Love Letters #34

I didn’t know I could feel that way. That reckless abandon. That absolute peace. It felt like I was in a small bubble, and I knew it would pop at any moment, but I didn’t want to think of that until it happened.

I just wanted to enjoy the now most thoroughly.

We walked on the mountain for hours every morning, as the sun climbed higher and higher in the sky. I could feel its malignant beam on my back, scorching through my clothes, making my skin prickle uncomfortably before it broke down and wept rivers of sweat. My feet were sore by the end of the day.

We ate whatever we could get our hands on. Pineapples chopped, mangoes until the orange stickiness dribbled down our chins and under our shirts. Strawberries by the bowlful. Fruit in abundance.

We jumped in the lake straight after, with all our clothes on. You swore loudly because the water was deceivingly cold, and we glanced back at our parents, our relief palpable when we saw them laughing on the lake’s edge, oblivious to our transgression.

We cycled on old rusty bikes found in the garage, the wheels patched and pumped, the chains oiled. Our fingers were grimy with mud and grease, and the summer wind rushed on our faces and separated every strand of our sun bleached hair. You burned severely one day, and your mother smothered you in aloe vera and I rolled around laughing as you squelched outside like a giant slug, a brilliant scowl on your face.

We were bloated with lemonade and stuffed full of sugar, our feet hardened over the span of the two months we were there, browned and baked by the heat and roughened by hot ground beneath our bare soles.

It ended though, as I knew it would. My father had an office to get back to and yours had patients to dissect. Our mothers bundled us away in our respective cars, stuffed blankets down by our feet as we sweltered within, our noses pressed to the windows, watching as the adults exchanged handshakes and claps on the back, and our cars trundled on the dusty road, the distance between them growing with each second.

They didn’t spare a thought for the little people. They dragged their children along wherever they went and they didn’t think that in leaving the holiday house they seared our hearts. Well, my heart. I’d never experienced anything like the friendship we had. the fearlessness, the secrets, the tents and the battles.

There was never a summer quite like that summer. I don’t know who you are, and my parents are vague whenever I ask them. So I leave it, thinking perhaps someday in the future we may meet again and rekindle that bond between spirits.

But I know it will never be the same. I am too old to feel that surge of excitement when I think of the day ahead. Ants and beetles on the ground are nothing to me now. Your voice echoes through the years sometimes, and that summer heavily influences all of my choices and the way I respond to the world.

It’s the smallest things, sometimes. The smallest things.

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Every Last Drop

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Loch Ness

Maybe we can pause the world and escape to a little cubby hole. Maybe we don’t even need to pause it. Maybe it can carry on without us but we would be content because we are not needed or required to help turn its magnificent cogs.

I suppose we don’t really need to turn its magnificent cogs. I suppose if we didn’t, the world would carry on as usual, and it would be exactly the same. But our little nooks would slowly vaporise away and we would be mere wisps on the fringe of it all struggling to find a parting in the heavy, stampeding traffic that is trundling along.

And it would be very hard to get back in.

And everything we worked for would be gone. Snap. Crick crack. Like a click. Or a tock.

That is why we need a holiday. To refresh and recharge our tired little arms, to carry on turning our very own special cogs.

Mine included driving all around this Island I call home. From the south to the topmost North. I only have four days left before I have to set the record player again and fall back into the stressful mess that is my real life.

The worry, the anxiety, the terrible marriage situation where the in-laws and commuting to work suck all the life out of my husband so all I get is an empty moody shell, the awful living situation, the nomad-like bouncing from house to house everyday, the exhaustion, the feeling of not finishing half what I set out to do by the end of the day because I do not have any private space for my work – aaaah!

I don’t want this peace to end. I really, really don’t want this peace to end. I could cry because I so desperately hate it back at ‘home’. But it will end.

And so.

For now.

I will find the Loch Ness monster (that’s Nessie, apparently), I will enjoy the scenic beauty of mountains and water and views and bagpipes for the last four days and squeeze out

every

last

little

drop.

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Loch Ness as we saw it

 

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Edinburgh from up top 🙂

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York – this man was blowing bubbles in return for a small donation to sponsor his trip to Japan!

All images are credited to my husband – he takes the good ones. 🙂

The Most Beautiful City in Europe

Today I am in Edinburgh.

They have a festival going on, which means the city is alive. It is heaving with folks and activities and music and throngs and mummers and minstrels and bagpipe blowers and Chinese people and ice cream and glorious sounds and sights everywhere.

Everywhere.

Edinburgh is one of the most beautiful cities I have visited so far in my life, and I have visited a fair few.

