Friday, September 24, 2010

In the horizon

Letting go is hard. Today was a beautiful, sad day.
This is a celtic farewell blessing for Grandad.

Do not stand at my grave and weep,

I am not there... I do not sleep.

I am the thousand winds that blow...

I am the diamond glints on snow...

I am the sunlight on ripened grain...

I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you waken in the morning's hush,

I am the swift uplifting rush

Of gentle birds in circling flight...

I am the soft star that shines at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry—

I am not there... I did not die...

♥☀•*•· Love transcends time and space ·•*•☀♥

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Reflection - John O'Donohue

Silence is the sister of the Divine

'Silence is a great friend of the soul; it unveils the riches of solitude. It is very difficult to reach that quality of inner silence. You must make a space for it so that it may begin to work for you.... One of the tasks of true friendship is to listen compassionately and creatively to the hidden silences. Often secrets are not revealed in words, they lie concealed in the silence between the words or in the depth of what is unsayable between two people.'

Take time, breath deeply, and listen to the quiet of silence. Be present, be whole, let your spirit be nourished by your presence.

~Love, Peace, Blessings Beautiful Beings~

Oh how beautiful you are!

Killarney, a place of magic, greenery, peace, quiet, life and tranquillity. On the weekend just gone I took a train to Killarney with Lizz and Florence. We enjoyed the trip amusing an Irish man who couldn’t help but join in on our conversation as we discussed black bunnies, and silly events that have occurred in the last 2 weeks whilst exploring his country. It passed time and we arrived at our Hostel before we knew it.

The Saturday I partook in my first bus tour. As ambivalent as I was about this I actually really enjoyed my time. The driver was good craic and also found us girls highly amusing, as we like to hang outside for a long time whenever he stopped. We were always being chased back on the bus – but all in fun spirits. The Ring of Kerry was absolutely stunning, breathtaking, and magnificent! The lakes that spread out with mist rising on the surface, Ireland continues to show me its mystical spirit. The beauty of the rugged cliff edges and rocky shoreline show the wildness and free spirit of this land. Again, I was given the blessings of a beautiful sunny weekend. The day went by and I saw so much beauty, got to know an older British couple that remained entertained the whole journey by our youthful delights (ie. Taking many jumping photos on the edge of cliffs, and discussing whether we should go skinny dipping in the Irish Sea).

I learnt a lot about the Irish history and area from the bus driver. He told us how the mountains were formed, which was by plate movement, and the mountains got rounded on one side from the ice age with the wind and snow being blown in one direction. I also lend some of the history of the famine, the struggles, loss and hardships. It is really quiet extraordinary, and sad the loss that this country has experienced, and is even going through now. The picture with the tree in front of the church was planted during the great famine, it has 2000 children’s bodies buried beneath. Irelands population halved in a few decades due to death, poverty, and emigration. Not due to lack of food in the country, but lack of ability to access food. The Protestants had a greater export of crops and resources then the number of people in Ireland, yet they watched them slowly die from starvation and the potato famine. I will not get you all bogged down in the history, but merely say, Ireland has had a bumpy journey, and still is with the recession.

Saturday evening was nice, however I came down with a bit of a cold. However Sunday I woke up and was ready to dive into another day of exploration and wonder. We roamed around the Killarney National Park. It was gorgeous. Just exquisite. I breathed deeply and could actually feel some of my Irish roots deep in the soil. I just imagined having a small cottage in the fields with the cows.

We visited Ross Castle, and all I can say is I am glad I am not living in the 1500th Century! Punishment was not nice. Hot oil, tar, rocks and swords. Mmmmm

A very nice lady who was suppose to be giving us directions to Muckross House, ended up driving us there with her dog Precious (unfortunately we never found out her name).

At Muckross House we went to the traditional farms and met many animals, my favourite was the donkey. The farm was set up to resemble what it would have been like in Ireland back a few decades or more. The little farmhouses are so cosy and simple. Life was simple. But hard. But I couldn’t help thinking, maybe I should just live off a farm… simplicity sometimes is the key to peace and tranquillity. This was one of my favourite parts of the day walking down the little dirt lanes and viewing what life was once like.

