December along the Danube

 

In December I ticked another goal off my retirement bucket list to visit the Christmas Markets in Europe. With a friend I ventured forth along the Danube. It was the most delightful and beautiful experience and well worth the years I have waited to achieve this! Vienna was magical and as we cruised back to Budapest the next morning the scene was as Christmassy as you could hope for with the riverbanks shrouded in a heavy fall of snow.

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Resurfacing

I’m still here – just! Coming back to this has been on my mind for a while – I miss the pleasure of writing and recording my thoughts and feelings.

Things are better – I feel as though I am resurfacing… coming back up from the depths where I’ve been for a good while now.

Lots of reasons – of the new friends I mentioned last time some are still around, some I’ve let go. I don’t need to hang on to people who jar with me or who don’t share my outlook. I am not so desperate that I need to hang on to people regardless. Of those I’ve hung onto our friendship has grown – similar interests and a feeling that we want to get to know each other better.

I have a new granddaughter who is an absolute delight. The joy of spending a few hours with her, watching her learn and grow, bring me more pleasure than I ever imagined as  we awaited her arrival. As a result my days are busier, fuller – in fact I sometimes wish for an hour or so (let alone a while day!) to myself! Throw into that a couple of hours tutoring each week and January has passed without me even noticing the time of year – the time when I usually reach rock bottom!

I’m also trying a multivitamin supplement and have recently started on a Vit D boost but I’ve yet to work out which of all these things is lifting me up out of the depths.

Although I am slightly reluctant to admit it I do feel more settled. Reluctant because I don’t want to give up on my Norfolk-ness, the place I know I belong to; the place that is still more familiar to me than anywhere else; the place I still truly feel at home. The Welsh have  a word that sums it up completely -‘hiraeth’. There is no English translation. It is a feeling more than homesickness, the loss of a place that is deep down in the very being of someone; nostalgia for the place that made you who you are and will forever be  a part of you… and the hole that is left inside when you are no longer a part of that place. This is what I feel, and my soul still sinks every morning when I wake up and face another day away from home.

But – things are looking up! Not making any promises but I may be around a bit more!

Just Life – I suppose?

Kinver Edge (1)

Well, here I am…… apparently letting all the things I cared about slip further and further away. Disappointed in myself…. letting my writing slip, letting my photography slip, letting my interest and enthusiasm slip.

Life is different, very different but I don’t think I have the enthusiasm to pick up the things that are on offer. Perhaps it’s too hard – to step out of the door and build a new life…… the me I used to be doesn’t seem to be here anymore….. or perhaps this is me and the other me was just a façade that enabled me to do the job I had to do?

I knew leaving everyone behind would be tough, but I don’t think I was prepared for feeling so alien!  There’s a lot to be said for driving home along familiar routes that hold the memories you’ve grown up with, and very little to be said for driving home where nothing means anything, nothing connects to the person I am. And it’s not just the physical environment……. I’m constantly encountering attitudes and an outlook that I don’t share.

Enough of the self-indulgence though – it’s not all doom and gloom…….. there are so many positives to being here – Birmingham’s thriving cultural scene on my doorstep (once I shake off this lethargy and get out there to find it!), easy access to places via a well-connected transport network and , of course, family….. the point of this whole exercise!

They have to be the one huge plus out of this whole business……. whilst allowing for the irritations of any close family! I see them two or three times a week, whereas before it was once every month or maybe six weeks. Sunday lunch with Mum has become the norm (now the new kitchen is finally finished!)  – and Friday night fish ‘n’ chips too! Shopping trips with my daughter-in-law (who can shop for England believe me) where we have reached a mutual misunderstanding – K searches every aisle in every shop in case there’s something she might need, or a bargain to be had, while I go straight to the item on my list and only browse the stores that really grab my interest or serve my purpose for the day. My granddaughter calls in on her way home from school (providing Nanna keeps the cake tin replenished!); she sleeps over when Mum and Dad have an early start for work the next day; we bake together; we watch films together; we share music (hmm….. more hers than mine!!) and I am able to experience the glorious, unpredictability of an hormonal 12 year old girl at first hand instead of having it recounted to me by phone or text!

