Waiting for the storm..

waiting

Today I woke late (again), to find that moody grey clouds, which hung heavily over the port, had replaced the sunny blue skies of yesterday. The almost glassy still waters had morphed into choppy waves that caused the yachts to bob up and down, jostling for a safe mooring; indeed many local boats have been removed from the water completely. We are waiting for a storm, and the storms we get here are quite a spectacle, trust me! They are fierce, dramatic, exciting, beautiful, and oh so humbling; a real reminder of how impuissant our existence is on this planet when nature unleashes her energy to the sound of Zeus’ wrath. Or as my dear friend Hilda says of the thunder, “There goes Zeus moving the furniture around upstairs again!”

I wandered around the quay, finding Kostas in much better shape than yesterday, in fact he informs me that rather than ‘better’ he’s in fine form; quite a spectacular recovery! We sat on the deck watching the storm come in with our cappuccinos and shared traditional pastries from the local bakery. The change in weather means more work for the locals, as umbrellas and canopies are tied down, outdoor seating (which makes up the majority) is stripped of its upholstery, and anything that’s not nailed down is stowed away securely. The bars and cafes are also preparing to be busy, as we all cram in to the limited space when the rain starts, to sit out the storm in relative comfort with company. Meanwhile the visiting flotillas linger in the harbour, rather than risk the white-capped waves that wait beyond the lighthouse, as their crews sit on deck patiently waiting.

I spent the day visiting friends, lunching with the lovely Tselenti family at the big house on the hill, MT having cooked a feast for her mother and 4 brothers, who all tucked in heartily, between shifts managing their two hotels. I called in to see my oldest friend ‘Speridoula’ and my special friend Phoebus at the taverna with the best view across to the neighbouring island. When we met 14 years ago, Speri didn’t speak much English, and I certainly didn’t speak any Greek, but we quickly became firm friends based on some serious feet-stamping laughter and a twinkle in the eyes that made words completely unnecessary. Now we manage quite decent conversations, despite poor grammar and including much gesticulation, which is an amusing and beautiful testament to our friendship. Phoebus is one of the most determined and inspiring souls I know, he suffered a life changing moped accident years ago that left him severely disabled, unable to control his body including his speech and capacity to manage tasks we so often take for granted such as dressing, eating, or bathing unaided. He is such a brave, patient, courageous soul, and I adore him. Today we hugged and laughed, and I felt his strength emanate from his body, he improves each time I see him, slowly but doggedly determined to stand on his own two feet again.

The air is thick and heavy, but it’s still warm despite the breeze that tugs at the awnings and canopies; the dark sky has been threatening rain for hours and I have been holed up in a favourite patisserie with my laptop, in anticipation of the rain that slashes horizontally. Several cups of coffee and pots of tea later, the light is fading and just as I wonder whether the storm will pass by uneventfully, the distant rumble of thunder creeps into the chilled out music currently playing.

I am not a patient creature by nature, which doesn’t always work out best for me, but some things simply cannot be hurried, and life seems to teach that acceptance is key. Aristotle reminds us that ‘patience is bitter, but the fruit is sweet’. So as I wonder how soon I will sink my teeth into the soft flesh to release the juiciest pleasure, lightening fills the sky, flashing across the water; followed by much closer, quickly advancing thunder, and a dirty great grin creeps right across my happy face.. oh I DO love a storm!! The clouds have crept in, hanging heavy and low, almost obscuring our neighbouring island. The temperature has distinctly dropped a few degrees, but I am still comfortable in my shorts & vest, after all the less I wear, the less laundry will be necessary. Skin is certainly a fantastic design element of the human body; thermostat controlled and wipe dry, perfectly suited to dancing in the rain, maybe! In all probability we will lose internet connection soon, so I will post this and just let you know I’m barefoot and ready. “Bring it on Zeus, I’m in the mood for dancing, just throw the rain at me!” ☺ Hxx

{Photo sadly uncredited, via Pinterest; words ~Hayley Darby ©2013}

My favourite slice of paradise

PN Kef emblisi pic

I awoke late by the Greek clock, early by the British hour, and my waking thought searched for that peaceful presence, that occupies a space in my heart recently encountered. I had been wandering along, feeling remarkably carefree and unsuspecting of the impending intrusion, and am left floating in the uncertain ocean of possibility, a place I have learned to embrace passionately, for after all it is full of infinite beauty, if we choose to see it.

