The Matrix film 20 year anniversary

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This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill—the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill—you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember: all I’m offering is the truth. Nothing more.

The red pill and its opposite, the blue pill, are a popular cultural meme, a metaphor representing the choice between:

Red Pill: Knowledgefreedomuncertainty and the brutal truths of reality
Blue Pill: Securityhappinessbeauty, and the blissful ignorance of illusion

The above from a very interesting Wikipedia page about the origins of the blue pill red pill cultural meme with some great links at the end to take you down the rabbit hole…

The movie The Matrix was released in the United States on 31st March 1999, twenty years ago this year!   So I thought we (!?) could do something for its anniversary.  Of course by ‘do something’ I mean write a blog post about it!

This year 31st March falls on a Sunday.  Conveniently for me, this is one of my posting days.  It is also just after my arrival back into the UK and I may be adjusting to culture shock/relative extreme cold.  Therefore I am going to write my post before then and schedule it as a present to my future self.

This post was partly inspired by a conversation I had with Jonathan Erdman about films and tv shows exploring consciousness and the nature of reality.

If anyone else wants to join me, there’s plenty of time to write a post and to watch the film if you’ve never seen it, before then.  The Matrix film means many different things to many different people, and I would love to hear your thoughts and observations.  If you do decide to join in, please tag me so that I don’t miss it, thank you.

Thank you for reading

All the best

Rachel

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Writing, travel and life update

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Writing

In Nepal we met Matt, a fulltime traveller, volunteer and mountain climber.  Since the closest I have ever come to mountain climbing is watching Touching the Void I was fascinated to hear about what it was like.  Matt talked about moments of fear, of having to push it back down and not let it rise.  He said climbing was as much mental as it was physical.

I am by no means a full professional writer; I have been paid for short stories but otherwise I have self published mini books and do the blog.  Right now I am writing a full length book for the first time.  And yes, it is at least fifty percent mental.  By which I mean managing fear; motivation; why bother/what’s the point/should you be doing something else thoughts; distraction; lack of confidence; lack of concentration; and above all self belief.  I manage all this by, firstly, committing to bum on seat, internet off, for the set amount of time, an hour or two most days; and secondly, by just focussing on the next task in hand.  Here is my current list:

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Beyond that, of course, is a whole load more stuff to do, editing, polishing, ensuring it all flows and fits, sorting out my ‘spirituality’ ramblings, and my repeated use of phrases such as, ‘I felt a lightness, a sense of possibility,’ let alone the fact that does it even have a plot?  But if I think too much about all that stuff I’ll never face my next session!

Travel

We are in Cambodia for a month.  We had six days in Phnom Penh and we are now on the lovely paradise island of Koh Rong.  We have a week here, today is the second whole day.  I can walk up a very steep hill (exercise!) to the local village to buy bananas and oranges and sit and have a drink before the walk back- it’s not far but it’s very hot; swim in the sea which I did yesterday evening once it cooled, and eat.  Apart from that there isn’t much to do so I have absolutely no excuse not to get lots of writing done!  I got up early this morning, hence the sky is a bit cloudy in the photo, but that is the view from my nearest cafe.

Life

During our last weeks in India my head was busy with What’s Next?  I tried to stay in the moment, or at least, in the trip, but in the end I thought, Well I’m a writer, perhaps if I write everything down it will get it out of my system.  My husband had also been thinking about the future, so we decided to spend a bit of time talking about it, then forget about it.  I wrote everything into a Word document, thinking I’d put it on the blog, and then it disappeared.  I always email everything to myself as back up, so I could have found it, but I decided to just let it go.  I don’t need to do anything now (except write the book and the blog), and my future self can sort out the rest.

Thank you very much for reading

For photos of the trip see Instagram travelswithanthony

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The Sunshine Blogger Award

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Thank you to Sheree from View from the Back for nominating me!  I admire Sheree greatly for the following words: ‘We’re accustomed to spending Christmas with just the two of us, doing exactly what we want.’  Not many are brave enough to do what they want, either at Christmas or in life.

My last tagalong post came just prior to a long and unscheduled wait at an airport and was very timely; I enjoy being given a task at the best of times and with an extra three hours to use it was especially handy.  This came just before another airport wait, and then a transit wait, so again, very timely, thank you!

My answers to the questions I was asked:

  1. How long have you been blogging and what prompted you to start?

I started this blog in 2014, I was writing a book at the time which felt like a slog, but creating blog posts felt so easy.  So I suppose you could say it was writer’s procrastination, although of course the blog posts are writing too.

