Thursday, 26 September 2013


Every time I walk out onto the verandah, my eyes are drawn across the valley to the new house build that is taking place. I've watched with interest, and with some degree of selfish disappointment, from the very first day when the workers arrived with chainsaws to clear the trees; with bonfires blazing, seemingly out of control, and the bulldozers came to create the new access road.

That was barely two months ago, and now standing tall, probably 30 feet from the base, there is a clearly discernable building of substance, which someone will soon call home.
Perhaps they will go up another floor?...or they may create a rental suite/in-law apartment downstairs?...or perhaps both, who knows.  What I do know is that the view and landscape will change....forever?  This is, of course, of no real consequence and has been happening, at an ever growing speed, these past few decades. People need places to live, and I have no doubt that eventually the entire hillside will be covered with new homes. 

With that thought, I wondered about my neighbours in the turquoise house across the way. Not the prettiest of houses granted, but home to that family for many years now.  Imagine the day they chose that particular spot; perhaps they planned all aspects, fantasising about early morning coffee with the rising sun and sundowners at sunset. Their sprawling south-facing terrace had an uninterrupted 180 degree view across the valley of virgin woodland and the sea beyond. Then along I came, and built a house in the middle of that woodland - I hope it's sufficiently far away, so as not to impede their view.  Three years on, despite any possible initial disappointment on their part, I suspect that they've learnt to live with this change of prospect, and maybe even enjoyed watching my comings and goings, and dog-related shenanigans from a polite distance.  But now what?  This new house will be immediately across the road from their terrace - a road that never existed when they sat down and planned their own dream home all those years ago.

Once the new house is completed, they will no longer be able to see my house, and likewise, they will be hidden from my all intents and purposes we shall cease to exist for each other.     

But this is life, isn't it? Nothing is permanent, every thing changes - that we can be sure of.
On a positive note, apparently the Buddha said, "because nothing is permanent, everything is possible". 

Several years ago, my partner and I hatched a master plan. We sold our house, containerised our belongings and put them into storage....we were off to start new jobs and embrace a new European lifestyle at 'Corporate Giant' Global HQ, set on the banks of Lake Geneva, looking across at the French Alps.  A new apartment was found with stunning views across the water to Evian, France (where the mineral water comes from), and Italy was just a short (efficiently Swiss) train ride away.  We talked of weekends in Milan during opera season, drives across the Alps into France and other intriguingly exciting things. Je suis arrivé!

Just a few months into the adventure, whilst we shared a celebratory dinner, I heard uttered those words so many of us hope we'll never hear...."I don't want to do this any more".
As far as I can recall, I believe I accepted this declaration with good grace, for somehow I already knew this would be the outcome, and had come to terms with it, but that didn't make it any less painful. It's a bit like having a close friend or family member with a terminal illness; you know it's just a matter of time, and you think you're prepared for the worse, until the final day arrives. I doubt that any amount of 'knowing' or warning can prepare you for the real sense of loss that follows. In a way, I think my coping mechanism and justification for accepting the situation so graciously was to believe it was karma catching up with me (I've since learnt that this is a common misconception of what karma truly means), for I'd done the self-same thing to someone else ten years previously, almost to the day, in order to be with him; which in turn seemed to provide me with a peculiar insight and understanding - and first-hand experience of how my own actions, all those years ago, had made another person feel; a rare gift indeed.        

Within two weeks, my father who had yet to be furnished with this "news", called in tatters; my mother had had a stroke and he was desparate for some help and support. In less than one month, I had resigned, agreed an amicable split, boarded a plane and begun considering a totally new plan of my own...thousands of miles from where I thought I would be. Almost seven years on, though both parents are unwell, we have shared some true quality time together, something I had not done with them for over twenty years. Life can be unexpectedly surprising, and I am grateful for the chance to have this 'second life' with them.

We can plan and scheme, but the universe may have a different plan for us, as yet unknown, and as it unfolds, we can choose to embrace it; embracing the uncertainty of each event, every change, and dance with life (to paraphrase two of Susan Jeffers' bestsellers).

Perhaps we can take some comfort in the fact that in the same way that good times may come to an end, so do bad times. As Sir Charlie Chaplin put it, "nothing is permanent in this wicked world, not even our troubles.".  

Making a start on the new build

No doubt in time this entire hillside will be covered with houses

Monday, 23 September 2013


Rather proud to be following in my old Papa's footsteps and supplying a decent harvest of organic Tahitian limes to a local hotel.  Though my Papa is very canny and held back a portion of the harvest to barter for some very tasty, and incredibly large, avocado pears from one of our neighbours.  'Tis these simple things in life that bring so much pleasure....