And I have made new friends….. three individuals so far who I get on well with, seem to have hit it off with and are turning into regular contacts for coffee, lunch, Tai Chi and craft sessions (interestingly all three having moved into the area recently), a lively group of ladies I meet for lunch in Birmingham each month, plus other faces becoming more familiar day by day.

Oh how I miss the familiar faces of friends though, and the places we used to go. Sitting for a coffee or a meal with someone who knows me through and through, who knows why I think the way I think, why I am the way I am, the people who have shared the highs and lows of my life with. Yes they’re all still there – just a call or a text or a PM or a FB photo away…… yes they’re just 200 miles along the motorway away, just a 3-4 hour drive away …….. but sometimes it might as well be the other side of the world!

Summer Harvest

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Some of the fruits of my summer……. those that are still untouched by the family, although I’m not sure how much longer that will last.

Lemon marmalade, courgette chutney, bramble jelly and strawberry jam…… and any number of cakes and biscuits that were very quickly consumed!

Yes, I am still here, but it’s been a busy summer, entertaining friends, travelling and keeping up with the produce from my son’s allotment.

One Year On?

Where I am now – five minutes from my front door. Church Doors on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path

 

My notifications tab tells me that I have been here for a year.

A lot has happened in that year….. but, then again, maybe not so much.

I’ve moved 400 miles west and yet still waiting to move another 200 miles north.

I’ve travelled to places I’ve never visited before and yet I’ve spent most of the year in a place that has become so familiar.

I’ve spent a lot of time driving from family member to family member and to old friends, but in between I’ve passed many days in this one place, a long, long way from everyone I know.

I started this blog to keep my interest in writing and photography alive…. I’m not sure either has developed very much further but the hearts are still beating strongly! As a result I’ve been fascinated, amused, occasionally saddened, educated, heartened and encouraged. Many of you reading this have become familiar to me and some of you have kept me going over the past year.

Thank you!

Swimming

This place has been my salvation over the past few weeks. It’s not very impressive from the outside but if you look beyond the functional exterior you will have some idea of the views to be had from the inside.

celtic haven1

I’ve been swimming here three times a week since the New Year. The pool looks out over Carmarthen Bay and on a good day, on to the headlands in the distance. In the other direction Caldey Island sits firmly in the waters of the bay, often looking more like an extension of the mainland rather than a separate entity.

I love swimming…. I’m not a fitness freak or an exercise junkie ….. I don’t do the gym or cycle or run but I am partial to a walk in the fresh air – and swimming. At the moment, owing to problems with my knees, I find swimming the easier option. I am not a fast swimmer, or a powerful swimmer or a very gainly swimmer but it makes me feel good. I’m an Aquarian and I know that’s an air sign but I definitely have an affinity with water – although rather than carrying the water I am happy to let the water carry me.

I’ve got a lot going round in my head at the moment and some mornings I find it hard to get myself motivated – but the thought of slipping into the warm water, letting it take the weight off my knees and enjoying an hour and a half of exercise with no aches and pains is enough to get me there. It’s not  a particularly exciting pastime, swimming up and down, particularly as the pool is only 10m long so it takes quite a few lengths to hit my target of swimming 1km each time, and yet something draws me back there day after day. I know I will come away enlivened and able to tackle the tasks that I keep putting off.

My New Year!

church doors

I’ve had a hectic couple of weeks with lots of visitors, lots of cooking, lots of cuddles with my granddaughter and lots of walks in the fresh air! Eventually things will get back onto an even keel and I’ll be able to post regularly again.

Meanwhile I took this shot on Tuesday as I walked along the coast path just a few minutes from my home. We’ve had real Jekyll and Hyde weather this week – yesterday, by contrast, struggled to get properly light all day and yet this morning the sun was streaming into my bedroom again. At the moment the wind is howling and driving the rain against the window as I type!

Christmas provided me with a host of new gadgets for my Nikon – a tripod, a wide-angle lens and a set of filters plus a ‘Dummies’ guide to my camera. Seems there’s no excuse now to get out there and find out what I can really do!