Sunday, 29 August 2021

Friends and Pen Y Fan.

Two Saturdays ago (I think, time is doing its usual thing of escaping any kind of sense or reason) I dragged two of my closest friends up Pen Y Fan, in the Brecon Beacons. When we started it wasn’t raining as much as the air was wet. A cloud swallowed the top of the mountain, a cloud into which we were headed. I was determined that despite the weather we would reach the top, see no views, and come back down again. You can’t come to the Brecon Beacons without climbing a hill! I had said to myself before the holiday. My friends were ever so slightly bemused by the fact we were about to walk up into the grey, unknown mass ahead of us. 

At some point, perhaps half way up, we discovered that I was the only one wearing a properly waterproof coat. The others had coats that were fine for a light shower of rain, not for being literally inside of a cloud. I think this caused slight resentment, but onwards we pushed. 

Being a bit more used to walking up hills than the others I kept a steady pace ahead. Waiting occasionally for them to catch up with me, each more sodden than they had been before. I was excited by the weather. I couldn’t see 10 paces ahead of me, but I liked the adventure. 

Within about an hour we were on the plateau near the peak. Here we could see the dark grey of the wet stone underneath us, and the light grey of the cloud enclosing all around us. And nothing else. We giggled as the wind grew stronger and we made our way to the summit, using the strange figures of other walkers a few paces in front to guide our way. And then, all of a sudden, we were there. We stood right on the top, asked someone to take a picture of us, wild looking from the rain, and then started to make our way back down.

And that was it. That was me dragging my lovely friends up a hill. No breathtaking views, no picnic on the top, but we did it. And all the time I thought, how funny is this and how lucky am I to be walking here with two people who love me, making an adventure of one rainy August morning. 

Sunday, 4 July 2021

Lots to say, nothing to do.

I have a lot to say about today's current affairs. I keep vaguely up to date with it all. I know there's a fire in the ocean because of an oil spill. I know Matt Hancock is gone, not because of his corrupt mishandling of the pandemic, but because of an affair and that the man who's replaced him as health secretary is telling us his job is to get the economy back on track. And does that mean selling off the NHS? The beautiful, wonderful NHS? 

I have a lot to say, I really do, but at the same time I want to hold back. I don't want to write about it. I don't have a particularly unique view point on it. And I'm tired. It's all endless. Each week there's something to be angry about, something to be anxious about, something to be devastated by. 

Maybe it's okay not to add my voice to that. Currently the only thing I can do is vote in elections and hope for the best. But I feel powerless, and also like I'm in a fever dream. Is that always going to be the case? I'll have a lot to say, but I'll always be powerless? 

I bloody hope not. 

Sunday, 13 June 2021

Hot days.

On this hot, sunny afternoon I am still nursing a hangover from the night before. I sat outside on a balmy evening, a jazz band played music across the street, I drank far too much beer. 

Now I let sweat pool at the small of my back, lying in the luscious grass dad swears grows too quickly, trying to bronze my skin with the UV rays. 

The most recent lockdown, the long, dark days, feel as if they never existed. The whole year feels like an unpleasant, strangely familiar fever dream. Each season sectioned off by very specific, anxious feelings and interspersed, limited social events that stick out because there were so few of them. I can’t work out whether I have processed it all or not, or whether the coming months and years will bring sudden moments of “what the fuck was that?”

I think, however, that my current philosophy is to juice the life I am living now, this hot, alcohol infused summer, for everything it’s got. I am exhausted already, but blissfully so. I think we all deserve this. 

Monday, 26 April 2021


I often find myself feeling a need to feel something about everything. Or, at least, I anticipate feeling something. I'm supposed to have an opinion on this or that, I'm supposed to love that person, hate another, feel giddy after that experience, feel scared after this one. And when I feel nothing I feel strange. Like I'm floating. 

But the thing is feeling nothing is not nothing, it is contentedness. I feel happy. Not ecstatic, not in love, not happy sad, not amused, just happy. And it is a strange feeling to get your head around because it doesn't do much. It just sits there and for a moment or two absolutely everything is okay. It is what comes from being relaxed. It's what I've been striving for. It's what I get to occasionally, then forget to appreciate, and then something comes along that heightens my emotions one way or another and I have to work or wait to get back to this. This slowness, this level and pleasant feeling of happy. 

I will not be rushing out of my contentedness this time. I will not think to hard about it either. I will just sit with it, pay it a quiet observance, and wonder aimlessly about the next thing that might disturb it in a way that is pleasant or unpleasant. I will just float, I suppose. 

Friday, 9 April 2021

This is it.

Today I sat in the garden on the new furniture mum bought in the sun which was shining with its new spring warmth. In a rare lockdown moment, I was alone in the house. I had just made a coffee, which spilled ribbons of stream into the air next to me, making interesting patterns on the surface of the liquid. I closed my eyes. I breathed deeply. I heard the birds chattering to each other, and the soft breeze in the trees. I opened my eyes. I could see the orange and purple pansies mum had planted, the tall daffodils waving at me. I looked up and two red kites swooped over each other, playing acrobatics in the wind. 

And I stayed very still, for a moment or two, and I thought "well, this is is it, isn't it?" And it was.

Sunday, 21 March 2021

Pen pals.

I have been writing to people I have never met across the Atlantic ocean. And in Germany. And in the north of England. I was drawn to the idea of pen pals as yet another way to heal, and as another activity to do in the long days of lockdowns. Now I have several across the United States, and some closer to home as well. Some of my family and friends have commented on their own lack of patience for writing letters, but I enjoy the opportunity to handwrite and to make connections with strangers in an unusual manner. 

Most of my pen pals put my dreary lined paper and white office envelopes to shame. They send me stickers and wax seals and washi tape. One sprayed their letter with perfume. I liked that idea. That a scent had travelled all the way from Brooklyn to my house. Sometimes I send a postcard too, or write in a bright  colour to shake things up a bit. 

One pen pal spent the time to make me a cross-stitched coaster. We had only been writing for a couple of months and although I have never seen her face or heard her voice, I feel as though we are friends. 

My pen pals and I write to each other about books we have read, TV and films we have seen, about the weather and what living through a pandemic is like in our respective countries, about love, about travelling, about cooking and goals and plans for when the pandemic is over. 

I don't know if I will ever meet any of my pen pals. I really hope I will. And I hope that for a long time to come I can sit down on a Saturday morning and write them a reply in pink, or orange, or green depending on where the mood takes me. I find letters peaceful to write, and incredibly exciting to receive. I can highly recommend it as a way to sit and stop and think for a while. 

Sunday, 28 February 2021

Spring is springing.

Never before have I experienced the coming of spring so acutely. It is dramatically wonderful. New life is pushing its green little fingers out of the earth as the sun warms it up, a golden welcome for such long awaited happenings. 

I walk every day. In "normal" times I wouldn't be doing that but it has meant that I have watched the first signs of spring emerge, each day bringing new little gift. If I sound giddy, it's because I am. The new warmth of the sun, the birds singing their songs, the flowers appearing. Everything is beautiful. Like, perfectly, wonderfully beautiful. 

You can still read the news and feel scared, or you can read the news and feel hopeful. The hopeful bit has certainly been emphasised by the seasons changing. But it seems not to matter so much when the days grow longer. 

It just seems as if things are changing in the way we want them to, a multitude of things. A long, dark winter coming to an end. The seasons a literal metaphor. Maybe. I hope.