Beauty

The early morning sky took my breath away this morning- the darkness offset by what seemed like hundreds of stars almost close enough to touch. Although it was cold i was mesmerised and couldn't help but smile and walk with a spring in my step. Beauty is like that it can surprise us, amaze us, overwhelm us and can broaden our horizons when they are diminished by life's stresses. It is one of my favourite companions. It asks nothing from us other than to notice it, to receive it and where possible to share it with others. It is so precious and breaks through even our saddest moments. It can make us laugh and cry. It can make us sing and dance and it can reduce us to deep silence and make time stop still. Dawn will soon come and the stars will slip away but they will continue to shine in my heart and i pray a gift of beauty for all my family and friends today and for stars in the sky of all who are struggling with the darkness of depression or fear. xx

LOYALTY

It was dark and drizzling as I started my training run, it had its own kind of beauty but Phoebe my adopted cat decided to stay in bed- there's loyalty for you!!! Loyalty is a big word and as I reflect on one of the worst weeks in the history of Spurs football club – it is a word that again comes to mind. After supporting them for nearly 50 years I'm not going to walk away – I will be cheering just as loudly against Brighton on saturday as I have ever done. Yes it hurts when we get hammered but it hurts more to hear all the criticism. Yes something is wrong – we aren't performing well but we have to stay calm and we have to stay united and that applies to every aspect of life together. Sometimes in our live changes need to be made , questions need to be asked, there is nothing wrong with challenging a situation that isn't going well, or with constructive criticism but abuse and disrespect isn't acceptable or helpful. My last word on loyalty though does go to Phoebe – who did shake herself and come and run with me - animals are a constant reminder that loyalty is precious- my animals don't judge me, they go on loving, accepting and inspiring and making my life a million times better than it would be without them. So heres to all our companion animals and to everyone who has stuck by us when things have gone wrong and it would have been easier to walk away and heres to Spurs too!!

No Time

I'm waking up quite a bit in the night for various reasons at the moment and when I looked at the time on my phone it read 00:00 Exactly midnight but no time! Made me think about what it would be like living with 'no time' !

It would be completely unamanagable and totally chaotic but there is also an appeal about arriving when you get there rather than having to give a time. It couldn't work of course but just for a moment when I had got over the weirdness of there being 'no time' I half wished it could always be like that.

Football kicks off when the players are ready. We eat when we are hungry, we go to bed when its dark. We linger over a coffee, we take the scenic route to work.... but No the world would come to a grinding halt! Still it is a nice notion and one that might just encourage me to take more time over things, give more time to those I love and at all times value the precious gift of life.

HAPPY FEET

Some days just don't go to plan!! was on the way to a Park Run this morning and spotted this little chap in the middle of the road badly concussed. Ainslie managed to pull up and i grabbed him before he got hit again. By the time we reached Taunton he had come round and was much more chirpy but not quite up to flying. Couldn't leave him in the car so instead of running we turned the car round and came back again!! He is now recovering and i will release him later. Have called him Happy Feet !!!I

AMAZON FIRES 24.08.19

We will never know how many lives have been lost in the Amazon fires, but what we do know is that it is a tragedy and an environmental catastrophy. Sadly we don't take much notice at first when it seems so far away. trees`fall, creatures die, but we stay silent and look away, until it suddenly becomes clear that the implications of the massive loss affects us all. Then we rage as the consequences become horribly clear.

I am not judging, I have been as complacent as the next person, but I do grieve, and I can hardly bear to think of the fear and suffering of the Amazon animals, of the danger those tackling the fires are in and of th cost to the next generation. But rather than despair, lets take a moment today to honour the lives lost, to reflect on how we can help our beautiful planet and to pledge again to be the best people we can be.

Thank you to everyon who is actively working to change policies and attitudes, you are heroes.

RISING SILENCE ON WORLD HUMANITARIAN DAY

Rising Silence tells the story of the Birangona women, survivors of rape and sexual slavery in the Liberation War of Bangladesh of 1971. Many of the women have passed away, but through this film their stories live on. 

This film is an important look of a forgotten struggle that is echoed on today. https://vimeo.com/257033832

