The Opportunities of Change…

The Opportunities of Change…

It always throws me off when people I meet after years say to me that I haven’t changed a bit. “Really?”, I ask disbelievingly as my hand instinctively rises to touch the newly forming lines around my 37 year-old-eyes! In my mind, I assume I’m virtually unrecongnizable from the person I was when I knew them. Surely, you can’t have an unaltered personality when you’ve moved around as often as I’ve done and had a whole new geographical and emotional landscape every few years! To live amongst different people who expect different things from you (I’m not implying that I’ve had to become what people expect of me, heaven knows that might make life a lot easier though if I could :P) but, some can handle you with all your potency, and some you’ve got to make a bit of an effort with. You go with the flow, and as unobtrusively as water that cuts through rock, you find you’ve forged a whole new identity for yourself.

I’ve always viewed change as a good thing “theoretically”, albeit my first meetings with it are often met with much kicking and screaming – but it’s nothing I’ve resisted extendedly! Change is inevitable, change is the essence of a universe which is in motion; and to try to impose stillness on life is an act of abject futility :) I realise that, despite a degree of being change-averse that if not for change, there wouldn’t be women’s rights, or freedom of expression, an end to apartheid or the hope of things ever getting better than the current, rather abyssmal state of affairs we find our world in!

I’ve already entered the vortex of the next change-cycle in my life. We move to Dorset, a beautiful place near the sea…a place that gets the most sunshine in all of England :) I’ve been there for 4 hours-that’s it, and looked at homes our real estate agent had lined up for us. I know nothing about it apart from what an arbitrary page on the internet has to say! My children seem less than enthusiastic about a new school (again), and as I try to sound excited and brimming with hope about new friends, the seaside…I feel that at 7.5 and 6, they can see through me a bit and sense the guarded apprehension within! My youngest recently asked me if I’ll make new friends too, after all, I don’t go to school and I work from home. I assure her I will…I’ve always done! :) Some of my strongest friendships have been the result of us moving around.

I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling that I’ve become a creature of habit-I have my routines that play out everyday in similar, unaltered rhythms. The children leave for school, I clear up the post-breakfast disarray. I play some music and make myself a coffee the way I like it. I reply to emails, I look into work that I need to get cracking on. I break for lunch. I go out or cook, I meet someone…I’m back for the children – homework, extra-curriculars, dinner, bath, stories, sleep. Time with the husband, a movie maybe! :)

Summer holidays have a way to disrupt all routine, and apart from finding constant activity/amusement for the girls, this time around, there are calls to be made, furniture to be bought; and a decison to be made about which of the 15 different mattresses that promise an uninterrupted, Utopian sleep experience is right for you! (The overkill of choice –fodder for a whole different post!)

 change, rhythms of life, relocating, meaning, accepting change, duck on water

Oddly, I recall from my very ecclectic reading sources that universally, people who are termed ‘happy’ and ‘lucky’ are those who have a great need to break or a least challenge the status quo!  (In my opinion, if you’ve managed to reach somewhere that has a Latin term defining it, don’t mess with it-stay right there! ;P )  I look at such people with unabashed reverence – even more so those who’ve managed to reach the other extreme of the bell-curve, the backpackers, homesteaders and forest foragers who live off the land (the real ones, not the ones in Hipster mags who ‘forage’ on the weekends dressed in hemp and bamboo and then return promptly to their investment banking desks adorned with hyacinths and cactii!) There do exist those who feel that by rolling their dice on life continually, they increase the chances of hitting the jackpot! Moral of the story – change is good, change is positive and to deny life it’s metamorphosis is to potentially deny it it’s hope!

So I’ll take life up on it’s ‘circumstance’ for me and go forward to build that home that I’ve dreamt of – my colour scheme, my design palette! I’ll learn new maps and find new spaces as a new accent filters its chords into my vocabulary. I’ll be the new mum at the school gate, watch my children in new uniforms at school and at ballet and know for them that this time, it’s here to stay! Mountains alter, oceans grow and shrink and the universe softly stretches on…nature’s time runs parallel to ours. And through our own individual tangos – life’s embraces and improvisations, we all still remain connected; unchanged at our core – one big ball of irretrievably tangled yarn! x

Sewn – The Feeling

You might find resonances of what I’ve been saying in some of my recent posts : “A Walk in the Clouds!” – Austria, Liechtenstein and Switzerland!  and Retro-Chic and the Cult of Neo-Sobriety!





