Photographed in my friends garden in Eudlo Queensland Australia, it seemed that there was such love in that small town. Almost everywhere I looked I could see the love, hearts were everywhere when you began to notice them.
Although known in their house as the Love Heart Tree It’s official Name is the Bleeding Heart Queensland Poplar, (Homalanthus populifolius)
So as I return home after a month in the Beautiful Queensland Coast with my dear friends, I am struck by how down to earth I felt about this wonderful place. I immediately felt homely in this unknown place. As I left I knew that I would miss the family so much and that saying my Goodbyes would be difficult. But we are all happy in the knowledge that this will not be my last trip to Australia. It is just the beginning of my travels to this part of the world. I guess that hasn’t quite sunken in yet as I sit on the first leg of the flight home. I have rung my partner and heard that they are alright (as alright can be) at home and as my friends family will all be asleep now having journeyed back to Eudlo, where they all stay, part of me is wishing that I was also tucked up in a nice warm bed, but that is for tomorrow.
As I figure out in my fuzzy head a way to get my family over to Australia in one piece, if only it is his dream too, I could perhaps satisfy my wanderlust with regular trips if some of my contacts might put some work my way. Time to make a few more phone calls I think.
Today, my last day in Australia, we visited Coolum Beach, a lovely area which was absolutely littered with blue jellyfish, which apparently have a vicious sting to their rather lengthy tail.
Since I was attacked by a green ant only yesterday, I was not inclined to repeat the exercise with one of these beasties today, so we dodged rather a lot of them along the beach, but the waves were high, we wrote messages on the sand, whilst the boys played and ran up and down. The sun was shining and I looked at the iridescence of the water as the tides crossed my path. It was beautiful and for a moment, I lingered there not wanting to leave.
Swept away in the moment I was transfixed by the waves which reached the shore. Only being brought back to the present when the boys called out to us.
We went on to Coloundra, which is a favourite since my friends Mum currently lives there and it is where they began their time here, just after emigrating. There was a fish restaurant which served wet fish too, it was on a main road, not particularly inspiring as places go, but my meal was enjoyable nevertheless Calamari and Swordfish steaks served with chips and a side salad.
I was quite pleased to see a Pelican fly over the car as we arrived along the beach front and he rested upon the wall of a block of flats. I managed to get a photograph of him before we left. Another thing that I will remember of Coloundra.
There is snow back home, just a few small flurries here and there so I am told, but I hope that he brings a warm coat to the airport, despite the layers I have packed, I know that after the warmth of the Sunshine Coast I am really going to feel the cold at least for the first few days. I may even have to resort to Thermals, but lets hope not.
So what will I be taking with me from this trip?
Positivity, that there is so much that is better and that is actually available to me in this life, not having to wait until the next one to experience it all.
Do I believe in reincarnation…
Hmm, although I have long thought that we get one life and should live it. It’s one of those things that I hope that we do get some kind second chance if the odds have been against us in this life thus far. Not necessarily if we live a pure and chaste existence, but if we do good unto others, try to help people along the way and such like.
I have met up with someone who gave me some wonderful advice regarding writing. She has been an inspiration for looking for the good in things, even when I have felt really low. To meet her in person after all this time, could have gone well, or not and neither of us were sure. We arranged to meet in the last week of my trip. Over a coffee and cake. It was an absolute joy to spend an hour or so with her, chatting about all kinds of things and finding out that we got along just fine. It seems that we have indeed become friends and we will be keeping in touch.