RISING SILENCE Director’s Leesa Gazi writes The history behind the making of this film has been a personal journey for me. I grew up hearing the heroic and harrowing stories of the Liberation War. When I was 17, my father, a freedom fighter in the War, told me about the Birangona women. The women he saw had been captured by the Pakistani forces and their local collaborators and held in rape camps. He told me he had witnessed hundreds of women and girls standing back-to-back on a convoy of trucks like sacrificial animals. That image stayed with me forever. In 2013, I travelled to Bangladesh to work on a play about the Birangona women - a dramatised account based on the experiences of the women who had been subjected to one of the worst campaigns of rape as a weapon of war in the 20th century. Time after time, audiences would comment on how shocked they were to discover these women actually existed, how successful society had been in wiping out a history that impacted people - particularly women - alive today. But I felt deep in my heart it was not enough. I began this journey to make a film about them. At the end of the journey, I realised that their sharing of their lives and how they have tried to heal has shown me how to find myself and what I am capable of as a woman. I wanted to see these women on their own terms, beyond labels and statistics. They are real women: someone’s daughter, or sister, or mother, or any woman. Each of them had a childhood, and each of them has a name, a story to tell. Four of the women died while we were in the post-production stage of this film. Their existence, in spite of being ignored and shut out for so long, is a testament to their resilience and their refusal to be diminished. They accepted me with no judgment and with an unconditional love that comes so naturally to them as their way to build their lives. They celebrate experiencing the wonder and beauty of friendship, nature, and music because they never give up on life

A CATERPILLAR AT DAWN 03.08 19

It has been a bit of a shock to the system getting up in the dark these past few days but after a mometary panic that winter was closing in – calm was restored and i was able to sit and watch dawn gradually wake up the garden and take my lead from the rabbits and birds who carry on with their foraging and feeding, singing and scampering whatever time of year it is. I had some good news too. I regularly have to fish out flies and beetles from the little duck pond – but to my horror there was a caterpillar in there last night. It semed a gonner – I dried it – blew on it (mouth to mouth resuscitation on a caterpillar is tricky!!!) and with little hope in my heart finally brought it in on a leaf and left it. Well to my delight it had rtoddled off its leaf and was heading to the window so it is now safely back in the garden. Couldn't bear the thought of it being robbed of the chance to be a butterfly! So heres to that little chap and to us all that we may find our wings and grow into what we mos long to be –for the good of all creatures and our planet

MID DEVON SHOW

Enjoyed a super day at the Mid Devon Show yesterday. We had a stall for Animals Asia and raised £275.45 plus 15 euros!! So many people there with a lovely atmosphere-the only down side was the reminder of the darker side of country life - the stag hounds were there which made me cry inside. was a long day but well worth it and my fundraising total is now over £30k which i can't quite believe. When i turned 50 iwanted to try and make uo for all the lost years and set myself a goal which seemed unreachable but which kept me dreaming - £60k by the time i reached 60 - who knows i have four and a half years to raise another £30k - all things are possible so will give it my best shot! 

MId Devon Show 27.07.19

SNAKE RESCUE.COM !!

Well, I went to the allotment to pick a lettuce for lunch and spotted a poor grass snake caught up in some green netting. It was in a terrible state where it had fought to free itself it had just got more and more entangled and had netting in its jaw and round its neck to the point where I thought it was dead. It was very long and so probably a female but thankfully Mark who helps with the garden was still on site and between us we fought to free her. It was painstakingly slow as the netting was embedded in her scales and I was terrified of cutting her or of her struggling and throttling herself. Finally after about 20mins we managed to cut away the last bits of netting and gently placed her in the top field. Her mouth looked very sore and I have no idea how long she had been there. I would have been distraught if she had died that way as was awful. I have just come back from checking on her and she is gone so am happy now! I didn't prolong her suffering by taking a photo this is a picture of another snake. I have to admit they aren't my favouritest of Gods creatures and every time she moved I nearly leapt out of my skin! but am just so relieved that she is ok. Phew!

 

I must admit I love receiving presents and ingratitude is one my pet hates. Biut when the present you are given is small and furry and DEAD it is quite hard to be grateful or even the slightest bit thankful But Phoebe my adopted cat didn't seem to notice that I wasn't over the moon at her early morning gift and sat proudly waiting to be congratulated on her amazing feat of catching a creature not much bigger than her nose. That aside she has grown into a wonderful companion, has learnt to play ball and to stay clear of my rather nutty little cockerel walnut who if duffing up was an Olympian sport would be a gold medal contender. Such are the daily joys of rescue animals. I wouldn't be without them and when life seems overwhelming they restore spirits and make me smile. Here's to all the wonderful creatures who we think we've rescued but who actually rescue us! xx

 

I fear I am being watched! Every time I come out of my cabin 633 Squadron of sparrows take to the skies and make a beeline for the hedge where they noisily wait for me to fill up the bird feeders. They are a motley bunch. One poor parent has three fledgings who quite frankly are delinquents. They duff her up if she keeps them waiting and act like complete thugs. They are at the age now where they are more than capable of feeding themselves, so I am hoping that she will be able to take a deep breath soon and just feed herself! If I was her I would give egg laying a miss next year!! There is one little one minus a few feathers who arrives last and who I hold a few seeds back for. He is quite scrawny but does fine in his own unique way! This morning they were all looking very bedraggled but they are such a joy. Thank you little friends for making my day and keeping me smiling through the rain.

 

 

More more !!