I eventually found my body, having previously only been aware of my internal territory, and noticed the disparate relationship of my physical topography and the typically unyielding mattress of my austere Greek bed. Sounds of the port slipped through the shutters with the slices of light that had spilt across the crumpled sheet, wrapped around my legs, entwined in a memory. Sighing I summoned some strength and managed to inspire millions of motor neurons to move my body, in order to check the fluctuating Internet status of my abode by opening my emails. I read those I wanted, then sank back into my repose to process my findings until coffee called me, when I dressed swiftly in a faithful pair of denim shorts and vest, to bound down the stairs to greet the lively port and all the characters that make this particular slice of paradise so precious to me.

I wandered around the quay greeting friendly faces and answering the familiar questions (What took you so long? Where have you been? How long are you staying?), until I found Kosta in the quiet shade of his bar, whilst the staff served the tables outside as quietly as possible, so as not to aggravate his hangover. His face cracked into the most beautiful smile of recognition before his headache sharply reminded him of his condition. We laughed at life and hugged tightly despite his temporary fragility, catching up over a cappuccino (me) and water (he), sharing traditional pastries from the local bakery. Aggeliki lived up to her angelic moniker and administered her magical massage to the troublesome spot of Kostas neck that feels the tightest, and we lamented the consequences of age combined with the youthful behaviour of his crazy parties. Kosta surrendered to his struggling body and retired to bed, Aggeliki resumed her responsibilities at the bar, and I sat outside figuring there are worse places to contemplate ones indulgence in temptation, as the cheerful sunshine drenched the peaceful port, illuminating it’s beauty as boats gently traversed the glassy water.

After a while I left my seat on the balcony in search of the preciously acute and hilariously dry observations of Minas. He customarily spends the majority of the day at his favourite table, surveying his restaurant. Surrounded by his team of waiters, he called out across the square at my approach, heralding my arrival for anyone within 100m, and nursing his coke zero assured me that his diabetes is behaving lately. We discussed local politics and recounted stories of our shared histories, noting the changes and lamenting absent friends. We watched the life of the square and Minas’ grumbled for my entertainment, enjoying the audience for acknowledgement of his unique and frequently extreme viewpoints. I left Minas with a cheerful smile with a kiss for the orange juice, and walked around the corner to find Angelos in his office.

Angelos is a serious young man with the weight of responsibility resting on his shoulders, and a photo of his father smiling from beyond the grave on his desk. Our comprehension of the passage of time and our confusion over the specific years in which events occurred, served to remind us of the accelerated speed of time that age bestows upon us. Although at least a year younger than I (and a quarter of a century than Minas), he always makes me feel juvenile with my independent adventures in contrast to his empire building vocation. We put the world to rights, and he tells me to keep travelling and bringing home my stories for his enjoyment. I left him with promises to visit his mother soon and sent some love to his wife and children before sauntering back along the quay with an undeniable hunger for my darling, the sea.

As luck would have it, Makis had a similar craving, so when I popped into the shop on my way back to the apartment, he offered me a lift to his favourite beach; allowing me a quick change of clothes as he sat impatiently with the engine running. The car curled expertly into the curves of the road, just a short distance before our descent amongst the fragrant pines towards the turquoise water sitting, waiting, assuredly faithful, for our adoration. Makis changed in the car, and it was my turn to be impatient as I rushed towards the deliciousness. I paused momentarily to drop my bag on the beach and swap my ray bans for Cressi goggles, before hastily stepping into the water, saving my entering breath to exhale below the surface.

