Monday, 17 August 2009

Blowing in the wind

Somewhere in South West England there is a road, and that road leads down a hill into a lane, which goes down another hill and into another lane, where eventually one finds oneself at Maiden Newton. Maiden Newton is actually 2 villages, one of which is Frome Vauchurch, the former about 1000 residents, the latter 150. A sprawling conurbation it isn't, but it was known as Chalk Newton in Thomas Hardy's novels.

However last night although this village has many attractions, a chip shop which stays open until at least 9pm being one of them, I pressed on through the valley and out onto the ridge, higher and higher until eventually I met some cows.

These are very tall cows indeed as they're standing on a hill some 820 feet above sea level, which surely must be very tall for bovine members of their family. I've mentioned this hill before in this blog, but it is a hill I'll not mention by name. And if you know where it is, SHHHH! Because this is a special place for me and I don't want people tramping all over it. It vies with my affections for my favourite view and place in the whole World. The other being this view below, near Hepple in Northumberland, which I love but that also reminds me of childhood and playing here, a bit spoilt in this photo by some bald bloke trying to be moody and interesting... in those trousers?

Yes, here in little old over crowded, but green and pleasant land there is a piece of England which has had my footprints all over it since the early 1980's when I discovered it by accident and fell in love with the place. And every time I need a mental boost, or to think, or to just be alone, I come here and sit.

Last night I came and sat with another. She liked what she saw; sadly I think she meant the view, not the author of this blog, because he had these trousers on again, tailored for comfort, not style I'd say - or is that really the shape of my legs!

I hope they've had a wash. Anyway I rarely bring anyone up here with me, because this is a solitude place for me, but last night relented and well she offered to take the photos as in nearly 30 years of coming here I'd never ever been photographed up here myself. But for my lounge wall I wanted to replicate the Hepple image.

But wandering about in baggy trousers on a windswept hill was not the real reason for this visit. This year started dreadfully but then improved and improved and has just been great, but just recently a little local difficulty cropped up and well I teetered on the black side of life for a while, clinging precariously on the lip of the cliff. By nature I'm very optimistic, but black moods when they arrive are real coal shaft of despair. It's the Norwegian in me, far too many dark winter nights and sucking salted cod over a weekend. It's taken about 6 weeks, but I've climbed out the lip now and striding through the sunshine. Ive not completely moved on, but nearly....... I had to do one last thing. I needed to let the past blow in the wind.

I'm not a religious person, but very spiritual, though friends often don't realise this, as my spiritually is hidden and private. My natural leanings these days could be described as Christian-Pagan-Spiritual, if there is such a thing. I believe there's a higher spirit out there, and nature will eventually re-balance the mess human beings are making of this planet, but what it is all about I have no idea. And don't worry, I'm not about to launch into a post modernist crusade, but as part of the cleansing process last night I thought I'd share a bit of my intimate thoughts for a change. And it's August, I never do much wildlife watching in August.

Last year I read about releasing negative thoughts and letting one of the elements of the planet, namely Air in the form of wind, take those thoughts up to the spirits, thereby releasing the dark side of one's inner being to the elements, where it can float away, rejuvenating the soul and creating an inner balance based on the positive calm rather than the negative.

Or to put it a bit more simply, write a load of horrible things down on paper and set fire to them and you feel a lot better.

The process is very simple. One needs to find a place, preferably high up, which is spiritually special to you. Ideally meditate in complete silence for a few minutes and let one's mind form the negative thoughts, influences or deeds which are bothering you, write them down, place them in a dish, set fire to them, meditate while the flames are burning, and once the ash has cooled, let the wind blow the ashes away across the landscape. Ideally you'd leave the ashes there to blow away in their own time over days, the reason being they're "picked up" by the spirits when they pass and only when they're ready to leave you; but in reality though, a little help is needed.

An interesting thing happened just before the burning. The most important negative thing I had to burn, and the cause of so much anguish and pain in the last month, was the first to be written down. I wrote 17 other things, some related, many not, twizzled the paper balls around in the bowl with a stick, and a gust of wind flicked that first paper up, unwrapped it and it ended up on top of all the others and readable from where I was sitting. It was the first paper I lit and therefore to burn and it ignited all the others.... Significant? Maybe, but I'm very much into these odd things which happen out of our control are there for a reason.

Sorry about this - it refuses to turn around in the blog - but you get the idea, ash!

And away they go............ !

My companion thought I was slightly mad when I suggested this, especially after three explanations didn't convince her I wasn't insane. But even she said when she agreed to meditate with me on the hill, and then walking back she felt different. Couldn't explain it. Just different. As I meditated, I had a weird warm feeling surge up my body. I can't explain that either, but I did have it once before on this hill years ago, and turned round to see a shape behind me slowly dissolving, like mist, but it was a fine spring day. To this day I have no idea what that was, but I know I saw it, and I wasn't at all frightened.

