In London

In London

Heathrow airport must be the most antiquated international airport I have ever been to. Shabby, lack of character, gloomy, very complicated to get around, lifts, escalators with heavy suitcases, lack of clear signs, a car park that is old and where gusty freezing winds hit you in the face with gale force.
In other words the arrival was rather cold. And the next few days even colder with a biting freezing wind.

But after a long drive through London, with a weird taxi driver who somehow was devoid of common knowledge, we finally have been received by our son and his wife. Champagne flowed and we stayed up quite late chatting and catching up.

Next day was a trip to Oxford trip with J. We hoped we could jumpmimto the thick of this megapolis full of energy. Full of people and tourists doing the shops. All seemed fine to start with, but all of a sudden a tremendous fatigue overcomes us and we were just dragging our feet everywhere. A short lunch at Marks and Spencer which was very tasty. The English have come a long way since the days where their food were ranked the worse in Europe. Today they have beaten all the dire comments about English cooking. The best of everything could be purchased at a very reasonable price and even cheaper than in Australia for similar quality. Superb sour dough bread and pastries, fine meats and vegetables, superb cheeses and fruits. And most of it was organic and sourced from small farms. We were truly impressed. A real renaissance of quality.

The afternoon went by quickly. Coffees, cakes, teas at Carlucci’s was a little overpriced but not bad at all.

A short supper in a Japanese restaurant was not too hot. Ordinary food, not too exiting, but one could say correct for the money. Noodles, homemade in a miso soup plus a few Gyoza. Nothing to rave about. Though it was Japanese restaurant there was not a single Japanese cook nor a single Japanese person in there.

Then, J and G, treated us to a live concert of contemporary music at Otto’s Cafe. French avant garde musician Pierre Bastien, he was a real magician. A set up of mecano driven by rubber bands, strings, papers, screws and bolts. Each function was producing a sound that blended together forming a real concert of original music. The backdrop was a screen where some old faint music representing choirs, blues and even the Russian Army choir all mixed with the tones of the ever grinding mecano strings. A feast of ingenuity. I am sure you can find him on You Tube?

By then my eyes closed readily and I was just falling off my chair. Exhausted! Yes, not slept for 24 h. Just off the plane from Bangkok and within a few hours we were catapulted into Oxford St, Soho, and Selfridges. A marathon! Then around midnight we took the train back home where we collapsed in a heap in the arms of Morpheus contented to be at last horizontal.

Public transport is so tiring when you have been living in a small village for a few years. Walking, running, catching overground trains, underground trains, suburban trains plus the interminable long connections between stations. What a contrast! something I have forgotten, and happy to have done so …Long stretches of escalators and hundreds of metres of walking to get from place to the other…a seat on a train if you were lucky! Gosh, we are getting old. But what a pleasant surprise to find Londoners so civil and gracious and so courteous!

Everyone is connected to an ear plug with long wires hanging into the pockets or a bag talking on their mobile, reading their tablets, their Ipad or their Kindle. They walk talking, waiting for the next call or fiddling around with their gadget. Glued to the screen, hypnotised,checking their phone every minute or less. Have I missed a call? Have I not heard it ringing. Would I play another game between two stations? The world of mobile phone is a world of pseudo connection. We have become obsessed with them. We are lost without them. The new drug. Worse than cigarette or cocaine. We are scared of loosing something hey! Or missing a message on Facebook!
I have forgotten what it takes to live in a big city.

What a bunch of funny humans we are! And sometimes not funny at all!

Till next time!

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On the plane to London

Reflections On the plane to London

Half way across the world…on a huge half empty Boing 747…Bangkok is far behind. The Emporium just a dream as well as Robinson’s and Paragon. These huge shopping complexes are very attractive, but are totally devoid of charm and character or warmth. Consuming is the only motto among “nice things” to look at, all pointing to elegance, money, class, envy, a bargain, an attraction that is irresistible. We are drawn to it like bees to flowers. Something is calling us to be there, to get there, to meander from shop to shop aimlessly in search of ? That is the question? What is it that we are looking for?

