Living between the Sea and Dartmoor, in the S.W. of England

Hello! You are welcome to my blog!

c06ea477ca783daead804938bcfd9f900197273a   klavertje 4  Image35333  DeadFluidIbisbill-max-1mb      Devon’s flag                                                    Marian 10-2018

 

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A scene from a dream I made a drawing of. I’m standing in front of large stone doors, pushing them open with ease, finding a golden cloud of fog behind it. What if I jump into it?

You are welcome on my blog with journals and pictures of my 2nd life on an island: good old Britain, this quirky island, surrounded by the sea and blessed with nature and space, kind people too, in the S. West. Dartmoor is one of my favourite landscapes. But there’s much more landscapes to explore for me, that are still unknown.

The British population is on the move to sovereignty, in fits and starts, some of them yelling and screaming while stepping over the threshold.  Or so it seems to me, a witness to it all, drama, pump and circumstance and many storms in a teacup, to my Dutch eyes.

What’s the world we live in today? The spark of life, the flame that feeds creation’s fire, air, water and earth, seems to take matters in its own hands. As I perceive it, from my visionary corner, it may be time that we begin to awaken to what’s really going on, in the changes we witness on all levels: the motions of planet Earth, its weather and its atmosphere, the wild and dramatic affairs on stage in global politics’ theatre. The machinery of power and money slowly grinding to a halt due to their own structural defects.

Many of us are on edge these days. What’s the point? What’s the purpose of it all, while alive on planet Earth? For me, it’s about enjoying my retirement, contributing to the well being of the community. Reaping the harvest of my life’s adventures at the same time. I can’t tell others what to do, my role is to live what I believe and know to be true for me. And to express this in my life, merely reflecting a way of being we each have to understand for ourselves.

One day at a time, no need to worry about tomorrow. One step at a time, creating my path by so doing, instead of wanting it mapped out from the start to the finish, as if it’s a race, in competition with……. Which may be appropriate in one’s career, but doesn’t seem realistic concerning one’s journey through life. No guarantees, but choices as many as moments in our lives, as I perceive it and I intend to make efforts to live in that freedom.

Being secure and cared for from the cradle to the grave is something from the past, dream or reality for the happy few, as far as governments and laws are involved. We’ve got to take matters in our own hands (again) and learn to honour ourselves and others in freedom of expression. By doing so, I believe we’re invited to be present in our lives, using our creativity with discernment and ponder the question “How to live together?”

Philosophy has been defined as the love of and the seeking after wisdom. Socrates said “Wonder is the feeling of a philosopher and philosophy begins with wonder” This, I guess, sums up who I am and choose to walk my path in life, with a mind of my own, doing the work my hands are happy to find worth doing. Down to earth and artistic in expression of all sorts, be it a home interior, a garden, or a landscape felted of wool.  

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A bonfire in my garden, end of summer 2018

I’m enjoying my life in Devon, hiking on Dartmoor, walking the coastal paths. I’ve found, as I move through the recent decade, where change has swept like a storm through my life, that I am as much the changer as the changed. Therefore, I can’t expect to know what’s ahead of me, really. It’s a learning curve by surrendering to my experiences and paying attention, to what matters and to all that matters not. There’s much to let go of.

I’d rather surrender to what life holds in waiting for me and walk with eyes and heart open, in trust and acceptance of how it shows up and what it shows me, also when it’s not enjoyable at first glance. Responsibility is embedded in my actions when free will is at the base of my conscious choices, I believe.

Getting things done, well organised, resourceful and diligent, with great patience. And allow others to do the same. Or not. I’m a builder, not  a squatter among ruins and others build their own reality, be it a sandcastle, a straw-bale house or a cottage of quarried stone with a thatched roof. How can we stop the whirring windmills of our mind?

I love the drops of splashing backwater on my face while standing on the bow. That’s just a description of how I prefer to experience the elements. I need to feel the wind and sun in my face and to be touched by life, by people, taught by Gaia and her nature’s beauty, her wisdom and her nurturing quality, in unconditional companionship. It’s why I enjoy making pictures and drawings of nature.

