Catching Up with you….and with myself

This is crazy – I want to write but it all feels too complicated to explain.

So here is my promise – I will write something in here every day for the rest of August and even if it’s short…..or boring…..or totally irrelevant……it will get me going again!

And to get me started here is a photo diary of the last few weeks.

Wild flowers in the little garden behind the cabin
My furniture arrives from Spain! I felt a bit silly for having sent it south three years ago but I suppose you can’t always know what the future holds and I did get (some) use from it.
After spending three weeks in Cornwall I went back to Catalunya once more! This time feeling relaxed enough to spend time enjoying the sunshine
And even more importantly to spend time with my favourite little friend. Stylish as always, here she is wearing a Japanese suit with top and shorts.
Summer isn’t complete without regular drinks of Horxata
I met my friend Cristina for supper in one of the beach cafes near Barcelona and ended up having a naked moonlit swim
Back to Cornwall and there was another party – this one meeting lots of people I only know from an internet photo group. I’m not very good at meeting lots of new people all at once – I struggled a bit I have to admit. But the organiser did a very thoughtful thing and gave each of us little bundles of cards made from our own photos. I think I will get some more made from my photos of Granollers
Twice a day the dairy herd crosses this road beside my home. You just have to switch off your engine and enjoy the scene. It’s not an easy life but this herd is well looked after by two Cornish twin brothers. This farm also is home to a large cat colony – the kitten overspill often arrives in neighbouring gardens and garages.
Work starts on renewing the sitting-room floor. A large granite slab is revealed
My sister and cousin came to visit and we went for posh fish and chips in St Ives where they were staying for the week
Walking the coast path with a friend and her dog, we came across the wild ponies who live there to keep the grass down
Cornish sky over Sennen beach. It’s not warm enough to swim yet for me but there is always the hope that you will see dolphins or seals
Work on The Stone continues!
I’ve fallen in love with my neighbour’s cat. She was born in a nearby shed, grew up in my garage, went missing with her sister and then finally found her forever home next door. She is one of the farm’s kittens – see above.
The Minack Theatre is right on the edge of the cliff. Even if the play isn’t enthralling, the view is always wonderful. I had friends to stay so we went to see Something Funny Happened on the Way to the Forum. I have to admit spending a lot of time watching the clouds.
July’s Blue Moon over the Merry Maidens. I love going there at night but it makes me sad that neither Blue nor Bonnie are here to accompany us. It’s time to get a new dog.
This is a view I never get tired of. Just as you drive out of Newlyn on the road to Mousehole there is a place that looks down over the harbour and across to St Michaels Mount. It’s double yellow lines but I often have to stop just for a minute.
And lastly the sky again, this time from the James Turrell room in Tremenheere sculpture park.

It’s been a busy time but also a time for contemplation. Friendship, home, illness, loss, dreams, changes, fears, love, time passing. Thank you for visiting!

“I make spaces that apprehend light for our perception, and in some ways gather it, or seem to hold it…my work is more about your seeing than it is about my seeing, although it is a product of my seeing.”
— James Turrell








How to Feel At Home – anywhere

Welcome Home!

‘We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive at where we started
And know the place for the first time.’
–   T. S. Eliot,  Little Gidding  

Six years ago on July 15th 2009 I flew to Barcelona and, without really intending to, left home.

Within two weeks I met my partner while dancing in the Pyranees and the next year I moved into his home in a town 30km from Catalunya’s capital city.

From then on I skipped between Catalunya and Cornwall, trying to manage two very different homes.

Trying to feel at Home

I sent over furniture, books, favourite pictures and familiar crockery.  I thought that my own things would make me feel at home.

My two dogs Bonnie and Blue came to live with us.  Home had to be where my dogs were.

I rented out my Cornish cottage,  and arranged for other people to take care of the land.  I was letting go while holding on.

We did our best to create a family home in Granollers where we lived with my partner’s adolescent son. The quirky old family house carried a lot of history. We painted and decorated, took holidays, ate meals, entertained visitors, worked side by side on various projects.  We tried hard but it still wasn’t my home.  I didn’t know why.  I blamed myself a lot of the time.

New things were coming in and old things were disappearing. I was no longer working in my profession as an acupuncturist, I was learning both Catalan and Spanish, teaching English, not dancing tango. The struggle to create a positive relationship with my step-son left me feeling like a failure much of the time.  It is hard to describe how you can be both happy and unhappy at the same time – that’s why I wrote this blog.

The Catalan Way helped me  make sense of all the changes in my life.