We walked to a small waterfall and enjoyed the green of the forest, then set a cracking pace to a small abbey that was in ruins on the lake before walking 5 miles back to town in a gentle misty rain.

Simply – Killarney is one magic spot. I feel like I have experienced and felt some of Ireland now.

A funny toilet sign

Monday, September 20, 2010

Dublins Fair City

I have now arrived, moved in, and am now settled in this wonderful, colourful city of Dublin. Although my journey here was a long one with train and boat connections failing to join (24hr!), and the weather when I arrived was bleak, my time has been a warm, welcomed and a fun experience.

On my trip over although circumstances as I said were trying, I met a Welsh man, a few Irish and another fellow Aussie to pass 10hrs waiting for the next ferry to depart at 2:30 in the morning, arriving in Dublin at 6:30am rather then the expected 10pm the night before. After exploring all options of sneaking into a truck and boarding the truck boat, we gave in and the next best option according to the group of random friends I now had was to go to the pub and drink. Ah the typical Irish. Playing music on the juke box, proving how bad I was at playing pool and eating Chinese take away we eventually made it onto the ferry. The ferry was big! It was also very fancy with nice leather lounges scattered through the whole boat. I found my lounge and curled up for a rocky trip/sleep across the Irish Sea. Boy was I glad to reach Dublin! It was kind of surreal as the rain bucketed down, and I searched for coins for the bus with my bag weighing down on my shoulders due to just having broken in the luggage pick up bay. Lorena (Irish women I met in Holyhead waiting for the ferry) took my under her wing and gave me some coins to get into town. We ended up hoping off at the wrong stop but again Lorena got me back in town and put me in the taxi to start my first day at uni. It was nearly like having mum sending me off to school, so I felt rather special.

The days that followed were settling into my room, and meeting many many many people, particularly other international students. Much partying, much craic, and a little bit of sleep put me into my Irish groove.

UCD - My University

On the weekend I explored the green woodlands around the UCD and sat under some massive oak tree’s that just made me smile and laugh at the absurdity, that I am here! I am in Dublin! I am sitting with the leprechauns and the fairies! I enjoyed my morning picking wild poppies and watching the squirrels fight over acorns.

A little shine of rainbow to brighten up our day

The next day I ventured to the coast at Howth with my Australian roommate Liz. We were blessed with a beautiful sunshiny day! Backpacks on, and spirits high we stepped into the small fishing town and ambled around the piers and looking at seals playing under the fishing boats while kids chucked fish in for them. The fat seals sat like buoy’s, bobbing up and down waiting to dive for their feed. They were so cute! I even knocked on Yeats door. We then started our walk around the cliffs of the coast, getting over delighted in the beautiful purple and yellow wild flowers, butterflies and rock walls. We even spotted a black bunny! However I think this was someone’s pet running in the wild. We laid down on the most perfect spot for lunch, I could have stayed there all day looking out on the Irish sea towards Dublin, on the cushioned green green grass, and the sun shining down. It was perfect. Tired and exhausted at the end after walking for 5hrs or so we sat down and ate fish and chips (well I had curry chips…) then walked up to the light house before heading home. A day well spent.

The cheeky seals at Howth

Lizz and I at Howth.

I celebrated my birthday on the Wednesday and had mentally prepared myself that it was going to be a different one. It was! But a really lovely one. Beautiful messages and phone call from home, which set heads on fire (hehe Jake) and a wonderful dinner with a great bunch of friends here in Dublin as a surprise! We went to dinner in temple bar at Turks Head, it was very abstract and creative inside, the walls mosaiced with roots in the roof and heads coming out of the posts. Although four people missed out on dinner due to some kafuffle of our chief running off, I had a wonderful day and felt the love from everyone all over the world. It was very special.

I will now try to keep up on my entries on here, so everyone is posted on my whereabouts (in case you want to join me!)