The crystal clear water engulfed me, and it felt as if anything other than bliss was cleansed from my soul, instantly revealing the clarity of this privilege. I swam towards the shelf, clearly marked by the line where aquamarine meets turquoise, inhabited by numerous fish that swim unafraid of the human company that dips into their world. I took a moment to float like a starfish in gratitude, to feel the surface tickle my sun kissed skin, feeling supported by the powerful entity in its reassuring calmness. Having spent the summer in California, enchanted by the ocean, my heart has still pined for my true ‘agapi’, the Ionian sea, with it’s gentle caress and beautiful hues of the heavenly blue spectrum. I submerged completely; lost in that peace that resides within and felt my physiology sigh thankfully, as does the heart in the embrace of a previously estranged lover. I noted my slowed pulse and that internal tranquility one finds when gratitude obliterates any other emotion, before breaking the surface to breathe in deeply the joy of living. I swam across the bay, much to the amusements of Greeks who tend to swim straight out into the darker deeper waters, beyond the rocks and around to neighbouring bays, whilst I cause disruption to the traffic system since I wasn’t born by the water and lack their confidence. I soon found my rhythm, breathing deeply for the long strokes my lengthy limbs prefer, and smiled at the un-phased fish, which loitered nonchalantly in my pathway, showing off their magnificent iridescence in the piercing sun beams. I finished my dip, resuming the star-fish floating position for my finale, before joining Makis and his sister on the beach to top up my tan as the sun sat high above the shady olive trees.

Makis returned to the shop, leaving his towel and flippers for his girlfriend Nancy, who appeared for her swim, bravely venturing beyond the visible rocks, before settling on the beach and into the conversation amongst the locals whose children played at the shoreline. I let the language waft over me as I lay under my panama, feeling the heat on my skin and remembering vocabulary and other trips. My thoughts wandered away from the beach and retraced some recent adventures, exploring new territory and chambers of my heart, slipping through the layers of awareness and comprehension, desire and vulnerability. The afternoon drifted by, as the shade inched towards the shoreline, soon eclipsing the beach, cooling my salt dried skin. Yaya, a French friend that runs the diving school, kindly gave me a lift back to the port, and I wandered down the steps smiling as I noticed my shoulders have dropped several inches after my sea-bathing. I encountered Nikos & Themis passing the bar, and admitted that I’d cheated on the Greek sea with the Pacific Ocean, but that my heart was ‘home’ again, laughing as they teased me good naturedly, but promising to join them for the last buffet at The Thai restaurant. It’s the end of the season here, and as tourism cools, businesses close for the winter. For me it’s the best time to visit; the port is returned to the locals, and as they untie themselves from their shops, bars and restaurants, they have time to relax and enjoy it again.

I’m writing in the port, replete after my Thai dinner and catching up with Anna & Pete (who tend to collectively know all the news in the village). I found a sweet spot at Le Passage, beautiful Eleni’s new business venture, which reflects her chic style and sweet nature, as well as her family’s famous restaurant for locals in the village up the hill. As I sip my tea (Jasmine) looking out over the still dark water, it reflects the pretty lights of the port in a perfectly mirrored image. The yachts are lined up and sit obediently waiting for adventures tomorrow, and the impressive private cruisers jostle for pole position for admiration along the quay. Passing friends greet me with hugs of welcome, and acquaintances nod in recognition; they know that this is my favourite slice of heaven on earth, and that I wherever I travel, I will always find a way ‘home’ again. I have had a gorgeous day, and I have more of the same to look forward to again tomorrow : )) Evlogimeni eimai (I’m blessed) !!

I hope that wherever you are, that you have an opportunity to appreciate your environment and spend time with people that enhance your being too. Blessings & filakia (kisses) ❤ Hxx

{Photo of my slice of Paradise 🙂 Words ~Hayley Darby ©2013}

Rainy days and panama hats

panama

Good morning everyone!! Today I woke early, to another grey, damp day in London. The sky is a pale uniform grey, and the soft opaque light lends a gentle quality to the quietness. It’s not currently raining, but after yesterday’s downpour, the cool air smells peaty and autumnal, and it’s tempting to curl up with my latte and laptop and spend the morning in bed. Yesterday was similar, and the day before, and the one before that, and although the changing season has its own charm, there’s a part of my heart that’s not quite ready to relinquish summer with all it’s carefree fun and joyful beauty, just yet.

