11 Aug 2013

Dreams: Crippled. A snivelling wreck in a damp corner, spine arched, alone, neglected, no one near. But I’ve seen him, me, caught a glimpse at least. First contact. Then… Van not starting. Others I’m with go on, leaving me, again, alone and also taking the girl I like, who just felt caring pity towards me. No one wants caring pity. On my own, trying, trying, trying to make the van start. Even pretending it does to those who ask when passing by.

Meditating after a deep dream allows the meditation to go deeper, as long as you are not too spooked and are willing to explore it in a relaxed, attentive way. The dreaming has already uncovered a lot for you.

An injured day. Neck much worse on waking and I’m unable to sit upright for meditation and breakfast and therefore work. So I spent the day propped up on pillows, finishing the yoga book, answering some work emails, watching a few things and browsing about. Saw some pictures of Marilyn Monroe doing yoga. I hadn’t realised.

Probably thinking of my neck, but it’s not good to turn to smile at the camera with one’s neck in these positions.

After some athletics this evening – Bolt does it again at the World Championships – wacthed Kirsty the property lady’s show about making furniture from free stuff. I remember something similar in the early Channel 4 days, when I first saw car seats being used in the home. The table from scaffold planks was ruggedly appealing. 

Here’s hoping the neck is freed up and painless tomorrow…

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10 Aug 2013

Woke at seven after going to sleep just after eleven.

Deep dreams these nights. Scenarios that last and last. I can’t leave them, even if I want to, and last nights was a continual getting ready to leave a hotel-like place, or maybe a hall of residence. But I was too drunk. Or disorganised. Long time periods would pass and I’d done nothing at all to prepare.

Sitting this morning was uneventful. Some unsettledness was close by, so I moved towards it, yet most of the time all was lost in little thought stories. However, a sense of deepening stillness behind the thinking bubbles. Sat in half lotus some of the time but soon got pins and needles so back to both feet on the ground, one leg slightly in front of the other, so that neither leg weighs on the other.

A simple yoga sequence today after the long review of poses yesterday. Shoulder stand, plough, forward bend. Repeat. Sit quietly. And that’s it. Some nervy sensations back of the neck. The flaw in today’s routine – straight into the shoulder stand with no warm ups. I should know that this isn’t a good idea, especially with my prone to be stiff neck, so suffering all day from very stiff trapezius both sides. 

Then an open day with absolutely no plans. Put together the walk video from yesterday:

A nap before lunch. A shortish walk with C in the afternoon, laughing together at many things. Otherwise, listening to music, and looking at suggestions from this Reddit post: What’s the one song you’d recommend for someone to listen to to get into your music genre? Most interesting for me was the chill wave, underground jazz hip hop and the chillstep. Watched some elephants on the telly. Incredible creatures! To bed early to continue reading the 60s yoga book.

Weekend Walk 49 – Gander Down to Ovington – Allan King’s Way

The penultimate stage of my King’s Way hike, from where I left off on the Downs, not too far from Cheesefoot Head, down into the Itchen Valley via Tichborne. The church there has 11th Century origins, and at Ovington church there’s a Norman archway. Otherwise, rolling downland, open skies, arable land ready for harvest, curious calves, a gorgeous pub location, lamas, woods, then the bass and slight chaos of the Boomtown Fair at Mattersley Bowl, closing some of the South Downs Way for a week.

9 Aug 2013

Woke at seven, after sleeping at eleven.

A good, satisfying meditation. Soon came the feelings of bliss, and a sense of light. Before long, there was that nagging feeling of looking in the wrong place or of neglecting something, so then I looked in that direction instead of the usual fritting about in thought, and there it was, the raw emotion of fear. So now that got bathed in the light of the mind emptied. What is the point of an empty mind and bliss when there is something left out? No, meditation has to include it all. It’s a total thing, or as total as it can be at any sitting, given that there are blind spots and deeper neglects waiting to be felt, addressed, acknowledged, listened to, unfolded, bathed. And then they are no longer what they were, what I thought they were, once met fully. So, to follow the nagging . It’s there waiting to be followed and soon, on the following of the gritty areas, even more ecstasy arises as the conflict dissolves. There’s the feeling, then the unfolding, bathing, and then passing beyond to newness and change.

Once I felt no more fear, I moved down into the body, as that has to be included too. I got as far as the stiff neck before the hour was up. What’s the good of a clear mind and heart if the body is still riddled? Again, include it all. No short cuts or fooling oneself.

I’m left with a curious longing in my heart. I’m following its lead as I begin today’s yoga.

Stopping in between postures is so important. This is when the energy of the posture can go to work on the system. I stop still for a minute and let everything settle down again , and for whatever has arisen to go where it wants to go. A strange pulsing at the base of the spine, rhythmical and pleasurable. Eyes fluttering. A little daydream. Pause. Then on to the next pose, steady and attentive.

I’m more and more interested in doing what is real and not what other people are concerning themselves a with. Not that what they are doing isn’t real, but my concern with their actions or opinions is immaterial and fading. Not to be self obsessed but our own selves are the important thing, how we are spending our on time an what’s going on within us. It’s easy to spend a lot of time concerned about others. No one needs your concern, even if they crave your attention.

