Walking in the World

Monthly Archives: August 2016

Dragonfly Drop-in

Dragonfly2016

We have a new friend who likes to spend his afternoons hunting small flies and basking in our garden. We’ve been enjoying a few days of Real Summer weather this week, with temperatures in the 80’s, which makes the garden a pretty nice place to be!.

 

26 Aug 2016

Ariadne Returns

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Ariadne is back! To follow my labyrinth adventures, please visit me at Ariadne’s Thread where my posts will be primarily labyrinth-related. Walking in the World will continue with its eclectic nature, with labyrinths merely appearing amongst my other daily meanderings, both here in England and farther afield.

I’ve been playing with ideas for my blogs for months, and dividing my posts like this seems to be the best way forward. Each blog has its separate email notifications, so if you’re interested in both, please sign up on both sites. Both sites will evolving as I try out my new ideas. I will try to post several times a week across the two sites – neither will be on a daily basis, but hopefully there will continue to be a fair offering of beautiful photos and interesting stories.

I love having you share my journey. As most bloggers will admit, I find myself carrying my blog and its readers with me wherever I go, and I “talk” to you in my about far more than ever makes it to the page. Your comments and support not only encourage me onwards, but deepen my experience of Life itself.

(My series on the 2016 Saffron Walden Maze Festival will continue over on Ariadnes Thread. Hope to see you there!)

 

24 Aug 2016

A-maze-ing Saffron Walden!

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Every few years, the Minotaur comes to Saffron Walden, home of the wonderful 17th century turf maze.

He came, in many forms, as part of the 2016 Saffron Walden Maze Festival, which was a rousing success. Every three years, the town celebrates its maze-y history, as enthusiasts and creatives gather together to chat, walk, make, and play with labyrinths and mazes of all sorts and descriptions.

If I tried to show you the whole festival in one post, it would grow too long. So I’m going to show you around the festival in a series of mini-posts this week in hopes of giving you a sense of the event. We spent most of the weekend in Saffron Walden, driving up through the lovely rural countryside to this little market town that we consider a home away from home, especially during Maze Festival week when the whole place teems with labyrinth enthusiasm and interest and we get to watch as whole new generations get inspired about history and myth, while having the time of their lives. It’s a hands-on event, with something for everyone. I came away inspired, buzzing with new ideas, fresh conversations, and deepening friendships.

Let me show  you through the weekend….

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Those of you who know the town will undoubtedly be pleased to know that there is a new permanent maze in town. Jeff Saward officially cut the ribbon and declared it open on Saturday morning, to the cheers of an enthusiastic crowd eager to explore the new pathways.

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And the fun began…
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Mazeplay
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To clarify, for those of you who aren’t familiar with British labyrinth terminology, yes, mazes are typically defined as containing pathway choices while labyrinths have a single path leading to the centre, but some of the historic turf labyrinths here have Maze names – and always have. Confusing? A bit, but if you consider it an opportunity for opening your mind, it doesn’t have to be problematic. Saffron Walden has always referred to the 17th century labyrinth on the Common as a maze. so that’s what I’m calling it here, and the festival, therefore, takes its name from history. The town now boasts an impressive collection of permanent mazes, of differing ages, some of which are labyrinths and others are mazes in today’s parlance. Something for everyone!

22 Aug 2016

Reminiscing

I’m still enjoying my memories of being in the Netherlands last week, and I just can’t resist showing you a few more tiles and treats. As I wandered through the Tegelmuseum, I found myself lingering in two particular rooms – the one dedicated to depictions of Bible stories and the one showing modern-ish commercial commissions. In the Biblical room, I spent quite a while searching out depictions of Mary and the Christ Child

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but while looking for those, others caught my eye. I know this is Daniel, but it reminds me of the Strength card from the tarot.

Strength

In a room devoted to more modern tile commissions, I spent a long time lingering over this one which clearly celebrated the bookseller’s 50th anniversary in full colour. Something about it took me right back to childhood, with stories that I could recognize, and buildings that invited me in. I wanted to walk out of the museum and be on this street!

Books tiles

Coming home that evening, my roommate, Els’ childhood companion Bromber, seemed to join me in my nostalgia. Els’ father gave her the bear on her first birthday, and he has accompanied her throughout her life. She made his outfit when she was still a young schoolgirl – a worthy accomplishment! I enjoyed knowing he was there in my room at night as I settled in to sleep – and I enjoy knowing he is there to watch over my friend now that I’m back home!

