Oh to be in England

Now that spring is there.

Appledore, Devon, Spring, Flowers, Rivers

Whoever wakes in England Sees, some morning, unaware

Robert Brownings inspiring ode, could apply to anywhere in England. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, unfortunately many of us do not have the time, inclination or quietness of mind to behold our surroundings & draw pleasure from the exquitiste unfurling of new life & a new dawn.

Appledore, mindfullness, north devon, bluebells, new life
Peace & tranquillity

Throughout my life there have been many times when I have not been able to appreciate the true beauty of the world. The “black dog” had been firmly resting on my shoulder. In some lighter moments I could briefly see an image, which would momentarily stir my interest. The neon lights of a London Street being reflected on a black tarmac road during a torrental downpour. The sun rising over Clapham Junction, while catching the 6.45 to Waterloo. These thumb nail shots were very short lived, but for a moment in time, gave me a warm feeling of pleasure & peace, before the full claustrophobic reality of my life, once more emcompassed me.

Trafalgar square fountain, red buss, people, grey day.
Trafalgar Square

My mother, who’s birthay it would have been today, had just died & my son had left the nest & fled to Medical School. The black dog didn’t just rest on my shoulder it was firmly ensconsed inside my head. I wouldn’t say I’d reached a cross roards, but hit a major pile up on the motorway.

Gin, tonic, orange slices, ice. lose up in a clear glass

Spending to much time in pubs – yes, the glass was always half empty – I awoke one morning in my manic phase. I was going to Greece! Having been left a small legacy, I packed a suitcase, stuck a pin in a map & booked a flight to Corfu.

Greece. What can I say. My senses were on fire with new aromas, sights & sounds. I had been here on holidays, but this time, I was staying. I had also not yet reached the place on this beautiful island where the pin had landed. Gazing out of the hyrofoil window, 40 minutes into my crossing the small olive tree clad Island of Paxos drifted into sight. This was to be my home & my salvation for the next three years.

Paxi, made me happy – most of the time , – I cooked meals for the tourists, using local produce & wine. Went for exilerating walks & swam at sunrise, every morning and once again I began to paint. There were days, when I would just shut myself away, relishing the solitude & peace which allowed my creative side to come to the fore, once more. Whilst making friends with the Greeks, I also met a lovely English girl who was engaged to a Greek man, she hailed from Appledore, Devon, a place I had not heard of. I made a mental note to seek it out on my return to England.

Mixed Media Painting by Jan Steele Yellow greek fishing boats against a blue sea, white buildings
Fishing Boats

Returning to the UK, I visited Appledore on many occassions, escaping the realities of the dark places in my mind. I was determined that one day, I would live there. Appledore, with its quaint, pastel coloured cottages & cobbled streets reminds me a lot of Paxos, although the weather is possibly not as clement. But, at Christmas last year, my dream became a reality & I finally made Appledore my home on 1st February this year. Beauty, truly was inthe eye of the beholder.

BlackLabrador, sitting on pebble beach, with sea in the back ground.

Now, I’m not going to say, that every day is going to be filled with the sweet smell of roses, or that my life will be perfect all the time. What I do know is that with the help from a lot of people & organistations, I have learnt to manage the variations in my moods. And the black dog? well it still sits on my shoulder from time to time, but the therapy one, walks proudly beside me, each & every day. For which I am thankful.