2.  What do you write about on your blog and why?

I suppose I write about anything and everything, subject wise.  Whatever has resonated with me or seemed important, or that I’ve  noticed.  My primary aim is increasing my awareness and learning about myself.  I share my experiences, observations and reflections honestly in the hope that this resonates with others.

3.  Typically, how much time do you spend each week on your blog?

Maybe five-ten hours a week.  I am writing a book at the same time so sometimes the blog has to be a bit lighter, or sometimes I ‘cheat’ and post extracts from the book up instead of writing something separate for the blog.  I also spend time reading other people’s blogs and engaging with bloggers and readers in the comments sections.

4.  What prompts you to follow certain blogs?

Original content, well written.   Recently I searched for new blogs to follow using the search terms minimalism, voluntary simplicity, alternative living.  We will return to the UK to live on a narrowboat so I want to have a community around me to support me on the path.

5.  Do your family and friends read your blog? And, if so, what feedback (if any) do they give you?

No family, I would be inhibited if that were the case.  Friends do read it.  Some friends really like it and let me know that it has resonated with them, which I really appreciate.

6.  It’s The Sunshine Blogger Award so how do you spread rays of sunshine on your blog?

I don’t intentionally do this all the time; some of my posts are possibly quite sad.  But I do notice and report on beauty and personal growth.  I also believe that by being honest here it might help others feel less ashamed, or less alone, if they have any of the same issues, or can just relate to some of the ideas or feelings I express.  And I cherish the connections I have made on this blog.

7.  If you could change one thing about blogging, what would it be?

Why do I have to approve pingbacks I have made to myself?  When I  link to one of my own posts I have to approve it, so presumably the link won’t work until I do??  Which  means I have to catch WordPress as soon as the blog is posted, which is not always possible.

8.  If you were to impart one pearl of wisdom about blogging, what would it be?

Write what you want to write in the way you want to write it.  That way we will all get more original content to read, yay!

9.  Who or what, if anything, has influenced your blog?

For the first few years I just wrote what came out without much reference to readers.  Now I am more aware that people are reading and so I am aware of handling things like reporting on episodes of low mood sensitively.  I did go through a phase of putting really long book chapter excerpts up, there are people who will read long pieces (thank you dear readers), but I do now generally try to not go too far over 1,000 words.  Although I break that all the time.  In terms of blogging etiquette, I aspire to be like Sam.  Sam has over 4,000 followers but responds kindly and personally to every comment.  Sam is not a full time blogger either, blogging duties fit around travelling and working.

10. What’s the best bit about blogging?

Total freedom to write about ANYTHING.  But of course with freedom comes responsibility.  ‘You are free to choose but not free from the consequences of those decisions.’  Hence my care re writing about low mood, and my avoidance of politics.  Actually I avoid politics in day to day life too, and that helps my mood…  The connections I have made.  Like travel, it’s been a way of finding my people.  ‘Let your weird light shine so brightly that other weirdos will be able to find you.’

11.  What’s your idea of “A Perfect Day”?

Wake up when I want, do a few stretches, get ready in a leisurely fashion, eat breakfast and have a walk, come back and write for a couple of hours.  Then…  go and see something nice, a walk with my husband, eat again… and again, watch something on Netflix, go to bed.  We are travelling so just a walk around the local area and going to eat something is plenty pleasure enough for me.  Sometimes we are actually travelling somewhere new and on those days I get nervous but excited as well.

My 11 Nominees are:  (I know these kinds of things are not for everyone so of course feel free to ignore/alter/cannibalize as you wish!)

Adie– I thought you could use any questions you like for your web interview thingy instead maybe?

Adie is one of the bloggers I have been following the longest.  Adie writes flawlessly about everything!

Ann Coleman-

The person you’d most like to have in your real life family or circle of friends; such a kind person who shares daily life observations in a warm and honest way.

Bereaved and being a single parent-

Totally original, because it is about a person’s life.  Often highly amusing but sometimes sad.

Des-

Big life stuff, everyday stuff, all life may be covered here in an engaging  and approachable way.

Minimal-Lol

One of the minimalist bloggers I found recently

Msteequeology

Pure positivity and sunny support

The Mustard Yellow House

Lives in a sunny house- a tiny house.  I found via searching alternative living.  Wrote a really lovely post about creating a garden, Christmas, and switching off the tech.

