Corona Canal Chronicles #4

Some mornings were so brisk it took my breath away, and the air was unsure which way to pass. Others were bright and sun-filled.

Of course, whilst we traversed the waters, it was not without taking pause to check on the bird-life of our surrounds. And therefore, we continued to adopt various ducky families, swans and cygnets along our way. In fact, to the point that the supermarkets on our routes must surely have begun to run low on stock, for all the pennies spent on bird feed!

Meanwhile I think it would be fair to say, that by this point, cabin fever had started to set in for me. That and the never-ending study that is. So much so, that I was excitedly distracted by my new discovery of silver polish (who knew the difference it could make!). Rather than continue watching the letters and words scramble around on-screen, I took great delight in whiling away a few hours, scrubbing up the brass from the boat’s lounge area. They say small things please small minds…well, I definitely found it most satisfying!

Hmm. Perhaps I had been on the boat too long 😉

By now, the lockdown ease had continued to fluctuate and vary, with the overarching motto – Stay Alert. Somehow this assumed attentiveness would mean that none of us were at danger anymore. Yet we still couldn’t visit public places with more than a set number of people, they had to be within our bubble somehow or another, but we could begin to think about returning to public houses and whatnot. Honestly, the mind boggles.

Therefore, I was able to enjoy a socially-distanced visit to my sister and nephews, though not entirely enjoying the paddling pool experience at my age and aversion for cold things, and I was also to make arrangements to finally pay a visit to my dad. Whilst we kept our distance, it turned out his loveable bear-like dog, Luke, had other plans, as he opted to shower me in doggie-slobber and give me a good ‘ol wash of love!

Moving onward with the boat (Areandare – can you say it correctly?) we now arrived parallel to the River Trent. The beautiful Shugborough Hall was our next door neighbour, and the gorgeous star bridge our passage.

Even the cows were pretty cool-looking, and we managed to acquire a rather nice mother-daughter picture to boot.

Moving further along, we ended up near my aunt’s house, close to Fradley Junction. And for the first time since I had landed in the UK, I left the boat for an overnight stay on land! (To sort out my rather bedraggled hair and see some of my cousins and aunt from afar). It was such a surreal experience to then enter the city of Lichfield and walk past “real-life” humans. With no-one wearing masks either, and to eat “out”, especially as the meal venue had formerly been the site of my mum and stepdad’s Calendar club store. that I had helped out in, some Christmases ago!

And then once again, I arrived back onboard the boat, to be gifted with a beautiful hand-made Paua mask from my mum, made from some of her wedding top-table material! Canal life went on.

To be continued…

Corona Canal Chronicles #2

So, with June came the ease of Lockdown, and start of the Corona Canal Club’s journey towards Debdale Wharf Marina, Leicestershire. The ease meant we were finally about to leave Hurleston junction and head up the Llangollen canal, allowing for closer access to my sister and her family, as well as some wonderful countryside mooring spots.

We climbed the first set of locks, and headed to the picturesque village of Wrenbury. Some of the houses there were really intriguing, and almost fairtytale like. The local store was also quaint, with a help-yourself herb garden, which I loved!

From here, we passed through various lift bridges (time to get my muscles working again after all the time sat typing away on the laptop) and more idyllic villages based along the canal side. There was such a plethora of UK wild flowers along the way, that added to the visual beauty.

There was even the odd moment when I drove the boat, though I refrained from doing so when entering the locks – that is a fine art I am yet to master.

Onwards, to one of our first moorings nearer to my sister, where they greeted us and assisted with lock openings whilst maintaining social distance. Gosh that time period was hard on families and young ones – lack of physical connection between extended family and friends was such an emotional challenge, bless everyone.

And then, to ensure things were not entirely brand new to our little canal club bubble, we sorted out our lovely Brazier and chairs setting, ensuring that for the time we were there, we once again made the most of the stunning views, the fresh air, the sounds and sights of the wildlife, and the tranquillity of being far from traffic and built-up areas. Though to be fair, it wasn’t quite as quiet as we’d hoped! (Lots of people passing by, seemingly totally unaware that people actually lived on the boats there were adjacent to their shoulders! Meanwhile, my Masters work continued, and the snippets of outside views to assist with the locks and bridges fell into the background, as I continued on my merry way through the melee of books and papers and data, trying in vain to reach the final page of writing.

