Today’s Doxology

I love that when I awoke this morning wrapping my melancholy around me, like a toddler clings to a familiar blanket,  I was able to make a mumbled, jumbled moan to You, Abba God, lamenting my sadness.  “I’m not doing very well, but I do really love You”.  My morning prayer.

Sitting on the loo before the sun is fully up.  I dutifully pray my daily doxology, “This is the day that the Lord has made I will rejoice and be glad in it”. And I thank You for Richard and Benjamin and Joanna,  I thank You for my health, I thank You for my lovely home, and I thank You for my parents.  But somewhere in the middle of this doxology,  I get distracted and diverted.  Instead I recall all the disappointing bathrooms in Mozambique I have known, with their intermittent water flow and grimy shower curtains. The years when water was heated in a bucket using an element hanging from a wire clothes hanger. And I’m filled with gratitude that the previous owner of this house especially replaced her shower-only- bathroom, with an all singing and dancing shower- with-bathtub, to help her sell the house, which is now our home. For though the bath itself is hardly ever used it’s absence would eat away at my peace of mind.   Wasn’t all our angst about buying a house with only one, teeny bathroom such a lot of nonsense!  As I share this with You I’m engulfed by Your smile and want to shout from the mountain tops, “Praise God, from whom all blessings flow”.

A little later I bring up a tray of treats to our bedroom.  Hot chocolate, chocolate muffins, biscuits,  tea and a mug of hot -water- with -ginger- almonds- honey and apple cider vinegar.  First the three in the bed all obediently swallow a vitamin C (Holland and Barret would be pleased.)  Then I climb in with them, very ‘snuggly wuggly’ and read to them from our latest book based on the life of Amy Carmichael.

Later still, walking around the garden, eating my jungle oats, feeling the cold dew underfoot (my mother would be pleased) I greet the two rabbits hoping about.  Feebee Foe (Flopsy’s new name) hops up to me to say ‘hello’ but skitters away when I try to pick her up. She’s not in the mood for a cuddle’.  The pansies are shouting out their vibrant glistening colour and I say, “I see you, you beautiful things” (Prince Charles would be pleased).  I place the miniature crystal obelisk  in the miniature rockery back on it’s ‘feet’.  Some of the rocks travelled all the way from a beach in Salt Rock, South Africa.  They look so nondescript compared to their flint-stone cousins, found locally, that I have to consciously label them ‘Proudly South African’ with the help of a small SA flag.   I smile at the words written in African seeds that sit perched about the gnarled hand  of a  small tree, which has been  hacked back hard – ‘laugh, pray, dance, sing.   My garden does indeed sing  out “Praise God all creatures here below”.


In mourning…


For the bold, brash sun down where –

I was born and mostly bred,

swirling, twirling it’s bright yellow ..

everywhere, everywhere.


For the  heart stopping , eye popping

pathos and drama, the fears and tears

scattering, battering it’s ululation ..

everywhere, everywhere.


For the dance and the music,

the laughter and banter

Thumping and bumping..

everywhere, everywhere.


For the wild open spaces

echoing  the beginning of time

Whispering,  conspiring ..

Everywhere, everywhere.


For the history,  geography,

Current philosophies ,  family genealogy

Embracing,  engaging …  me

To everything, everything.

My Favourite Location

“What’s your favourite colour?” asks my daughter. “What’s your favourite film?” asks a friend. The experts no doubt will discover in the near future that there’s a part of the brain where ‘favourite things’ are logged and that mine has been damaged. My brain refuses to settle on just one favourite thing. Instead the windmills of my mind go into overdrive. So what’s my favourite location? My bed, a hot bath, Church, the Indian Ocean, the top of the Drakensberg, any room with a spectacular view or my mother’s veranda. “But which is my favourite?” I enquire of my whirring brain. Part of the problem is I’m so spoilt for choice. Raised in South Africa with it’s incredible diverse beauty, living in remote rural villages in Mozambique with their unique ‘other-worldliness’ and then living in a 17th Century Farmhouse in France for a year. Also do I choose where I feel safest and sanest or rather where I’m inspired to ‘trip the light fantastic’. “Choose!” I yell and the windmills stop at ‘Waterfall in Gurue’ .

Gurue is a remote rural village in the Zambezia province of Mozambique where I lived with my new husband for just over two years. From our veranda there we could see the distant dazzle of the waterfall as it nestled in the midst of a mountain range. To get to the waterfall we would drive past the ruins of an old Tea Plantation Factory and then nearly disembowel ourselves and our 4X4 as we bumped our way over the rocky track that runs past the waterfall. It was better to walk and leave the car by the factory. The spectacular view from the waterfall reward enough for the effort required to get there.

I would sit on the pinkie grey dry rocks right at the edge of the sheer drop over which the water plunged and drink in the view stretching out to the distant horizon with its layers of mountains, hinting of other worlds. Here I felt truly myself, all neurosis wiped away. On hot days I would brave the refreshing plunge into the dark pools of water above the waterfall and take refuge in the shade provided by the green, leafy tropical trees scattered all about. On colder days the sun struck against the exposed rock providing comforting warmth. I liked to leap across the pathway of water as it made its way over the rocks before plunging down. I loved feeling so footloose and fancy free. A feeling shared by Godot, our dog.