Seoul Sister

Asian American culture and personal memoir.  Totally original, informative and inspiring, and emotional.

Unexpected in common hours

Beautiful photographs to brighten your day.

Weeping Pines-

Beautiful writings to brighten your day.

What you blog about-

Words and music

My 11 Questions for you are:

1. How do you decide which blogs to follow?

2. Do you follow people who have different backgrounds, cultures and politics to you?

3. Can someone have different politics to you but still be a good person in your eyes?

4. Do you connect with other bloggers on a personal level?

5. Do you read all the blogs you follow?

6. What is your opinion on blogging every day?

7. Do you like getting a post from the same blogger each day, or do you find you can’t keep up?

8. Do you sometimes think what’s the point (in blogging)?

9. And do you sometimes soar with happiness when posting a good blog post, reading a good blog, or making a connection in the comments sections and think, ‘Yes, this is everything!’?

10. Therefore is blogging a metaphor for life in general?

11. When was the last time you felt really happy?

‘The official rules,’ if you choose to participate, are as follows:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link back to their blog so others can find them.
  • Answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated you.
  • Nominate 11 other bloggers and ask them 11 new questions.
  • Notify the nominees about it on one of their own posts.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo on your post and/or your blog site.

Everything good, everything bad: Leaving India

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We arrived in Bangalore at 5am after our overnight train from Hosapete near Hampi.  Our flight to Cambodia wasn’t until 11pm so we had booked a hotel to spend the day in and to rest between one night journey and the next.

As we got closer to the hotel, the taxi driver asked us to phone the hotel for directions.  The call was put through to a call centre/head office rather than the actual hotel, and they had no record of our booking, even though we had confirmation.  The man on the phone refused to give us directions, even though we begged to be able to just go to the hotel and sort it out with them.

At the side of a main road in Bangalore, in the semi darkness, not knowing where we were, we gave up and asked the taxi driver to take us to a hotel.  He took us to one that was far too expensive, then to another before finding one that had a room.  Suspiciously, he rushed ahead in front of us ostensibly to translate or in case they were asleep.
The room we eventually got into was almost three times the price of the room we had booked into and was clearly overpriced.  The room was small and smelled of paint fumes.

After we had checked in and taken our bags up I went downstairs to ask for the WiFi password and saw our taxi driver (who had said goodbye and left) talking to the man at the desk.  We suspected that he and whoever was at the hotel had made some kind of a deal to overcharge us and split the money.

The hotel told us that breakfast was included, and lunch and dinner were also available although chargeable.  So when the restaurant opened we went down for breakfast.  We had masala dosas, which although tasty were almost empty they had so little filling.

The plan had been to try and sleep in the day, I did a little, but across the hall was a child with a very loud squeaky toy and then some building work banging started from another room.

We went down for lunch, but the woman on the desk told us that the restaurant wasn’t open for lunch, and there was nowhere obvious to eat nearby.  We bought some bananas and some juice and went back to the room.

We found somewhere to eat and booked a tuk tuk online.  It turned out there was a restaurant not far away just off the main road.  The food was okay and the place looked clean.  We felt better.  After all we hadn’t planned that it would be any different than this; rest in the room, go out and eat, it’s just that it had seemed to be difficult.

The online booking people gave us some money back to say sorry, which covered about half of the extra expenses, and the day woman at the hotel gave us some money back and booked us a cheaper cab than the night staff had.

At the airport things went well until passport control where we were told off for not having registered; we hadn’t realised that we should have done that, although we have been in three times and out twice before anyone mentioned it.

It was the first time we’d really had a day like that.  We had the delayed flight that meant we missed our night bus to Hampi but that hadn’t felt really stressful and solutions had flowed easily.

At the gate we met a British couple, one of them built narrowboats, which surprised all of us, since we live on one, and we exchanged contact details.

On the plane to Cambodia an Indian man sat down next to us and took our photos without asking or even saying hello and then went off and laughed with his friends.  It was in sharp contrast to our first flight out of India, from Chennai to Thailand, where we met a young Indian man on his first flight who took selfies with us which we were happy to do.

There also was a lot of turbulence on the flight…

But maybe it was good that our leaving day wasn’t so smooth.  It stopped us being too sad.  Spending our last ten days in India in what was probably our favourite place was a bit of a double edged sword.  I think we were both a bit emotional about leaving.

