Sunday, 18 March 2018

Count your blessings

Photo copyright SvD.

A newborn lamb stares at his mate who froze to death last night. This morning the farmer told me he was lucky to have lost only one. Another lamb had escaped from the field and I helped the farmer catch it. All of this before breakfast.

Remember, there is always someone worse off than you.

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Think a bit differently now and then.

Revelation: You don't need a bread tin to make bread. Why not improvise with whatever you've got? This may sound obvious but it only dawned on me when I was watching a documentary about an elderly woman who chooses to live alone as a hermit in the Russian wilderness. I suddenly realised: think. Think outside the box in your head.

Photo copyright SvD.

Friday, 2 March 2018

Beast from the East meets The Therapist

They say dogs are therapists on four legs. Here's my hound enjoying himself in spite of The Beast from the East.

Photo copyright SvD.

Friday, 23 February 2018

What really matters...

What are the chances of walking into a wheat field, feeling like hell because you've spent the past week lying in bed wracked with fever and never felt so despairing, that you'd spot a heart-shaped stone poking out of the frozen earth?

Photo copyright SvD.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018


This sheep greets me every morning, or rather, she races off in that skittish, Benny Hill way as she sees the hound approaching, out of breath, careering towards her on rheumatic, geriatric legs. I love the black patch surrounding the ewe's eye. This is a ewe by the way, that means she's a girl. Rams have broad faces which resemble satyrs.  A ram's face is quite literally one of the most captivating and spellbinding images- it evokes mythology and mysticism in its sheer beauty. A ram's life is especially envious because he must shag the ewes to produce lambs. Whereas the ewes will eventually be sold for mutton, as long as the rams can keep getting a leg over, they stay out of the abattoir. As you can see in the photo, there is no sun where I live.
Photo copyright SvD.

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

All Men Are Mortal

News of Neil Diamond retiring from music due to ill health, the death of one of my heroes, Paul Bocuse and also that of Jazz legend, Hugh Masekela, this morning, make for sad reading and the realisation that life is short. All three of these men have one thing in common- they made their mark by living a life less than ordinary and they will be remembered for generations to come.

Not everyone will become rich and famous but we do need to have the courage to follow our own path and define ourselves in a harsh and demanding world. Each of us has some sort of destiny and we must have the courage to find it and create our own language. Great sculptors like Henry Moore and painters such as Picasso are easily identifiable because of a language that is unique to them and the legacy they have left behind renders them immortal.

Our destiny may not be that we succeed beyond our wildest dreams and have everything we could possibly want materially. A successful life is not necessarily defined by material wealth which forms part of appearance and the superficial. Scratch beneath the surface: goodness, kindness and love are the only arbiters of whether one has triumphed in life. Too little emphasis is placed on how our soul and spirit evolve and which is the only purpose of why we are here on earth.

I have a friend who abhors astrology because she says that it should not replace God. I would argue that no one can predict the future and God has eluded men for thousands of years. But if we remove religion from life's equation, we essentially have to like what we see in the mirror every day and that reflection has to be entirely on our own terms. Life is an obstacle course where as soon as we clear one barrier, relax a little and get used to feeling good, another problem presents itself. Worse yet, we cannot see that there will ever be a time when everything will be less difficult. As I get older, I am more and more aware of how short life is and the idea of getting old and decrepit fills me with a sickening dread. My friends of the same age are all feeling traumatised by a future that hasn't yet happened. This fear of what we think will happen is therefore our own worst enemy.

There is a saying in Latin which sums up all of human existence and endeavour: Memento Vivere. Remember to live. The second part of the saying is this: Memento Mori. Remember that you have to die. Human mortality remains the great tragedy of human existence. A young woman I know recently lost her dad and some three months later cannot reconcile that he has gone. Her father had been ailing for years and in the months prior to his death, had diminished rapidly. One could argue that his death therefore was expected. Why can't she just move on and accept that death, although upsetting, is inevitable? When we grieve, we are essentially sad for ourselves. The feeling of loss, of what could have been and mostly, regret about how we could have better spent those precious moments we squandered with those we loved and who loved us unconditionally.

All love is not the same, the depths and hope of which can elude us and then it becomes too late. Lost chances, lost opportunities, lost time. The permanence of death snatches love away and leaves only sorrow in its place. If we were to remember that we have to die then we would be able to reconcile that our sadness is misplaced because we cannot prevent the inevitable. The nature of life is that it will end in death. Death and taxes are the only two absolutes in this life.

Every day we experience death in a metaphorical sense. The loss of friendships, failed love affairs, missed opportunities, are a type of death because they represent an ending. We are more versed in dealing with loss than we care to admit. Oh, the irony of being more prosperous than our grandparents' generation, when in fact, 21st century life is more difficult, traumatic and impossible because of the demands we make on ourselves. It is therefore worth remembering to live as the sand trickles through the hourglass. Great artists, like Paul Bocuse, Neil Diamond, Hugh Masekela, didn't sit around waiting for life. They made it happen.

Photo copyright SvD.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

A Place To Think

This room is where I do all my thinking, parked up on an old rattan sofa. The feathers are from Percy the peacock, that everyone wanted to shoot because they found his crowing early in the morning quite annoying. Percy was given a reprieve at the last minute, the complaint was mysteriously withdrawn, who knows, perhaps a horse's head in a bed was involved. We'll never know. Percy moulted in October last year and one of his avid supporters, Sue, who just happens to be a hunt saboteur but more on that later, gathered up some feathers for me. I think of Percy every day - may he live a long and happy life.

Photo copyright SvD.