‘The impulse for much writing is homesickness.  You are trying to get back home, and in your writing you are invoking that home, so you are assuaging the homesickness.’
–   Joan Didion   

There have been so many beautiful days

Hundreds of wonderful new experiences like camping on the Delta d’Ebre, swimming in hot mineral waters, walking the ancient tracks and lanes of Minorca.

I loved learning about a new culture and meeting so many warm and kind people who opened their hearts to me.  I was lucky to find a kindred spirit in Granollers. Her new baby also provided me with a sense of family and someone small to care for. Last year,walking through the streets holding her sleeping in my arms, I realised that I had never before been left to care for a young baby.   My heart was often singing.

I felt very alive in Catalunya – awake and present.

But there were difficult times too

I felt ungrounded, awkward with people who didn’t understand my faltering Catalan, tired of always being the strange one,  guilty for taking my beloved dogs into a home with no garden and a resident spaniel who attacked Bonnie.  I had to learn about step-families and gradually realised that the tension and arguments were totally normal and nothing to do with my own personal failure.

People expect women to magically mother those who don’t want it.  I always longed for a child but daily rejection when you have no happy baby memories to call on is a bitter experience. Bonding with a step-child is very difficult and too often women are left alone to fail again and again.

What makes a house into a home?

‘If the day ever comes when they know who
They are, they may know better where they are.’
–   Robert Frost, 
A Cabin in the Clearing   

Five things that help us feel at home anywhere

We don’t need all of them, all the time but some of them, most of the time, helps us feel truly at home.

1. Safety – home is a retreat from the outside world and we need to feel safe at home. So we can let down our defenses and relax.

2. Friendship – whether we live alone or with other people, we cannot feel at home if there is too much tension or constant emotional distance. Be your own friend and live with people who wish you well.

3. Creativity – home is a place to be creative and express ourselves. If there is restriction on your creativity, a house won’t feel like home.

4. Solitude – sometimes we need to be alone at home, knowing you won’t be disturbed, so you can relax completely into being who you are.

5. Peace – life is often noisy and disturbing. Living with other people also means noise and disruption and sometimes this is wonderful. But if  you live with unwanted noise and intrusion that you can’t escape from, then it is hard to feel at home.

On the Camino I felt at home on the road, and at home in myself.  All five of the above requirements were met. In Granollers, in the house, far too often, it was hard to get more than one.

Now, back in Cornwall, I have all five again and as I understand better now what is needed, I hope I can help make this a home for us both.

In case you are wondering, my stepson is going to live with his mother, also going home in one way.

What do you need to feel at home?  Have you ever lived in a place where your peace and tranquility were disturbed so much that you wanted to leave?

Heading South

The swallows are still here in Cornwall and so am I

but we all will be flying south very soon – or in our case we will be driving east then going through the Channel Tunnel and then heading south west through France.
It is always nice to stay until bramble time – or blackberry if you are English!

At last the sun is shining on them and making them sweet.

Our Milk

On the way into Penzance I am often stopped by the neighbours crossing the road

It’s a small dairy herd, a family farm producing milk and they live just across the lane.
It’s so good to see them, to switch off the engine and watch the brothers gently leading them from the dairy to the pasture, to remember Spot the collie who used to live with them many years ago and who was always sitting at the farm gate, watching the cars pass by.
Dylan, another neighbour from the past, a large Bouvier des Flandres, was in love with Spot and when it was ‘that time of year’ he would stroll down our lane, cross the fields and settle down beside her, moaning gently. He was a gentleman – never tried it on – just wanted to be close.
In those days people allowed their dogs much more freedom to roam. They had independent friendships and adventures.

Memories are always shadowing me here in Lamorna. Quite comforting to be here while I gather strength for the drive south to the sunshine.

Duna the seasoned traveller

Duna has left Cornwall and is much missed by me, less so by Blue and not at all by Bonnie!
She arrived safely in Roscoff early this morning after sailing across from Plymouth and she would like to say that it was not the best way to travel. Brittany Ferries have several options for dogs going abroad – kennels, cabin or car. It depends which route you take and as the Plymouth – Santander route stops at the end of October, Duna went to Roscoff on the night ferry. She passed through the check-in easily with only a quick scan of her microchip, and then had to spend the ten hour trip in the car on the car deck. She could have slept through most of it except for the idiots who had forgotten to switch off their car alarms so the night was one long neek-neek, bee-bah bee-bah, nyang nyang nyang nyang.
But she is a seasoned traveller now and emerged this morning to have a pee and a potter on French soil before setting off on the long trip south.

Meanwhile back in Dolphin Cottage – floors and windows to varnish, boxes to pack, things to sort and furniture to move. Hoping that the log book of the van will come back in time for us to set off well before Christmas. The house still looks pretty full of STUFF !
I am missing my companions and now must seriously get on with the move.