Yesterday it rained, all day, relentlessly; starting with that fine rain, the kind that’s heavier than mist but falls slowly, gently, silently, and seems to soaks in thoroughly. I met my beautiful friend CE for coffee, in between her kid’s school runs (her little one has just started and is collected at lunch time). We sat in the big squashy sofa at the back of the café, knees curled up as we chatted about our summer adventures, about how life has a funny way of working out, and our current jewellery making projects and ideas. CE has an Etsy page, and regaled me with some of the sweet and romantic stories her customers write to explain they are purchasing her exquisite designs to celebrate, commemorate, and honour those special life events we wish to remember. She admits that some of the stories break her heart, and that as she works moulding the precious metals, she feels emotionally caught in the circumstances, as if she’s infusing her work with compassion and acknowledgment for each individual piece and it’s wearer. Her work is beautiful, delicate, elegant and exquisite; I especially love her fine droplets work; do have a peep! http://www.etsy.com/shop/chained7?ref=pr_shop_more
In fact she’s offering Pure Nourishment readers a 15% discount on orders placed before the end of October 2013, just mention the code word ‘PURE’ in your order (message to seller). Please do check out her FB page too! https://www.facebook.com/christinaeccojewellery1?fref=ts

CE and I said goodbye as she rushed off to collect her little one, the rain kept pouring, slightly heavier than earlier in the morning, droplets that bounced off the pavement and plopped in puddles, and I wondered whether I really needed to go anywhere in it. My heart pined for carefree summer days, walking out of the house without a thought of a jacket or umbrella, sunglasses perched on my make-up less face, carrying nothing more than my purse (wallet in US terms) and phone, and good intentions. I started to pack away my summer wardrobe, sighing heavily as I lamented the lightness of linens, and softness of cottons, smiling affectionately at the flirty panama hat and comfortable Birkenstocks. Then the phone rang, and everything changed, summer’s reprieve arrived with perfect timing. So I booked a flight and depart on Thursday, to my home from home on my favourite Greek island.. where indeed it also rains, but the light is still incredible and the sea is still warm, and frappes in the port with dear, dear friends are waiting. This weekend I’m packing again, I’ll be including some cosy jumpers and a waterproof jacket just in case, but the chance of the panama and Birkenstocks getting an airing is looking pretty hopeful!! Be careful what you wish for.. it might just be granted, and if you let it, life can surprise you with all sorts of blessings! I hope you have a wonderful weekend, wherever you are, whatever your weather, it’s all so much better when we’re smiling! Love & happy smiles Hxx

{Photo sadly uncredited, via Pinterest; words, Hayley Darby ©2013}

11th September 2013

bedd

Good morning everyone!! This morning I woke reluctantly, I had fallen abruptly out of a pleasant dream, and wishing to return, lay in a somnolent haze, hoping sleep would reclaim me. However, wakefulness had flooded my brain, and no amount of snuggling into the duvet or burying under the pillows was sufficiently effective slumber inducing, so I eventually gave in and grudgingly braved the cold air, wrapped up tightly in a cosy robe and made my way downstairs for coffee. I finally succumbed to autumn; feeling disenchanted by the abandonment of summer, and turned on the heating. Even the boiler grumbled as the coffee machine hastily produced my coffee, and the leaves of the trees rustled in disgruntlement. I quickly returned to my lair, and sat with my knees drawn up to my chest as I sipped at the hot latte, wishing London was sunnier, or I was back in California, or even that I had just slept longer, until I recognised my ingratitude and decided to reframe it. I’m in my cosy bed, with a roof over my head, the boiler works, the house will warm up soon, it’s not raining, I’m meeting dear DC for lunch, at the favourite bistro, I have hot coffee, I’m healthy, I have a beautiful life, I’m so blessed really!

Then I realised the date, and I felt shamefully churlish, because I have so much to be thankful for, and I am alive to know this. On this day 12 years ago, so many lives were prematurely extinguished and the world was shocked by such an outrageous crime, rocking our smug sense of security with such an atrocity. It’s one of those dates we can never forget, and rather like the assassination of JFK for the previous generation, we will all remember exactly where we were when we heard the twin towers had been attacked. And I think of my life since it’s happened, how much I have grown and experienced since September 11, 2001. The privilege of those 12 years denied to those that died, and the grief and loss that their loved ones have borne long after the public mourning of our sense of peace has ceased.

