A lot of my Facebook friends have consulted surveys about what their lives should be and where they should go. Why? Find it in your own heart what you would like to do and do it. Our family just buried a young family member, ask yourself, 'if you had life to do over, what would you do?' Then go out and do it. We are not here to occupy space. Someone once said, 'we have everything we need for this extravagant journey called life!' Ephesians chapter one reiterated, 'we've been given every spiritual gift...' There is no lack in our life, just lack of gumption! Lets blaze a trail through and lets do it. Bring in the new year, bring in 2017!
The anticipation was palpable as I walked the 15 minutes to the front gate after being dropped off the bus from Rye. I had taken the train into Rye from London after changing trains at Ashford International. I googled how to get here and it was a lovely morning in June 2016. I walked past a few home owners working on their yards along the way. 'Good morning, is this the way to ....?' 'Good morning, they all replied, here it is. I have been traveling independently for decades and the last few trips have been doing it on my own. While it can be frustrating sometimes, it is mostly gratifying, to feel the freedom. I cannot understand what it feel like to be immobilized, not as much being physically incapacitated but more prevented by someone else whose interests are different. There was a time, very long ago, that happened but now that I've tasted this freedom, I will not surrender! The excitement I felt as I drew near the front gate of 'Great Dixter' garden, it was hard to contain. I made it and it did not disappoint! 'Great Dixter' is full of wild spaces filled with wild flowers. I have resolved that I will spend the rest of my life chasing wild flowers!
I am having a very lazy summer here in Southern California. The weather has just been absolutely perfect, no temps over 80 deg F! The ocean breezes blows gently and rustle the leaves on the trees. I nap almost every afternoon. It's hard to imagine I was schlepping it in Europe all of last summer. Here I was eating smorrebrod in Helsingor, Denmark. It was so perfect! If you've not been to Scandinavia, you ought to go. Its like perfection! I loved my trip. I would like to do it again.
Take the tube to the end of the line at Richmond, then hop on a bus and you'll be dropped off outside of Petersham. This was my second trip. I remember years ago, it was very delightful. It still has the same delightful charm. This was the flowers at the main restaurant which require a reservation but they have a little cafe which sells salads, cakes, tea and coffee which does not require a reservation. This trip in June 2016 I took the bus to Ham house which was a mile further, then I walked the Thames path to Petersham. It was the loveliest day. England in June is glorious. There's only one June every year. Don't waste it. I intend to be out and about in England every June.
The cover is ready for my next Kindle ebook. I'm still writing the manuscript. I hope to incorporate a lot more pictures in this ebook unlike my previous work which is rather sparse where pictures were concerned.
Even as I prepare to go to church I remember the places that I've spent my Sundays. Sometimes its in a church in London, Bath or Rome. But sometimes its in another world like in Eastern Turkey with a few young companions. Here we were in Ani, the ancient city of bygone Byzantine times in St Grigor, an almost ruined church, still standing and with beautiful frescoes. It is such a blessing to have a glimpse into another time and another world. I remember saying 'the Lord's prayer' and singing a hymn and wondering the last time a service was held here......probably centuries ago.
It was the home of Ellen Terry an actress on the British stage. She saw it when she passed by it in a horse and buggy going from Rye to Tenterden. Today that same dirt country lane is paved and the bus goes from Rye to Tenterden and back. I took the bus and got dropped off in front of Smallhythe place, a sweet little gem of a place. It is so beautiful and so delightful. I still feel tingles down my spine when I see this.
It is dubbed the second most romantic garden in the world after Ninfa near Rome. This was my second visit in my life, the first was years ago with my cousin and aunt. I don't remember much of my first visit but this visit was different because I have lots of pictures of it and I'm writing about it.
It started in the Peloponnese the year before and continued in earnest, the chase for wild flowers, starting with the wild red anemones. It is also the national flower of Israel and where better to see it then in Israel. Here in February 2014 I spent the good part of the day at Mt Carmel national park in Haifa, just hanging out, looking at these pretty blossoms. My life since then is to search out the prettiest areas for viewing wild flowers.