Walking in the empty and remote spaces of Dartmoor or over footpaths through woodland that is largely untouched by people and machines, with gnarled old trees and boulders covered in moss, or walking along the flood mark at sea, picking up pebbles, some with holes in it, feeling the thrill of being a beachcomber, on bare feet without a care in the world. That’s my way of recharging my batteries. How I love to live with the elements. I do enjoy being alive now, learning each day, it’s interesting and intense!

So far my views on life in general and mine at present, Oct. 2018

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Beesandt beach, where I camped one night, safe with the elements

This text on page 288 of Henry David Thoreau’s book “Walden” sums up my stance in life:

“The surface of the earth is soft and impressible by the feet of men; and so with the paths which the mind travels. How worn and dusty, than, must be the highways of the world, how deep the ruts of tradition and conformity! I did not wish to take a cabin passage, but rather to go before the mast and on the deck of the world, for there I could best see the moonlight amid the mountains. I don not wish to go below now”.

And the note at the start of Thoreau’s “Economy” a chapter in that same book, reflects my present approach to my inner “Mother Superior” while sending her shouts in the cloud:

“I do not propose to write an ode to dejection, but to brag as lustily as chanticleer in the morning, standing on his roost, if only to wake my neighbours up”

Here’s a slideshow with pictures of  my short time in Moretonhampstead, early 2018.      I hope it’s visible, there seems to be a problem to show it here. If that’s the case, please go to my Dutch page “Hollandse pagina… ” and find the slideshow over there,  scrolling down to slightly below the centre of the page.

The highlight of my stay in Moretonhampstead is my volunteering at Proper Job Chagford. Here’s what this recycling re-use project, started in 1995, pioneering, is about    http://www.proper-job.org/

Also the saving of a black lamb was memorable, a few weeks old, abandoned in the snow by its mother who didn’t have enough milk to feed two of her own. Also, the heavy snowfall in March 2018, of which I’ve made many pictures during a long Sunday walk to North Bovey. Over the lanes, without hardly a car in sight. I caught the snow by holding my umbrella, which grew heavy with a cap of snow on top! 

Here’s my first video in black and white 😉   

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQX9YIM80vY

 

When it doesn’t show up, go to my YouTube channel here: 

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMFTSiTZ3LXktjvX8K_rCCw 

This video (if it shows up) shows what Proper Job Chagford is about. A shop has opened at the start of this year 2018, called Uptown Proper Job. In the centre of Chagford. The Courtyard Cafe, annex healthfood shop, is the 3rd leg of this successful project. 

http://www.proper-job.org https://youtu.be/hidSnd1Tfbo

And now that we’ve arrived in October 2018? What’s on? Early summer of 2018 I’ve returned to Ashburton, where I lived earlier, in 2017. I live close to the home where I rented a room for 7 months, last year. It was a decision that had to be made, although none of the housemates wanted this. But there was no other way. I’ve enjoyed living in this home much and restored the name of the house on the front door, in gold: Avalon. I’m thinking about what could be a proper name for the house where I live now.

After 3 years living in the UK, I’m more at ease,  secured with a long term contract, living as caretaker of a large house and garden. Living on my own again, that is… most of the time. Privacy and a lovely garden to enjoy, with my hammock installed for a pleasant break during my garden work. A hangout or “pied a terre” for family-members of my landlord. Occasionally they visit, or meet up in the home.

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My hammock in the garden. This long warm summer of 2018 it’s used well!
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Here I am, ready to leave Holland in a few days, end of June 2015. Leaving my favourite niece’s wedding, seeing my siblings and more of my family at large, their children and grandchildren. Until we meet again…..  

After 35 years living on my own, in Holland, sharing homes with others, in England, while adjusting to a different culture, where folks often don’t say what they think or feel, either skilled in creating storms in a tea-cup too, or withdrawn and lethargic, was at times challenging. I doubt if I will ever step into a house-sharing adventure with strangers again.

I cherish solitude and my own space, my private room, plus quietude in the home and in nature. During my first years of moving around, I’ve seen different parts of Devon. I’m happy with the nearness of the sea and the Tamar Valley area with Tavistock, Bere Ferrers with its open river landscape and Calstock, in the S. W. of Devon has its own unique charm. Also Totnes, with the river Dart, plus the area of Dartmouth and King’s Wear, the bright light of Brixham and the coastal path, plus the cliffs of Berry Head. Many miles of coastal paths are waiting to be explored, be it Devon or Cornwall.

