Hoping and wishing and dreaming

The night was so still, airless and I woke suffocated by the heat in our berth so I found myself lying on deck stargazing, listening to the snores of others along the jetty, giggling to the infectious laughter returning party and wondering at my thoughts in between fish splashes and cat calls. On an island in Fiji in 1999 I remember a similar brightly lit starry night and wishing upon shooting stars and drinking woody, muddy, intoxicating kava from wooden bowls. I remember what I wished for then… but I wondered what I would wish for now…

In some ways I was at a loss, other than wishing for sleep… I recollected the dark chest on the otherside of the mountain, deep beneath the waves that once engulfed my happiness and wondered if I should wish that away? But thought it a waste of a wish, for the recollection of the box just reminded me of how far I, we, all of us have come, how much stronger and happier we are, despite the healing scars and the sometimes raw and painful memories.

Strangely I found it hard to wish for myself, something in my early 20's that I had no problem doing, wishing on firework of shooting stars all for myself, my future, materialistic and prescriptive. It was far easier and more satisfying as I lay on deck to pass the time wishing on each bright star for my boys, my family, their future and their happiness. Maturity or personal growth!?

I was once lead to believe that wishing and hoping were pointless, that you should take control of your life, your thoughts and your attitude. But I am glad I have allowed Hope back into my life – the conduit for miracles – for here I am lying on a boat, wishing on stars, living out the vision of happiness I once dreamt of.


We all remember the first time and in the majority of smart people, the last time, we get sunstroke. Mine was at my first year at boarding school and the weekend we asked all parents to join us for the summer fayre. It was an Incredibly hot day and I was on 'splat the rat' duty. I was wearing a pink flowery skirt, an oversized black 'phantom of the opera' t-shirt and my trademark red Alice band of the time; fashion was of no interest to me at the young age of 10. I learnt my lesson that day – never wear black on a hot day and that I do not function or respond well in prolonged periods of heat.

My least favourite part of today, the early hours, was seeing Tom suffer from spending all day in the sun, dangling from the back of boat in a rubber ring. A quick shout of an alarmed 'mummy!!!' And I spent a while stroking his back and covering him in cold flannels. Fortunately I am ok with sick… spending several months of cleaning up projectile vomit from undiagnosed coeliac disease for willy prepared me. 12 hours later, multiple bodily expulsions and he was back on the rubber ring…. but with cap and t-shirt and for a short while, taking himself off to lie in the shade. I hope he has learnt a valuable lesson.

After the vomit, my favourite part of the day, is a close call: in 3rd place, taking the dinghy to explore caves and the cool waters, 2nd place watching the mortimer crew drop anchor and securing a shore line to the most beautiful secret cove walled by dramatically by cathedral striations in the rock face.

But my top rated, most favourite part of the day was beaching the dinghy on a creamy pebble shale beach and watching my family, beaming and tripping into the cool waves. With no Camera, it was a memory to treasure and imprint on my mind, the white smooth sugared almond pebbles, the pale turquoise softening to deep royal blues of the sea and heads bobbing as the boys shout in unison 'big wave'!!!!

Last night we ate chez Stavros and tonight chez George. Last night we had neighbours from Israel and tonight from New Zealand.

Life brings lessons and experiences and that is the best educAtion for ourselves and the generations to come.

Banning mirrors

Tonight, after 2 days in a bikini, I am wondering where this unsightly, soft squidgy, lumpy layer all over my body has come from. Has it arrived because I am well established into my 40's and now just part of the female ageing process …. or 4 months off exercise and healthy living, my refound love of cheese, wine and bread probably not helping….

Perhaps I will never get back my stick thin, highly toxic body of 20's or my athletic lean body from strict diet and disciplined exercise, bordering on unhealthy obsessive years of my post baby body of my late 30's… It only bothers me when I see it in photos or in a mirror or when I try once loose clothing, now tight, because I am quite happy really….

How can you not be happy sailing?

My morning, pre breakfast stretching and pilates, with my little sidekick on the deck and a swim ashore to raise my heart rate and wake me up… sleeping on a boat is intermittent with the splooshing and slapping of the waves against the hull by my head, the jangling of the ropes and boom…the early risers and callers, washing the decks, footling with lockers and 'wotnots'… and Tinkler's off the side.

My days, reading, jumping in the clear seas, watching the islands wash past and laughing as the boys dangle on a floating line.

My evenings, loving reliving my youth, waiting in lines, showering in communal, cold jets, flip flops and speed mandatory: eating delicious fresh sardines, cheese and more cheese accompanied by carafes of local wine with ice.

Does it really matter what the outside looks like, when the inside feels good?

Perhaps I will just ban mirrors and live in my 'one size' dresses! At least while I am in Greece anyway…

Simple pleasures

My theme of gratitude continues… and today for the ability to wake up in one county and country and to be having lunch in another.