03.06.19

Nearly a disastrous start to the week as I ran out of my cabin in my pyjamas to chase off a fox who thought he might breakfast on my rescue animals. No casualties thank goodnes although coffee wass rather bloodied and traumatised. I brought him in and cleaned his comb up from where he had flung himself against the wire and after a drink and a digestive biscuit he declared himself fit enough to go back out! The fox was young and skinny and I do feel for it. Creation is so beautiful and yet so brutal too. It is a constant challenge to try and live with what you can't change and yet honour every little life and grieve when life is cut viciously short. Eliza my cat slept through it all until Coffee started crowing in the cabin and she then gave me a look that expressesd her extreme displeasure at sharing her space with a mere bird an a noisy one at that! As I jogged round the field later I knew our visitor was out there somewhere and I couldn't help but worry for him and any cubs there might be..... Anyway have a good week everyone and stay safe xx

 

I know it has probably spoiled some peoples plans but I'm glad to see the rain this morning. Slowly filling up the water butt and making the earth smell fresher. Jemima one of the ducks is splashing away in the little pond and the whole garden seems joyful. The giant poppies look brighter and i'm sure the allotment would sing if it could. The rain isn't heavy, just a sprinkling really but sometimes thats all it takes to make a difference. A sprinkling of kindness can touch a heart A sprinkling of encouragement can bring courage to start again A sprinkling of understanding can bring affirmation A sprinkling of silence can bring peace in a world that seems to get louder and louder. A sprinkling of friendship can be such a blessing so thank you everyone and keep going xxx

 

 

Sometimes what seems an ordinary day can suddenly become beautiful. My running buddy Justin and his mum Tina Guyadeen sent me a parcel from New York and i was in tears as i unwrapped a special note, a T shirt and some bath salts for my feet. So unexpected but so precious Heres to the gift of friendship and to those who light up our lives with their love and kindness x

 

In my special T shirt

EASTER SUNDAY

Whatever happened on that first Easter morning,the disciples lives were changed forever. As I look out of my window and ponder the mystery of it all – I pray for lives to be changed now too . So a huge thank you to everyone who is making that happen. Those of you who rescue rehabilitate and rehome animals . Those who change the lives of abused and neglected children. Those who help young adults believe in themselves and help them to find their place in the world. Those who bring hope to those whose world is falling apart and support those whose minds and bodies are no longer as strong as they once were. Those who sit quietly with those whose pain is beyond words and whose loss is beyond describing. You are all heroes and the world is a better place because you care and act and go on loving even when it hurts so much you can hardly bear it. Happy Easter everyone and thank you for your inspirational friendship

2 Hours Later 

Having written about hope and lives being changed for good – the shocking pictures coming out of Sri Lanka show us the other side of the coin. Lives being taken away and life changing injuries being sustained by people who woke up this morning not knowing what a hideous day it would turn out to be. There are no words when acts of violence like this are perpetrated. There are not enough tears and there are no easy or clever words of consolation that can be offered to those caught up in such devastation. All we can do is stand together. In the silence of shock. In the pain of anger. In the disbelief that any human being could do this to another human being. Nothing can justfy this violence. No religion. No creed. No ideology. As I hold the people of Sri Lanka in my heart and in my prayers. I will condemn but I will not hate. Not on Easter Sunday not ever. Because if I do then part of my heart has been lost too and the world needs all our hearts to go on loving, even as they break.

GOOD FRIDAY

For the first time ever I did something different on Good Friday and joined a 10k race. It felt slightly odd but itwas incredibly hot and I didn't take water so half way round I really was very thirsty. Jesus' words from the cross 'I thirst' became my meditation as I reflected on how very few times in my life I have been truly thristy in a physical sense. I have thirsted for peace of mind, for healing for those in terriblepain, for an end to cruelty and for a greater sense of awareness of what we are doing to our planet. Thousands of people thirst every day and go without clean water and although I give to Water Aid I don't appreciate what it means to be able to turn on a tap and get hot or cold water whenever I want it. The race was a real wake up call and as I fell to my knees as I crossed the line and was helped by other runners and given some water I was quite emotional. Two little words 'I thirst' made my Good Friday very very real.

MOTHERING SUNDAY

Mothering sunday is such a day of extremes of emotion from raw grief to wonderful joy. So lets support one another today whatever our circumstances Lets celebrate with those who are mothers for the first time. Those who are mums and still have their own mums too to spoil and appreciate. Those who feel cherished and loved and who are being taken out today. But lets remember too those are grieving. Those grieving for their mothers and those grieving for their daughters and sons. Those grieving for the children they have never had. And amidst it all – lets celebrate the wonderful diversity, beauty and wonder of mother earth. Lets pledge to nurture and respect and value all life and lets give thanks for those creatures for whom we are mum.

