Waves – sea therapy from afar

I recently took the opportunity, while on a holiday road trip, to visit Hornsea, a small seaside town on the beautiful Yorkshire coastline in England. The following piece of writing emerged (unedited).

“Waves have the power to entrance and refresh, to bring us close in to nature. They devour our stressful feelings and bring an inner depth of awe into our world. The fresh salty air, the constant yet rhythmic movement that rises and falls and moves in and out of our lives.

Braving the waters, there is nothing like being swept up and down within the gentleness of a calm yet revolving sea. To allow oneself to drift within its soothing hug before returning refreshed to the damp pillowed sandy and pebbly shore.

To catch first sight of the waves crashing against the shore is heaven embodied. It draws me in. As each rise swells to a crashing crescendo nothing else matters. This is life. This is all that is needed to wipe the worries away.

Waves are forever there despite them being far away. Their energy may lay dormant within us until we allow ourselves to be within their power, within their being, whether through our own visionary imagination or immersing ourselves in seascapes that effervesce with the sense of the sea, providing a source of sea therapy that is open to all who wish to offer themselves to it.

Sea therapy is for all, regardless of whether you are by the sea, if you have had personal experience of it, it stays within waiting to be given the key to open up your dreams of a life blessed by the sea.”

Not so long ago I moved away from the sea and now live next door to the Peak District National Park with its stunning mountainous scenery. I knew that I would miss the sea yet I have learnt that by remaining connected through my interests, friends, photos, projects and writing, I can still feel the benefits of that connection, that sense of belonging. A while ago I discovered reference to some research that backed this up, that if you have personally experienced being by the sea then the benefits can still remain with you. I now know personally that I can tap into this feeling whenever I choose and when I am able to visit the seaside it is the most amazing feeling and something that I will forever look forward to.

I didn’t realise until I was writing this post that the Peak District was the first National Park, created in 1951 (there is much history behind this which makes me realise how lucky we are to have the freedom to explore such a wonderful area). By the end of the decade the Lake District, Snowdonia, Dartmoor, the Pembrokeshire Coast, North York Moors, Yorkshire Dales, Exmoor, Northumberland and Brecon Beacons had also become national parks. https://www.peakdistrict.gov.uk/learning-about/about-the-national-park/our-history.

Dealing with the unexpected

Mountain goats in Llandudno North Wales

On a day trip last week-end, I ended up at a wonderful place by the coast in North Wales. I had set off for the seaside and a much needed drive along the coast. I was not disappointed and captured photos of some beautiful places, some of which I will share in other posts.

Shortly before making our way home, we came across a small group of goats heading somewhat purposefully along the broad pavement. They were all headed in the same direction and it was difficult to see their faces. When they came to the corner they all stopped and just stood there, as if waiting to cross the road but not making a decision to do so. Cars slowed to give them space but they remained static as we passed by.

It was strange seeing them there, I didn’t expect to see mountain goats wandering about town. Except they didn’t seem to be wandering and I was intrigued by what they had in mind.

My initial feeling of surprise was mixed with wonder, it was a good feeling and I really wanted to savour the moment. Yet it was touched with wariness and caution – I didn’t want to get out and take a photo and I didn’t wish to disturb their perhaps perplexed focus on the road, an open but risky barrier to whatever their goal may have been.

As I relax on a Saturday morning I enjoy reflecting back on my photos and seeing where they lead me. The images of the goats have led me to reflect on dealing with the unexpected.

Sometimes things happen in a moment of communication, it may be a letter, email, knock on the door, telephone call or a random connection with a stranger while out and about. Something that stops us in our tracks, that interrupts our expected and comfortable path, even if that is an unknown path, such as my spontaneous road trips when I may get lost … as had happened when I discovered the goats! Oftentimes I have a vague aim in mind but I am willing to be drawn off-track especially if it may offer opportunities for intriguing discovery.

The things that can really knock us off track can be those that are totally unexpected or those that we didn’t see coming in quite the way that they did. It is at these times it is so important for our own self-care to just stop and pause, allow ourselves to take things in, like the mountain goats at the road junction. To stop and allow ourselves to just breathe and do what we need to do in that moment before we make a choice.

When faced with a junction in your life, take the time that you need to either make a choice or wait until the time is right for you to make that choice. It is your own life to live and even when we feel that we have no choice, or there is nothing that we can do, if we give ourselves the moments we need to just take things in, ponder the options we know about and allow time for those options we may not be aware of to reveal themselves, we will be better placed to make the decision that is right for us.

Sometimes we don’t have to make a decision even if others are pressurising us to do things we don’t want to do. We may eventually have to make a choice but the timing of that is our choice, it’s our life and our path. No-one knows another person’s world. No-one. They may think they do but we are unique with our own roots that lead to such a beautiful array of essences within the world.