As we drove back from the beach and I squashed all of my luggage into my cases in the hope that I didn’t have to take anything out. My beach combed shells carefully placed in the luggage so that they will not get broken. The beautiful “Blue Shell” given me by my friend, who said I should have it. We sat outside on her verandah in the sunshine and made jewellery from the Quandong stones which we had collected from the garden. Or rather, I drilled the holes, my friend strung them and made them into two rather lovely necklaces, which are enormous, almost architectural in their style. But I also learned that sacred jewellery is made from them by the Aborigines.’ The kids decided since there were so many of them left over, that they would also make some one for their mum and one for a friend and each other. We had picked up and cleaned up much more of them than we first thought from the garden and yet they still litter the floor at the back of the house, there are probably thousands of them and there will be many more when fruit season comes around. It is a shame that I did not get to see the blue fruit, but they have long gone, only the debris remains. But we have seen the jewellery made by the monks at the nearby Buddhist Temple, Chenrezig up on the hill nearby. The only difference being that they have added a bead and tassle to their ones. Ours are simpler, but hang beautifully as a double necklace, made by my own dear friend. There is one for me and one for my mother. Along with a bracelet one of the boys and I made from all of the beach shells and coral that had natural holes in.
I tasted custard apple for the first time today, it has an interesting taste, I think I am more taken with the Mangoes and also the quite amazing Fruit Salad Fruit, a strange looking fruit which as it ripens and sheds its outer skin, you are left with something which resembles a skinned banana, but you can taste so many other fruit.
We each described it differently after a taste, one thought pineapple, another melon, and another banana.
I tried Jack Fruit, which is another native one, it looks a bit like a hedgehog on the outside and has a pungent smell to it when it is ripe, but makes an awful mess and leaves a glue like substance, its sap which is difficult to remove, on everything that it touches. It was my friends’ first taste of the fruit too, she had read that you could prepare it and use it like a vegan version pulled pork, which is very popular. It had a sweet taste in its raw form, which was quite pleasant, definitely fruity. But once cooked takes on a whole new persona. It lost its appeal somewhat and then only took on the taste of the spices and sauce which it was cooked in. So isn’t something I’d be likely to try again.
I thought that I would do some things differently whilst I was away, but didn’t. Firstly I thought that I would write lots of poetry, but didn’t write any at all.
I also thought that I would meditate but although there were times when I sought peace and calm I did not, not even once! Well, not intentionally although the calm swept over me every time my toes hit the sand.
I thought that I might struggle to drive a manual car again on roads which I do not know, with the different layout and rules, but I took to it once again like a duck to water. One drive out in the car, ten minutes in and it all came flooding back to me, the first drive in an unknown place. The South of France all those years ago, it was as natural as breathing. I soon learned some of the routes to enable us to get back home. We did have the mobile sat nav, but when the signal was non existent or the batteries low, we somehow still made it back.
The fact that I was open to trying new things, experiences and directions, meant that this was the holiday that I needed it to be, filled with wonderful places, beautiful sights, friendly and welcoming people. It was a very pleasant surprise to be wished a safe journey, by the people I met around the town before I left. They had observed my arrival, as a tired unwell traveller and observed the change in me finding my feet and would all stop to talk and find out what I thought of their little town.
The nearest town Mooloolah is more like one of our villages, spread out over a greater area, but with similar facilities to a British country village. A few essential stores and a fuel station, but there is a good network of regular trains going past at the bottom of the garden. I have never seen such lengthy freight trains, but maybe next time when I return to this part of the world, I will take a journey on the train with my friend.
As I said Goodbye to the house, the area, my friends and their transport which has carried me safely on this journey, I watched the greenery whizzing by as a passenger in the car, thinking of many of the things that have captured my heart about this place and the many things I have yet to see and feeling quite emotional about leaving.
I will return one day, to my friends again and this place which has captured not just the imagination, but reignited my spirit of adventure and also a little piece of my heart. There is so much to see and I have barely scratched the surface, I simply have to see more.
I am relieved to have some sleep on the second part of this journey.
We passed by Bengalaru and Goa and Colombo and have been crossing the sea. As we travel I am thinking of these places, wondering what some of them are like. I never studied geography at school, I foolishly thought that I would never get to see the world. Dreams and ambitions were not to be encouraged and neither were flights of fancy. Curious as to what I would see and experience at ground level. I make a mental note to look such places up later and find out more about the wonders of the world in which we live. We have Drawn level with places named Nikitin Seamount and Investigator Ridge which are on our right whereas to the left of us are Phuket and Singapore A short while ago we crossed the equator and suddenly the blue hue that has been with us for many hours changed.