Mother Love Statue at Mill House Retreats

EARLY MORNING 27.03.19

There was a real bite in the air this morning when I went out and tried to encourage my weary legs to run round the frosty fields. It was so beautiful though and even the raw cold on my face made me thankful for the gift of life. The noise of our resident woodpecker hung in the air making me smile and Coffee the cockerel was doing his best to wake everyone up. Phoebe my rescue cat stayed in bed though which shows just how cold it was as she is usually my training partner. She loves to distract me, pouncing on imaginary mice in the long grass, and chasing after pigeons that she is never going to catch! Then when she gets bored of that she sits on the compost bin and launches herself at me as I run by.! I was only out for twenty minutes but it was a special time. Even in tiredness sometimes little gifts of joy can come our way. Phoebe did eventually get up and Eliza my elderly cat also emerged from under the duvet! As Mothers day approaches although I am sad I never had children, I do have a motley collection of special animals who allow me to share their lives and who fill my heart with love Heres to us all , may a little moment of joy transform our day, ease our tiredness and show us we are loved.

HOPE AMIDST HATRED 16.03.19

It would be easy to despair at the actions of the gunman in New Zealand yesterday. But lets instead find hope in the reactions of the world wide community. Different faiths, different nations, different communities denouncing violence and prejuduce and standing together to grieve for the victims and to support their families and those who witnessed and were injured in the dreadful attack. Lets grieve too that human beings can so lose their way that they can justify the talking of other peoples lives. The world is a sadder place because of the events of yesterday but it is a stronger place too and we can all help in making it a more peaceful place as well. So lets join our hands and hearts and live as simply, as compassionately and as generously as we can. Let 's not despair. Lets not lose hope, Lets keep believing that together we can make a difference. Maybe only a small one – but small is a start x

Random Acts of KIndness Day 17.2.19

Random Acts of Kindness Day might sound trashy but it at least reminds us all to say thank you to those who have been kind to us and gives us an opportunity to change our world a tiny bit. My two acts this weekend will probaly seem silly but I guess they reflect how I feel about every life mattering however small.

Yesterday at the Park run a worm had been washed up onto the path and was going to be trodden on so I picked it up and put it on the grass. Then a soindlly spider I spotted in the bathroom was in a right state with its legs all crumpled and it was trying to walk. I untangled its legs and tried to hold its body so it could walk but every time I took my fingers away it fell down again. After four tries it managed to stand on its own and I was delighted to see it scurry away. The worlds problems see unsurmountable at times and the cruelty so hard to take but lets keep encouraging one another and keep believing that we can make a difference.

Even if it is miniscule – it matters

Thank you everyone for showing me kindness to me by encouragement, generosity and by just being there x

A WORLD TURNED WHITE 01.02.19

Fiddle and Jemima are a bit bemused this morning, wondering where their lawn has gone and why everything has suddenly turned white! It is amazing how four inches of snow can make everything look so different and so incredibly beautiful. Just imagine if four inches of kindness and compassion fell on the world overnight - how transformative might that be? Heres to each of us sprinkling a few centimetres each ......... and to those struggling in the cold here and across the world

AN EARLY NIGHT 29.01.19

Why is it that when you are really tired and try and have an early night, as soon as you head touches the pillow you are suddenly wide awake again? You lie there as long as you can mulling, tossing and turning until you realise that in actual fact you are a little bit on the peckish side. So you get up and have a handful of nuts and possibly some cripss, even a biscuit ( or two) then of course you need a drink and then naturally you need to go to the loo. By this time the cat has woken up as well, and decides that she too would like a fsnack sp you give her a few of her biscuits, and a drink of water and then she has to use her cat litter tray so you have to clean that. By the time you clamber back into bed the hot water bottle has gone cold so you have to get up again and put the kettle on and re-do it and then finally finally you go to bed. But by now it is way past your normal bedtime and you have no sooner closed your eyes when the alarm goes off and the cat wants feeding again and you get up even more tired than when you went to bed! What a to do!!!

10.1.19

Sometimes it is little things, silly things even that make our day and bring joy to our hearts again. After 3 months 2 weeks and 4 days without laying Jemima proudly presented me with a beautiful pale blue egg today and a grey winters day became a special one! Little blessngs, little moments that make life sparkle. Heres to everyone who has made someone smile today - thank you

BOXING DAY

The light and hope of Christmas Day has always been quickly overshadowed by the Boxing Day Hunts. I spent many a day as a teenager crying inside as I imagined what the foxes would be going through. I know for many it is a great tradition of our country, but for me it has been more of a great tragedy. Hunting is supposed to be illegal but the cruelty continues which is why my first run of the year on 6th January will be in aid of The League Against Cruel Sports. They have had their problems recently but they continue to be the voice of foxes, stags, pheasants, hares and all the creatures of our countryside who die at the hands of hunters.

Today is also the Feast Day of St Stephen- Deacon and martyr. That fact has brought me some comfort recently when I have been verbally stoned for my views on hunting. It's not a sentimental one - i have seen what foxes can do to a flock of chickens and have had to bury many feathered friends.

