Craving Colour

The weather threw a tantrum here in Scotland last week  – snow, sleet, hailstones and sunshine – but I decided to celebrate spring in my living room anyway. I’m a bit of a cushion addict, but changing cushions and throws with the seasons and adding a few supermarket flowers is a simple pleasure that makes me ridiculously happy. The patchwork cushion is one I did with wool left over from a blanket I crocheted last year. It lives on my sofa, and every stitch, every stripe marks a victory against the low grade depression that took me away from blogging, from photography and from myself for too long.

I crocheted it for the campervan I plan on owning some day, and a few days after I finished it, we got the chance to rent a tiny van; the blanket not only took pride of place, but manifested a few colourful companions. Sometimes when I’m overwhelmed, I crave the simplicity of driftwood and a sea breeze; last year, as I dreaded the empty nest I’d be left with when my son joined my daughter at university, some wise deep instinct told me to rediscover my love of colour and build an alternative nest. I was in charge of packing for our few days away in the rented van; my husband laughed when he saw what my packing priorities were!

Van colours

Have you ever grappled with low grade, chronic depression? How did you deal with it? What helped you find your way home to yourself?

Meant to Be

I’m not on Twitter much, but one of the things that keeps me going back is synchronicity. Some days it’s like the universe curated a reading list just for me, even though I know it’s because at some point I followed friends with common interests. (I found today’s inspirational people on Twitter a while back, courtesy of Joanna, a wordsmith and photographer many of you already know.)

Today’s message?

“Right this moment, you’re exactly where you’re meant to be.”

Earlier today, after I finished writing a piece about parallel homes and homesickness, which may or may not make it out of my drafts box, I logged on to Twitter and found this post by Catherine Drea.

A few clicks later, and I was reading a beautiful poem called ‘The Gift’, highlighted by Anthony Wilson.

After retweeting Anthony’s post and deciding I’m an idiot for not making enough room in my life for poetry these days, I found this poem. The link will take you to an astonishing young poet, Sarah Kay, reading one of her poems aloud, in the treasure trove that is Brain Pickings.

‘The Paradox’  by Sarah Kay

When I am inside writing,
all I can think about is how I should be outside living.

When I am outside living,
all I can do is notice all there is to write about.

When I read about love, I think I should be out loving.
When I love, I think I need to read more.

I am stumbling in pursuit of grace,
I hunt patience with a vengeance.

On the mornings when my brother’s tired muscles
held to the pillow, my father used to tell him,

For every moment you aren’t playing basketball,
someone else is on the court practicing.

I spend most of my time wondering
if I should be somewhere else.

So I have learned to shape the words thank you
with my first breath each morning, my last breath every night.

When the last breath comes, at least I will know I was thankful
for all the places I was so sure I was not supposed to be.

All those places I made it to,
all the loves I held, all the words I wrote.

And even if it is just for one moment,
I will be exactly where I am supposed to be.

Holidaying at Home: The East Neuk of Fife

boat geraniumsThank you for returning, for understanding my absence. If you’re new here, I appreciate you taking the time to have a wander around the site.

I’ve had a lovely ‘staycation’ fortnight with my husband and kids, resting, gardening, going to the cinema, reading and cooking. For three or four days I even managed to resist the urge to log on. I stilled my panicky inner voice by reminding myself that we’re normally computerless if we spend our holidays in Greece, so logging off completely would be the final piece in the holidaying at home jigsaw.

We spent a day on the Fife coast a few days ago, and crammed so much in, it was like a holiday in itself. (Fife is actually called a kingdom, not a county; the Scottish royal family used to live there, before the union with England.) Its coastal villages are picturesque and popular, unlike the inland mining villages I grew up in.

Our first stop was the ancient  town of St Andrews, the home of golf and of Scotland’s oldest university. We parked and wandered through the narrow cobbled streets, with their stone houses and corbie gables, browsing in gift shops and looking for somewhere quaint to eat. One small Italian lunch later (we are on holiday!) we set off  for the beach, our wee gift bags full of gem stones safely stowed in the car boot.

Shell mirror 2We spent a few hours on a vast stretch of sand called West Sands, where the opening scenes of Chariots of Fire were filmed, decades ago. We had the whole beach to ourselves. The sea was warm enough for paddling and the salty breezes bracing enough to fly the ‘Bug’s Life’ kite we’ve had since my kids were toddlers. When the wind dropped, we read, played rackets and collected shells and driftwood to make a mirror frame like the ones we’d admired in a rental property in St Monans a few years ago.

I got carried away, taking photos of my windswept children, wave patterns in the wet sand, crabs in the water and piles of sandy white shells.

When rain threatened, we packed up and headed for Anstruther, a popular fishing village, whose harbour is circled by ice cream parlours, gift shops and fish and chip shops. One of those recently won the title of the UK’s Best Fish and Chip Shop. My kids laughed when I photographed the shop, my fish and chips and the box they came in, but I had this bizarre urge to share the experience with you in case you, too, are holidaying at home and enjoying cyber visits to other parts of the world! The geraniums above are planted in a white painted rowing boat on Anstruther’s harbour front, but they reminded me of Greece.

We drove home via the beautiful coastal villages of Crail and St Monans. In Elie, I stopped to capture a beautiful old mill and a typical Scottish sea-sky to show you.

Spending a day as a tourist in the holiday haunts I enjoyed as a child, determined to capture their essence to share with my kids and with friends all over the world, made me enjoy my home ‘kingdom’ with an appreciation I’ve never had before. I spent the day with a deep, warm glow of contentment and promise, peace and pleasure. I’m not the kind of person who’s permanently brimming over with positivity and happiness, but I am aware… present. Most of my days are good days.

I’m not a photographer, but I hope you enjoy these and that you share some photos of your own home state or town with us some day.

West Sands

beach day 1

beach day 2

wet sand

underwater crab

sandy shells

Anstruther 1

Anstruther 2

fish and chip shop

fish and chips box

fish and chips

St Monans rooftops

St Monans

mill

Elie

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If you’ve enjoyed this wee glimpse of my holiday at home, you might enjoy these posts:

Holiday Presence

Holidaying at Home

Patchwork Post: Jasmine, Fireworks and YES!

Rapt Attention, Gifts and Rain