This past week has been such a mix of emotions and I have been so privileged to spend time doing something that is so important to me. My younger self would never have imagined that I would still be finding new and valuable learning paths that have the potential to make so much difference to people’s lives.

So it’s the start of another week-end, a journey of opportunity.

As we passed the mountain goats we wondered if they would be OK, would they be stuck where they were. We went off our own route and stopped to ask the way, being rewarded by a beautiful late afternoon seascape and connecting with local people who helpfully pointed us in the right direction.

We continued on our way and joyfully came across the goats once more, this time having made their way to a new spot where they felt comfortable to spread out and wander into the much quieter road. They looked content, they had found their way even if that was just for now. And that’s OK.

Lost but still time to capture a photo of this beautiful spot and connect with local dog walkers who helped us find our route home

Drawn by the Sea 2020: Scottish Coastal Communities

Tobermory. Copyright Stewart Morrison 2020

I am excited to report that the second art book I have created with Scottish artist Stewart Morrison has just been self-published using my Waves and Pebbles Publishing imprint. If you are lucky enough to come across Stewart in the historic Artists’ Town of Kirkcudbright you will have a chance to buy one of the first copies. You may also come across Stewart as he starts to revisit some of his favourite places nearby.

Artist Stewart Morrison

It has been quite a journey and the book is very special. The idea originally came from Stewart in January as an idea for a follow up to our first book that was about a collaborative art project involving Stewart creating art inspired by the beautiful Thanet coast where I live. By March we were well into the third draft of the book on Scotland with friends offering to provide written contributions. Then lockdown struck and there was uncertainty.

The Book!

I was much relieved when Stewart agreed to continue and it has provided a welcome focus. The book covers an artist’s journey in mind, starting in Kirkcudbright, travelling up the west coast and down the east coast before returning across country to Kirkcudbright. I decided to work out how long the journey was and surprised to discover it was around 2,500 miles and 100 hours of car travel – so it is my dream journey when I can take off for a few months and have a very extended holiday. Perhaps a working one doing life story writing workshops along the way! It was lovely to discover such a variety of places, each with their own character. The book includes Stewart’s art over the past five years and written memories of his own going back over 50 years to his childhood. Friends have shared special poems and memories of the places that the journey takes us to, roughly 20 East and 20 West coastal communities.

I hope you may get a chance to see a copy soon. I have a small supply myself for when I am getting out and about more near Broadstairs in Kent, England and we have plans to publish an online version. In the meantime, I am including a few photos here. If you have any questions either for myself or Stewart, please let me know in the comments or email me kay@wavesandpebbles.com.

Scalpay. Copyright Stewart Morrison 2020

Reflecting on life at Caffe Vista, Tenby

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Copyright Kay/waves and pebbles 2016

It is two years ago that I first visited Caffe Vista in the Summer of 2014.  I made a spontaneous visit and discovered this great place in Tenby which drew me back this year.  I was lucky on all occasions to get a seat on their small balcony.  There is plenty of seating inside which is really nice and a variety of food which I have not yet sampled.  I enjoyed a strawberry, raspberry and mango smoothie followed by a hot chocolate on my first visit of the day while I sat reflecting on the beauty of Tenby and thinking about life.  I then returned for a strawberry, banana and yoghurt smoothie to take another break from ambling along by the beach and through the narrow streets.  A lot has happened healthwise during the past two years and I felt blessed to be able to return.  Next door to the cafe I noticed that there are some holiday apartments which enjoy the same views – what a wonderful place to stay!

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Copyright Kay/waves and pebbles 2016

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Copyright Kay/waves and pebbles 2016

Tenby – stunning Welsh coastal jewel

 

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I have just returned from Wales and spent a wonderful day at Tenby in Wales.  It is such a special place – beautiful beaches, interesting and colourful buildings, stunning views.  There is a good holiday vibe in the summer with many tourists but even during the school holidays this week the beach was not crowded.  I would love to visit in the winter when it is quiet, some would perhaps say bleak, but it is a place where there is so much natural beauty – a truly spiritual place to experience.

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Puppydays – Isle of Sheppey seaside

I’m excited to be back on WordPress after spending yesterday helping my friend Artist Julie Bradshaw with her own blog (more on that in another post).  It’s given me the incentive to get back on here, I’ve really missed it.  There’s been a lot going on in my life keeping me busy, mainly getting back to university after my debilitating illness throughout 2015, trying to catch up on what I have missed and keeping up with working on my modules so that I can complete my second year and progress to my final year.  But … one of the most exciting, heartwarming and life changing things has been having the new addition to our family, Jasmine our chocolate labrador puppy.

