Struggling to calibrate my dragging body sensations of altitude (compounded by an incredibly early start to my day!), I rallied my thoughts to acknowledge just ‘where’ in the world I was currently travelling. I was on a bus in far northern Chile; only a few kilometres away was Bolivia! This was not a time to feel feeble and to close my eyes to the world outside. As we bounced along dusty, rutted roads I began to take notice of the landscape outside.
At the end of August, I was back in Ilminster profiting from a few simple days staying in the holiday cottage of dear friends. It was my second visit. The first time saw me discovering a wealth of local gardens & NT properties to keep me busy and active during my stay. I spent a happy morning at Lytes Cary last time, before heading to the austere Barrington Court even closer to ‘home’. On this visit, I took the opportunity to further my discovery of the latter, having only toured the gardens and grounds so far.
I am so glad that I returned.
Back in 1999, as I started to stretch my restless hummingbird wings and yearn to travel, I took a trip. I was heading to Europe for 6 months – France in particular – to challenge my solitude after a divorce and I wanted a means to commencing the journey with a hand to hold. In discussion over caffe lattes at a local cafe, a new acquaintance and I discovered a mutual desire to explore the Tuscan hills. Frances Mayes’ book , “Bella Tuscany” had whetted our appetites. Before we knew it, we had booked a 3 week tour which would see the two of us walking together in glorious Spring sunshine amongst villages and vineyards across almost 200km. It remains one of my favourite holidays ever; a perfect combination of laughter and new friendship and beauty and movement. Throughout it all, I kept prodigious journals. Here is an excerpt from a particularly memorable day as we rested from the trail in a Castello which dates from the Middle Ages. Set high above surrounding countryside between Montalcino & Pienza, it is still owned and inhabited by the Contessa and her family – descendants of the owners from 1438….
This is part of a piece I wrote in 2014 on a visit home to Australia – a time of reassessment & contemplation:
I am back in the mountains that are blue after 10 years away. It is a very different visit to the last. That one was short and filled to the brim with people and food and fanfare and society. It was warm and inclusive like a long-missed hug from a distant love. It was a celebration of all the wonderful connections that I have in my world. This time, I have arrived back to a more contemplative space. Circumstance on arrival has left me with time to myself where I had planned to be busy with people and things. More space, less people; much more time just spent with me for a while. It feels like my solitary travelling days before the move. And it is good for me.
I have had 10 years of a world filled with noise and people: living & working in a pub where people flood through the door 12 hours a day and noise rises through my floorboards even when I am not at work. Now I am in gentle mountains silence. In a simple space with only music & books to keep me company unless I choose otherwise… and long blissful sleeps. I see that I miss it.