On our way to the city of York, we passed by a little village with the longest name in England. “Sutton-Under-Whitestonecliffe” is between Thirsk three miles to the west of Sutton Bank, on the edge of the North York Moors. There is no village post office, no village school. Despite being on the main road to Helmsley and Scarborough, there is no public transport either. Estimated population in 2005 was 280. It is a very pretty and tranquil place to visit for a short time, but don’t think I will migrate here.
On the way we stopped at Byland Abbey, a ruined abbey and a small village in the Ryedale district of North Yorkshire in the North York Moors National Park. In the care of English Heritage the impressive remains can still be seen, featuring the preservation of some of the brightly coloured medieval floor tiles.
On a nice day I could wander here for hours, today though you can see blue sky appeared behind the clouds but the wind was strong and quite chilly, my friend was eager to deliver me to York in plenty of time for her to return to Thirsk. Also I can’t wait to see York, this famous historical city I heard and read so much about.
“A fine and subtle spirit dwells, in every little flower. Each one its own sweet feeling breathes, with more or less power. There is a silent eloquence in every bluebell, that fills my soften heart with bliss, that could never tell…
… ‘Sad wanderer, weep those blissful times, that never may return!’ The lovely floweret seemed to say, and thus it made me mourn…” Anne Brontë
After a very pleasant train trip with Grand Central Rail, the journey took a bit over two hours from London to Thirsk in North Yorkshire. The town station had no lift one had to walk up some thirty steps to get out onto the street level. Fortunately I had a friend who was there to help me with my heavy suitcase.Fifteen minutes drive through the town of Thirsk, we passed a pretty hamlet of about twenty houses or so scattering among green hills, patches of yellow canola fields, and well-kept farmhouses. Arriving at Upsall Castle, a very impressive site standing on a hill above a picturesque lake where some Canadian geese made it their home peacefully raising their goslings.
The original castle from a Roman fortress which some of the walls are still standing dated back to the 13th century. Restored around the year 1800 and was burnt down in 1918 and when it was rebuilt in 192o Roman coins and artefacts were found when the workmen dug up the ground, though the pot of gold has not yet been discovered, the people are still living in “hope”.
From every window one enjoyed a different angle of the beautiful scenery that spreading over the city of York in the far distance, and from the undulated green hills of The Dales crossing over the high moor of tall grass and heather, such an idyllic landscape.
I am fortunate to be invited to stay at Upsall Castle for a few days and today I was driven to the edge around Yorkshire Dales, visiting Bolton Castle, a spectacular medieval fortress with a fascinating history where Mary, Queen of Scots was imprisoned in 1568. I hope you still enjoy wandering with me.
“… I wander tho’ each charter’d street, near where the charter’d Thames does flow…” (William Blake)
Come wander with me through the last three days in London. Through city streets, parks and bridges that always managed to stir such romantic nostalgia in one’s heart…
“… Roses, roses! Penny a bunch! they tell you, ruddy blooms of corruption, see you and smell you. Born of stale earth, fallowed with squalor and tears – North shire, south shire, none are like these, I tell you, roses of London perfumed with a thousand years…” (Willa Sibert Cather)
“… Earth has nothing to show more fair: Dull would he be of soul who could pass by. A sight so touching in its majesty: This city now doth, like a garment, wear the beauty of the morning…” (William Wordsworth 1802)
“… Twenty bridges from Tower to Kew – Wanted to know what the river knew – Twenty bridges and twenty-two. For they were young, and the Thames was old… “
“… Saint Paul’s Cathedral is the finest building that ever I did see; there’s nothing can be surpassed it in the city of Dundee, because it’s most magnificent to behold. With its beauty dome and spire glittering like gold…. Oh mighty city of London! You are wonderful to see. And thy beauties no doubt fill the tourist’s heart with glee…” (William McGonagall)
A little potted seedling of Thyme would cost almost $3.00 from a market stall down in Chelsea shop. It was nurtured, watered and cared for outside the front fence, growing slowly but healthily, I was hoping to see it turning bushier for a sort of ground-cover which passer-by can pick up a sprig or two for their stew pot.
One morning it disappeared! The hole where the soil formed a round shape of the plant was there but the little Thyme bush has gone. Some thief had come in the night and stole my lovely green lemon Thyme!
I don’t need any sleuth to tell me that the culprit must be a super nose-sensitive woman; a common man would not be able to smell it unless if he is one of those TV chefs talk with a French accent.
Standing at the crime scene with my magnifying glass, studying the surrounding, searching for some glue. The street was almost deserted, in an atmosphere void of any human footsteps being taken for a walk by their dogs except for parked cars lining the kerb.