“A Walk in the Clouds!” – Austria, Liechtenstein and Switzerland!

“A Walk in the Clouds!” – Austria, Liechtenstein and Switzerland!

My earliest association with Austria would have to be The Sound of Music, so in my imagination it’s always been Fräulein Maria and  “♫ The Hills are alive….♫” and you know what – they really are! ;)
Being loved changes your eyes, and your eyes change the way you experience the world! That sentiment underscores every last experience we’ve had on our family road-trip across four countries – Germany (ok, just Munich and a few highway towns) Austria, Leichstentstein and Switzerland.
As I write this post, I’m filled with emotion, experience and a restlessness that seems to have followed me my entire life. The sort that I know won’t die down given time! The need to find home, to nest, to find my “space” has been at the heart of my every creative act as I’ve tried to appreciate the magnificence of being alive! Maybe it stems from the fact that I’ve lost a lot in my life, and I’ve lost it young… I was 17 when I tragically lost my parents and since then, I’ve stopped taking life for granted. I believe that our daily lives are worth celebrating, that there is indeed beauty and a sense of wonder that goes deeper than the clichés that shroud their discovery. (And no-I don’t mean going through life in a state of some unfounded, giddy euphoria!)

There was a strange intimidation as I came face to face with mountains that are millions of years old, of lakes that date back to prehistoric times – an overarching sentiment that populates every spiritual belief system; a sense of being face-to-face with something far greater and immeasurably more vast than yourself, glimpsing the essence of reality and being overwhelmed by it. For that brief spell, the ‘fret of life’ seemed lost! I realise that I’m neither the first nor the last to feel this way, to realise or revel in the fact that there is a harmony in everything – that I, like them are in part sulphur and selenium, manganese and magnesium!  That if anything, I am but one tiny stitch linking all those eons to now! I thought a thousand thoughts as I approached the silence of the mountains, bathed in the lightness of misty clouds and carrying a thousand dreams that’ll stay with me, somewhere deep where my meanings are!
I once asked my mother what she might’ve done if she had a chance at another life, (mind you, this was a conversation we had post “Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey!”) “Travel the world”, she said! To a teenager, that just seemed ‘meh’, but as an adult, it brings me a quiet joy that in many ways, I’ve lived a little bit of her dreams for her with her grandchildren!
I’ve been reminded this is a travel post, not philosophy, so “let’s start at the very beginning…” (If you don’t like clichés from The Sound of Music, you’re clearly in the wrong place ;))
We started Austria off at Salzburg, which is a lovely little city with some seriously gorgeous Baroque architecture. I didn’t get a good vantage point to photograph it so decided against using my camera whilst we had a look around, I thought my images took away rather than added to what was on offer there. (I nerd out on stuff like that and felt similarly in beautiful Vienna, it’s too busy to be able to photograph there…)

Salzburg is Mozart’s birthplace so if you’re a fan, there’s endless opportnity to delve deeper into him! We took the opportunity to go up to Hallstatt, to the Salt Mines that date back to 4500BcE and explore the villages of the Salzkammergut region.

47.5558° N, 13.6467° E

Hallstatt, Austria


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Cable cars taking us 1700 feet up to the prehistoric salt mines in Hallstatt!

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A pic going up ;)

travel, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, wanderlust, road trip, mountains

travel, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, wanderlust, road trip, mountains

travel, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, wanderlust, road trip, mountains

Hallstatt Lake from an 1700 feet elevation


The village of Hallstatt, phtographed from an elevation of 1,700 feet!

The village of Hallstatt, phtographed from an elevation of 1,700 feet!


The village of Hallstatt, phtographed from an elevation of 1,700 feet!

The village of Hallstatt, phtographed from an elevation of 1,700 feet!

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Water pools inside the oldest salt caves in the world. Dating back to 4500 BCE.