 

  But I long for the day when hunting truly is a thing of the past and the shadow of cruelty that it brings is lifted once and for all.

CHRISTMAS EVE

May the peace of Christmas touch the hearts of all who feel anxious or afraid. The hope of Christmas bring strength to all who feel defeated and bowed down The mystery of Christmas bring a new sense of wonder and possibility And the may the blessing of this Christmas be families and communities drawn closer together and a world united in its desire to feed every child, value every life and respect every part of creation

DAWN 24.11.18

It's strange how some mornings you can wake up full of beans believing every thing is possible and that you can make a difference. Other mornings tears are the first comapnions of the day and you want the world to stop turning. As I write this it is tht inbetween time between night and morning. The trees are still shadows and the blackness is barely penetrable. Gradually though the sky does lighten. The moon slips away and the light inches its way across the fields and the sky. I so need creation to watch and learn from day by day. I need the reliability of its rhythms. I need the bird songwhen my own music has gone quiet. I need the stillness and the frenzy of early morning feeding time to make me smile. Lets take a moment today, however we are feeling to celebrate and give thanks for the riches, the companionship and the hope of creation. And as we cherish it, lets pledge again to care for it so that those who follow us can celebrateits beauty too.

REMEMBRANCE SUNDAY

The wind has died down,the rain has stopped and the sun is shining boldly in a light blue sky. Trees bereft of their leaves are standing still with their wintry dignity and only the birds are busy. It is as if the earth itself knows how special this moment and this day is.Recognising its solemnity and feeling its own pain at how war has scarred its landscape and silenced its music. Rememebering those who died in the Great War and in all the conflicts since and praying for peace and healing.

FOOTBALL 28.10.18

It might seem trivial to write about football given the tragedy and cruelty that we wake up to day after day Especialy as i know football isn't everyones cup of tea. When us fans get excited i do appreciate it can be a struggle to understand the joy and despair of winning and losing! But we are a community and this morning we suffer with Leicester City FC and send our best wishes to Glenn Hoddle (just about my favourite player of all time) We all have our special club mine for the last 47 years has been Spurs but we are bigger than one club we are one family and at our best can support, encourage and hold one another in the great times and in the testing ones. So heres to all football fans today - wherever you are and whoever you supportI

FALLEN BRANCHES 23.10.18

In the gales of a fortnight ago, a couple of huge branches came down in the retreat garden. Looking at the trees through the dappled sunshine today though, you would never know the branches had ever been there. It can feel like that when someone dies. The world goes on turning and the space where their life was quickly closes over. The world hardly seems to notice their absence- but we do And thank goodness our love for them and their love for us lives on. Our lives are never the same again but our memories, our love keeps them alive and their great legacy in the world is never lost. They aren't like branches that snap off or leaves that fall to the ground. We carry them in our hearts and all they were and did lives on. They are a part of everything we do and they go on making the world a better place. Thinking of everyone who is grieving today, and all those who go on inspiring us to be the best we can be- even as we cry....

WORLD MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS DAY

It was really misty this morning . I could hear the usual sounds of morning mufled in the distance but could barely see in front of me. it was only just safe enough to run. It made me remember the times when I have been 'lost' in the mist of depression. Where the world was going on around me but I felt distanced from it. There were just shadows and I couldn't reach real life which felt so frightening. Praying on this World Mental Health Awareness Day for all those struggling and feeling isolated by depression, anxiety and anything that makes the world feel scary. For whom everythng is exhausting and a way out is a blur. Lets each reach out to someone today and reassure them that they are not alone. Or say thank you to someone who has been a light in our time of darkness. The mist can decsend from nowhere and seem as if it will never clear. So lets be people who listen and encourage and help others step out of the greyness into the dawn of a new day. Lets help people embrace new possibilities and offer new reasons to believe that there is a second, or third or fourth chance at life just around the corner. Lets keep raising awareness and do all we can to help everyone through the desperate moments when they come And lets not forget those who have lost someone they love to the misery of depressive illness. For them the day will never dawn quite as brightly again.