A state of mind drawn to desire and satisfaction in order to avoid maybe that void inside us, that emptiness that make us look for the elusive dream of belonging to that category of people that is privileged enough to spend as they please. To emulate this can be a trap of course. But before we go into that, the question we need to ask is why this emptiness exist and why are we running away from it?

What we call emptiness can be the gap that exists, happens, or manifest itself when the mind is in a state of complete rest. But there is one problem with this, the mind does not know emptiness, the mind does not know that void, hence the search to fill this gap that it haunts its thoughts. It fears it for its existence depends not on the emptiness but on being distracted from it. Having emptiness equates not being. Should it be the other way around? We fear being…not nice. Of course, i will not say that we have to be alone. We are social creatures and it is normal to be with people. That is not the aim of what I am saying at all. It is important to just see for the sake of seeing how we search for comfort externally instead of inwardly.

We are running away from this for one reason or may be many reasons. First, there is the fear of being nothing. That void is not comforting at all, we need to fill it with millions of distractions….shopping malls do the trick…for the sake of what I am talking about now, our eyes are for ever inundated with images of consumption for a perfect world. Hence like zombies we frequent them attracted to an elusive dream. Anything wrong you may ask? No, nothing. Just keep shopping if that’s what you like.

After coffees, cakes, cinema, shopping for bread and milk and lunch all under one roof, the perfect consumer, we gasp at the hot and humid air of the streets of Bangkok. Assailed by the smell of cooking oil, sautéed noodles, mangoes, fish on flames getting crisp, little tables along the pavement where men and women sit on these plastic chair enjoying their favourite food. But what is amazing is the constant flow of old decrepit buses, bikes, coloured taxis, luxurious cars and not so luxurious beeping their horns, belching smokes at times and roaring as they eat. I guess, fumes and food can be a great combinations. Normal way of life up here .

Off we go

In anticipation for our long trip again, we are preparing like crazy. We found a good house sitter for the time we will be away,  to look after all our animals. This is the hardest part. So many things to think about and to put in place. It is so exciting and at the same time a flory of preparations.

The cows and their calves have found a new home with our next door neighbour who will take them with his herd. That is so nice of him to do so.  He will also put our cows in calf so that when we get back they will be ready to deliver the next set of babies.

Our dog has familiarised herself with her new keeper last week as she came to have lunch with us and get acquainted with everyone. The chickens are going to miss out on all the goodies that they are being served everyday. Bits of meat and left overs. Our house sitter is vegetarian, so not being bits left for them. But I am sure they will be well. I stocked up on grains for them and bought packs of dog food for our scavenging insatiable labrador. She will also be missing out on treats from time to time.

The vegie garden will have also to be looked after. But being winter here, not a great deal needs to be done. I have already planted some peas and lettuces, beans, broccoli. But Magalie will enjoy all these treats as well as all the citrus that are producing abundantly this year.

The car papers have been put in place and all insurances paid. All would have been out of registration by then. Money has been transfered to Europe and suitcases are almost done.

Then, there are all the instructions of what to do in the house. A big list is being compiled with further do’s and don’t.

Gosh! I hope I have not forgotten anything. Presents for the family are packed. Everyone had a special request. Sulma wanted some house items and tea tree oil and not to forget Vita Weats, his special crackers. In Bangkok, tho everything can be obtained some are obviously not there. Always a pleasure to do so. Jaime, will get some local coffee and maybe home made marmalade. Oh! and all the grog duty free for the others. Gee! what else?

Then, a very good friend will be taking us to the airport and some other friends will be picking us up. The airport is so far away and there is no public transport to Brisbane. It is so lucky  that we live in such fabulous community.

Our trip will take us to Bangkok, London, France and back the same way we came from. It is also very convenient that our boys are well placed. One in Thailand and the other in London, while the rest of our friends and relatives will be in South of France.