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Rayna and a pillar of calcified salt!

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The villages of the Salzkammergut

travel, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, wanderlust, road trip, mountains

The villages of the Salzkammergut

travel, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, wanderlust, road trip, mountains

The villages of the Salzkammergut

The one thing I regret not being able to see in Salzburg is a performance of  “The Magic Flute” at The Salzburg Marionette Theatre. They were also performing Alice in Wonderland, but sadly, no shows on the two days we spent there. I know that I’ll return to that part of the world and this will definitely be a part of the agenda for then.
Following that we went up to the Austrian Lake District which is easily and really quite awesomely accessible via some seriously cool cable cars! :)

47.3997° N, 10.9167° E

Ehrwald, Austria

travel, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, wanderlust, road trip, mountains

Going up to Ehrwald, Austria’s Lake District!

travel, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, wanderlust, road trip, mountains

Apres Ski Lounge at Ehrwald.

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The Alm Ehrwalder was a lovely restaurant that stocked authentic beers from the region and locally produced fare – some apparently sourced from the fields up there! It was idyllic- cows grazing unfettered, the sound of the alpine breeze rifling through the thin metal of carefully crafted cowbells. The stuff of dreams, really…

travel, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, wanderlust, road trip, mountains

Almsee, this lake was ours for all the time we were there…unbelievable beauty, no picture can do the experience any justice!

One of my most breathtaking moments was walking up to the lakes of Almsee and Seebensee. The clean, clear mountain air, the smell of the tress, the hum of crickets and the stillness of the very blue waters is something that I can’t describe in words. These pictures are but dim shadows of the reality of that pristine beauty! It’s the kind of beauty that blindsides you from every conditioning!  I stood there, far away from my family with tears in my eyes, not being an ‘adult’, not being ‘in-control’, not feeling like I had it ‘all together’. I stood there thinking “this cannot be real, this cannot be happening to us…this couldn’t really be as beautiful as it is!” We were alone here…just us, we owned this space, we paddled here, my children fed and quacked at these ducks. I watched them from the opposite side of the lake, watched them purposefully walk out to kill snails and bugs and drag them mercilessly back to the waters to their young. I took in the noiselessness of that violence. The method. The beauty of the recurrent routines of nature!

travel, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, wanderlust, road trip, mountains


travel, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, wanderlust, road trip, mountains

travel, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, wanderlust, road trip, mountains


 47.3833° N, 10.8928° E

Biberwier, Austria

We stayed at the very traditional Gästehaus Panorama in Tiroler Zugspitzarena, run by the lovely Renate and Sepp Schönherr. I cannot recommend this place enough! Not only was Renate the most hospitable she could be, she went out of her way to ensure that we were comfortable and that our stay in Biberwier, Tirol was nothing short of extraordinary! We had a language barrier despite which she understood that we didn’t wish to see the tourist-intensive spots in the valley. I wanted to have an authentic Austrian experience, I wanted to go where locals go, eat what they eat! I was bored of the tourist menus which had a couple of sausages and a few local ales. I wanted the real deal…the “Jägermeister” fare (that’s master hunter, by the way!;)) Renate asked me if I was ready for horse, rabbit, venison, wild boar? We didn’t need language to confirm that I was game (excuse the pun, sometimes I just can’t help myself ;)), so she promised to arrange with her friends who ran an apres ski lodge for locals, no tourists went there for it was deep within the woodlands. We couldn’t drive up there, she’d have to arrange for us to be picked up and dropped off. I must admit I felt a bit apprehensive at the entire proposition- all a bit too Brothers Grimm, to be honest, replete with woodland trickeries…but you had to meet Renate to know you were in good, authentic Austrian hands. ;) So we dressed up, got our cameras in form, counted our Euros (mind you, we weren’t told what we could expect in terms of a bill and it was cash only), and we waited. The air thick with anticipation and a degree of apprehension. An acute awareness of the varying shades of brown the 4 out of the 5 of us were ;P The drive was long and through some harsh terrain. Light from a setting sun filtering into our 4×4 as we went higher and higher into the Tirol mountains until we reached a clearing that we honestly wouldn’t have made on our own.


