Saturday 28 September 2013

Exploring Cornwall: Gurnard's Head

There's a small road that cuts across the narrow strip of land upon which we live.  Winds you along tiny lanes and across open heathland from Badger's Cross to Zennor.  Ahhh, don't you just love the names of places here?

Last Sunday we'd spent all day in the living room.  Feeling a bit sad to be honest.  So by evening time was bit desperate to get out, and perhaps chase the sunset.  So we headed west(ish) to Gurnard's Head, another place I'd seen on the map but not been to.

The boys [men] said hi to the cows and then opted for some local cider in the Gurnard's Head pub.  I walked on with my camera to explore a little more.  You've got to see what's around the next corner, no?!

I'm glad I kept on walking.  After walking through the cow fields I turned left onto the cost path.  On the other side of a rocky ridge I was treated to this view - all the way to Land's End.  Isn't it gorgeous?!  

The rocky outcrop you can see below is Gurnard's Head.  A gurnard is a fish - one time when searching for fish and chips in Marazion a pub chef suggested we try gurnard and it was reeeally tasty.  I guess this is where they catch them...?

So obviously I had to climb it... it's actually bigger than it looks, it's hard to capture the height in photos when I was the only person around.  I like exploring by myself, although I did think if I fell it would be a while before the boys found me.  Anyways.... any requests to join me and be a fellow-photo-chasing-rock-scrambler gladly accepted!  

I hung out on the rock until the sun went down.  As we live on the 'south side', we don't see many sunsets.  And I guess it's important to make time to watch one now and then, don't you?

x x x

Wednesday 25 September 2013

Falling Upward (or life isn't always as it seems)

What follows is a meditation from Friar Richard Rohr.  It speaks to me pretty directly.  It's easy to portray a misrepresentation of our lives on things like facebook.  Lots of people have said to me recently something along the lines of, "glad to see you're having an amazing time in Cornwall".  What they see is the photos I put up of beautiful places on sunshiney days.  Of which there have been plenty and for which I am so grateful.  I will continue to celebrate and capture the wonder-full moments.

But what they don't see is the mist that often rests on our hilltop and prevents us from seeing that beautiful view.  The damp and the insects and the cold that have crept into the house as summer draws to an end.  The days we don't leave the living room because we can't face making conversation with people we still don't know very well.  The sadness that arises from having more time to think and feel.  The heaviness we can't explain.  The questions hovering that make us uncomfortable and unsure of where to turn.

I'm not saying this to get your sympathy.  I don't want pats on the back or concerned looks.  I'm just trying to say it how it is.  We are past the honeymoon period and being in a new and different place that we don't yet understand is hard.  Missing friends is hard.  Not knowing quite where we're headed is hard.  Struggling with things that we used to accept and are expected to find easy, is hard.

I hope I'm not complaining.  It's not bad.  We don't regret moving.  We don't want to go back.  We are not starving, we have always had enough, we have jobs, we have met some brilliant people, we are not alone.  There is much to be thankful for.

I'm just saying that despite this, there's been a lot of tears lately.  There's been mask-wearing and attempts to remove the half-hearted facade.  That's the truth.  That's how life is sometimes.  Sometimes hope-full, sometimes desperate, sometimes funny, sometimes peaceful, sometimes stormy, sometimes lonely, sometimes surrounded, sometimes all of that and more at the same time.  Like today I could just as well have written about St Ives, or my birthday, or more coastal explorations, or open-mic-ing in Penzance.  But I didn't.  Maybe I will tomorrow.

And although it may not 'feel' like it, with all these ups and downs and golden and blues and greys, we do have choices in how we respond...

[so God help us]


"How does one transition from the survival dance to the sacred dance? Let me tell you how it starts. Did you know the first half of life has to fail you? In fact, if you do not recognize an eventual and necessary dissatisfaction (in the form of sadness, restlessness, emptiness, intellectual conflict, spiritual boredom, or even loss of faith, etc.), you will not move on to maturity. You see, faith really is about moving outside your comfort zone, trusting God’s lead, instead of just forever shoring up home base. Too often, early religious conditioning largely substitutes for any real faith.

Usually, without growth being forced on us, few of us go willingly on the spiritual journey. Why would we? The rug has to be pulled out from beneath our game, so we redefine what balance really is. More than anything else, this falling/rising cycle is what moves us into the second half of our own lives. There is a necessary suffering to human life, and if we avoid its cycles we remain immature forever. It can take the form of failed relationships, facing our own shadow self, conflicts and contradictions, disappointments, moral lapses, or depression in any number of forms.