The excitement is palpable. Everyday we wonder what is that we have forgotten to pack, to write down or to mention. But even if we did, it will be too late. In the anticipation of going we have forgotten twice to roll the rubbish bins onto the road and we had to take it to the tip…a real chore. This morning early, around 5am, I hear the recycling truck roaring down the road…warm in bed I did not feel like getting up. But just a little later  around 7AM, another one passed and Peter jumped out of bed, got dressed in a hurry and ran down the drive at full speed dragging the bin. OOPS! too late, we missed it says he as he got back up puffing. I know I said. You did not run fast enough, outraged…what? I did, but too late. The neighbour told him that second truck was the rubbish truck, the recycling went by at 5AM. Haha! that was the one I did not feel like getting up for and tried to chase it down the drive….gosh 100m in the freezing cold, no way. So I chuckled. Not for me. As I had to take the car for a check up, I took a plastic bag and filled it with some recycling stuff and dumped it in the village….not on the road you may have thought…but in the bins for recycling. So at least some of it got disposed of.

That is what happens when your brain does not work in the usual way. Distraction from the routines and too much feverishness about the trip make you forget the most mundane chores. Anyway, not a big deal after all.

I just hope that everything is in place and even then if they are not, we’ll have to take as it is. Just hope that the dog won’t get too fat, the fish won’t be forgotten and the chickens will go on laying even without all the goodies that Peter provides them every day. The cows will be happy on Ron’s paddock with his herd.

Fish pond

Maybe if I feel so inclined I might write a little when we are away.

Till next time.

The dog and the lady

Just a couple of days ago, a friend of the lady who rent our cabine up the hill arrived. EM, our tenant, asked us if it was ok by us to have a friend staying for a few days. She had a dog with her but this dog was pretty well behaved . Of course we said, it should not be any problems. Em’s dog is sweet and a real little gem and she gets on so well with our black pudding of a labrador.

Black pudding

After, having taken J to the airport for his flight back to Melbourne, we arrived  back at home. Our cows were bellowing their head off for their 4 o’clock feed. I jumped out of the car, got the wheelbarrow and walked to the hay stack where I fetched 3 arms full of top lucerne hay. On my way to the paddock, I see this brown dog running full speed towards the fence. It got zapped by the electric wire separating the paddocks. That did not stop it. He went back a second time and charged the cows down the hill. The four cows including the 2 calves were galloping at full speed roaring with fright, they did not know where to run, they huddled against a clump of bamboo together. It did not stop, it went at them biting at the heels of the 2 little calves. They were wailing with terror not knowing what was suddenly happening to them at feed time. They kept stampeding  in all directions the dog being more agile and more nimble catching up with them. Their cries could be heard for miles away. I was totally taken aback.

The owner, kept on calling the dog but it would not come, desperate Em, ran down the drive to fetch the dog calling all the time to no avail. Finally, after what seemed an eternity out of sheer despair and fear, I screamed to the owner to do something. She was totally inept. The dog arrived back up the drive not wanting to obey and sheepishly made an attempt to go to its owner who did not do a thing.

She told us that she had never seen it behave in that way. He loved cows and in fact was scared of them. She had photos to prove it. I was totally dismayed by her reply. NOW,  you are seeing what your dog is capable of doing on a farm and from now on your dog must be kept on a lead at all times. No, she said, I could not do that. Really, you come as a guest here, and you lay down the rules, that is really incredible I thought. This is not how it works here. I reiterated my point, but she carried on telling me that her dog NEVER behaved that way. I don’t care what happened before, what matters is what is happening now here, let it be a lesson to you and your visit on a farm. She still would not take my point and insisted that her dog would not go on a leash and so on.

One of the calf

The next day, after having her dog finally tied all night she asked Em, if the dog could be left off the lead, absolutely no said Em, I do not want to risk another episode like yesterday. The woman was not going to take it that way. Em, told her to go as she was not going to take responsibility for her unruly mutt. She asked her to leave and she moved on.