I took this picture a few years ago in Eastern Turkey. The bus I was in stopped at this gas station and this tree was right next to it. Up to that moment all the mulberries I saw were white ones. I grabbed my camera and ran out to get a few shots. This picture is available for sale on the Internet but not by me. Someone is selling my photo on the Internet.
A Caprese sandwich on Swedish seeded bread and a huge slice of Princess cake in a cafe in Stockholm. Was I hungry? No, just greedy, greedy for experiences! I'd give anything right now for a piece of princess cake.
'The twelve caesars' by Suetonius writes an excellent account of Emperor Nero. He is a fascinating study. I'm even more convinced now , now that I've seen part of his golden house, 'Domus Aurea'. Only part has been excavated. We enter by one of the galleys built by Trajan. After the death of Nero, Trajan obliterated any trace of Nero. He filled the whole complex with dirt and built a Roman bath over it. The walls are 39 feet high. Imagine the amount of dirt that needed to be cleared away. I read the work started hundreds of years ago. There are still a lot of Trajan's contribution that are still filled up. There is no intention to clear that because the Trajan part is bare and uninteresting. There are still traces of mosaics and frescoes left in the Nero part and one can imagine the original splendor. Suetonius wrote definitively that it was Nero who lit the first flames that burned down Rome.
I took a taxi from Norcia to Castellucio only to find I was too early for the flower season. The drive from Norcia to Castellucio was stupendous. It was like driving into Shangrila, with gorgeous wild flowers flanking both sides of the road. I made the driver stop a few times for me to take some pictures and this made up for the disappointment. I'm going back next year and I'll be sure it will be at the height of the flowering season.
I wanted so much to see the wild flowers in the Sibillini mountains. The place to see it is Castellucio, near Norcia, a little village high in the mountains overlooking a huge meadow like plain. The plan was to go to Rome on Tuesday, be in Norcia on Wednesday and take the once a week bus, on Thursday only, to Castellucio and spend a few hours there. I boarded the train in Rome for Spoleto which is the place to take the bus to Norcia. At Spoleto, I asked this guy, 'dove l'autobus per Norcia?' where is the bus for Norcia. He pointed to the left to a parked bus under a tree. Biglietti? Tickets? He pointed to the tabacchi shop. I bought 2 tickets because I knew I would need the second one for the return trip. It was a Wednesday and I stayed overnight in Norcia, a small little mountain village known for truffles and wild boar. The next morning I waited patiently for the 6.25am bus for Castellucio but it never came. I learned later that it was a bank holiday, 'dei di republic'. The day of the republic. I was still determined to go to Castellucio........
The meaning? Something that is reused. In the ancient days, parchment and vellum are expensive and are often reused with the traces of the original still remaining. Here on one of the walls of this church is a wall where at least 6 layers of frescoes can be identified. Santa Maria Antiqua was built in the 5th century and holds frescoes cycles of at least 3 centuries, 6th, 7th and 8th until it was destroyed by an earthquake in 847. It underwent a 36 year restoration from 1980 to 2016 and was reopened in March 2016. I had the privilege of seeing it in June this year.
The trip was all about flowers and chasing flowers wherever they may be found. Even within London there are hidden gems just a tube ride away. Here is a street on Bonnington square where things just grow without human manipulation.
Some famous gardens may take a little work to get to, a bus ride and/or a train ride or even an overnight stay, do not despair. There are many beautiful gardens within London that are even more accessible and are as pretty albeit not as huge as those outside London. This is the Chelsea Physic garden and is quite beautiful and is one of these gardens in London that I'm referring to. Besides there is an organization called the NGS and every year they publish a free (a donation may be required) booklet where they list all the private gardens that will be opened to the public. They publish a roster, addressees and charges if any to see them. The booklet maybe picked up in tea rooms, hotels or book shops.Peruse through it and see which gardens you'll be interested in. The most important thing about visiting London is to learn the transit system and invest in an oyster card. There are always friendly staff in every underground system to field any question you may have. I've met many Australian visitors who refuse to learn to use the underground and therefor had to walk miles and miles and get lost. What a futile idea! I love the underground and I love my oyster card. You can surrender your card at the end of your visit and get back whatever money you have left but I keep mine for my next visit. Its like I'm a local!