Bromber

And now that I’m home, I have this little beauty hanging in our room to remind me of the tiles I fell in love with. Els brought this to us the first time she visited here; I believe it once belonged to her mother.MyTile

Memories run deep, and nourish the soul.

19 Aug 2016

Gardening with Friends

Jeff kindly takes care of our gardening for us –  I think  he sees it as a chance to commute with his critterly comrades! This Oak Bush cricket was keeping him company this afternoon as he was clipping back a bit of the lilac tree.

15 Aug 2016

Casella Labyrinth 

We visited a lovely labyrinth deep in the heart of the forest near Hilversum. Before reaching the labyrinth itself,  we spent a few minutes in the special prayer room whose floor to ceiling windows look out onto the labyrinth,  a perfect place to meditate and pray before and after walking.

The labyrinth is well tended by its Guardian Cat; he clearly came to welcome and accompany us,  but maintained his distance, obviously taking his responsibilities very seriously.

This was a lovely place to open my heart as my feet followed the meandering path. The sense of peace was profound and the gracious welcome deeply appreciated.

Casella is a religious community born from the Sisters of St. Augustine Monica. They provide a place of Silence and Encounter for young people, but happily they welcome even us oldies to walk their beautiful labyrinth. How grateful I am for these few days with Els.  She knows just how to welcome me to her home and her country. These are the places that speak to my heart.

Photo Els van Lierop

As Els says, “we never walk alone.”

13 Aug 2016

Tegelmuseum

Yesterday was a grey and drizzly day, just the right sort of day for a museum outing, and a perfect chance for us to explore the Tegelmuseum (Tile Museum) in Otterlo, a half hour drive from Baarn. I didn’t think to take a photo of the museum itself because I got so caught up in its contents. The museum was once a private home and still has the sense of having been lived in, with a few of the features still in evidence. The last inhabitant, a gentleman by the name of G. Feenstra, devoted his life to collecting tiles, and then provided for his home to be converted to a museum after his death so that his collection could be both preserved and enjoyed  in perpetuity.

It is a friendly little museum, calm and welcoming, without any sense of trying too hard. The tiles themselves  are the main features,  without any complicated gimmicks or interactive displays. I found spending time with the tiles to be quite an  emotional experience. They are such simple little things, but so evocative, and often quite exquisite. The tiles range from simple and pale to ornate and colourful, but it was the older,  paler ones that moved me most deeply. Many told stories,  some of them the biblical stories which which I am familiar, and I enjoyed picking out the familiar themes as portrayed by various artists, often as part of broader tableaus.

There was something for everyone among the thousands of handpainted tiles. Els and I discussed how you could find whatever it was that interested you, and that one person’s eye might be drawn to things that someone else might miss entirely. She was drawn to the Dutch ships:


I was fascinated by the simple depictions of daily items, things that I could recognize from my own life as a homemaker and needleworker. As always, I am fascinated by the daily lives people lead, not just their epic moments.

The birds, the flowers, the household implements show up as miniature depictions on the tiles that would have so artfully adorned a house or public space. Their familiarity invited me in, made me feel welcome and at home, while the artistry both enthralled and delighted me.

Tiles have been a part of Dutch life for centuries, installed to protect and decorate homes and farms, particularly in and around fireplaces. The earliest tiles were polychrome, with the decoration becoming more colourful as the artform developed. Dutch tiles are often still handpainted, though many modern tiles are mass produced by means of mechanical colour printing techniques.

12 Aug 2016

Small World

There is a small airport only 15 minutes from our house, and 40 minutes after take-off, you can be landing in Amsterdam – a different country, different language, different culture, different geography. How amazing is that? It is one of the privileges of my expat status, this opportunity of travelling to beautiful places to visit dear friends who live in intriguing land. Visits like this make the world seems small and precious. Away from the whirlwind of tourist hotspots, I meet people whose lives brush up against mine in pleasant and gentle ways, sometimes with surprising feelings and outcomes.

 I am spending a few days with my friend, Els, whom you have already met in these posts. We are chilling together, two good friends spending quality time together, with no agenda other than to enjoy each other’s company.  Leaving home at the crack of dawn allowed me to be in Baarn in time for mid morning coffee! 