My husband rang me at the Gallery and told me the ending of the dog and the lady. I breathed a sigh of relief, I was fearing that she had seriously intended to let her dog off the lead and both of us were going to kick her out in a very unpleasant way. My husband did not rest all night at the thought that she might not have heeded our request. But all is well and end well.

The cows are just getting back to normal still a little weary as they are checking around around to see if the horrible mutt was still around and today at 4o’clock they came by the fence and started their usual demands…maybe insisting for a little extra for the troubles they went through the other day. I was not going to give in this time…maybe tomorrow.

Till next time.

conformity is intrinsically dishonesty

This is just a quick insight into a little event that happens regularly among people.

Not so long ago, I attended a family wedding. There were many people that I had not seen for many years, in fact some 30 years or more. In passing it is quite something that you meet old acquaintances only at weddings or funerals. Normal, you might say and it happens all the time.

When you arrive and see all these faces and everyone is impeccably dressed for the circumstances, you wonder where you stand and who are all these people. Most of us  in our late  60’s and 70’s.  Even family members seem so distant and you try to put a name or  recollect who they are now. Or rather who they were then.  I  stand for a while a little lost trying to figure out this face or that. But  nothing comes to mind and names are so far away in your memory that all the searching does not bring anything back. Dozens of people are in the same predicament as I am, that is sure. Finding a name or a face or some vague memory of where did I see them last. What do they look like now? Yes, what are they now that is what matters after all.

After re acquainting yourself  with faces of so long ago I hear this sentence frequently: ” Gee you have not changed at all”. Really,  I asked myself, if that were the case why is that I do not recall any of you…but that was an internal remark. Do I play the game and say ;” wow! neither did you” You look exactly the same, you have not changed at all. That would be really telling a fib I say to myself. So I reply;” I don’t think so, surely I am not the same as I was 30 odd years ago…I have more wrinkles, my hair is whiter, I wear glasses I exclaim laughing.”  The other replies:’ yes, it has been quite a while and what have you been up to”. Internally, I muse and say to myself, where do I start? So, I say:” it depends where you want me to start from”? Cheeky, unnerving, puzzling, disrupting the nice flow of the meeting. So what, I don’t really care in the end. Totally unsociable. 

To this, the other person is a little at a loss. A few seconds of silence ensues. Both feeling the awkwardness of the situation. Why is this? Simple when you think of it. Had I answer to the other person who was fat, slumped and white haired: “Gee, you too, you look amazingly the same” which of course that what they wanted to hear also. We would have been both comforted in the notion that we had not aged, we were  both the same spring chickens we were 30 or 40 years ago. We would have both felt elated at this and reassured. So, the original statement that I had  not changed was futile and a conformity that we apply in social settings. In my views this is really dishonest because we are not facing to the fact that we are getting old and all the psychological and physical  problems that old age may bring. Especially at a wedding, where the couple are in their late 20’s or early 30’s. We feel left out, the good old times are gone and so is our youth and glamour and at times our social status with it.

How many times have you found yourself in that same situation? How many times have looked at the exchange with friends and people were you are obliged to reply in a flattering manner to suit you and be nice to the other, just to comply to the social etiquette.  I am not against social etiquette but I am always intrigued at what is BEHIND our simple exchanges. 

Why do we have to ignore the fact that we are ageing? . These polite exchanges are trying to ignore the facts of life. Well, I feel quite confortable where I am and do not wish to play this silly game. It breeds a false sense of security. After all we are mortal, our life has a definite curb, so I’d rather be well in my skin NOW and stop pretending that I am the same as in my 30’s. How hard is it to accept this? It could be, if you are regretting what you were. Why regret? Is there something that we are not accepting now?. That something that we refuse to look at is our mortality. A famous Indian philosopher Krisnamurti, said: “Die now, then you would be able to see and may comprehend what is immortality.”

Maybe the subject for another little writing.

Till next time.