In the tuk tuk with our friend Anaconda from Hampi to Hosapete, day turned to night as we once again passed beautiful temples, shrines, and little houses with the interiors painted bright pink or jade green.  On our last journey leaving Hampi, also with Anaconda, night had turned to day.

Our last few days in Hampi had been so wonderful, even the monkeys at our regular chai stall had been the most entertaining ever on our last stop there, flying from the temple across branches up the tree and back again, causing a commotion, and crashing into the chai stall’s (empty)  metal oil drum bin and knocking it over just for fun.  At the main temple we’d sat and watched the many monkeys, adults and babies, before being invited down the steps to the temple lake to feed the fish (and monkeys) from big bags of puffed rice that two men had brought along.  Just like in Pushkar, where we regularly saw a man feeding bread to the fish, these were just ordinary local people feeding the animals.

At Hosapete train station we had a bit of time to wait for our train to Bangalore.  There were a few stray dogs around, one came around the back of the bench, it went near our back packs and without really thinking I clapped my hands to shoo it away, thinking it might pee on the bags.  I saw it had teats and was obviously a nursing mother.  I had biscuits for the journey in my bag but thought I won’t feed it; there were a few dogs around, and I didn’t want to attract a lot of attention or for them to fight.

Later on the platform, I saw a man in a lungi feeding a stray dog a bread roll and felt I bad.  Being in India can mean hardening your heart against things you see simply in order to cope.  But sometimes you can get it wrong, and I realised I’d got it wrong with that nursing dog.  The announcer was announcing our train over and over, using the new name for Bangalore, which is delightfully pronounced in a sing song way as Beng-ga-loo-roo.

My thinking brain said, Well you can’t help all the animals, you only occasionally help them anyway.  You can just feed a dog in Bangalore to make up for it.  But my heart said, Please give me another chance.  We were way down the platform from the bench where we’d been, the train was overdue and the announcer was still announcing our train.  From the distance a dog appeared coming towards us.  As it got closer, I knew.  Brown and white, slightly skinny, with teats.  I waited until she was a little bit past us and emptied out two packets of biscuits on the floor for her.

We were in two tier ac, the train was an old fashioned model with burgundy seats.  I was in the top bunk and lay there teeming with everything, as usual, and trying to write things down in my notebook in the dark.  Our last night in India was on a train, which felt like a good way to end it.

Thank you very much for reading

For photos of the trip see Instagram travelswithanthony

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Incredible India

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We leave India for the third and final time during this trip on Friday 4th January.

Here’s a few highlights, with links to the relevant posts.

We ended our India journey in Hampi where my love affair with India began back in April.

In Kanyakumari, at the Southern most tip of India, where three seas meet and you can see the sun rise and sun set, I fell in love with the people and with the delightfully painted houses.

I was once more overwhelmed with love in Chennai.  Our dear friend Y from Chennai who we met in a seminal moment of the trip in Kerala, took us to his temple and gave us an unforgettable soul experience.  We stayed at Broadlands, where we were bathed in the Call to Prayer each morning, wandered around the fruit and veg market, drank chai, and fed the sadly very thin cows.  

Cosmic Recognition, a term coined by our lovely friend Renate who we met in Varkala; recognising and meeting our people along the way.  Thank you.

Thank you India!

Thank you very much for reading

For photos of the trip see Instagram travelswithanthony

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Hampi: Indoors

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Our room

It is season time which means rooms are double the price they were in April.  Our old room was available but out of our budget.

This time we booked in advance as we were too chicken to turn up for Christmas without a booking.  Our first room was okay, it had a kind of rustic charm but it smelled a bit from the sink and was a bit mouldy in places.  Plus the toilet seat was broken, or rather, it wasn’t broken it just wasn’t attached to the toilet.  Couples who argue about how the toilet seat should be left might have fallen out big time, as it needed to be lifted on and off each time.

That wasn’t really a big deal though, at least we had a toilet seat.  In Nepal there was no toilet seat at all, and we had to sit directly on the porcelain loo base.  It was cold in Nepal and we were suffering variously from traveller’s diaorriah alternating with constipation so it wasn’t much fun.

Our first room here was by the staff area and work started very early the first few mornings; running buckets of water, beating laundry, chopping of food, and talking loudly.  And at night, through an open vent between ours and one of the staff rooms came some very loud snoring.

We were considering moving out, but then we saw an empty room on the other side of the courtyard and went in to have a peek.  It looked and smelled better, had a Western style toilet with a fixed on seat, plus an Indian style toilet.