travel, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, wanderlust, road trip, mountains, beer

Enter Renate’s friend Frau Marie, from the Waldhaus! Bear skins on the wall, heads of what must’ve been yesterday’s dinner waiting to be stuffed/embalmed/Idon’tknowwhat –the entire spread ;) I kid you not, she was the most hospitable and warm person I’ve ever met. We were there on personal recommendation and were her guests!  The guesthouse had a  few Germans, who again contrary to popular (and unwarranted) perception, were kind enough to translate some of the menu for us, chatted amiably and made very sure that the children had every freedom to be just that-children! I was a proud mama that day because my girls were immaculately behaved. I blame the bear skins on the wall…subliminal cues, I’m sure! ;) Frau Marie made sure we ate well, and ate what the locals made at home! She invited me to come look how she made things if I fancied…We spent hours here, chatting with the locals, eating, drinking, letting the children get involved with children on the next table who now live in the Netherlands . It felt like home!

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Marie at the bar….

This is what we had :

Top row : Jaegerschnitzel with Spaetzle. (This one is with wild boar). Apfelstrudel with Vanillesauce.

Middle row : Trio Knödelteller (Speck, Leber, Kaseknödel) on a bed of Sauerkraut. Apparently, the leber (liver) was horse! Topfenstrudel with Vanillesauce.

Bottom row : Schweinebraten with Knödel and Sauerkraut. Salted Pretzel and an Alcoholfri Beer for me ;)

We heartily recommend it all! It was sublime…


47.1410° N, 9.5210° E


Just before we entered Switzerland, we thought we’d have a look at Vaduz, the capital of Liechtenstein and some surrounding villages. The villages had a very similar feel to Switzerland (given that you step into Liechtenstein just as you step out! Wish I had come up with that clever sentence, but tsk…it’s a local saying!) Vaduz had a distinct postmodern air to it. Known as their prized “Städtle” – a tiny town, we thought this might be the one-stop destination for everything from modern art and historical collections to outdoor cafés, restaurants and boutiques. I wouldn’t plan on stopping here a long while, but it’s nice for a little fly-by, and to stock up on a few “city things” you might need. There’s a lot of cultural stuff on offer, we went during the Vaduz Film Festival and had Ilo, Ilo playing on the day of our visit. The entire area is mostly pedestrianised and closed to cars…great for when you have children who need to run about and stretch their legs.


The very distinctly postmodern Vaduz, Leichtenstein


 47.1833° N, 9.2833° E

Alt St. Johann Switzerland

Switzerland is beautiful–Fact! But when you do it after being in the encompassing mountains of Austria, it feels just a bit underwhelming! Who would’ve thought?! ;) Nonetheless, there were several fabulous things we did that made it very, very special!

travel, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, wanderlust, road trip, mountains


For starters, we had an amazing holiday home – all wood and extremely modern! Kitted out with a sauna, a fabulous garden with vines wrapped around trees and gazebos and a fully equipped stable with three ponies. The bathroom had no doors – took me about a day to just get used to that, though it was a point of great hilarity for the children, especially when one of us needed to bathe! ;) A nice bean-to-cup machine and a fully stocked refrigerator gave it a very homely feel. Esther, who owned it was more of a friend that ‘landlady’, so much so that the highlight of the children’s morning was meeting Esther! She’d show them around the stables where they could feed the horses and play…something that sat very well indeed with Rahel! It made the holiday really, really special…

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Rahel and Balios, our preferred pony  during our stay in St.. Gallen!