Sailing is a huge part of our extended family life and the boys have been brought up with adventures you can have on the sea.

I am just grateful for the simplicity of island life; sun and sea … and just family. No airs. No graces. Just the simple lessons of respect, as much to each other in small spaces and the open elements, wind and tides; ropes and fenders.

And the simple pleasures of carafes of cold red wine, skimming stones, souvlaki and midnight adventures on a tender.

My antidote antidote to depression

It is that lovely part of the day again, and today as the heat dissipates and the sun dips, instead of a headache I have a peaceful mind and a cold glass of wine.  There is still mowing going on, and watering and food cooking and I am taking my now habitual five… or 10.


I read a while back and scribbled on my mirror notes, that gratitude is the antidote to depression.  And I am grateful that that has rung true for me.  I am grateful for the act of making it a daily, sometimes hourly, even instinctive practice for any moments or dips, redirecting me back to positivity.


I am also grateful for the practice of journaling, helping me find the weeds and nasty stinging nettles of my mind, so that the fragrance and beauty can be rediscovered.


And then there is my new found love and gratitude for meditation and mindfulness.  Even if only for a few minutes a day, in the longer, darker days, this brought peace and hope and a calmness I didn’t think would be possible.


So perhaps, as I sit here in my pondering moments of 5… or 10… that is my recipe for getting through depression, or dark days, challenging times even.


Gratitude + journaling + mindfulness, give it time and patience and wrap it all up with compassion and love:  for yourself, until you can find it in your own heart to muster up enough energy and the courage to give it away again to others.



This beautiful moment

It is that lovely part of the day, to me, when the white hot heat has gone from the sun and the breeze is cool.  I am sat high on my terrace, another of my favourite places, where the pink fragrant roses bend and twist through and around the railings.


As the sun dips, so does the intensity of my headache.   The origin, reason or source I don’t know…  perhaps the heat, perhaps the intensity of a new ‘body blast’ gym session in a closed window’ed room, perhaps the tantrums of my youngest, perhaps my list of endless things I want to accomplish in the house, but can’t quite get to… or perhaps the pile of laundry I need to do before we go on holiday this week, the multiple insurance claims I am chasing but getting no response, the John Lewis order I cancelled but keep receiving multiple items from, the fact Tom has broken my Grandad’s watch…


Maybe all of those things thrown in a boiling hot cauldron, which is already bubbling from the chaos of change in the last 2 weeks, worry and concern for those I love…. And the memories of ‘kinky boots’ that keep popping up to say ‘hello, forgotten me yet?’


As I sit in the breeze and type, rather than listen to my thoughts, I know a meditation that would help the tension, but I am also conscious, my mind is too busy.  So a mindfulness practice it is, becoming aware of my surroundings …..  and a soft smile greets my lips as I hear the boys in the garden, all 3.  Tom all grown up and mowing the fields to pay back the cost of repairs to my watch;  Willy flip flopping in my Converse as he waters the pots and plants to earn money for more nerf guns;  and the Big Man strimming the long grasses and cutting the grass between the rose beds.


And then all of a sudden the smell of BBQ … and time to eat!


Mindfulness brings me home again, to this beautiful place, in this beautiful moment.



The connection waltz

There were so many beautiful memories from today, dancing a waltz through and giving silver linings to some of the more sad ones.


As the Mortimer Senior siblings spent long overdue quality time together, cycling the Chiltern Hills, the Brooks sisters spent time together visiting the homes and the people of their childhood.


I hope I am an ounce of as good a godmother as mine.  As we catch up on my wellbeing and hers, I watch a master at work; just as she did when I was the same age, for the boys she made games and adventure out of everything from a cauldron of buttons, counting pots, finding spiders and faces in the never-ending garden, answering questions on the Australian bushfires, opening secret treasure boxes, but all the while, connecting with me, hearing me, letting me know she is ok;  holding hands over tea and cake in my favourite room from my childhood, full of curios and treasures, shrouded by flowers and colour and light.


From one room of my childhood to another, one where we used to sit and play cards and eat cherry jam sandwiches.  Like my memories, the colours of the room are faded and my aunt looks frail;  but the boys and their cousins brought light and laughter back, playing their own games of hide and seek and tig.


From one garden of my childhood to another, one my Mumbo designed and loved; roses and lilies in abundance, ornamental trees and grasses with a dry river bed running through it.  Each of us took handfuls of her ashes, her Johnnie, her daughters and her grandchildren, and sprinkled them with tenderness just as she used to tend her garden, giving life and love to each bloom and display.


The day reminded me of simple pleasures, of the importance of curiosity, friendship, family, adventure, but mostly about connection and the calm it brings.


Connection with those we love, while we still can and able.