Oh but of course, I found myself a new little duck family to tend to…..I couldn’t help myself 😉

To be continued….

Mellowing out in Mauritius

I love my life. Truly. And each day, even in difficult times, I acknowledge the blessings within it.

Few people can tell the tales I have told, nor wander the walk-boards I have walked.

I am unmarried, childless, ageing, wandering, and wisening.

Often people look at me with a certain trepidation when they realise how often I am alone, both at home and away. They share a worry or fear, of how lonely this must be, and how terrifying also.

Yet literally as I’m typing, James Blunt comes onto the airwaves and states “My life is brilliant”. And it is.

Continue reading “Mellowing out in Mauritius”

Goodbye is not forever

This expat life is not the one I ever saw myself taking. I got on that plane years ago, because I wanted to live in Africa. I wanted to wake beneath the African sun, hear the songs of the African sky, and sleep beneath the African stars. Uganda was to be my forever home.

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And then it was no more.

It has been a few years now since I have lived in Lagos, Nigeria, and at times it is hard for me to ever imagine living elsewhere, least of all the UK.

It has it’s ups and downs, of that I can be very sure! And often I wonder why I am still living there when it has caused much separation from loved ones and favored foods and places. Yet ultimately I land back upon the same conclusion. Africa continues to live in me. I do not fully know what the magnetism is for me, but it remains. And for now, this pole is centred within Nigeria.

Continue reading “Goodbye is not forever”

Bouncing in and out of Benin; la voyage est la destination

Time is faster than many of us would like and much of it is spent working in order to be able to afford the homes we live in, the clothes we wear, the activities we enjoy doing in those snippets of time when we are no longer at work. There is an adage that many of us are working so that we can reach death, whilst not having the chance to experience life.

This is not the way I want to be.

Osho Quotes on Life and Death

Taking Sannyasin many years ago was not an easy choice for me. I can get overwhelmed by anxiety within my own mind and I can feel reproachful and guilty for things that have long since been said and done. Most likely forgotten by others, but remnants that stay in my mind and heart. However, as part of my dedication to self-love and also a life of service, I consciously chose to ascribe to Osho’s teachings, practice and guidance. To be accountable for my choices and actions always, but not to be laden down by what has gone before. To grasp life in each breath, to continually make the best choice I can, in that very moment, and to trust that this may not be the same choice I make again, even in the next five minutes, let alone years later. To come from my heart always, and to live, fully, in every breath. Conscious choices, loving mind, practices of kindness, service and honesty. I am often heard repeating my personal mantra –

I will only die once, and in that I will most likely have little say. But I can live every moment, and in that I have all the say in the world.

Continue reading “Bouncing in and out of Benin; la voyage est la destination”

What the mind does not want, the eye will never see.

There I was, looking back in the mirror at a reflection I barely recognised. Not through significant outward appearance, but through lack of time spent looking in: through a rapid pace of life rushing past me, rapid adaptations being required, and many commitments to meet. Moving to my new country, aligning myself with my new job, meeting new colleagues and familiars, greeting my mother to my beloved Africa, adapting to my new physio regime, tasting new spices and foods, and so on. It was all happening at a rate of knots so fast that I felt like I was barely remembering to sleep let alone meditate, sit in stillness, reflect, appreciate, calm, ease, or most of all, breathe.

It came as somewhat of a surprise to find myself therefore, looking back at this forgotten woman in the mirror, as she showed a startled look to her face. My mother had just landed back in the UK and had sent a cautionary message.  She advised that I check my Nigerian Visa requirements, in order to be sure that I could travel to my other beloved homelands the following week, as per original plan. The ‘she’ in this, being I, lost all colour to her face.

There I had been, feeling quite calm about my mum’s departure, due to an assertion that I would be seeing others that I loved within the week.Admitedly finances have not been flowing easily but where there is a will there is always a way and I knew that I would arrive to exactly where I needed to be the following week regardless. Therefore I did not think much of the message at all. A whisper in the back of my mind popped up however… so a day or two later I did hunt out my passport, just to double check, before I devised some way of securing an airline ticket.