ST FRANCIS DAY FRIEND

he Feast of St Francis seems a good day to make the announcement that i have been officially adopted by a stray cat - she was living rough in the fields and then moved into our old chicken house. Finally she came down to my cabin and began to trust me. Although nervous she is the most loving cat whose thing is to put her paws round my neck and rest her head on my shoulder. She isn't microchipped and despite all the posts on lost/found cat pages no one has come forward so she is now the newest member of the Mill House Community and i have called her Phoebe. Eliza my other cat isn't best pleased but all well so far! Heres to all creation - and the wonderful relationships that make this world so beautiful. May we each give and be given love because there is nothing more special

Phoebe

IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS 18.09.18

Spotted this little one while out walking yesterday. Barely bigger than my thumb but so beautiful. Wonderful how unexpected discoveries can bring so much joy and how the little things in life are often the most precious. It was pouring with rain and we were a tad drenched, but that was soon forgotten as the sun broke through and the frog hopped out in front of us. It doesn't take much to transform an experience or to make someones day. Little gifts really can bring a lot of happiness. Who could you surprise today? xxx

 

 

ON YOUR BIKE 03.09.18

Although my spatial awareness is shot to pieces and I am a liability on a bike. I love to watch cycling- The Tour de France was amazing. The endurance of the riders against the backdrop of the enduring mountains was both moving and inspiring (I have now added a trip to France to my bucket list)
So when I heard that the Tour of Britian was coming to Devon I was mega excited and went along to Halberton to experience the thrill of seeing the riders in the flesh for the first time.I wasn't disappointed even the sound of the bikes as they went by was magical.
We had to wait for a quite a long time and then they were gone in a flash Made me think of life where I seem to have spent so much time waiting. Waiting to be well- waiting to have things sorted, waiting to be the person I hoped I could be – waiting to be the age when I could make sense of things. Waiting for dreams to become realities.
Special things and moments are worth waiting for and today will live in my memory for a long time. But sometimes we can wait too long and suddenly realise that it is life itself that has passed us by. That we've been left behind, waiting and ditthering while everyone one else has got on their bikes!
The balance of waiting and having a go is hard to master but I am determined to try and get the balance right. Like the Tour of Britian – there will be some uphill climbs and some sprints but they can both make us stronger and when it gets tough there are the blessings of some great sights and some great team mates along the way. Here's to it!

Geraint Thomas

The Winner of Stage 2 Australias Cameron Meyer led all day

IRONING 31.08.18

I was doing a batch of pressing this morning ready for our new guests and it made me wish I could iron out the creases of my life as quickly, and neatly fold up all the worlds mess as easily as the pillowcases in front of me.

Somtimes life does feel and look like a crumpled sheet- anxieties and problems creasing our minds. The worlds problems look like the laundry basket – eveything piled up- where to start?!

Ironing does provide time to think and reflect and by the end of my mornings work, I hadn't sorted my life or the world out but I did feel less stressed and more at peace with what is possible and what isn't.

The constant cycle of washing and ironing like the cycle of days and nights can seem overwhelming sometimes but I'm thankful for moments amidst the mundane tasks of life to think about the bigger picture. To look again for signs of hope and rejoice that so many people are doing amazing work for our planet, its creatures and all the vulnerable people that inhabit it. To remember all those who have helped me with the process of ironing out concerns and reassured me when I felt just too crimpled to go on!!

Washing and irong aren't my favourite jobs by a long way, but time spent at the press isn't wasted time, practically or spiritually and for that I am thankful.

 

 

 

SWALLOWS 29.08.18

I always feel a great sadness of spirit when the swallows leave. I can't really explain it but deep in my soul I mourn their going. Whether it is because of the great journey ahead of them. Or the sense of being left behind. Or maybe the first sense that Summer has passed and Autumn and Winter are approaching with colder days and draker nights. Or maybe I long to go with them !

It is a mystery, why their absence affects me so much but the other side of that is the delight when they first arrive back and the sheer joy of seeing them flying around the courtyard and then watching as their offspring fledge and grow and prepare for their first long flight.

Leaving and homecoming.Loss and reunion. Absence and longing. Deep stuff for a wednesday morning. Best get to work!

 

 

HEDGE CUTTING 28.08.18

We did some hedge and bramble clearing yesterday and revealed a totally new, beautiful view. From a distance it looks like a perfect circle and reminded me a bit of the programme Play School when you had to guess which window would open each day- square, round or arch.Each one would open out onto an adventure or story it was great!

It made me wonder whether I needed to do some hedge clearing in my life to help get a new view of things and a different perspective. Maybe the perspective of hope where I have given up a bit. A perspective of tolerance where I have perhaps been critical of others. The perspective of challenge where I have become complacent. The persepctive of faith where I have lost sight of the bigger picture.

Seeing things in new ways might be just the thing for this week and if along the way new beauty and new possibilities come into view it will be well worth the hard work of cutting down old brambles and dead branches.

 

 

PLAN B

I had almost forgotten it was Bank Holiday weekend, until I looked outside and saw the wind and rain!

The runner ducks and pigeons were having a great time, but I felt sad for all those at festivals or those who had planned a day out. I guess it's one of those days where Plan B comes into play. Get the waterproofs and wellies out instead of the shorts and sun hat. Or maybe decide to stay in and have a lazy day reading or having a tidy up.