So today, I am of course respectful in my remembrance, and my thoughts are with all those whose lives were thrown into chaos and turmoil as they became bereaved. Yet I am also grateful for the moment of perspective, an opportunity to look back on 12 years of living; the experiences and achievements, my travels and relationships, my education and career, the laughter and the tears, my growth and understanding, the sunrises and sunsets I have watched, and all the damp, dark, chilly autumns I have witnessed since that one, in 2001. That day when the world felt unsteadied, rather more fragile, and vulnerable than it had done before, and left so much devastation for so many. Let us not forget those who were lost, or those who suffered, or suffer still with their loss; but let us be grateful for the lives we are living, and the chance to experience this precious existence, every single day we wake up. Blessings & love ❤ Hxx

{Photo sadly uncredited, via Pinterest; words by Hayley Darby ©2013}

September letter

beach type

Good morning everyone!! Today I woke early, around 6am, and snuggled into the covers in search of sleep again; happy just knowing I had the privilege of such an option. I drifted for a while as my mind considered attaching itself to the thoughts it observed floating by, but in the end the draw of the deep was too great to overcome and I succumbed to the dreamy depths, to dwell in that secure state where the answers are all obvious and nothing is a problem. I woke later in the morning feeling calm and refreshed, and decidedly carefree, as if any potential obstacles on the horizon will work themselves out, or I will overcome them and gain some new learning. So I lay for a while in gratitude for the peaceful feeling, until thoughts of coffee distracted me and I got up to greet the day beyond the blind.

It’s a cool autumnal day here in London, there’s a dampness in the air, but blue sky patches appear sporadically amongst the clouds, and it’s not raining (which is a relief after the relentless downpour yesterday). I pottered round the house for a while with my latte, still reorganizing my home after a protracted absence, and chatted with the dustmen (refuse collectors) who welcomed me back from my trip with tales of their summers and experiences in America. They are such a friendly team, always so cheerful and it’s nice to know that they’ve been keeping an eye on my property for me. I addressed some laundry, answered some emails, and made a list of all the important things that need doing today.

The top priority is my annual letter to Billy. Billy is a dear friend from my favourite Greek island, yesterday was his birthday, and every year I write him a letter, pouring out all the things I wish for him and all the important stuff I wish I had known at his age (he’s just turned 18 years). Billy is a beautiful soul, he’s a thoughtful guy wrapped in fun with a cheeky grin and lovely manners, and I adore him. It’s a letter of love really; just an out-pouring from my heart, that takes me on a journey as I write it, through my own learning curves, regrets and understanding, and is full of hope to inspire courage and compassion in this young man that is so dear to me. Of course I don’t have all the answers, and much of our learning must come from personal experience, but I write so that he knows that I care, that I believe in him, that I wish the best for him, that I will celebrate his success and appreciate his struggles, and that when his heart has been broken and trampled on, I will be here to listen and gently encourage him to pick up the pieces and keep loving. This annual letter writing usually takes place on a favourite Greek beach, when I arrive around the time he has to return to school on the mainland. So today I’m going in search of that space within, where I am full of gratitude for the beauty that surrounds me, and my thoughts can float with the sun on the sea, and a love that’s as deep as the ocean churns up all the words I need.

I hope that you have a beautiful day, and hope that you have received and will send love letters, not necessarily romantic, just a way to reach out and let someone know that they are cherished, and that your heart fills with all the beauty that you have seen, because you want to share it too Blessings & love, Hxx

{Photo sadly uncredited, via Pinterest; words by Hayley Darby ©2013}

Relishing the rain

rainy ranuculous

Good morning everyone!! Today I woke late again, and it seems I have slipped back into that pattern of late nights and lie-ins; I find I am delaying bedtime, and then find it hard to wake in the morning. After a delightful dinner with friends last night, I found myself pottering around at home until the small hours, doing nothing urgent, but my brain was still active and didn’t snuggle under the covers until much later than I really should have been. I guess I just enjoy the quiet time, without agenda or responsibility, just a little window of freedom when everyone assumes I am sleeping. Note to self: I should be sleeping!!