I ventured along the plane to see what the outside looked like. A wonderful skyscape there before me, like icebergs silently moving by amidst the blue waters below. But here we are above the clouds. It plays tricks upon the mind, as though you have seen something entirely different. I take photographs not only to savour the memories and moments but to paint such things later on.
I knew that I would be making memories on this trip. I am visiting beloved friends who I dared not hope to see so soon, after all they emigrated to the other side of the world. Normal people don’t get to go and visit.
I wanted to show my Mum and my Dad these pictures. I took video as well. It reminds me of a very early memory I have as a child, when my father showed us slides on a projector of his flight to Italy in an aeroplane, there were a lot of photographs of clouds. At the time I did not understand the magic of being above the clouds. But as I have grown up, it is something that I have grown to love. I have no fear of flying just anticipation and joy at the new things I get to see along the way.
As I did on the other flight at what looked like sunrise to me. I am utterly confused and have just witnessed the most beautiful sunset and have been basking in its glory. As I glanced out the window It looked just like God’s feet are sticking out from the heavens reminding us that he is higher still than we can even imagine. It is about 7.30pm wherever we are currently travelling past. Touched by it’s beauty I am overcome with emotion as this part of the world our sky is plunged into darkness. I feel totally alive. I hope that I never forget the feeling of being up here travelling at 37000 feet and cruising at almost 600 miles per hour. The sun as it breaks through some hours from now and the clouds again look like a swirling seascape of surf underneath us. Looking as though we are barely moving but being transported on cloud nine, my new experience has definitely begun. What a wonderful way to experience a rebirth, to recognise that the future is going to be different and better and fun and I will embrace whatever energy I have to experience whatever I am able to.
This is such a gift for which I will be forever grateful and indebted to he who loves me and decided that I should go now whilst I am still young enough to enjoy it.
In the words of Nina Simone which ring around my head “It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me and I’m feeling good.”
We have reached the halfway point on this leg of the journey as we head onward past Jakarta and towards Australia and all the treasure that it holds.
Yesterday I had my tour around fantasy island as our friend refers to it.It is tongue in cheek, but also I think a place where many crave to live. They are drawn to this place of beauty, surrounded by nature, where flora and fauna abound. A sanctuary in the south. It is private gated and restricted access so I felt privileged to get a guided tour from one of the Islanders.
I have only visited once before. Last time I came away my imagination fired up and I decided that it would be the most wonderful place to be able to live. Idyllic and the new life I crave for us would fit in there beautifully.
His home with its interesting garden making use of things he has found, recycled items all around utilised within his space and others for projects yet to be undertaken. I found it so inspiring there I designed furniture following my last visit it reminded me of some of my as yet unfulfilled ambitions which I would like to work towards once my health improves.
Arriving there again I am filled with peace, my heart was racing as I arrive anticipation growing for what I might see whilst there.
We drive, or rather he does so that I may be able to enjoy the view. I am in a semi altered state. Lightheaded or as though I am in shock. It could be the antibiotics or the painkillers. Or it could be just what I see there. I look at the houses as we pass and the fields and hedgerows as we drive slowly by, observing the lowered speed limit. It is a nature foragers dream, the hedgerows brimming with wild fruit, plums, elderberries. Blackberries, sloes. He stops to pluck one from the hedge for me to try. They would make Lovely jam I said, he agreed that they do. Enveloped by countryside with no one around hares running up ahead of us along the road and birds walking across the roads in front of us. We stopped at the cockle beach where apparently you can fish for Bass. I love sea bass. There was none but the birds. Around the island three rivers meet. Further round where it meets another river, there is a slightly more recognisable seascape. I may have seen near there before but not from this side. There were some wonderful rocks in beautiful colours piled high as though dropped there by giants. I intended to take photos on this tour but my eyes are taking it all in instead. The camera on my phone does not take one shot for the duration. Which as I write this I am regretting somewhat. It is unusual for me.