It’s on the other side of the courtyard to all the taps so it’s quieter in the mornings, and the snoring is a lot less intrusive from here.  There’s no sink- there is a low-ish wall tap and a shower- and the fan is either full blast or off, but you can’t have it all.

20181228_093235My husband went around the other way after seeing that this cow- with big horns- was standing in the entrance/exit
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Our room- eagle eyed readers might spot our regular companions Odomos for mosquitos and Oreos
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Our bathroom- I don’t want you to think I’m doing one of those super glamorous travel blogs

Thank you very much for reading

I wish you a very Happy New Year and all the very best for 2019

For photos of the trip see Instagram travelswithanthony

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Comment on posts (comments are public)
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So many things to love in Hampi

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In Varkala we were ill, in Bangalore we wandered around the Botanical Gardens wondering about The Future, and in Hampi we got happy again.  There’s so much to love here.

Temples, so many temples.  There was a huge festival and many people slept inside the temple afterwards.

Monkeys.  On Christmas Eve I watched a monkey eating scraps from a bin.  I bought some bananas and dropped them into the bin (I was cautious about being too obvious having got surrounded by monkeys in Nepal), but unfortunately this frightened the monkey and they came after me, teeth bared.  They didn’t want the bananas either.  An Indian man shooed it away and gave me back the bananas which I fed to some less intimidating cows.  On Christmas Day we went back to the main temple and hand fed the monkeys peanuts in shells, which they liked.  On Boxing Day we threw some peanuts on the ground for some languid looking monkeys, one of whom quickly sprang up and jumped on my husband’s bag where the nuts were.  ‘Never describe a monkey as languid,’ he said when he had recovered.  And just to cement the full range of monkey experiences, my husband saw one cradling a dead monkey in its arms.

The scenery is almost too much to take in, it is so unreal looking but so peaceful at the same time.

The people
Such sweet simple pleasures to be had here.  Buying roasted peanuts in shells, bananas, coconuts and chai from the roadside stalls.  Peanuts have become the new cigarettes, prompting interactions and sharing them with people.  So many school trips and families here for pilgrimage, sleeping outside in the temple area or at the roadside.  So many kids saying hi to us.

Everything…  We arrived early in the morning on Christmas Eve after a night of little sleep (there was a reason why ours were the only two beds left, they were over the back wheel arch, and the road to Hampi is very bumpy!)  Sitting at the chai stall under the full moon, the stalls closed and brown, the streets dusty and grey.  Bits of colour from the pink and purple of skirts.  Buses arriving, tuk tuks coming to meet the new arrivals.  Every place is something new, a new start, a new state of mind.  I am so happy we are ending our India journey in Hampi, where I first fell in love with India back in April.

Thank you very much for reading

For more pictures of our trip see Instagram travelswithanthony

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Send a message via the Contact Box (private message via email)
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Send a message via Instagram thisisrachelhill

Meet Rachel Hill

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2018-12-23 12.52.41Adie of From Adie With Love tagged me in a question and answer post.  I’m supposed to answer those questions, then come up with three questions of my own to ask three other bloggers, who I will tag.
It was very nice timing to go with me changing to my real name and my husband taking a photograph of me that I didn’t make him delete immediately- the above was taken on Saturday in Varkala just before we left for Hampi.

Adie has been a kind supporter of me and my blog and it’s been nice connecting with someone across the pond, Adie has answered questions that had mystified me (e.g. why do Americans all have such nice teeth.)  Adie blogs about all different subjects, and their writing is absolutely flawless.

Like Adie, I had a slight hitch this week which getting tagged to do this saved me from.  We left Kerala on Saturday, due to arrive in Hampi on Sunday, but because our flight from Trivandrum to Bangalore was delayed by three and a half hours we missed our night bus to Hampi.  I had planned to do some pics of the journey and our arrival in Hampi and do a travel update for my Sunday (today) post.  Instead we had to book into a hotel in Bangalore- for two nights as we need it for today as well- and get a new bus ticket for tonight.  On the plus side, there was a bus agent right by the hotel and last night we got the last two tickets on tonight’s bus, two minutes before he closed.  And the time at the airport meant I got most of this post drafted then, intending to post it next week, so it all worked out!

Anyway, here are my questions and answers:

What has been the happiest moment of your life so far?