Love to all, Blessings in plenty,

I will leave with an old Celtic Blessing:

May the blessing of light be on you -

Light without and light within.

May the blessed sunlight shine on you

And warm your heart

Till it glows like a great peat fire.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Toulouse - Adventures with Juliet

I caught a train, my system of transport all over France, which has been great. I have seen so much of the beautiful country side, old building and farms that I feel that I have seen the heart of the French beauty. Yet on this trip from Aix to Toulouse I sat on the train for a good 10hr, on what was a 6hr trip. The train stopped in a town called Montpellier and sat there for 4hrs. Not knowing any French I remained on my seat hoping that the train would just start. It didn't. So I built up my courage and attempted to speak with an old man and work out what was happening, he said 'there is a fire, and we are delayed an hour'. I was think ok, an hour. That hour passed, and so did another. I was starting to get worried as I had no phone, no internet, and no way to contact Juliet to let her know my situation and when I would arrive. A french girl came up to me and kindly must have noticed my confusion and tried to give me further detail on the situation. we finally started moving at around 9pm, and eventually I arrived at Toulouse at midnight. I went out side hoping there was a pay phone, but they only took a card. So I went inside to think, sitting on a bench. In the process I managed to sit in a puddle. So with wet pants, and a hungry belly I approached security and explained my situation, they took me out the back and let me ring Juliet.
It was so wonderful to see Juliet! Not just because I was tired, but having a smiling Aussie face from home just made me feel all warm inside.
I spent a lovely 4 days with Juliet. The first day was spent exploring Toulouse. We wandered through the streets going underground into a old tunnel to listen to afro-cuban music that was hidden under a mushroom cafe. We sleep in the park and rummaged through vintage stores. Had a yummy pizza lunch and a delicious dinner with a group of Juliet's French friends.
The next day we escaped the city to avoid the expected 39 degree temperature and went south to town called Nabone on the coast. We gathered cheeses, fruit and bread from the markets and made our way to the beach, which was very different to our Australian beaches. Wide, sandy and very little shade. We set up camp under a small palm and enjoyed lunch then went for a dip. I loved having the salty water over me again, and the smell of sunscreen, I lapped up what I expect to be the last of my summer. With yummy ice cream to top the afternoon off we made our way back to Toulouse, sleepy from the heat.

The day we hired bikes and road along the canal from Toulouse south. This was beautiful under the big plane trees that were loosing their leaves for autumn. There were many colourful house boats that reminded me of the movie Chocolate. I now have the desire to live in one for a while...... :) We road for about 30km, and stopped in a pub at the end to get a cold raspberry soft drink. Then we jumped on the train with our bikes and headed back to Toulouse. That night I indulged in chocolate tart in the cobbled streets. It was heaven on a plate.
My last adventure with Juliet was to a plume festival in a small town called Agen. Agen was beautiful with pots of flowers hanging off every lamp post. The town was alive with music, and many other festivities. We watched a comedy act, drank wine, watched a band and ate many many plumes!
I then left Juliet, after a wonderful 4 days and made my way to Taize.

Aix En Provence - Visiting Emilie

Aix was full of a different kind of old, the people were different, the buildings again different, and the temperature was very different! At the train station I couldn’t stop grinning, I finally saw Emilie! It has been 2 years and it was just like yesterday that we were roomies. It was so nice to see a familiar face and the greeting wasn’t an awkward head bumping French greeting of kisses on each cheek it was a big Australian hug! Memories and moments and people were poured out as I filled in Emilie on home and updated her on everyone’s lives. It was really nice having this common bond.

The apartment they live in is one room. So for dinner we put the oven on the windowsill and drank beers and wine whilst listening to the gypsy music on the street just below. The weather sat around 30 degrees, so very nice!

Market stalls were full of meat, cheese, lavenderand wine, all the French specialties.

On the weekend, Emilie, Guilham, four other French friends and I ventured to Gorges de Verdon, and had an amazing weekend of swimming, walking, dancing, deserting, and soaking up lots of yummy French sun! The 20km walk we did was so varied, from cave walking in the pitch blackness of the cool earth and rocks, to walking the in the sun on the edge of cliffs and up ladders, and swimming in the gorges, which were icy cold, blue and full of fish. It was lovely.