I join volunteering work in the community and participate in social events, I’m a craft-woman and artist, creative in many ways. I’m weary of gossip, racist talk coming to the rise before and after Brexit, with fear of foreigners. It’s shocking at times, how poorly informed some people are, while shouting and screaming their opinion, safe in the box with ignorance as company.

As a writer I appreciate quietude much. And also, as is the term nowadays… “me-time” or “cocooning”, to recharge my batteries. By nature I’m a builder, not a squatter among ruins. I’m not running after those who don’t “get me” in an attempt to change their eyes or mind, in order to prove my point and show my true colours. I’m taking care of myself.

I’m an incurable optimist, at times impatient with lethargy and complacency in others, but, ultimately very patient in the efforts I make to create and improve my living conditions and at the same time co-operating in new ways of living together in comfort. I’m a Capricorn, born on New Year’s day. A sure footed goat, who jumps from rock to rock and enjoys the views from great heights, like on the Tors of Dartmoor and high hills.

I send my shouts in the clouds, to wake up and shake the dust out of mouldy ideas and views and to offer food for thought. The initiatives to enrich our lives and how we make use of our abilities, is largely our own choice, in company of our sense of belonging and being at ease, first and foremost with ourselves. How much do we dare to yield our personal power for the better and create a life in well being? Together?

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Pumpkin in flower, on the land of Huxham’s Cross Farm Dartington,  where I volunteered in the summer and autumn of 2017

 

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Chard in the light of late afternoon October 2017, at Huxham’s Cross Farm

From the lounge on the first floor of the house, I often enjoy the view on the hills to the South, with brown cows or white sheep grazing the slopes. I celebrate the sunrise in summer, during an early hour, in the highest level of the garden, drinking my first mug of coffee, waking up with a view over the roofs, toward the eastern sky. There are many trees, shrubs and stone walls covered with ivy or other growth. Squirls too are jumping from tree to tree, harvesting the hazelnuts. Red robins and sparrows are present too.

I’ve become friends with an elderly lady who offers me apples from her garden, end of the summer. We discuss our history and culture, hers is English and mine is Dutch and she shares her 92 years long life-experience as a nurse and midwife with me. Many a grown up man and woman in town, once were caught by her hands, with a first breath taking cry.

She’s fond of her independence and she knows exactly how she wants her home and garden like she’s become used to have it. It’s hard for her to let go of taking matters in her own hands as a former nurse and midwife, with a strong sense of duty. Cleaning women and carers, nowadays, don’t always show up with diligence and a perceptive attitude, she tells me. She’s concerned for everybody’s comfort except her own.

I witness the carers in my old friend’s home, acting on automatic pilot, saying things that sound hollow because of their not being present in their words. I am amazed at times, about the negligence of basic qualities in domestic care workers. Stress, under-payment and work- pressure tend to kill the skill of presence, creativity and improvisation.

With a Dutch-Frisian background, growing up in the 50’s, with a mother who stayed at home, raising 9 children, including me, her oldest daughter, I’ve learned a few things. Although I am an explorer and curious at heart, even rebellious in asking questions and commenting, my sense of duty and harmony in our home was strong at an early age.

I had to practice self-discipline and the skills of domestic care were taught in those days. Traditions and rules in lifestyle and social traffic were still strong. Amidst a baby boom, the Dutch population worked hard, recovering from WWII. Shut up, do your work!

Monday was for washing, Wednesday for minced meatball-day and Sunday was a resting day, with 2 visits to church. No playing in the street, in our Sunday costume! My mother and us children walked inside the church like a row of geese, 10 in total, to the front pew which had “our names” on it. My father, the 11th goose, was ready to climb the pulpit, after we had settled ourselves and the organ started to play.

We were obliged to show up as role models, for we were a minister’s family. Imagine growing up in a house made of glass: God’s eyes and the eyes of the congregation were upon us. No wonder I was fond of being outdoors, hiding myself in nature! This is my background, born in Holland in a small village near Hook of Holland.