Plan B is one of my best friends as Plan A never seems to materialise. However carefully I plan in advance, something always goes pear shaped. Sometimes even Plan B doesn't do it and I'm at Plan E then, T then W before I know it. Key thing though is to never give up. Life doesn't always go to plan. In fact it rarely does. Plans I had in my teens and twenties never worked out. Plans in my thirties and forties went west too. But new opportunities arose. New dreams were born, even amidst all the illness and grief and disappointment.

So here's to Plan B and to each of us as we face and adapt to each days challenges, disappointments and joys.

 

 

WHAT NEEDS POSTING?

I have done rather well over the years inheriting things that guests have left behind! We email them but if they decide the items aren't worth posting on then they come to me! I have a very nice pair of pyjama trousers, a towel and enough toiletries to last me three lifetimes! The only thing is I do need to read the labels carefully. What I think is shampoo has been known to be conditoner and what I thought was a stick deodorant was actually show polish – I kid you not and yes it did sting!

Made me think this morning about things I would want posted on if I left them behind. Definitely Eliza (although I pity the poor soul who had to parcel her up) After a few moments I realised, when it comes to it my most precious possessions are within me. Memories of my mum and our holidays at Canvey Island. Laughter with friends. The companionship of so many wonderful animals. My ordination day, Spurs winning the FA Cup. Holding my first book in my hand. Sometimes silly things. Sometimes deeply moving things, but none of them can be posted back because they have never left my heart.

So heres to all our precious memories, friendships, and loves.

ou.

 

3 special companions Gizmo, Marmite and Pumpkin

WEEDING

It was beginning to look a bit scruffy outside my cabin so I sallied forth with my fork. Unfortunately though it still looks scruffy as I am the worlds worst weeder. I get side tracked watching all the insects scurrying about and if I dig up a worm I have to rehome it well away from the beady eyes of my 2 cockerels. Then there are the weeds themselves. It seems heartless to pull them up when they look perfectly content where they are and totally at peace with the world!
I did my best though and amidst all the grass and chippings I suddenly came across this little plant which absolutely made my day with its quiet beauty and delicate colour.
It will never know how much it cheered me, like people we meet sometimes who say something kind or just smile. I'm ashamed to say I don't know the plants name and I don't know the names of so many people who have helped me over the years- the lady who gave me the satsuma in the London Marathon for instance. It's good to take a moment to remember them sometimes though and to try to be people who offer a little colour when someone;s life had turneda bit grey.
So thank you little plant, whether you be weed or flower you made my day!

 

 

CANDLE LIGHTERS

This isn't a rant about religions or regimes, although it could be..... It is a post to honour the life and courage of a woman called Esraa Al Ghamgam who was publically beheaded in Saudia Arabia on Sunday for speaking out against injustice and human rights abuses.

It is nothing new you might say. Look at John the Baptist 2000 years ago and the thousands since him who have lost their heads in the pursuit of truth and justice. You would be right. It is nothing new but it is still shocking and it is a wake up call for me and I hope for others, shaking me out of my complacency and my half hearted efforts to voice concerns where abuses of power are rife. Where cruelty is beyond understanding and where our world is diminished by fear, greed, violence and evil.

It's all to much, is an understanable thought. Where do we start? How can we possibly make a difference?

Amnesty International have a wonderful saying:

'It is better to light a single candle, than to curse the darkness'

So lets all do that today. Let do it tomorrow and the day after and the day after that. Until the darkness of cruelty is overcome. Until the injustices are brought out from the shadows where they lurk and are shown up for what they are.

Lets be people of light and brighten our world with hope. It will take courage and determination. It will take commitment and strength. but for Esraa's sake lets give it a go.

 

 

FREEBIES 19.08.18

I tend to think that if something is free, then there is either a catch or the item isn't up to much. So when I was at the Honiton show in the poultry tent at the end of the day and I saw 2 Serama cockerels were free to a good home I immediately wondered what was wrong with them!

Six years on I can celebrate that there is absolutely nothing wrong with them and they are a complete joy, bringing me endless pleasure. Their only defect that I can see is that they don't lay eggs and that is what most folks wanted so they ended up surplus to requirements. So free can be good and Coffee and Walnut as I have named them are a constant reminder to me that actually some of the most precious things in life are free- or at least they can't be bought, they can only be received and made room for.

And some things that are free to us today have been very costly to others in the past. Our right to vote is free but women especially suffered long and hard to earn that for us. The freedom of racial equality, (still work in progress in many places) has been an incredibly painful journey and many have had to stand up (or sit down in Rosa Parks case) to great persecution for that gift to be free to others. And ultimately love, grace, forgiveness, and all the things that the cross of Christ bring us, are all free but they came at a terrible price, They don't rely on us having earned them or having deserved them and that is why it can seem almost too good to be true like most things that are free- there must be a catch, surely. The catch if there is one is that we have to lay down our pride at wanting to earn, deserve, or merit and just receive. Sometimes cautiously at first, sometimes with an overwhelming sense of thankfulness. Free doesn't have to mean cheap or worthless it can be the very opposite. And free can be shared as I reminded by in the Christian chorus 'Freely, freely, you have received. Freely, freely give. Go in my name and because you believe. others may know that I live.