Horse, rider, swiss, mountains

A big thank you to Esther and her babies….

travel, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, wanderlust, road trip, mountains

travel, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, wanderlust, road trip, mountains

How I longed to actually go sight-seeing on this! ;P

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Outside our holiday home in Switzerland

47.0333° N, 9.4333° E

Sargans, Switzerland

We actually managed to go up to Alt St. Johann, the highest village in Switzerland and enjoyed some great Swiss food up there…lovely locals at the restaurant who told us about what we should try, I think I’m a fan of the Swiss röschti forever after that! And when they talk about Frische fruit up there, take them up on it ;) Fruit never tasted so good! I felt like a rabid “locavore” after that…

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Another nice place to go is the Bahnhöfli Golfplatz in St. Gallen. Great food, and a lovely ambience…plus, if golf is your thing, that’s where you want to be! :)

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A flowerless home will always seem lacking after this :) Fresh delivery of flowers to the hotel! The horse is off grazing in the Swiss Valleys till it’s time to leave. It’s amazing how beautifully slow life moves up here-none of that city rush…I feel soul nourished sitting back, watching this scene!

switzerland, flowers, travel

switzerland, flowers


47.0000° N, 9.5000° E

The Grand Resort

Wahlkreis of Sarganserland

St. Gallen Switzerland

This was my respite….I didn’t go into the  SPA, but sat in the Cafe and read, well, visually scanned through some stunning German magazines! As much as I’ve enjoyed being with the children, I needed some time to recharge my creativity and get some me-time. The children and my husband absolutely loved the thermal waters and treatments, and could not get enough of it. Even the children had the most amazing time! ;) A little tip, go after 7.30 Pm, it’s virtually half price!

The lovely staff brought me coffees on the house as I chatted with the owner about what in his opinion was Switzerland’s unique offering pitted against it’s neighbours. It was an enlightening chat that gave me a peek into the Swiss mind – I don’t usually get to talk about anti- immigration, nationalism and an abject aversion to losing one’s cultural identity. I had to appreciate the honesty and that it was “business, not personal!” Despite the very intense conversation, he did make sure that I was made to feel very at home at the spa ;)

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Tamina Therme, Grand Resort. Bad Ragaz

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Tamina Therme, Grand Resort. Bad Ragaz

Tamina Therme, Grand Resort. Bad Ragaz

Tamina Therme, Grand Resort. Bad Ragaz

travel, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, wanderlust, road trip, mountains, tamina therme, spa


 52.1667° N, 1.0000° E

Suffolk, East England.

United Kingdom

And back! I took this pic driving home from Stansted Airport. Back to the familiar sights of airport cafeteria pies and tea, to familiar voices and signs in a language I understand! Home is where we say ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’ unwittingly and apologize for things we know we haven’t done! ;) Home is where we queue…religiously! :) My bed feels strange, and there seems to be that all-familiar longing that coils itself around my thoughts again ; a restlessness that the water and the mountains filled all these days! So until the next time I’m off chasing some spangled chimera- I will always be haunted by thoughts of a mist-drenched elsewhere!

travel, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, wanderlust, road trip, mountains

Suffolk Farms!

I would especially like to thank Elisabeth from Lebe Leiber Langsam (live and love slowly, from what I understand) for the vast input I’ve had from her on Austria! Elisabeth is Austrian who now lives with her husband and twin sons in Denmark! She writes honestly about family life, meaningful living and the creative process – subjects that completely resonate with me so I highly recommend that you check out her blog. I have such a crush on her writing! ;)

I’d also like to thank Emma from A Bavarian Sojourn for her fab restaurant reccos in Munich and Sabine from _housefrau, who describes herself as a German living in Australia (on a mountain behind the sea) and blogs at Meet The Local, for being my German muse. ;) Sabine takes lovely photographs and has a keen interest in meaningful community living! Thank you Daniel Simm, for the meticulous planning, and all-around great company! Dan is a part of our family, my photography guru and go-to tech geek… I owe so much of this blog to him! You can find his version of the holiday on his blog  Daniel Simm. :) xxx

And finally, because nothing is complete in my life without some music, here is our Mountain Playlist! This will for a while transport me to our rental car on the wrong side of the road, winding through mountain roads. :)  If you’re of similar mind, you might enjoy a tune or two! xx


It’s Wurst and Apfelstrudel time!

It’s Wurst and Apfelstrudel time!

Seeing as we’re about as daft as a brush about European languages, we’re headed off to the pristine hills and rural valleys of Austria and Switzerland (with a short visit to Germany) armed with nothing but unbriddled enthusiasm and a cornucopia of of mispronounced phrases!