In the early days of English gardening, Capability Brown dominated the landscape. Then came along William Robinson and his idea of 'the wild garden.' In the early days of 'wild gardens' the public was appalled at the sight of unmown meadows. Today they are such a common sight in every English garden from the small to the huge and from the unknown to the famous. Here at Great Dixter, Daisy Lloyd has long subscribed to William Robinson's wild garden concept and there are huge swathes of land left to be wild meadows. The lane that leads up to the front of the house is flanked by huge areas of wild meadows and one can only guess my delight during the first moments of laying my eyes on Great Dixter. I've found what I was looking for.
It so possible to walk along the Thames. One can do it in London too if you want to fight the massive crowds. But in Richmond, its another world, slow and bucolic. That day I walked from Ham House to Petersham nurseries along the Thames. It was a very beautiful day!
I just arrived back from visiting the Getty Centre, a huge museum in Los Angeles. They have an exhibition of Buddhist cave art from the Gobi desert of China, more precisely, in Dunhuang, China. I was in Dunhuang a few years ago and saw the real caves. Here at the Getty are replicas of 3 of the caves. They are of astounding quality and realism. There are other bits and bob from Dunhuang and all were very well done. The Getty doesn't charge for admission and is a remarkable museum. Last year I saw a JM Turner exhibition here. The picture, however, is not from Dunhuang but from near Dunhuang, the Bezilik caves in the Gobi desert. This is a reconstruction using pieces from a cave in the Dahlem museum in Berlin. This is also another exceptional exhibit in Berlin, this is a permanent exhibit.
I recently found out that my images are being used for sale on the Internet. I have not granted permission for this activity and action will be taken soon. More shocking is my Kindle books are available for free download. They say they are Google but I don't know. I do not know these people who are organizing this free download. My Kindle books are only $2.99 each and please buy from Amazon Kindle and be safe. Its no point saving $2.99 and be caught by a scam! Again I have no connection with the free download of my Kindle books. I disavow any connection with 'these people.'
This place had a strange history. Years ago these flats were abandoned and lived in only squatters. If you came from Australia or New Zealand and had no money and no place to stay, people in the know would tell you to go to Bonnington square. The flats were abandoned, there was no electricity, running water or a workable toilet. But people stayed and started to fix up the place. It slowly became gentrified. Today it is still a unique neighborhood, a mixed neighborhood, with friendly people and a close knit community. Bonnington cafe has no real cook, just volunteers and the menu depends on who the cook was that day. It was late afternoon when I finally found the place and I didn't get to eat here on the day of my visit.
Today I'm going back to my routine of worshipping at St Bede. Last Sunday I was worshipping at Canterbury cathedral. After a lunch of roast beef I went punting on the river and communing with nature and with this mother Moor-hen. I still have 'I pledge to you my country' .....stuck in my head.
I'm back home now, landed yesterday, after my 3 and 1/2 week trip chasing flowers and eating my weight in carrot cakes. Its a hard landing and now to get to the business of getting back to my old routine.
This wasn't the country, this is in London, behind St Pancras train station. Here in the middle of a very busy London is this little wild life sanctuary, nice and secluded. It has woods, trails and ponds, lots of birds, beetles, butterflies and other critters make their refuge here. Its hard to imagine that you are in London. Loved it.
The very iconic twin towers of Sissinghurst. While it rained during my visit to Godinton yesterday, the weather was better today. It only rained on and off but for the better part of my visit to Sissinghurst, the weather was good, just cool and cloudy which was really good. The garden at Sissinghurst is as beautiful as I remembered it, I was here years ago. This was such a great visit. Today I know more about Vita Sackville-West and her life and loves and her time at Sissinghurst and this visit was so much more meaningful.