I had a child at nineteen and was the sole carer.  This had the effect that I was very cautious about my health and safety.  Even though the 90s spanned my twenties, I never took Ecstasy because of this.  Also, I was an alternative/punky type who when I did go out frequented, in my late teens and very early twenties, The Jacquard an alternative nightclub and gig venue frequented by Goths,* Punks and Crusties.
*The DJ actually listed himself as King of the Goths in the phone book, and had an immaculate looking Goth girlfriend who was only allowed to wear black and purple.
This was downstairs only though.  At some point there started to be a night put on upstairs.  The DJ was someone from a local record shop who a friend had a crush on.  She and her best friend looked like more punky/gothy/alternative versions of the women from Strawberry Switchblade

but because she liked the DJ she started dressing in orange and yellow tie dye and going upstairs with all the ravers.  We, the downstairs people, were appalled at all the colourful clothes, and I didn’t find out what I was missing until many years later.

Fast forward to 2009.  I met my husband at the age of thirty-nine and fell in love, and he fell in love with me, in a way that was real and reciprocal, and that I realised I hadn’t ever experienced before.  (I’d thought I’d been in love; I’d liked people who hadn’t liked me back; and I’d experienced people being convinced that I was the one but not feeling it myself).  This, though, was so powerful it triggered a full on ‘spiritual awakening.’  I documented all this in a little book called How to find Heaven on Earth:  Love, spirituality and everyday life,  99p on Amazon UK.

At the time I didn’t know what was happening, I even searched love and spirituality on the internet and got a very interesting article that I printed out, highlighted, and still have I believe!  There were many moments of bliss from that time, but the stand out one that springs to mind is the first time I took Ecstasy.

Great Yarmouth, in Norfolk, England, can be described as a faded sea-side town, an area of serious deprivation, tacky, even.  But my husband’s choice of destination for that night was inspired.  With its colourful faded grandeur sea front buildings and beautiful, outrageously bright neon lights, Great Yarmouth beach and its sea front at night will stay in my heart forever.

Driving down the Acle Straight towards Great Yarmouth, I began to feel the effects come on.  I felt as if the G force was pushing me back into the seat.  My husband put on How soon is now by The Smiths.
‘I’m not crying,’ I said. ‘I just have tears coming out of my eyes.’
‘It’s okay,’ he said. ‘You wouldn’t be the first person to cry coming up on their first E.’
When we arrived at the beach, I wound the window down and experienced the breeze on my arm, which felt incredible.  Likewise, smoking a cigarette, having a sip of cool water.  After a while my husband said, ‘Come on, get out.’
‘I can’t, I can’t walk.’ I said.
‘Of course you can walk, people dance all night on this!’
Walking on the sand, having a drink with ice cubes in it, let alone when we got home(!), that whole night was amazing.
But the How soon is now moment is the moment.

If you hadn’t decided on the career choice you’ve found yourself in, what would you have done instead?

I wanted to be a writer as a child, if I wanted to be anything.  I certainly wrote.  Then I got a career to support me and my son, this involved a few years of studying, volunteering and working, then three years of training, and twenty years of working at it.  I left my occupational therapy career in February.  Right now I have this year of travel.  It was a few months in before I realised that having this year off meant I could write a book, and a little while before I actually started doing it in earnest.

What do you do to keep yourself motivated?

On the surface I don’t seem to have much of a problem with this.
But when writing and reading the above, self confidence and committing to personal goals has clearly been a problem.  Underlying a lack- or excess- of motivation are other factors.  Committing to writing and feeling I can do it only really happened this year, the year when I turned forty eight.
I keep myself quite busy but I also like being quiet and reflective.
At home I do sometimes find it difficult to summon the motivation to do housework etc, and my car is always an absolute disgrace.

Thank you very much for reading!

I am tagging the following three people:

Ms Lockwood at The Lockwood Echo: not a real newspaper

Mr B at Bryntin

The High Heeled Paper Girl

If you wish to participate, here are your three questions:

What’s been the most significant ‘moment’ of the past seven days (that you’re happy to share)?

What do you least like about the Christmas-New Year period?

And what do you like most about it? (I know it’s a hard one Mr B, but there’s got to be something!)

The Rules

♦ Answer the questions you receive (straight, funny, absurd…up to you)
♦ Create three questions of your own (for those you tag)
♦ Tag three people

Project 333, kind of

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The photograph above shows all the clothes I’m travelling with, except underwear and footwear.  Project 333 is a framework to help people apply minimalism to their clothing.  The original Project 333 link here

This is from a post of mine from March, just before we left:

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‘This is my empty clothes drawer and the pile in the photo above is all of my clothes that I am leaving.  I realised today that I haven’t worn hardly any of them since being on the boat, but also that I have lots that I love, plenty of warm things as well as summer and going out clothes; a very small amount- that drawer wasn’t even half full- but that I really love.  I have so few clothes compared to a year or two ago, yet I am infinitely more satisfied with my wardrobe (drawer).