Some of the grand houses, the homes with character and the cottages tucked away are empty. My imagination kicking in again as I wonder what I could do with one of them as a space of my own.The two pubs have long closed down as has the church. No longer required here lack of use forced their closure. There is one shop and there are farms in the village, it is a sleepy place. I wonder how and when it comes alive or if it is always like this. The workers have left for the day, a mass exodus off as I was arriving. Much of it looks deserted.
Our friend shows me his sculpture garden. Have you seen it before he said? No I replied. It used to be his allotment but he changed it. He built this to enjoy. In a non public place it is a community garden. He has had parties there and there is a summer kitchen with a pizza oven he has made. A pergola which has grape vines growing up it they have grapes this year apparently for the first time. There are plinths of marble and stone around and many of them hold small statues. They are not your average garden statue. Many are of the muscular male form draped around females. Holding, cherishing. I could have stayed there for a while. It was a place I could happily sit, embrace the moment and meditate. A calm place.
In the centre of the garden there is a huge stone column, about ten feet high and as yet I carved. He told me that it would become a dancing couple. I did not know when he took me there what I would find, the significance only dawning on me now in the early hours as I write this.
I was struck by the beauty of the stone. I asked who made them, he replied “some old bloke from over the road, he likes carving stone” I admired them blown away by what I saw, as he explained he told me about some them. He started the garden when his wife was gone I did not ask if it was in tribute to her. But it is clear that this man loves female company and why shouldn’t he for he is witty and charming, flirtatious and engaging and can cook. He also has several female friends who gather at his house for a meal on a regular basis.
There are signs carved in slate and sandstone sculpture along with white almost alabaster, possibly marble. They are beautiful and written with his sense of humour. The sculptures were something else and just the sort I like and appreciate. I wanted to touch them, feeling drawn to them and photograph them but it felt strange to ask. I have not known him very long and I did not want to push my luck.
He said that the locals are not interested in the garden, I asked why not it’s a beautiful place. They should use it if it’s for them too.
He said that some of the other visitors to the island had seen it. I loved it.
Upon waking in the early hours it occurred to me, I may be way off the mark here but I get the very strong feeling that the “old guy over the road” was at that moment standing by my side proudly showing me his own statues. That he not only created the garden, but the sculptures within it. That the dancing couple would be formed one day by his own hands.
Only time will tell. There are clues, he is creative and has a good eye. His mother is an artist. He is useful with his hands, builds things in wood and has a beautiful garden.
I thoroughly enjoyed my visit today, I don’t know if I bored him to tears with the subject matter. I talk more when I am nervous and I am not used to having the floor. When my partner and I are out together the conversation is more evenly spaced. It can’t have been all bad. I was invited to go and visit again whenever I liked.
I might just have to go and ask him about his garden.
26/4/17 There is something quite magical about standing on the top of a hillside at 2am brushing your teeth in the moonlight. The crisp night air and a sky of the darkest blue filled with stars. There was not a sound but for the crackling of the fire when my partner rushed into tell me that it was snowing! It is the very first time that I’ve experienced this up on the hill and although it had been so cold that we couldn’t feel our fingers and toes all day it was still unexpected at almost the end of April. But there we were surrounded by a beautiful crunchy layer of white snow, totally pure and sparkling peaceful and quiet. We took the dog out for his nighttime walk. He was thrilled. His Mama and Daddy wandering around and rushing up and down the garden whilst he ran and rolled and ate the snow he was in heaven eating it and prancing about. One happy pup we went back indoors to warm ourselves up and hoped that the power would not fail us in the night, we would need the electric blanket. Unfortunately all the cameras were dead by then so we only got a couple of pictures by torchlight.
I checked the weather report again last night and saw there’s a possibility of Thundersnow. Our boy would love it.