This morning I woke slowly, noticing myself sunk deeply into a plethora of pillows with the duvet curled around me. There is a definite coolness in the air, and it’s a pleasant contrast on my exposed shoulder to the warm den constructed in sleepiness. I rolled over to glance at the window, a soft light feathering the edge of the blind belies the late hour, revealed when I roll back to check my watch, which sits loitering on the bedside table amongst a jumble of bracelets, several sizable ‘statement’ rings, and my trademark ‘story’ necklace. I lay for a while letting thoughts drift by, until I caught the one that suggested coffee, and the temptation moved me to throw back the covers and open the blind, observing the flat, opaque light that seeps through the comprehensive cloud cover, before quickly grabbing my robe since it’s chilly.

As the coffee machine prepared my elixir I watered the herbs and watched the rain dousing the world outside, the rich aroma of espresso wove it’s way up my nose, setting off a neuro-olfactory response that closed my eyes and put a smile on my face. It’s such a drizzly day, I didn’t hesitate to climb back upstairs to bed with my latte to watch the rain cascade over the slate tiles of the roof opposite, as the pink, purple and green tinged hues sparkle through the grey so beautifully when wet. It’s the kind of rain that feels as if it’s set in for the day, a gentle, quiet downpour, thorough and persistent, and soaking everything. Its actually the perfect day to snuggle up on the sofa with a good book and a pot of tea, some scented candles and a cashmere blanket; and yes, I’m very tempted! However, I have been home from California a whole week, and can no longer avoid the responsibilities, that jet lag afforded me. Besides it’s Monday, and it would be appropriate to make it satisfyingly productive; which I fully intend, after another latte, a yoga class, and maybe a splash in some puddles on Primrose Hill

I hope you have a gorgeous start to the week, wherever you are, and if it’s raining in your part of the world too, that you find a moment or two to really enjoy it! Blessings & love, Hxx

{Photo sadly uncredited, via Pinterest; words ~ Hayley Darby ©2013}

Press pause

mermaid am

Good morning everyone! Today I woke late, slowly struggling to shed the layers of sleep that clung like wet seaweed as I slipped back from the surface several times, before eventually breaking into consciousness. I lay for a while as the final vestiges of fatigue drained away, and found myself washed up on the shore of a peaceful day with the gentle rustle of the breeze through the leaves outside my window. I drew the blind, to find a cloudy sky with big holes for the blueness to pour through, and feeling an autumnal ‘nip in the air’, wrapped up in my robe in search of coffee.

I climbed back into bed with my latte, and noticed my thoughts drifting towards some projects on the horizon, feeling a little nostalgic for my mornings watching the ocean, as I sat on the beach steps with my coffee, admiring the surfers and adoring the dolphins playing amongst them. Meanwhile some online messages interrupted my thought process, and some discussion about business direction inspired some creative thinking and enthusiasm, so that I was soon wide awake and firing those inquisitive neurons again.

I have several areas I want to explore; yet there is hesitancy, an undecided direction, and reluctance to commit just yet to tying up my energy. And as I write I realise it’s because at this moment in time I am enjoying the stillness, the feeling of being exactly where I am meant to be in this instant, and that my life will continue to unfold accordingly, as I dwell in possibility.

Previous to my trip to California I was feeling frustrated and disappointed as I tried to swim upstream, and fought hard to make something work in an environment that actively sabotaged my efforts. It’s no surprise that since my departure several newly appointed nutritionists/dieticians have met the same resistance and left the company already. My carefree Californian summer gave me space to recover from my dismay, reconsider my goals, and ultimately the realization that I could ‘dream much bigger’ darling. Trust me, ‘big’ in this context is an understatement!

Sometimes the most constructive thing we can do; is to do nothing, to wait and see what will be revealed. When we take time out to listen to our hearts, and hear the melody of our souls singing, we are more open to finding the answers that really matter, to seeing our dreams and feeling them draw us, rather than searching for solutions that will allay our fears, albeit temporarily. My three months in California have given me a beautiful fresh perspective, not to mention a relaxed happy vibe with which to enjoy it, and for now I’m just loving each step as it unfolds in front of me.