Yes it’s hard to say which was my favourite aspect of my favourite location. It was great having access to water on those hot, hot dry October days. It didn’t feel quite so hot and humid up there either, the air felt fresher . It was also usually a fairly private place to have a picnic though occasionally we became a ‘reality TV show, for a group of children looking like they belonged in an Oliver Twist movie rather than real life. Perhaps my most favourite part was the magical ambiance, the feeling of being in a sacred place which is why I still go there in my mind when I want to be still and know that there is God.

I have just eaten some of the tangy, beautifully red sweet chilli sauce we made at Christmas time from the luscious bunches of chillies growing in the poly tunnel. The colour and sweetness in stark contrast to the view outside the kitchen window.

I’m just back from a new- routine -drive to ‘my horse’ Coriander who lives a 10minute drive away. I have recently been asked to ride Coriander as Paul, her owner since she was a young two year old filly, has become too heavy for her now that Coriander is 17 years old. I didn’t want to ride today, it’s cold out there – 6 degrees Celsius with no promise of a visit from my ‘favourite friend’ here, the sun. I set out reluctantly with the end goal in mind as suggested, apparently, by that 7 -successful- habits -guy. I want to be able to ride Coriander on long out rides with horse fiend, I mean friend, during the long summer months, and Coriander – who hasn’t been ridden for nine months – needs to get fit enough and hopefully far less jumpy. At the moment every sudden movement, even by a tiny bird, causes her heart to leap into her mouth with very literal results. Just relieving a ride on her, during that half- awake -time early in the morning, causes my entire body to jerk an inch across the mattress.

Today the leafless trees standing sentinel along aspects of this new- routine -drive looked grey and old, with tired brittle bones. Usually they seem mysterious and sensuously secretive, their grey intermittently turned silver by the alchemist sun. When massed together against a not too distant hill they call to me, and I know if I could morph into a giant and pass an outstretched hand gently over their spiky surface, I would find, gazing down into my upturned palm, fairy dust. But today instead of reverence a line from a poem trotted through my mind as gloom dominated the ambience. But I have just discovered, after doing a google search for a poem with the phrase ‘In the bleak midwinter’ that it is in fact a hymn, so reverence was there after all. >a

After 13 years in Mozambique we responded to an advert on the internet and are now renting a 17th century farmhouse with 25 acres of land in France, called Le Coty. In stark contrast to Mozambique,  the sunrise is as late as 8.00am, when we let the various animals out of their night time shelters.  I have started a new blog to record our experiences moving from Africa to France called Out of Africa.


The summer house


Sunrise at Le Coty, photo by Richard Dove


Hay for the winter, photo by Richard Dove




For a quick trip around the world go to My World Tuesday


On Saturday the 2nd May this year, Richard and I were escaping the extreme African heat, surfing the intermittent internet, while wondering where in the world we would be when Richard’s contract finished in August. Up until this point I had lived for 13 years in Mozambique coming to grips with marriage, motherhood and malaria. Richard had managed three different development projects working with subsistence farmers. It was time for a change. On this Saturday in question, while surfing the web, we came across an advert to rent Le Coty, a 17th Century Farmhouse, with about 25 acres of land, starting September 2009. The land came with numerous livestock, a poly tunnel, a well stocked vegetable garden, and an extensive raspberry patch. Plus a wooden summer house to move into if we chose to use the 17th Century farmhouse as a gite (holiday accommodation)during the summer. “I want it, I want it, I want it” consumed my entire being. I could not recall feeling so strongly about wanting something/someone since first going back to Richard’s house, with a group of fellow post-graduate students, after a blustery, freezing, walk along the North Norfolk coast 15 years before. So we sent off an e-mail, after hours of deliberating over each word, to express our interest in renting Le Coty for the year.

Then we noticed with dismay that the advert had been placed in February and so we convinced ourselves that Le Coty would no longer be available. It was disappointing and I was briefly gutted but then fell back on my faith that my life is in bigger hands.

At 7.15am on Monday morning, 4th May 2009, Richard phoned from the office to say he had an e-mail from Le Coty saying that sixty people had responded to their advert but they considered us the ideal candidates. Yahoo!!!!!!!!!

I have started a new blog to record this adventure called Out of Africa.. I will continue to play with poetry and prose at Neverending Story.

The prompt at One Single Impression is Copse. I was inspired to join in, after a long hiatus due to lots of traveling and packing, after reading Sandy Carlson’s  poem in my gmail inbox.   In May we responded to an advert on the internet to rent a 17th Century Farmhouse on an  organic smallholding in France, for a year while the owners go on safari.  The owners selected us and we’ve been to see the farm. After living for 13 years in one of the poorest provinces,  of one of the poorest countries in the world, it seems completely surreal to be heading off for France in 10 days time.

It was good to come up with this haiku for copse. It kind of makes it feel more real.


Will use a copse

to chop wood, to burn, for warmth

on the farm in France.

Wood for burning at Le Coty, France. Photo by Richard Dove

Wood for burning at Le Coty, France. Photo by Richard Dove