Lo and behold she was right.

Through having a short-term work permit rather than my permanent one (another story to be told another time undoubtedly), I discovered I am here on a single entry only. Thus, whilst my ex-pat colleagues all around me were telling tales of their travels to come, I found myself there, ashen-faced, looking back at a bewildered face, feeling like the walls had begun to rapidly cave in on me.

Continue reading “What the mind does not want, the eye will never see.”

Returning to the roots of those who have walked here before us

With an increasing frequency of more universal messages arriving to my ears, I feel a oneness and inherent belief that despite the whiteness of my skin, my source is here within the lands of Africa. In fact, colleagues of mine this past week even said as such; “are you sure you aren’t really African Miss?

From this, it makes complete and natural sense that my mother should have made the difficult (yet well-worth it) efforts to meet hectic visa requirements and end up here in Africa beside me, albeit for only 10 days (due to her busy schedule and multitude of commitments). In the 1940s my grandfather was here in Nigeria, and some 70 years later, so now has been his daughter, beside her daughter in fact. She brought with her letters of people who loved my grandfather for his kindness, and she was able to see firsthand, what the difference is like for life here in comparison to wherever “there” may be.

In some ways, it was such a rushed time having her here, having only landed here myself some two weeks prior. Of course, the initial intention had been that she would have been beside me sharing my affair with Uganda. But come she did, regardless of where the “here” now was. Thankfully, due to my adaptations to African ways of living from my Ugandan time, I was able to adjust relatively quickly and speedily to my new surroundings, such that by the time she arrived, it was smooth enough for her and I had many things in place. I have not yet really traversed the lands, but I rapidly began to suss out the ways of them and be able to support my mum with the intense adjustments she had to make from being in the UK to being here in Nigeria.

Continue reading “Returning to the roots of those who have walked here before us”

Now. New in Nigeria.

Life twists and turns in so many ways, and almost a year ago to the day, I interviewed for, and made the final decision of, a move to Uganda, East Africa. Now, in 2017, I move forwards to another moment in time and find myself landing upon a new lily-pad – this time by the name of Lagos, Nigeria. This was a highly unexpected and unforeseen move, for various reasons, yet here I found myself, treading the waters of footsteps that have gone before me …. even those of my late grandfather, who worked in this country (though further along the coast) as an engineer over 60 years ago. In this change of an un-designated and thus un-mapped story of my wanderings, I walked forwards towards a new wabi-sabi; discovery of beauty in imperfection; the acceptance of the cycle of light and death.

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Continue reading “Now. New in Nigeria.”

The time thief. By what can it be measured?

Just less than six months ago, I sat, bewildered and uncertain, as I boarded a plane from London Heathrow to Entebbe, Uganda. My heart ached in ways that I hadn’t felt for eons of time and my inner excitement was stirring yet confused. And I found myself stepping onto the East African soil for the first time. I watched as a silent observer to my self, how I responded to all that was occuring and I reflected on the passing of time, wondering what on earth this concept really means to us all, when it can vanish in instants whilst it can also expand out into unknown and at times, inconceivable lengths. Continue reading “The time thief. By what can it be measured?”

Relishing the source of friendship, mother earth, and opportunity

Repeatedly during my time here in Uganda I have pondered upon time, as a transient and inconsistent concept that spans out across moments like lifetimes, and makes others fly past so fast that I have to pinch myself to know whether or not it was real or imagined. With my recent injury and some other hecticness of life and its practicalities, time and I have been embroiled in deep conversation once more.It became clear that I needed to play with it somewhat, in order to celebrate the arrival of christmas in one of the ways I had been wanting; to be with some of my beautiful new (yet old – our souls have known each other for eons) friends, I had to recalibrate the calendar and bring yueltide forwards. Change was yet again on the horizon, as has become the most constant of happenings in my living breath and I was no longer set to be returning to Uganda after December. My heart was aching, yet it was not the time for sadness. Continue reading “Relishing the source of friendship, mother earth, and opportunity”