7, 2017

Feeling Alive...

The dead are always looking down on us, they say.
While we are putting on our shoes or making a sandwich,
They are looking down from the glass bottom boats of heaven
As they row themselves slowly through eternity.

They watch the top of our heads moving below on earth.
And when we lie down in a field or on a couch,
Drugged perhaps by the hum of a long afternoon,
They think we are looking back at them,
Which makes them lift their oars and fall silent
And wait, like parents, for us to close our eyes. 
 - The Dead by Billy Collins

It is that time of year again.  Twilight cloud pile ups. All stars and lightning. Night spectacles of flash and glitter.  Soft mornings of bird song and gentle drizzle and dark soil and green. The smell of rain twirls on mischievous wind. The rains are few and far between in these parts. When they first arrive, they are furious, herding dust storms before them and tearing deep gashes in the parched, over grazed earth. Further north, in Kenya, there is terrible drought. We are so thankful for what we receive.

A few nights ago, I stood motionless in the dark courtyard, still as a statue in a midnight cemetery, witnessing the greatest light show on earth. Lightning cracked silver forks across the hills far away and overhead, a bowl of stars, glinting blue, green, red, silver, all fat and close.  The silver boned, articulate trees stood sentinel like over me, green fingers twisting starward, reaching for rain. From the dark, empty stables, I thought I heard the soft sigh of the dead appaloosa.

I glanced through the front door, into the clinking cutlery of domesticity of the little pink house on the hill and thought, "Perhaps this is what it feels like to be dead. Unseen. Invisible. Unnoticed but all seeing, watching the living carefully lay down cutlery, tools of the living."  The room was alive with warm light and small kindnesses. I watched my daughter, all slender and young, hopeful, carry a pot from the kitchen, throw her head back and laugh and I stepped out of the ridiculously beautiful night and into the light and love and arms and noise. And felt alive.

Kitchen Board

And it's still going Elizabeth! Unlike the blog, the kitchen board is far more resilient and on going. At least the list isn't that long. . . although I bet the next time I go into the kitchen, things like matches, peanut butter and tomatoes will have snuck on there...It really is never ending. At least some things are eternal.
Over and out, y'all and bisous X.X.X. great stormy ones, on yer neck. x j

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Spring clean...

(pic: Song of The Harp. Maki Horanai)
“April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain…” 
Burial of The Dead. T S Eliot

Two years eh? Two whole years? This is quite spooky. Being back here. It’s like walking back into an empty house. The furniture’s all here. Everything is exactly as you left it albeit dustier. Staler. Just no people. The party ended two years ago. Lip stick stained wine glasses stand untouched, ashtrays flow with stained buts, ash in the hearth and what’s that over there? Half a bottle of whisky asking to be finished. Everything is so still. Stale. It’s tempting to flop down on the chair, light up a fag and carry on like normal, like we used to but everything has changed and this needs tidying up, somewhat. A spring clean of sorts. Throw open the doors, open the windows, the curtains, let the light and wind curl in, caramel and chocolate twirl, and chase the ghosts out from those dark corners. 

I thought about moving. Getting out of here. Uprooting. To something a little swisher. Something more modern. Something more fresh, poetic and new. But, this is home after all. Where all the growing gets done. Where the roots are. Where all the laundry hangs out in the bright sun, dried by these dust laden winds which bring no rain. It’s the truth. So. I’m staying. And starting from today. Here. Again. Nothing quite like the present, really. I’m not looking back. 

A sprig of jasmine in a vase, lilies on the table, fresh fragrance, and sunlight brimming through the green, winking amongst the bird song. 

We shall always hope for more rain. 

There you are.

Here I am.