Where I live, I’m fond of walking through the narrow alleys with stone walls, to shops and other destinations, avoiding the main road in Ashburton, with fast driving cars.          On my way to my favourite shop, I often meet a cat-friend. She’s outdoors all day, I’m told and she’s got beautiful whiskers. It’s why I gave her the name “Moustache”. When I call her by that name, most often she runs toward me, mewing and purring. Such a compact and  healthy furry cat.

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Moustache, who knows her way in the neighbourhood and greets the mothers and children passing by on their way to school.
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Flowers at a small holding where I’ve picked up my volunteering work again in June 2018, after leaving in November last year, feeling sad about it.

Here are a few impressions of Ashburton and its surrounding landscape:

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First walk from Ashburton to Dartmoor, end of springtime 2017
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First walk from Ashburton to Dartmoor
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Haytor and a group of visitors, plus a climber going up with the assistance of ropes and a buddy 
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High up Haytor Summer Solstice 2017
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Lime Kilns in Buckfastleigh
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A view from high up on Haytor, July 21 2017 Summer Solstice
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A former monastery or priory, very well kept, a beautiful harmony.
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High up Haytor, did you know that the cows come up here as well?
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Rocky stairs, a beautiful design, at the seawall of Dawlish beach

 

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Red rock and a peculiar structure along Dawlish’ coastal path
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Haytor on a summer day 2017
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I love these old winding alleys, with the warmth of the sun, or the cold of frost, radiating from the stone walls and the peculiar acoustic effect, the colourful coverage of flowers in May and June. Red Valerian is most present among them here.
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Blue bells in woodland, May 2017, on my way to Waterleat.
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A former monastery garden reminds me of  the book”The Secret Garden”
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I believe it’s Cow Parsley, at the bridge near St. Andrews Church.
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Springtime is beautiful in Devon!

Going back in time, here are a few impressions of Dartmoor, summer/autumn 2016:

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The area of Whistman’s Wood on Dartmoor
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The area of Whistman’s Wood on Dartmoor
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A stone cross near Moorshop S. West Dartmoor

A few impressions of Wookey Hole, where caves are. My first year in Somerset, 2015, though I didn’t live in a cave 😉

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Walking over Titlands Lane to my home, with a view on the Mendip Hills, summer 2015

 

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Oswald, a dog I often walked with, through woodland with wild garlic. Each year, end of summer,  I visit  Wookey Hole and meet friends who welcomed me warmly and supported me in my first year in the UK.
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The Wells Bishop’s Palace cat on his high seat. I’ve worked as volunteer in the communal garden of that beautiful park/garden. 

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A lovely bird, recovering, after it flew against my doorwindow in Wookey Hole.

This lovely green bird flew against my window and sat dazed and concussed for 20 minutes on my terrace. I watched it from a safe distance and had to encourage it to make a move, when it found its bearings again.                  

It looked at me sideways with a bright eye, moved its wings and…. off it went on its green wings, steady. I felt so relieved, after finding 2 small birds flying against my window to their death. I’ve held them in my hands until they lay silent. It’s a wonder and mystery to me, how small birds, with their fragile structure of bones are able to fly.

See how it looks like near Horrabridge in the South-West of Dartmoor, where I moved to after leaving Wookey Hole in Somerset:

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Sunlight streaming through the leaves of low hanging branches over a stone wall
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Walking to the Moors near Horrabridge
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Another day on the same spot, this time with Dartmoor ponies around.
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At times, the atmosphere turns a bit gloomy, on Dartmoor. To me, there’s charm in all seasons on Dartmoor, with its changing light and colours. An empty vast landscape without a sound is magical to me, also the wide open sky with massive cloud formations and far views from a high spot, with a glimmer of the sea, at times. And larks rising, while my heart joins their jubilant song and mad ecstasy while reaching for the skies… how high is my Heaven.. on Earth?
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This is a canal in Tavistock, S. West Dartmoor, where once boats were towed by horses, transporting ingots of tin, copper, lime and quarried stone.          
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A magical display of light and purple flowers against a South facing stonewall in a public garden near Buckland Abbey. 

 And to end with the, to me prophetic, last words of Henry David Thoreau, in his book Walden: “The light which puts out our eyes is darkness to us. Only that day dawns to which we are awake. There is more day to dawn. The sun is but a morning star.”

Blessed be, Marian.

 Copyright2012@tHeARTofCare

 

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