All of these have the potential to either edge us forward in life or to dig in our heels even deeper, producing narcissistic and adolescent responses that everybody can see except ourselves. We either “fall upward,” or we just keep falling"
~ Richard Rohr

Sunday 22 September 2013

Keena & Gabriel

I can't believe the wedding was two weeks ago now!  It was the reason I went to Brighton for a week: the wedding of Keena and Gabriel.  I met Keena 5 years ago while at University.  Keena met Gabriel whilst teaching English in Chile after graduating.  And now he's here in England, and they are husband and wife!!

I was a bridesmaid, which was a privilege, and hard work i'll be honest.  But mainly fun because I got to spend plenty of time with Keena, and other Brighton friends.  There were some firsts for me, like flower arranging and painting the bride's nails, which for anyone who knows me will raise their eyebrows sky high at!  And the results weren't tooo bad, if I don't say so myself. Haha!  

I also took photos for them of the parts of the day where I wasn't required as a bridesmaid.  Which was great because as you can see from the pics they are both good-lookers and were up for creative and fun poses.  In fact as we headed off to the park for some photos they both sprinted over the fields so fast I couldn't catch up!

It was kind of strange and kind of nice being back in the same place that I got married two years ago.  Back in The Meeting House on Sussex University Campus.  [Except I felt more like a student again rather than a wife as hubby wasn't with me and I spent most of the week with University friends, sleeping on floors, getting home late... :-)]

Preparing the wedding had been quite full on for a lot of people as the engagement only took place 2 months ago or so.  But, thanks to a whole load of people, we pulled it off.  And it was a wonderful day.  As Gabriel said in his speech, the wedding was a perfect example of Love in Action.  Friends of Gabriel and Keena, mainly from City Gate Church which I also used to be a part of, made amazing food, decorated the venue beautifully, sang, moved chairs, organised, supported and prayed.  It was a definite team effort, which made being part of it really special.  And as someone who has been to more weddings than I can count on my fingers and toes, it was one of the funnest, tastiest and colourful that I've attended.

Highlights were...

Jeannine's tomato salsa, based on a Chilean recipe. SO GOOD. Actually all the food.  Everyone went for seconds I think

Pippa (fellow bridesmaid)'s speech

The champagne - nicest I've ever tasted!

Posing with random hats and wigs

The mix of English and French and Chilean influences

Dancing dancing dancing... most especially at the end to Mumford and Son's 'I Will Wait' (which we'd also sung in the service) when everybody literally danced their hearts out, arms flung upwards, singing for hope and in prayer and with joy

So here's to you:  Keena, one of the sweetest, most genuine, stunning and wonderful friends I know and long time dancing partner.  Gabriel, another potential dance partner if your moves on the dance floor are anything to go by (!), generous, honest, kind and funny and someone I'm looking forward to getting to know better.  To you both, you inspired a fabulous day.  And I'm sure you are going to inspire a whole lot more. Love!

Wednesday 18 September 2013

Exploring Cornwall - Baker's Pit

I spent all day in front of the computer doing work-type stuff.  Which was fine.  But by the time hubby got home I was kind of grumpy and restless.  So I decided to go out on the moped and check out some of the little places that I see signposted and wonder about... like Georgia, Embla, Almaveor.  Don't those names just cry out to be explored?!  I'm so glad I decided to go out, I forget how much I love to discover new places, and chat to God as I walk, and pretend for a moment that it's just me and the flowers and the birds.  I also love the moped on those tiny roads, easy to manoeuver and like cycling except without the effort. Ha ha!  

Outside Georgia I stumbled upon a walk around 'Baker's Pit Nature Reserve' and was treated to all sorts of delights, less than 10 minutes drive from where we live... like an old clay pit, now filled with water, lots of ruins, little farms, plenty of yellow gorse and purple heather.  I didn't pass anyone except for two people on horses and I stopped to chat to some beautiful brown cows for a bit.  There were views of the sea on both the north and south coast.  All in all pretty lovely and just what I needed.

So, I encourage you, get out and explore, you never know what you might find!

Tuesday 17 September 2013

Two Years

Today is our second anniversary.  It sounds so little.  I suppose it is really.  But a lot has happened in two years...