I wonder if there is something you are struggling with that would benefit from taking a step back too? OK, maybe not three months, but perhaps 3 days, or 3 hours, or even 3 minutes will help you accomplish more by truly looking at the situation, rather than ploughing ahead determinedly without checking your direction. I hope that whatever you do, that you can take some time to quiet your mind and listen to your heart, and then have the courage to follow it. You never know, it might just send you to California, and if it does, I’ll meet you on the beach, watching the dolphins amongst the surfers, because I’m pretty sure my heart is sending me back there soon! Blessings & love, Hxx

{Photo sadly uncredited, via Pinterest; Words by Hayley Darby ©2013}

Sweet September

summer door

Good morning everyone!! Today I woke late after a late night, and felt the heaviness in my head, sunk deep into the pillow. I am a complete light-weight, one glass of champagne can sink me! However a large glass of water later, I was soon on the road to recovery, and memories of the previous evening’s dinner with an old friend soon put a smile on my face again. I stretched my whole length, still relishing the fact that I can push my toes into the cool brass of the bedstead, now that I am home in London, and rolled over to check my phone, finding a message from dear RO about our plans for a walk in the country and afternoon tea at a stately home. So I swung my legs out of bed and got up to draw the blind, finding a beautiful blue sky filled with cotton wool clouds and a definite autumnal hue after yesterday’s rain. Ah bittersweet September; I love the low sunlight, warmer seas, gentle breeze, and those lingering carefree afternoons, but it seems Summer’s end always arrives too soon.

However, I smile as I remember all endings are just beginnings in disguise. So whilst the end of warm sunny afternoons, flip flops, and breakfast on the balcony, make way for cosy cashmere sweaters, kicking the crisp burnt leaves and snuggling up by the fire, that the air is thick with possibility too. And then I (almost) wish I was going back to school, with a collection of freshly sharpened pencils, an exciting reading list, fresh new gym kit, and pocket full of good intentions, and I realise September has always been my favourite month, not just because of the fading summer afternoons, but the promise of a new chapter, the next leg of the journey, and maybe a doorway to pass through too!

I hope your weekend is wonderful, and that wherever you are, that September is filled with hope and beautiful beginnings too Blessings & love, Hxx

{Photo sadly uncredited, via Pinterest. Words by me. ~Hayley Darby ©2013}

Gorgeous Rainy Morning!

me coffee

Good morning everyone! Today I woke early, jet-lag finally seems to have jetted off, and 6am was a pleasure again. I lay for a while in the white fluffy meringue-ness of my bed, still a delight after a less than luxurious, rather uncomfortable divan in my Californian abode, and watched the light creep round the edge of the blind as thoughts of beach-life seeped into my brain. We have had some beautiful warm, sunny days here in London, and I was sunbathing on the balcony and then the Heath, in 84 (29) degrees yesterday. It was a hot sticky night, but today a comprehensive cloud cover and the promise of rain accompany the cooler back-to-school weather (61 degrees).

I threw back the covers and raised the blind, watching the softness of the light seep into the sky, and opened the window to deeply inhale the cool, damp earthy fragrance as I smiled at the trees. I wrapped up in my robe and made my way downstairs in search of coffee, loving my Nespresso machine that little bit more ardently after our protracted separation. I stood in the kitchen, tending the thirsty herbs on the window sill (mint, coriander & basil), as the dark, rich, aromatic elixir chugged into my favourite china mug, before returning to bed to savour the morning and the precious silence I have missed so much.

My rented cottage in California was the most costly and least successful part of my trip; sadly the picturesque cottage came with an interfering, attention-seeking elderly landlady who challenged boundaries (including the law) on several levels. Apart from entering my property almost daily in my absence to snoop through my belongings, and opening my post (including my bank statements), she sought attention whenever I was present. This initially began veiled in kind concern, knocking on my door at 7am to offer coffee (as she had made a large cafetiere), but once I had politely declined a few times and as I started rejecting almost constant requests for company, she resorted to negative attention and drama seeking. This included (but was not limited to) incredibly noisy behaviour in the mornings, from door slamming to coffee grinding at 6am, and a whole range of purposeful disturbance techniques that included singing as she showered in MY outdoor shower outside the bedroom window. Suffice to say mornings slipped from being my favourite time of day, and my coping mechanism was to get up and dress immediately before heading out as quickly as possible, to find a better mood than the one I was awoken with. This usually took me on a brisk walk down the hill towards PCH, taking a slight detour for a biscotti and friendly banter at Andree’s bakery, before a cheerful welcome and Hemp latte at The Laguna coffee company, which I took to Brook’s beach to watch the surfers and admire the rhythmic waves. Somehow this never failed to lift the cloudy countenance and return a sunny smile to my face, even when the morning marine layer persisted.