I made a day trip when we returned from our camping adventure to the city Marseille one of the bigger French cities on the Mediterranean. It was very dirty, busy place, and had a bit of a cultural variant. It was very interesting. I loved the church, Notre Dame, which means lady that watches over the city. The outside looked like the palaces from the cartoons of Aladdin, and the inside was full of gold, blues, and pictures of boats out at sea. It seemed different to some of the other churches I have visited, and it had a quietness to it, which gave me some time to breathe in and escape the bustle. I feel ready to settle down after one week of travel I am already exhausted; to much site seeing is draining.

I enjoyed the arty cultural element of Aix, and it had a young student population which influenced is laid back feel. I ate many yummy chocolate croissants, listened to Bob Marley playing from someones window and got sticky with sweat from the weather. It was great! If I were to come to France again I would definitely come back here.

Paris the city of love

France is another world. Historical, dirty, modern and so French. I have been welcomed into Paris with a slight culture shock. The complex metro system (which turned out to be a simple after I figured it out), with my French vocabulary limited to Bonjour, and Parlez vous English?. However, with skill and many helpful Parisians, I managed to reach my destination and had a lovely stay with two lovely people Julie and Clement who I had not met, but knew through Emilie. Connections are a wonderful thing. They were so welcoming! You realise when travelling that small little gestures make the world to people, in this case to me. I realised that the world has a lot of love and generosity in it. People go out of their way to help you, even when you aren’t speaking in the same language. I have so much gratitude.

The narrow alleys, the French men and women, baguettes, lovers and historical architecture will be little reminders of my stay in Paris. The history of the old churches gave me flash back to what I imagined France to be like back in the 1600s. I am sure it was still full of the hustle and bustle as it is today.

Although the city is full of much beauty in is infrastructure, my nature calling pulled me to a woods the second day, were I soaked up the last of my time in Paris, just chilling and watching the swans. The fast pace slowed down a little, as I watched men fish, and feed the ducks. Then I moved onto the Aix En Provence.

Spreading my wings - Trip to London

The journey has begun. This dream of living in the land of the green, where leprechaun and fairies roam, is actually a reality. Leaving Australia was difficult. The parting of a life into a new phase and saying goodbye for the next 6 months left me in a little bit of an emotional state. However with wonderful Sez at hand, we boarded the plane and took off for Kuala Lumpur. The 8 ½ hour flight flew by, and we had a rocky landing as a storm was brewing over the tropics. It was entertaining, my stomach going upwards as we went down. Stepping out of the plane was a weird experience as the humid topic air washed over me and made my skin all sticky and moist. I felt at home. The humid air, the bustling, the dirty grounds and the tiny airport. Maybe I chose the wrong country…

The short 24hr stop over was over before I knew, and I now ventured on alone. When I arrived in London, I was greeted by a totally new sterile setting. A big contrast to the day before.

I arrived at the bed and breakfast and new I was in England when a little hedgehog plotted along the front doorstep. Realisation hit, I am doing this!

London is an interesting city, a colourful array of people and cultures, history and the new. The hustle and the bustle of the subway, and the cloudy sky welcomed me in. I had a lovely time with a couple, Helen and Pete, who welcomed me into their home and treated me as an old friend. The parks in London were my highlight. Squirrels chasing after each other, ducks, trees, grass and ponds. Mmmm nature. I spend the rest of my day roaming south bank, visiting the Queen (unfortunately she was not home), the Tate Modern, ambling through Covent Garden watching the street performers and sitting on the steps of Saint Peters Cathedral.

I enjoyed my time in London but after 2 days was ready to move on to Paris and explore a new town. Helen and Pete had trained me up on the London Subway, and practiced a few french phrases to help me get by. So I felt ready to enter France.

I left London in the morning and went to the train terminal to catch the Eurostar across to Paris. It was simple, quick and got me there before I knew it.