Here's to Coffee and Walnut and to all the free things in life. Enjoy them, celebrate them and share them!

 

 

COFFEE

LIFEGUARDS 17.08.18

 

When thinking about careers, I never had myself down as a life guard! But each morning I pop along to my runner ducks small pond and rescue any little creatures who thought a midnight swim seemed a good idea at the time! I'm not called  into action very often, but this morning a big black beetle was struggling in the water and must have wondered what was going on when he was scooped up on a leaf and placed gently back on the grass well away from danger Aftert a moments hesitation, he scurried away to get on with whatever it is that beetles get on with on a chilly fridy morning.

Makes me grateful again for people who have 'rescued' me from bad ideas and big mistakes and who have gently helped me back on the right path again. We learn a lot from things we have had to overcome. From new beginning which  we have had to make . We learn especially who is watching out for us.

So lets all be life guards and watch out for one another in case one of life's tricky ponds beckons today.

.

 

SUNFLOWER OIL 16.08.18

We had a bit of a mishap in the Mill House Kitchen making carrot cake in that we got our ingredient quantities wrong and the poor carrots were like little tadpoles swimming around in a rather oily pond!. We managed to rescue them and now have 8 very tasty cakes but it made me wonder about the history of the oil !

Apparently aborigines had used the oil more than 5000 years ago when sunflowers were considered sacred It was brought to Europe by Spanish mariners in 1510. and it was they who started cultivating it but it never caught on as the Spanish preferred olives!

In 1716 sunflowers came to England where the industry really began. Meanwhile in Russia sunflowers were around at the time of Peter the Great. Russian history of oil started later in 1829 when bond Bokarew D.C. started mass production. He saw the potential of the oil and became the first to begin pressing it into an every day product In 1833 in the village of Alekseevka the first oil mill was created.

The Orthodox Church acknowledged it as lent-diet, and began to promote it to the masses. Then 100 years ago this priceless flower returned to North America – its historical homeland and came back as amber aromatic oil.

Today more than 10 million tons of sunflower oil are produced in the world with Ukraine producing 60%

It can even be used to treat Athletes foot. So there you are! One little mistake and we now all have the low down on Sunflower Oil!

 

 

RANDOMNESS 15.08.18

Looking at the distressing pictures of the wrecked bridge in Genoa. I can't help but reflect on the randomness of tragedy.The fine margins between life and death.
Had the lorry drivers who stopped in time arrived a moment earlier they would have crashed down with the bridge. Had those who were on the collapsing bridge been a moment later they would have been left sitting at their steering wheels shocked but safe.
As I grieve for the casualites, I'm determined to live every day to the full. To be the best I can be.To do the most I can . To give the most I can . Beause we never know what is around the corner. It might be me on that bridge tomorrow or someone I love.
Every day is precious and we should never take the future for granted,
Praying for those who mourn and for those whose lives were snatched away from them in one terrible moment.

 

Collapsed bridge in Genoa photo BBC

PASSING TIME 14.08.18

The first leaves are beginning to fall and there is a definite chill in the early morning air, heralding the gradual approach of Autumn. It made me think of life. Mid Summer has slipped away and it is maybe time to re assess and re adjust. Autumn can be the most beautiful of all the seasons as colours brighten and the landscape burns with their fiery boldness. Day light shortens but there is still time to fulfill dreams, to overturn cruelty and to fight for justice.
However young or old we are, we can't ever take the future for granted. So whichever season of life we are in today.Lets take a moment to look for beauty and signs of hope. Lets tell those we love how special they are and lets never stop following our dreams.

ALL CHANGE 13.08.18

How quickly things can change! From heatwave, parched ground and empty water butts to hot water bottle, overflowing buckets and a mini swimming pool in the middle of the lawn and all in the space of 36 hours!
Its like that in life too sometimes, the sun seems to be shining, the sky is a nice shade of blue, then wham down comes the rain sweeping away hope,dreams ,health and those you love.
Thinking today of everyone who has had to cope with sudden change, whose life is tough – may you feel the warmth of the sun on your face again soon, and friends feathered, furry and human hold you, walk with you and help you believe in yourself and your future, however dark or scary it looks this morning.

JOY OF RAIN 12.08.18

Was wonderful to watch the rain as it fell at last, refreshing the parched garden and tired lawn, and filling the water butts and the runner ducks little pond.
Made me think of those special people and animal friends who come like rain into our lives-refreshing our dreams with their support. Refreshing our confidence with their love. Sprinkling their encouragement and companionship into our parched hearts and tired minds and bodies.
Lets be like gentle rain to one another and to our world today. Refreshing and renewing by our words, our presence and our giving.