I am excited, I am happy and I absolutely can’t wait to get to beautiful, beautiful India!’

I arrived in India at the end of March 2018 with 9kg and have been reducing that ever since.  My own current Project 333 is driven by travelling with a 7kg hand luggage allowance only.  At home it’s driven by living on a narrowboat with limited storage space.

Warm clothes came with us and were abandoned in Delhi, replaced in Tokyo and Nepal; and from now to be kept for North Vietnam and arrival in and return to UK (in March 2019).

Having only a few clothes means clothes get worn out easily through lots of washing and wringing.  Plus things sometimes seem unsuitable as we move to a different area.  And sometimes I just want a change! Clothes we no longer want are left behind for staff or given away.

The items I am most happy with are the three dresses made from Malaysian lungis- two metres of material worn by men- here is a picture of man wearing a lungi- bought in Varkala, Kerala.

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This is the tailor’s shop who made the most recent two and who fixed the first one which had been made several times before by other tailors when we were here last time and wasn’t quite right- an earlier post described my difficulties finding clothes to fit me in India

This is my current, full list:  Two bras, six pairs of knickers, three pairs of socks, one black summer dress, three lungi dresses, one purple vest top, one black summer top, one black vest, one thin black sarong/scarf, one pair of thin black trousers, one blue warm shawl, one pair of warm black leggings, one pair of warm black trousers, one blue long sleeved top, one orange-brown jumper, two modest tops, one pair of shoes and one pair of flip flops.

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Pretty much everything.  Last weight 7.5kg including handbag and tablet.

I don’t usually cart bottles of shampoo or other general products around; it’s part of the settling in process to find or pick a local shop, introduce ourselves and buy shampoo and conditioner- can buy sachets for a short stay- plus toothpaste, loo rolls, tissues, and moisturiser.

Right now I am happy with my clothes- this is unusual on this trip.  I can wear a nice dress to go outside, and lounge indoors in a sun top and sarong.  Thin trousers and scarf mean I can add cover ups as required.  We are in a tourist area so the dress code is more relaxed; I’ve only really covered up fully when going into town, the hospital or to avoid the sun.  I’ve enjoyed being able to wear my new dresses here, even though they are still fairly modest by Western standards.  I hope my clothes will be suitable and I’ll still feel happy with them in Hampi, then Cambodia then Vietnam.  At least I have plenty of warm things for arriving at Heathrow in March…

PS I have decided to be brave and use my real name online from now on.  Sorry for any confusion!

Thank you very much for reading

For photographs of our trip see Instagram travelswithanthony

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Send a message via the Contact Box (private message via email)
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The complicated stuff…

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These photographs were taken by my mum on a recent holiday.  Once a month or so she’ll send me a photo of something of interest with a few lines.  I do the same.

My son and I communicate mainly via messenger messages and occasional video calls.  We exchange news, everything’s going okay.  A couple of times recently he’s needed money and I’ve sent some.

It’s been a source of some anxiety and a fair amount of guilt that these relationships aren’t as close as, as what?  As some other people’s family relationships look from the outside?  As my idea of what these relationships should look like?  (except that I have no idea…..)  As what they were?  No, that had to change.

Anyway, in the midst of my painful illness I had a moment of clarity:  I realised suddenly:  Maybe they are happy with it being this way.

When I went to live and work in New Zealand for a year I had a similar experience of interpersonal conflict to that which I wrote about in my post ‘Every day beautiful, Every day shit,’  only without the self awareness to deal with it or take any responsibility for my part.  I emailed my mum, she emailed me back a long pep talk, and was probably quite concerned.  Even when things were going well, I used to phone her from New Zealand a lot.  I was thirty-five years old.

My son seems to do better the more independent he is from me, without me worrying about him.

I’ve written about my relationship with my son here:  This is life

Because of her own experience; property, security, inheritance were pillars for my mum.  Again due to her own experiences; as a child, teen and young woman I was conditioned to be anti-marriage, anti-men, anti-relationship.  Anti creating a world with another.