We've lived in three different homes, and shared two of them - one with a friend, and now with hubby's brother.  We've moved from one end of the south coast to the other.  Between us we've had about nine jobs and both spent time being unemployed too.  We've covered a lot of miles, on buses, trains, bicycles, foot and more recently by car and moped.  We've had long hair and short hair, been tattooed, worn holes in our clothes and our shoes.

We've cried (well, I have) A LOT.  We've faced depression and death, more than once.  We've had to say goodbye to best friends but we've made new friends too.  We've swam in the sea, attempted to surf, stood on cliff tops, danced stupidly, gone to weddings, met friends' babies, barbequed, cooked countless good meals for ourselves and others, drunk quite a bit of beer, watched a lot of films and all of The Wire and New Girl and Master Chef (!).  We've put on weight and then tried to lose it again.  We've upset each other and misunderstood each other.  We've gotten angry.  We've wondered why. But more often than that we've hugged and we've learned and we've stepped a bit closer, and we've prayed and we(i)'ve cried some more, and we've laughed and we've kissed and we've held each other.

And we've held each other.

These are our cards to each other, perhaps they say it all better than words can

Sunday 15 September 2013

Return to B-town, 5 months on.

It's been a while again.  I went to Brighton last week for a friend's wedding.  I went for almost a week as a) I was a bridesmaid b) the engagement only took place a little while ago - so there was a fair bit to do c) I wanted to have time to catch up with friends in Brighton d) that train journey from Penzance to Brighton is looooong so wanted to make it worth it!

I had a really great time.  It was the first time I'd been back in 5 months (yep, that's how long we've been in Cornwall now, can you believe it?!).  I hit the trail end of some hot weather which was a treat.  Right from getting off the train to boarding it again a week later my time was full of hanging out with brilliant friends that I've missed a-plenty in homes and cafes and pubs.  What a joy to spend time with people who really know you, who allow you to speak honestly and openly right from the get-go, who encourage and laugh and pray with you.  I feel very blessed.  It made coming back to Cornwall hard, but that's a story for another day.  Not that I wish I still lived in B-town, because I know my week did not reflect 'real life' - it was a bunch of highlights condensed into a short time without the going-to-work and the food-shopping and responsibility and etc etc part of it.

It was good to say hi to the beach again - a place so full of 8 years of memories.  And I appreciated not driving and being able to walk everywhere.  [OK for the first day or two I appreciated it and then my legs reminded me that I have not missed the late night weary hill-climbs that much].  I enjoyed observing the colour and variety of people, and felt even more out-of-fashion than usual!  I visited my old places of work - Brighthelm Community Centre and The Duke of Wellington Pub and was happy to see they are doing well.  I was not so happy about another hike in the bus prices.  More shops and buildings have closed, others have opened.  The old Co-op building on London Road is no more.  Iydea and Food Iylic have reproduced.  The life of a city, coming and going.  Beginnings and endings.

I had coffee in Starbucks in Brighton for the first time ever.  I try to avoid the mainstream coffee shops as there's so much choice in the city, I see no reason to support their world domination!  But the friends sat upstairs won over my convictions that afternoon.  People generally win for me, over the task, over the rules, over my attempted ethics...

...Like buying dinner at Asda at the Marina, (another company with too-much-power) and sitting on the beach with fellow bridesmaid and bride-to-be and eating roast chicken and having a moment of peace and calm in the midst of wedding preparation busy-ness.  Almost 8 years ago exactly, I did the same thing with my family on my 19th birthday on the day that I moved to Brighton to start my studies at Sussex University.  Except with a birthday cake instead of chicken.

I had dinner with friends I met soon after the birthday cake on the beach in 2005.  Eight years on and we have learned to cook a little better, seen relationships come and go, danced together at the Breakdancing society, at house parties and in clubs.  We've journeyed with God and church and housemates, asked lots of questions, agreed and disagreed.  Drank red wine.  Laughed, cried, hugged.  Eaten together, drank more red wine.  Prayed, teased each other, laughed.  Here's to you, Jonathan and Chris.

I could write a post for each of the people I saw.  Not today, maybe another time.  I have a lot of heroes.  Like Shonagh and Becky, to name two more, who never hesitate to offer a bed for me, and in a thousand unseen ways love people around them sacrificially and unselfishly.  Thank you Brighton, for giving me them.  The tears and the standing on the beach shouting into the waves, and the hundreds of times of wanting to escape, and the grey days and the questions, and the heavy heart days.  They all seem worth it, when I think of the people you gave me.

This has got long, next post will be about the wedding! (But couldn't wait to share some photos, you can see them in my new 'photo' bit.