In my mind’s eye, I see us having loads of Apfelstrudel and a zillion types of Wurst all washed down with Kölsch or Viennese coffee! As you can see, I really have this well planned ;P (NOT). My deepest apologies to anyone who’s German, Austrian or Swiss for the abject colloquialization of your culture and it’s reduction into rudimentary bits of food and tourist hotspots!  I hope that my naïveté and genuine wonder at it all makes you feel less flesh-creepingly embarassed about what you might see here post holiday! :D Stay with me…I aim to please!

All I really know about the next two weeks is that it’s going to be fab family time with the 5 of us ; there will be moments when we won’t know if we should believe that this is indeed our life, and not me chasing after some sort of spangled dream; and moments when we painfully think we should never have planned this holiday or chosen the London Zoo for the day (at a fraction of the price)! I hope that there’ll be no illnesses, that for a change no one throws up on our economy flight where the bathroom’s the size of a wheelie bin. That we don’t get robbed or get drenched more than twice in one day!!

travel, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, wanderlust, family of the year

I’m going to very deliberately be off the Internet in my endeavour to have the truest experience of being in the moment, of trying to nest wherever I am and travel even when home; so if you need to reach me, please do email me and I’ll drop you a line as soon as I’m back! I’ll make an exception to my “off-grid” experience on the 4th  of August where I’m going to be posting photos that will be used on the TOTS 100 Instagram feed as part of their Summer Instagram Takeover so if you fancy seeing pictures of Swiss Villages, HERE is where you’ll find me :)

There’ll be a few travel posts (totally scroll-intensive) after I’m back so please do pop in and have a look!

For now, I’ll leave you with a song that’s been playing on repeat for me, maybe it’s the monochrome imagery that has always moved me at a molecular level or a girlish Country-Music/Rodeo Cowboy hangover – Stetsons, Cuban heeled boots, Plaid! I very nearly made Calgary my home once ;) .I hope you like this song…

Family of the Year: Hero!

Here’s a photoessay from the last time we went away in case you fancy indulging your wanderlust ;)  :

“Arrivederci Roma!” – A Photo-essay.

Coming Undone & Rethinking your Creative Mojo!

Coming Undone & Rethinking your Creative Mojo!

I think that every creative person goes through intermittent periods in their life when they look at the daunting blank of the canvas before them and feel utterly paralysed. I’m sorta still there now. I’ve been there over the last two weeks!

Very often I’ve thought that being unable to write must mean a cessation of your creativity,  a time when you’ve genuinely got nothing to say, no narrative left to create anymore. I’ve read more oftten and on more varied platforms than I care to list that this is when you should step back, do other things you love till you feel fired again to go birth thoughts and ideas and clothe them with the frivolity of wit and feel ready to set them free, unrestrained….

I’m passionate about a lot of things and am usually someone who has ideas, a lot of them..most of which I know might never lend themselves to more than a paragraph in print! They’d probably end up dividing the world into two sides of an argument (very Tolkienesque, I know) and in my writer’s fantasy, everyone would fire up their laptops just as they’re hit with a new post notification and in a 90 second ad capsule, converge on my post with cups of cocoa and carefully considered teas!

*Ahem* Uncanny just how much of a resemblance that bears to real life! ;P

Over the last week, I’ve had to rethink my inertia when it comes to my creativity and realise that it’s not that I have nothing left to say but that everything that I do want to say seems raw and painful. (For those of you who regularly read me, you know I’m moving…again! ) I see myself standing at the brink of another big change, a few more strange roads, a new house to call mine and make a home of. Children to settle into a new school and new friends – whose lives we must weave ourselves into gently, without disturbing their established ecology! Sure, there is a rush of excitement, a chance to start afresh – new beginnings are positive too! But largely, I’ve lost my voice to the call of this challenge, to leaving behind old friends, laughter, the security of an established life… again!

spool thread, connectivity, coming undone, writers block, creative slump. creativity. writing

I so often hear about writers/bloggers who swear by keeping a diary with them to note down ideas, sentences, inspiration for them to revisit later and heaven knows I’ve tried that, and like all things in the bag of a mum of two young girls, it finally ends up littered with cookie crumbs, the home of softening, last flakes of a bag of crisps, dampened by used wet wipes after ballet and swimming. And the once-gorgeous Moleskine begins it’s adagio into the seventh circle of hell!