And yet that’s exactly what I’ve done with my husband and it’s amazing.  Right now, reading Krishnamurti, discussing ideas, being on a joint quest…

Here is a blog post summarising the life changing decisions we took to dismantle our previous lives and get to India here:  Orientation

And the impact it had on my relationship with my mother here:  The price of freedom

But what can I do, what is my part in fixing or accepting responsibility for these relationships?  Mother and son.  Past and present?

And what about our decisions?

I’ve been a big fan of the idea of illuminating the darkness, and taking responsibility for everything that’s ‘wrong’ in one’s life, for any sadness.
But I’ve realised that it’s also about accepting responsibility for my own happiness.

My husband and I discussed, Could we live with later thinking that we had gone crazy and regretting it and own it, the good and the bad?  We discussed the charge of, will we regret it? worst case scenarios and solutions, but still I say, It’s better than dying without having lived.

What, pregnant at eighteen, getting a career to support me and my son, getting a mortgage at thirty-five years old that would last until I was sixty, so that on my deathbed I’d say Well I couldn’t have done that (any of the exciting things- I imagine possibilities flitting through my mind on death), and then realising, Oh my God, you could have done!  You could have done!  You could have gone out and done x, and x, and x, there wasn’t anything to worry about.  There was never anything to worry about.  Your life is your life*, best message for all even with kids.

We had lunch and talked about keeping hold of this attitude to life once we return to the UK.  How?  Manage fear.  Don’t take life too seriously. Remember the people we’ve met travelling and how it works for them.  I wrote a post about some of them called Sab Kuch Milega (everything possible).

We’ve cemented voluntary simplicity minimalism and ideas about reducing consumerism, by having bought a boat to live on.  There’s no space to accumulate.  There’s a physical check on it!  The moorings are in a completely new area of the country.  There won’t be any old influences.  We’ve given ourselves the best chance we could.

So if the reason for doing all this is the pursuit of enlightenment and the definition of enlightenment is to see things as they really are…

Can you have light in some areas and not in others, just as some bits of life can be going ‘well’ and others ‘not so well’?

While we were in Pushkar my son had his teeth done.  It was such a good thing (after ten years of rotten teeth and poorly gums etc the problems are gone, and he quickly recovered and was so over the moon about facing his fears and it being resolved);  but at the same time it was so sad (that they ever got that bad, that it went on for so long, and that he had so many teeth removed).

I spent that night talking, processing, again, wishing to go to a place that can’t exist, where he’s an adult with no teeth problems, or to go back to his childhood and somehow do it all again correctly whatever it was that I did or didn’t do that could have altered it.  I don’t know what that would be and I don’t know if I could do it even if given a chance, so impossible, pointless….

Just days after, even hours after, he seemed okay, and a month later, it was as if nothing had happened at all.  It doesn’t escape my notice that he was able to finally take charge of himself while I was away.

 

The night I asked myself all these big questions about my family relationships, I dreamt about going round to my mum’s old house (a sixteenth century farmhouse that she’d lovingly restored and lived in for forty years (true)) as she was preparing to sell (true), and her pointing out memories, including a bit of plaster on the wall where a butterfly had landed and made a print (dream only!).  Maybe you could get someone to cast it, I said, in the dream.  Her so attached to bricks and mortar, making that house her whole life.  She regarded herself as custodian of the house, she put it above a relationship (she said she couldn’t marry or live with anyone as they would be able to claim half the house if they separated).

I thought about what I could have done differently on my part.  The thing would have been to keep separate, not share boyfriend details, not spend each holiday there, not run every decision by her, not do everything she said… yet at the same time it was hard as I was nineteen with a baby, twenty and single mum of a toddler…..  So maybe like with my son’s teeth there’s nothing that could have been done differently by me at that time.

And of course now there’s definitely nothing that can be done.  No time machine.  It- things, all things, can only be fixed in the present.

So exchanges of emails with photos, a few lines, and me living my life, in India, writing a book, discussing Krishnamurti and deepening my relationship with my husband, really it is the way things are.

For photographs of our trip see Instagram travelswithanthony

Getting in touch
Comment on posts (comments are public)
Send a message via the Contact Box (private message via email)
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Part of a reflective review inspired by illness, our return to Kerala, and by being eight and a half months into our twelve month trip.

* Your life is your life, go all the way (Charles Bukowski)

For photographs of our trip see Instagram travelswithanthony

Getting in touch
Comment on posts (comments are public)
Send a message via the Contact Box (private message via email)
Follow/send a message via my new Instagram: Sadie Wolf so_simple_so_amazing