But lets end with some views...... I feel absolutely fabulous today and so here are some views of the finest view in the British Isles on a summers night. Click to enlarge

Thank you for taking these, you know who you are, and thank you for being there for me these last few weeks. It can't have been easy.

Normal blogging service will resume soon (ie wildlife) but I'll end with another little clue to where I was. The village which is on the Swine River, Toller being the river, Porcorum the pigs. I feel a sniffle coming on.... achooo.. Tamiflu anyone?


  1. Well done, Andrew; you took that first step by climbing the hill and have your negative thoughts and happenings leave your mind.

    We've got a lot in common.
    Writing your thoughts down in poetry helps too. And your feelings.

    Is it necessary to seek explanation for how yuo felt/what came over you? Sometimes we need to just accept, Andrew.

  2. Hi Andrew,

    Really funny posting here, your trousers look great ;)

    Must be great to visit a place like that. Great photos, thanks for sharing.

  3. Looks like a wonderful place to let negative thoughts vaporize into all that lovely greeness.

  4. I'm sorry you've had a tough time recently Andrew but glad you found a way to deal with it. It is good to have a 'special' place, I have one too, it does help in those difficult times. I really connected with your phrase 'coal shaft of despair', a very lonely place to be!

    However after the 'burning' photos I was enjoying the beautiful landscape pics when I was shocked to find a strange scarecrow like creature on the fourth one down, very unnerving ;)

  5. Hey Andrew... just what am I doing reading this at 1:10am! I didn't scan read either :-)

    I am thrilled for you that you now have pics of yourself in this place so special to you. Yes... the pose... nope it wasn't a scarecrow I thought of but Titanic for some reason :-)

    My thoughts are with you now and hear's hoping the rest of the year will be a more positive one for you. I wonder if this was a difficult posting to write.

    This posting hit a chord too... but not for myself. My daughter has had a very tough year and tonight I am late doing this after talking over something pretty major yet again. I may just ask her to read this as perhaps this might be an interesting exercise for her too. Thanks :-)

  6. Hi Andrew, Yoke has said it all for me. She's written exactly my thoughts. Isn't life wonderful!!

  7. Hi Yoke, I think we do have a lot in common, though I haven't written poetry about this yet, but there's still time?

    Hi Joe, glad you found my trousers interesting ;-)

    Hi Wilma, it is such a special place but sadly any photographs just don't do it justice.

    Oh ha ha shysongbird - I'll have you know I made a special effort for that 4th photo

    Shirl, I hope your daughter comes out of her problems soon and if she reads this it is of some help. This posting did take a lot to write as it was the final piece of a 6 month dillema that was actually permanently needing to let go of 11 years of freiendship and history. And that was so hard more than once I nearly backed down. But my friend in this posting has been such a calming listener and advisor, it actually made the decision become reality, clarity returned.

  8. Thanks Olcrow, I'll agree entirely with your comment. Life is good.

  9. Wonderful! Now don't look back..only ahead... :)

    I was so glad the last time I popped over to find your work had been published...wonderful...so, things are picking up :)

    Come and pay me a visit...and watch the little videos I've been taking in this post and of the birds in the previous post...


  10. Well done Andrew. I know what it can be like to plumb the depths having been there myself. I wonder why it then becomes so easy to remember the painful moments and so difficult to recall the pleasant. Anyway - I hope you have managed to free yourself and wish you well for the future.

  11. I seem to have got here late. Everything has already been said. I know where your hill is... but I promise not to tell. It is beautiful. My "place" is a hill with an ancient oak tree at the top, that I've named "Adams Oak". Sometimes I sits and stares, and sometimes I just sits... it always does the trick :)

  12. Thanks wildlife Gardner, I'm looking ahead now and will have a little look ahead into your patch too.

    A very valid point Midmarsh John, why is it we forget the good times and remember the bad

    I thought you'd know where it is Jane and thank you for keeping mum :-)

  13. Thanks for sharing all this Andrew - and as others have said it can't have been easy - I think a good many of us that love the outdoors and just being amongst nature are sensitive spiritual souls and from time to time when feeling down I find peace in things that I encounter outside - I wouldn't say I was a religious person but have a great sense of God outside - after all how did we end up with so many beautiful things to look at and enjoy - not to forget all the unique markings on the bird and flowers amongst many other things - quite awesome really... keep going on your quest to leave the past behind - it's not easy but I'm sure you'll reap the benefits in the months to come... take care Miranda

  14. I'm sorry for my tardiness in visiting but I'm so glad I did. I'm sorry too that you've "plummed the depths" - I too know what that is like and it's not a happy place to be in.

    But now, you're feeling more positive (having let go the past) and looking forward again and this is so good. I like your idea of "burning the past" and that you found it cathartic.

    I found your post warming and funny. Well done for being able to write as you did and, thank you.

  15. Thank you Miranda and Tricia, indeed the past needs to be left behind sometimes. Glad my ramblings though brought some fun into the piece :-)