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It is stunning because it combines magnificent natural beauty with ancient, wondrous architecture – alongside a light modern touch. There are mountains pale blue in the distance, an ocean glittering under the sunny sky, and castles and gothic spires rising and falling in a cascade over the city.

 

Cobbled streets are so steep – but you barely notice the climb because your neck is craned upwards at the stone walls and jutting rocks and trees growing seemingly over roofs – at the coloured shop fronts and flower falls and steep, steep steps leading to wonderlands.

There is so much to see. Too much to see, that you are twisting your neck to manic proportions for fear of missing anything. In fact, I know I missed a lot.

Edinburgh is a stunning city. No wonder the Scottish want their independence. They have Edinburgh, they don’t need us English!

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On a Moroccan Bath

When you walk in, be sure to take off your glasses because they will steam up.
Ladies are naked. Quite naked. Not a scrap of clothing. You collect a bucket from the locker woman, take off your clothes, and in you go.

Three large high ceiled rooms, each hotter than the next. In the hottest room the floor is hot, like in Dubai in the summer when you come out the pool in the sunshine and have to hop on the slabs so the soles of your feet don’t burn.

So there is a special kind of natural soap that you use, you just take it off and it dissolves into foam in your hands, and you rub it all over your body. Sit and stew in the heat awhile, then wash the soap off.

Now is the good bit. Now you scrub at your skin. Slow, deep scrubs until grey spaghetti starts to form. So much grime and dirt crawling out of your skin, and you scrub and scrub, and you scrub another lady’s back and she scrubs yours. All over your body until you are sure all your spaghetti grime has come out of your pores, and then you wash again.

Wash your hair, wash your skin. Then gather all your stuff and wrap up warm and out you pop.
Breath of minty fresh air hits you, making  your skin prickle in satisfaction.

So light and clean. It’s wonderful.

I feel so relaxed. Drowsy. I could comfortably fall into a deep sleep now. The sign over the baths said in Arabic “Hammam Turkiyya” which means ‘Turkish Baths’ so maybe it’s a Turkish bath? Either way, it’s the best wash I have ever had, ever. It’s like a cleansing massage.

Will I go again? Hell to the yeah! I don’t like being naked in front of everybody though. I’ve never been able to do that. I wore a bikini but even then it was mighty awks. I guess I’m just never gonna be comfy showing skin. THAT much skin anyway. But once you’re in its not really an issue and you kind of forget because you’re so engrossed in getting rid of your spaghetti insect dirt!

Day Two

The Moroccan dialect is proving to be difficult to master, but then again it is only day two.

Every night the braying of donkeys lulls me to sleep, and it is as though they are holding microphones to their mouths. What is a donkey’s mouth called anyway? A snout? A nostril? Or is it just called a mouth?

Moroccan food is full of flavour, and yesterday I came across some lavender bushes and right next to them, rosemary! Whaaaat!?
They don’t use rosemary in cooking. I think it’s just there to look pretty.

The weather is sunny, with a pleasant breeze to accompany the sun. If not for the breeze I fear we’d be baking. It is a little chilly at night. I don’t get much time for reading because there are loads of people here and lots of talking. I’m going to learn some Moroccan cooking tomorrow.

13.06.16

I’m flying to Morocco tomorrow and of course I am scared.

I am scared of the plane.

I am scared of what will greet me there.

I am scared to leave my husband.

I am scared for my mother.

I am scared for my father.

I am just an anxious scaredy cat. But you know what, y’all? I am a grown ass woman and so will have to just suck it up and enjoy myself.

I shall meet my paternal grandmother, who lives and flourishes there. I shall explore and wander around a country that I have only been to but once before, but which is rich with part of my heritage. I shall try to learn the dialect, and try to cook the dishes. I shall go to some Moroccan baths, of course. My father tells me the baths make dirt crawl out of your pores like insects, and you feel so light afterwards.

After hearing that, my body now feels gross and heavy with clogged pores full of insect-dirt! It needs a Moroccan bath!

It will be mighty hot so I have packed only the coolest of garments. I am looking forward to getting some pure Argan oil, and exploring markets and gardens.

My father tells me how he used to walk to the seaside, and buy fruit to sell so he could afford to buy books. He was pretty poor back then.

Anyway. I am excited. Let’s not ruin it by worrying about rubbish that may never happen. And if it does happen, well, we’ll cross those bridges when they come, won’t we.

(That’s what my mum always says).

I have also scheduled some posts to go up while I am away, because the place where I am going is remote and there won’t be any internet for some time.