Back in London, there is no ocean to breathe in serenity, and I miss the friendly crowd at The Laguna Coffee Co. but I am so grateful for the peace and quiet my busy, city home affords me, tucked away from the roads, hidden from traffic noise, ensconced in tranquil solitude, waking when my body is ready. And as the rain now descends, gently tapping on the window and tickling the leaves of the trees, although I’m a sun bunny in love with the ocean, there are plenty of reasons to be happy in London! I hope that wherever you are, that you are blessed with something about your environment you can appreciate insanely, and that if your peace is disturbed, that you find a way back to the calm place that resides inside all of us, because it’s there just waiting for you, trust me! Blessings & love, Hxx

{Photo sadly uncredited, via Pinterest; words ~Hayley Darby ©2013}

Jet-lag and in between

photo

Good morning everyone! It seems as if my soul is weighed down with lead as it struggles to swim to consciousness from the deep sleepy depths, and there is a tussle between the choice of languishing in that peaceful dark solitude, and waking to embrace the day with all it’s beautiful potential. I woke earlier this afternoon, jet-lag always seems harder to overcome when travelling in an Eastbound direction. It’s my second day back in London and there is still a moment of confusion on waking amongst the fluffy white cloud of my bed, as to how far into the past I was dreaming and what has actually happened. After a summer in California, it seems a little surreal to wake in the familiar surroundings of ‘home’. The time has passed so quickly, yet it seems so much living has been squeezed in to those 3 months, so that it feels elastic and difficult for my brain to measure; rather like looking at a map, and gauging the journey time, without any indication of speed capacity and limitations.

An elderly man in India once kindly informed me that the mind and the body travel at different speeds, and it’s a truth that I observe acutely after long-haul journeys. The 10+ hour flight from LAX to LHR feels extremely quick in comparison to the thoughts still floating along the Californian coast; little things like the decision to have hemp or soy milk in my latte at ‘The Laguna Coffee company’, as I potter downstairs to greet my Nespresso machine. Actually I feel somewhere in between, as if suspended in the blueness somewhere above the Atlantic ocean, neither here nor there, or caught yet in life’s responsibility. It’s a feeling of surrender, an awareness that I’m not ‘driving the bus’ or perhaps not ‘flying the plane’ that gives me space to observe without engaging completely. My departure from Laguna followed a hectic period of packing and preparing to leave, hurriedly saying goodbyes to the friends I left behind, and stealing moments to treasure in memory; on the beach, favourite cafes, beloved scenes, and places where I dwelt in gratitude (so almost everywhere, really!). My arrival back in London was met by relative calm, my sanctuary of ‘home’ waiting with the peaceful, quiet, clean and tidy embrace I have missed whilst renting, and my local bistro (aka my second kitchen) provided the perfect post-transatlantic poached eggs to enjoy with my dear friend RO and a chance to catch up on stories, as I fought to stay awake and realign my body clock.

Two days later, the suitcases (all 3) remain half unpacked in the living room, and there is an unwillingness to settle in again too quickly. I find myself lingering in this uncommitted space, reticent to make plans or promises, not wanting to clutter up my diary, home or life with ‘stuff’ to do, or have, or be; or to unpack my memories and shove them in the back of a drawer till my next journey. So for now I am enjoying jet-lag, the perfect ally in resisting reality, whilst I make some decisions about what I want that to be. Meanwhile I’m going to enjoy what remains of the afternoon, a sojourn in a scented bath (dear tub I have had an amazing affair with an outdoor shower, but I missed you dreadfully!), then perhaps a journey into Selfridges for supplies (more coffee pods!), and somewhere delicious for a late lunch at dinner-time with my thoughts, and time to reflect on where and what I want life to be.

Hope you have a beautiful day, wherever you are, whatever you do, and that you can find time and space in your busy life to observe that place in between; maybe you will find the peaceful place waiting for you there too! Much love & blessings, Hxx

{Photo: Leaving LA, London bound, the sky in between. Taken by me on Saturday/Sunday. Words also mine ~Hayley Darby ©2013}