I’ve recently had a few days of turning up at my desk and blankly staring at a screen before I decide to arbitrarily scan Twitter (I’m not much of a Tweeter/Twitterer (?) so my peppered interaction is often the result of an extraordinary delightful day or quite likely the converse) and then going on to browse sales I would never succumb to! :) I’ve also realised that looking for inspiration to break out of a slump is generally not to be found on Twitter (Pinterest, maybe- for some), but Twitter made me want to run and hide! The one thing you don’t need is to see how well everyone’s doing the one thing that seems to have bid you so long. If you’d take my advice, stay off all social media for a day or two if you don’t feel like the “King of the World” when it comes to your creativity!


spool thread, connectivity, coming undone, writers block, creative slump. creativity. writing

In all my searching and thinking, the one thing I realised was that there wasn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Here’s what worked for me and I hope will help you in some small measure.

  • I read. I went back to parts of old books that I’ve loved and that’ve meant something to me over the years (the kind that have paragraphs you want to highlight, or if you’re a complete saddo like I am, do highlight so you can come back to it sometime!) I re-read them and smiled, cried, felt inspired to create again, to write how reading that made me feel.
  • I’m a bit obsessed with music so I made a playlist and listened to music that’s new to me, that I don’t have any real history with. I also listened to music I have a deep history with and the both of them helped get the groove back, I decided I’d engage every sense I can till I know I can face the empty screen again and know that I have something to deliver. I owe myself to deliver on the one thing I love doing most.
  • That’s another thing that helped, making a commitment to myself to get over this creative slump! It’s daunting when your entire being is racked with self doubt. You stand convinced that there is no place or use for your thoughts, your contribution is negligible if at all, and everyone, including your next door ‘tweenager ‘ probably says it better than you! The self negation is extreme at times! (Helped knowing that Coleridge felt it too, and Susan Sontag – one of my favourite authors). Telling yourself that you understand that you need a break, but you’re going to be back by a certain date has more of an impact than you can imagine. Choicelessness is often a great way to get things done ;)
  • Sometimes your mind won’t let you write something that it feels is unauthentic, especially if you’ve got “real” issues on your mind. Creative people know intrinsically what they want to say and if you can’t for whatever reason address that -maybe the story isn’t even yours to tell – you find it impossibe to settle for the second best that you feel “allowed” to write. Take some time off to make peace with whatever you’ve got to shelve for the moment. Maybe write it on paper or on a Word Doc and after it’s out of you, either click delete or save it if you think you might like to read what you felt. I wrote to a friend I trust with all my heart. It was raw, it was real, and most importantly, it was dead honest. And even before I got a reply, I was better and could miraculously compartmentalize again. There are things that we would love to write about, “blogging gold” as a more accomplished blogger called it- but for myriad reasons, we never will. That’s just part and parcel of our creative journey, and rightfully so! Don’t be afraid to change your plan, if one idea won’t play out, work on another. Plan B doesn’t have to signify a lesser alternative. Don’t force it, you’ll end up with something you’d be embarassed about in time to come. Trust me, I’ve been there ;)
  • Cook, bake, craft…whatever you enjoy that’s removed from your writing. Finish something. I’m usually guilty of being very harsh on myself because I’ve left so much unfinished in my life – half started projects that I’ve tired of or lost enthusiasm for; a half written second story! Taking something to it’s logical end makes me feel, somewhere subconsciously that I will /can come through on things! My writing will not be another bullet point on my unfinished list!

There’s a good reason that you feel what you do when you’re all clogged up in your head – it’s a call to learn to trust yourself, be gentle and kind to you. Your subconscious is trying to say something by being uncooperative! You won’t find your answers by incessantly searching Google, you won’t find YOUR fix in a random list that might work for 7/10 people. The biggest favour you can do yourself is realise that maybe it’s time to shut that laptop, mute that smartphone and finally listen to the you that you’ve been so desperately searching for!

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Mozart’s “The Marriage Of Figaro” is essentially a classical Rom-Com!