This is a good shot, took it before it poured. I took the train to Ashford, then a bus to the property. The first bus was the wrong bus, I had to get off, waited an hour for another, arrived at the property finally at 11am. The property didn't opened until 1pm. So I waited in the pouring rain, sat on the wet grass with my rain poncho draped over me. It was still worth it. The garden is so beautiful. The house was closed but I don't want to see old houses anyway.
It was a long way to get to church. Usually my go to church while in London is St Martin-in-the-field but today I took the train out of Kings Cross/St Pancras to Canterbury to attend church at Canterbury cathedral. It took an hour. I was in Canterbury many years ago, so I thought I'd return to reacquaint myself with the place. The service was very emotional for me, being raised as an Anglican. I attend an American equivalent in the USA, the Episcopal church. Singing the familiar hymns, saying the familiar prayers and following the familiar liturgy made it all worthwhile. Besides today was the day we pray for Queen Elizabeth on her 90th birthday and to celebrate it with family picnics. I sang 'I pledge to you my country' and 'God save the Queen.' It was a great day!
This was the home of British stage actress, Ellen Terry. I only found out about her 2 years ago. She was a remarkable woman. This was her country home when plays are not being staged in the summer months. Today it holds her memorabilia and the grounds is just so beautiful, set in Kent, also known as 'the garden of England.' I took the train from London's Kings Cross/St Pancras, changed trains at Ashford for Rye, and from Rye a bus takes me to Smallhthye. It is a really charming place.
These are grasslands filled with wild flowers. Here in a little town called Calgary on the Isle ofMUll I found some and it goes on for miles and miles, acres and acres of wild flower meadows. It is so stunning. This was what I came to the Hebrides to see.
The puffins live and breed on the Isle of Lunga off the Isle of Mull. I took a guided tour out of Oban. They are really friendly creatures. I saw one come up with fish in her beak but quickly disappeared into the burrow before I could take her picture. She must have a young chick inside.
Its an old overnight train between London and Scotland. I flew back from Rome on Sunday morning but hung out at Heathrow till it was time to head to Euston station to board the Caledonian sleeper, my destination was Fort William. It is an incredibly long train which at some point in the journey breaks into three, each going in 3 separate directions. I booked a shared sleeper, you have state your sex so they'll put someone of the same sex in with you. No one joined me and I had the sleeping berth all to myself. It was rocky and creaky but I managed to sleep. The view in the morning after we woke up was incredible through some really wild Scottish countryside. I met some incredibly nice people, some very helpful ones. The Scots are really nice people.
Its only opened on weekends because restoration work is being done during the week. It is only by guided tours and going Online to get your tickets. It is dubbed 'golden house' because it was paved with gold by Emperor Nero. At the entrance, at regular intervals, a bunch of us, culture hounds, put on hard hats and go inside. It was fascinating. I have to do more research on Nero and his golden house.
I planned and timed everything just so I can be in Norcia on Wednesday to catch the Thursday bus to Castellucio. There is only one bus a week, every Thursday. I got up early and waited but no bus came, in fact, there were no other buses either. I was told later that the second of June is the day of the Republic and a bank holiday. So I hired a taxi to take me to Castellucio to take some pictures and take me back. It is too early in the season, there were only yellow flowers. Caastellucio sits imposingly on top of the mountain but on a closer look, it is quite a nondescript village. But the drive up to the plains was spectacular, the road was lined with all kinds of wild flowers.
I left Rome very early this morning, took the train to Spoleto and then a bus from Spoleto to Norcia. I'm here to see the wild flower fields of Castellucio and there is a once a week bus tomorrow. This town is famous for truffles, wild boar and lentils. I had a wild boar sandwich this afternoon. The yellow blooms of the lentil plants stretch for miles. All along the way up here on the bus, the wild flowers line the roadside. It is really a beautiful area.
Imagine in 1900 stuck between all the Roman buildings by all the emperors, they discovered a church covered from floor to ceiling with frescoes. Though not done at the same time, one can see the changing in styles. Its been recently restored and opened to the public. It is inside the Roman Forum complex, just next to it at the far end. It is so spectacular. I came to Rome just to see it. Well, not really, I'm heading to Norcia tomorrow for another spectacular sight.