My assistant, Dr Watson, Hastings, Miss Lemon brought up a theory that it must be a woman and that she must have come from the left side, which is the end of the street, walking toward the beach passing my house and on her way back.
She must have smelled the Thyme bush, then waited until nightfall, came out to do the job. Miss Lemon concluded: the woman must be a resident in one of those units toward the end of my street. Perhaps I should walk by to nose around and see if I could detect roasted lemon Thyme.
“Sergeant” Adam was told, from the iPhone he asked: “What happened to the CCTV?” Well, it has never worked, and the solar sensor light had stopped working altogether, because the sun may have moved since we entered halfway through autumn? He assured me that he would drop by to check it all out. Which means he will want a wholesome tasty dinner afterwards, preferably “lemon thyme marinated chicken”.
It is an odious crime; in the olden day the woman would have been shipped to Australia (?) as a convict. Today, one could only hope that her dinner will somehow always have a certain bitter taste from the revenge of the stolen Thyme.
This book was weaved from forty ties, forty ties out of almost a hundred ties! They came from almost a lifetime in which I had my share that is from 1968 until 2015 and that covered almost my entire life.
After a long and hard juggling trying to save them, the forty ties were cut so the artist could weave without too much difficulty to bind the book cover. To quote a phrase: “…and so the ties were cut!”
“Only ever with you, I love to have and hold into the circle of your arms, I’ll unfold; into your blue eyes’ greeting shine, my gold; only ever with you, I yearn to grow old…
Only ever with you I can write rhymes as such, for you bring my muse from dust to dash, to hush. Only ever with you my being wants to attach, as first step already taken to our primrose path.
Stars and moon may leave the dark skies yet, one look at the gleam of your blue eyes day and night, I see the rising sunrise. Only ever with you, I will dive to lows or heights.
For only ever with you, I’ll plunge to infinity. Prayers plea asking blessing from divinity, to tie two hearts and two souls in sole unity. Mindless to whatever is there in humanity.”
(A poem by Olive Eloisa Guillermo)
One could not help but feeling some regret to finally cut the ties, but in order to be free and move on with living it is necessary, only to have the comfort that I am blessed with the memories to treasure while I am getting ready for my journey onto a new path.
My first journey started forty-eight years ago and little that I knew. It was to be a journey that changed my life. One July morning in 1968, as a young girl walking along Boulevard Saint Germain in Paris 6th arrondissement, I was witnessing the sites of destruction from anti Vietnam War demonstrations happened a couple of months earlier. “The Sorbonne Crisis” I was told.
I did not give much thought to it. I was young, naive and full of romantic notion in my head. I did not leave Saigon to be in Paris for my summer vacation just to be reminded of the war I grew up with. Yet there was no escape, from Paris to Switzerland and to Italy. If I wanted to, I could have stayed in Europe and not returning to war-torn Saigon. Although I held no attachment to anyone or any place in Saigon, I chose to go back, that is after my mother and I made a brief visit to New York, Los Angeles and then on our way to Tahiti and New Caledonia.
Our last stop was Australia where we had a whole week to explore this new country mostly out of curiosity. We only had enough time to see Sydney and Canberra. In Sydney, I met a friendly young taxi driver who also studied Law at Sydney University. Again, the conversation was about the war in Vietnam, it was here I first learnt about Australian National Service Scheme, known as “Conscription”: Young men at the age of twenty were required to register and were subject to a ballot which, if their birth date was drawn, they will have to do service in the army and liable for combat duties in Vietnam. My friend, the law student was glad his birth date was not drawn but he had good friends who at that moment were fighting in Vietnam. It was like a lottery you would not want to win, so thought I.
I left Australia with not much impression about the country though the first Australian I met seemed to be nice. We returned to Saigon via a stopover in Singapore and there my fate was sealed. I later realised why I did not want to stay back in Europe… On a sticky humid morning in late August of that same year at Singapore airport, while boarding an Air Vietnam flight I met this handsome young reporter from Australia (the place I had just left a few days ago). He gallantly offered to help carry one of my many bags, he did not know either, that his fate then was also sealed. Because he ended up carrying my bag faithfully for the rest of his life as we travelled through many more journeys, the bags were getting heavier. It was a romantic beginning that lasted more than four decades through good and bad times, but we survived to the end and the last twenty years were the best of them all.
1968 was the year of the Monkey. 2016 is also the year of the Monkey. I have no knowledge of the meaning nor the connection to this particular animal’s year, only that I am about to embark on another journey but which I won’t be carrying many bags, one perhaps and it is on wheels, as I am a “little” older but a lot wiser to expect any old “journo” to help me with my bag.
Even at the ripe old age, I still have no idea what the morrow brings. If you care to follow me, there are still so much that I want to see, learn and share…