Mozart’s “The Marriage Of Figaro” is essentially a classical Rom-Com!

Who amongst us hasn’t enjoyed a good tear-jerker from time to time- be it a book, a rom-com, or an incessantly far flung soap-opera? The idea of watching a drama unfold, invoking the senses with fear and pity, valour and prudence; being able to walk in the same shoes and feel the resonance of emotion and experience in your own lives is hardly what one would call a modern phenomenon. In fact, neither is the censorship of such a necessarily modern one! From as far back as the ancient worlds and Greek and Roman tragedies, philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle wrote about the power of the performing arts. Plato, in an effort to censor art claimed that certain forms of music were rightly associated with certain states of mind (who can argue with that? for really, there isn’t any place for Leonard Cohen on the dance floor now, is there?! And trust me, listening to ”Summer Beats 2013′ in a 19thC cafe in Bologna is just so wrong)!

Aristotle was probably the one who first made the crucial connection between music, poetry and lofty thought and perhaps suggested that drama ought to have a more moral purpose rather than remain mere entertainment. This then went on to be the theoretical backbone of the new art of “opera”,  (latin for “a body of work”, a synergy of all the widely acclaimed artforms) Perfected during the renaissance in Italy, this new “trend” quickly found acceptance in other individual and distinctive schools in a number of European countries. Through the proper projection of the emotions of pity and fear, carried on by skilled artists, the audience would undergo a moral cleansing, a catharsis, a coming away feeling elated and unburdened – (something that we still seek through the relentless energy of feel-good, happy-ending films)!

The Marriage of Figaro_ENO_ 2011_Mary Bevan_Credit Sarah Lee,

Mary Bevan in The Marriage of Figaro. Pic credits © Sarah Lee

Opera clearly had a moral purpose, and in time would go on to have a political one too! Enter Mozart with his “The Marriage of Figaro”, a brilliantly woven comedy of human relations, which has held it’s relevance through the last 200 years as a social and political situational drama. Seeing that the story is foregrounded at the time of the French Revolution, Figaro’s brazen-faced affront of his master Count Almaviva’s authority can also be seen as the triumph of the proletariat’s decision of challenging rigidly established aristocracy!

Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro” is the tumultuous tale of the events of one crazy day as Figaro, the Count’s valet, tries to wed Susanna, the Countess’s maid, before the philandering Count can get to her first. Mozart’s glorious music with his librettist Lorenzo da Ponte gives “opera buffa” (comic opera – where stock characters, comic and cunning servants, angry and penny-pinching fathers, passionate lovers, lustful daughters and bragging soldiers found their place after it’s more sombre “opera seria”) an enduring historical context. Fiona Shaw’s buzzing production at The English National Opera “sees its plot of sexual intrigue, mistaken identities and unexpected revelations unravel with clock-like precision within the confines of a maze-like household in which the servants are perfectly capable of thwarting their masters at every time.”

As I might have at some point said to my post-graduate students, Figaro, like all masterpieces is a wonderful story of adventure – replete with plot and counter-plot, danger and disguise, intrigue and mystery! Not for the sexually prudish either – it showcases a wide sexual canvas ranging from the naïveté  in the love of young Cherubino, who would like to emulate the Count’s prowess but is denied the means; the mundanity of Susanna and the raw lust of Count Almaviva. Completing the picture is the elevated resilience and forgiveness of the Countess. A winsome yarn that touches on social manner and political reform; it’s enduring charm being its lasting relevance in holding up a mirror to society and human poignancy and doing so with a punchy, bold humour! An achingly full-blooded synthesis of all the other arts – drama, vocal and orchestral music, dance, light and design!

In The English National Opera production of The Marriage of Figaro, David Stout and Mary Bevan star as the wily servants Figaro and Susanna, with Benedict Nelson as Count Almaviva and Sarah-Jane Brandon as the wronged Countess! Conductor Jaime Martin returns to ENO following his debut last year in Rossini’s Barber of Seville.

You can find more information about the shows, ticket prices and timings on the official website of The English National Opera!

(*Disclaimer : This is a sponsored post for The English National Opera and I have been remunerated for it!)

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