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It had been a possible intention to do a separate blog, or create a YouTube channel, for my puppy and tell her story from when she was born throughout her early days and beyond.  But the reality is that when Jasmine arrived home, I can only liken it to having a new baby with all the routines and care of looking after a new life.  Jasmine is a joy to look after but much as I wanted to take lots of beautiful photos, most important is to enjoy and be with her and the camera sort of goes out the window a lot of the time (and has luckily escaped the clutches of Jasmine’s teeth!).  I have taken quite a few photos but they are not the ‘perfect’ puppy photos I had imagined – but then Jasmine to me is perfect in every photo because it is her.  So at various points I will share some of the earlier photos and I’m sure she will appear in future posts as we enjoy the summer together.

So for now, here are a few photos of our trip the other day to the seaside on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent.  It was a glorious if slightly chilly day and there were surprisingly few people about.  I do enjoy finding these gems of places that are not so far away from my home and I wonder why I don’t visit more often.  I love the seaside and Jasmine really enjoyed her visit, despite having her nose to the ground most of the time.   But perhaps that’s a sure sign of happiness for a dog!

 

 

 

Off the beaten track in the Kent Downs, England with a visit to an art studio and The Black Horse Inn at Thurnham

Copyright Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright Kay/wavesandpebbles

I had a few hours to spare so went for a drive in the Kent countryside with nowhere particular in mind.  I was on a busy dual carriageway and waiting for something to lure me away.  A sign for Hucking Estate showed a place for walks and picnics, so I flicked my indicator and headed off into the narrow lanes and tree tunnels.  A nightmare I usually avoid, dreading coming face to face with a vehicle that will be obstinate and refuse to back away.  I hate reversing especially if someone is edging towards me impatiently.  But thankfully that was in my mind, it didn’t actually happen.  I stopped by the roadside to take photos which on their own do not do justice in conveying the splendorous views that surrounded me amidst peace on that cool sunny autumn day.

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

I noticed a sign at a vague crossroads to an Art Studio.  Intrigued, as I love discovering unexpected places, I followed the sign until I came to a dilemma.  A choice of a no through road or turn off to the right.  Well, I thought, it is perhaps most likely along the no through road and at least I will come to an end, whereas the other road could take me who knows how far.  Mere seconds along the no through road and I was regretting my choice.  There were no passing points, nowhere to go if another vehicle appeared, especially if it was a tractor, and no way I could reverse unless I could manage a straight (or curving) line.  Recalling a theme within a book I am reading*, I tried to convince myself that it was less boring to follow this road and that I must let my fear ride alongside and ignore it.  I eventually arrived at a farm where there were lots of tractors and the people living there came out to see me.  It was good to meet a friendly face and I was reassured that there were no tractors due to arrive and if another vehicle did appear, it was possible to somehow squeeze past.  I was kindly given directions to the Art Studio which was but a few minutes away.

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

And so I came to arrive at This Art of Mine Arts & Craft Studio.  I was welcomed by a friendly dog from the neighbouring house and discovered that the Studio was in fact closed but there was someone there.  I was welcomed in and had a guided tour, discovering a wonderful place that offered workshops (which included decorating pottery and jewellery making) and also an area dedicated to open access to just turn up and pay as you paint pottery.  It was really spacious and light, with plenty of examples of work that had already been done.

When I left, I decided to carry on and head back to the main road.  In doing so, I ended up arriving at one of my favourite restaurants, The Black Horse Inn at Thurnham that I had not visited in a long while.

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

I wasn’t hungry when I arrived so had a lemonade and sat outside on the terrace in the sunshine.  Enticed by the daily special menu, I lengthened my stay and enjoyed a tasty three course lunch ending with a luscious Creme Brûlée.

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandnpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandnpebbles

I was full and sat relaxing, reading my book in the cosy historic atmosphere of the Inn.

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

The Black Horse Inn is licensed for Marriages and Civil Ceremonies.  It is a beautiful place with a special landscaped area for ceremonies.  There is also accommodation that can be booked.  Ideal for wedding guests or if you are having a special celebration and want to be able to have a drink and not worry about driving home, or if you are visiting the area and want somewhere different to stay.

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

I am including the following photo as it shows more of the immense outdoor areas available.  The sun was so bright that the angle I took it has affected it but in black and white it does provide you with a picture of what it is like – perhaps it adds a hint of romance.

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

Copyright 2015 Kay/wavesandpebbles

The Black Horse Inn is a very friendly and welcoming public house and restaurant (with accommodation) and I thoroughly recommend a visit if you find yourself in the area of Maidstone in Kent, England.  Their website can be found here.

I never ended up on the Hucking Estate but information on this Woodland Trust area, and other areas within the Kent Downs – AnArea of Outstanding Natural Beauty – can be found here www.kentdowns.org.uk.

This Art of Mine Art & Craft Studio – information can be found here.

The book I am reading is Big Magic, Creative Living Beyond Fear, written by Elizabeth Gilbert who wrote Eat Pray Love.  Here is a link to The The Guardian Q & A with the author.