We spent yesterday chatting, walking, and browsing the local farm shop for local produce and meat. Simple pleasures! I love feeling at home here in her village, enjoy feeling familiar with the roads and houses and gardens. There are always new and interesting things to see, but sometimes what is most important is not the differences between us, but the samenesses. I am using that non-word very purposely. Our houses are different, our hearts thrill and swell, break and throb for similar reasons. Our lives and customs are different, our dreams are not.

11 Aug 2016

Imaginal Perspective

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There is a fantastic little gallery in Brighton with a big vision and an even bigger heart, whose mission is to remove barriers to accessing and engaging with contemporary art. The director of Fabrica invited us to visit and speak as an adjunct to their current exhibition, The Third Paradise: the Labyrinth and the Well, by the renowned Italian artist Michelangelo Pistoletto.

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Featuring an innovative cardboard labyrinth (maze), the winding pathway guides visitors through the gallery to a central wishing well which holds a mirrored infinity sign with an extra loop at the centre – an image well worth exploring. You can read more about it here.

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While our job wasn’t to expound on Pistoletto’s work, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to discuss the symbolic role of the labyrinth in more depth than is normally permitted in an introductory lecture. I feel like I come alive when I can discuss archetypal themes and the ways in which working with our own imagery enlivens and enlightens us.There is a particular line that I wrote as part of my doctoral research many years ago; I loved it then, and it still express my deepest belief about the power of the labyrinth, even though I wasn’t allowed to use it in my dissertation — I’ve been waiting ever since for the right time and place to put it out into the world.

The labyrinth is a container for imaginal experience.

The bare bones structure of the labyrinth may simply invite imagery into the soul of the walker, and that, for me is the essence of labyrinth walking, and holds the seeds for the insights and transformations I experience as I follow the labyrinth’s meandering pathways. When I attend to what crosses my path, literally and metaphorically, I invite my imagination to the party, and that, according to some, is the very best therapy there is. Imagery is rich source of healing!

Imagery is the soul’s native language and therapy is the bringing of imagination into areas that are devoid of it. – Thomas Moore

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09 Aug 2016

Whispered Stories

Brighton
I went to Brighton for the first time yesterday. We were there for work, but took the opportunity to see a bit of the city centre en route to the art gallery where we were speaking in the afternoon. Seaside Brighton is well-known for its phenomenal Brighton Pride parade and festivities, which happened to be taking place this weekend. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the reported 300,000 people who had crowded the streets to watch the parade on Saturday were long gone by the time we arrived on Sunday morning. I thought this photo pretty much captured the feeling of the morning after –  a downtrodden Georgian mews sporting a friendly little rainbow flag and two empty red chairs on one of the balconies overlooking the road where we parked the car. I could almost see the people who belong to those chairs, almost hear the threads of their conversation as we passed below…

We were both curious to see the new British Airways i360 tower which opened last week, but all we could see was what looked like a cloud on a stick. Anyone paying £13 for a ticket to ride to the top yesterday would only have seen thick fog. From the ground, all that we could see was a slender shaft extending up and out of sight, with no sign at all of the state-of-the-art observation deck. Another time, perhaps.

I will tell you in a separate post about the gallery where we lectured, but for now let me jump ahead to our homeward journey. Leaving Brighton, we detoured off the main roads and meandered toward the East Sussex village of Hadlow Down to visit St. Mark’s Church where there is a large and interesting grave marker with a labyrinth carved between the angel-bedecked arms of the cross.

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Although the labyrinth is still clear, the  inscription below is badly weathered. As always, I found it a tender experience to try to reach across the decades for clues to an old story, this time trying to learn more of the couple buried here:

In loving memory of Lt. Colonel Francis Wheler, 4th Viscount Hood, born July 4 1838, died April 27 1907, Served in the Grenadier Guards 1854-1863, and of Edith his wife, daughter of Arthur Ward Esq. of Calverley Manor, Tunbridge Wells, born Oct 16 1847, died March 9 1911.

Why a labyrinth? What did the symbol mean to them that it would be chosen to adorn their memorial? Curiously, the sizeable monument is set apart and surrounded by a trimmed boxwood hedge, hence enjoying some prominence, but there is no mention of it on the church’s website.

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08 Aug 2016

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