At 11, out for a walk on the South Downs, continuing along the Allan King’s Way, the second to last stage. I parked up on Gander Down, where I got to last time, and hiked over the rolling countryside and down to Tichborne. From there it was a short hop over the A31 and further downhill to Ovington. Old cottages on the lane down to the river and the Bush Inn, in high contrast to lorry drivers shitting in the woods just above. A quick lunch in the shady garden then along the valley a bit on Lovington Lane, and left the King’s Way to head back to the Downs. The normally peaceful countryside now with bass on the breeze. The Boomtown Fair at Mattersley Bowl. After some shade on winding paths through woods, and back over the A31, my route took me into the car park. I had no idea it would. So there I was, hiking into the festival grounds. I explained to the security why I had no wrist band and where I wanted to go. It was like walking alongside some sort of prison. A trench had been dug outside of a high, green fence. A woman sat on guard high on a corner watch tower. Ska music early afternoon. The party one day in. Later, along the South Downs Way again, I met a few walking to the site. They had a ladder for the fence. Join us, they said. I forgot to tell them about the guard tower so I don’t expect they got in. Their van was parked near my car, scribbled graffiti and twitter accounts all over it.

A sleep back at home, then good to lounge about after the walking. Snippets of TV. Tyre walls on Grand Designs. An elephant mourning the loss of its friend. The brother in Little Miss Sunshine not speaking ‘because of Nietzsche’.  Uploaded this from our Swedish holiday last month:

Came back from a night in London with a foot detoxification bath thing. I’ve no idea what it’s about but I stuck my feet in for half an hour. The water stunk! It felt nice around my toes, like bicarb of soda. Even if nothing else happened, my feet felt really clean and light afterwards.

Walk: Hen Wood / Westbury Park

Hen Wood lies between West Meon and East Meon, south of Westbury Park, at the northern end of the Meon Valley. It’s one of the larger woods in the area where I live, but is only about two square km. (This shows how broken up the woodlands are in Central Hampshire.) Still, where there isn’t woodland the area is very sparsly populated. I did see one stunning newbuild home at East End, and met one of the owners nearby. I couldn’t tell whether I had right to walk in the woods. I suppose not, but there were none of the usual PRIVATE NO RIGHT OF WAY signs placed near to the footpaths.

I started at Westbury House, a care home, former school and private home. Just behind the house, the footpath leads south, and very soon I was in atmospheric woods, with many well established trees.

Westbury House to Horsedown Farm

Westbury Park Woods

Westbury Park Woods

Old farm machinery near Horsedown Farm:

Old farm machinery

After the old farmhouse, the tracks become wider, at the east of the woods.

Hen Wood

Each tree has its own character:

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Near Halnaker Lane, some views across the Meon Valley to the north to Riplington and Drayton:

Meon Valley North

And at the south side of the wood, some views to the South Downs, specifically Salt Hill and Teglease Down:

Salt Hill South Downs

South Downs

Teglease Down

Walking quickly past a clay pigeon shooting area, I headed north east, downhill toward Coombe Lane:

Hen Wood Hampshire

Hen Wood Meon Valley

Views from the lane:

From Coombe Lane

From Coombe Lane

Reentering the woods at Chappetts Copse Nature Reserve, I peaked into Westbury Park, and watched the crop waves in the wind:

Westbury Park Hampshire

The reserve:

Chappetts Copse Nature Reserve

At its northern end, the lane crosses the Meon. I really like this early 20th Century type of white road barrier:

Coombe Lane Meon Bridge

Then into a field of calves with their mothers. Even the cows were curious and they all followed me across the field:

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I stopped at a delightful spot at the river, under a large tree. Timeless:

P1020473

Then I was back in the grounds of the house, looking for the remains of the church. I saw this ruin but it doesn’t look church-like:

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Snooped about the grounds a bit, sort of pretending to be a visitor. Well I was, but not to a guest. The house was rebuilt after a fire in the early 1900s:

Westbury House East Meon

Last view into the park:

Westbury Park East Meon

Weekend Walk 47 – Bishop’s Waltham to Nr. Owslebury (Allan King’s Way)

The fourth stage of my King’s Way walk, from the palace in the south Hampshire town, north-west across the wooded lower downs, into the South Downs National Park. This walk passes Wintershill with its Roman Road, Upham, Blackdown (great views), Baybridge, finishing north-east of Owslebury. Georgeous countryside, very rural, bright spring sunshine and some very curious calves.

Cheriton Wood

Not far to the north west of where I live is the largest wood in the area, Cheriton Wood. It’s near the site of one of the famous battles in the (Un)Civil War. I think it was closed to the public for most of the time I’ve lived here but is now open under the CROW Act. Here are some images from walking through the woods, and just outside the trees.

Weekend Walk 46 – Hambledon to Bishop’s Waltham – Allan King’s Way

Third stage of the Allan King’s Way.

A spring walk from the village of Hambledon in East Hampshire to Bishop’s Waltham with its Medieval palace, on market day. The path crosses the Meon Valley at Soberton before climbing to the semi-urban areas of Swanmore and Waltham Chase. This walk linked up places I hadn’t thought of as being near each other, intersecting the usual transport and valley routes.

Chidden & Hambledon Walk

In warm sunshine and cool winter air, we walked from the hamlet of Chidden on the South Downs to Hambledon and back again in a loop.

Chidden Hambledon Walk Route

With larks calling high above (where are they?) we proceeded south from the village over open downland:

Chidden Hampshire

Near Chidden

Some winter flowers hinting at spring:

Open snowdrops Yellow flower

Into Park Wood:

Park Wood Hambledon Park Wood Hambledon Park Wood Hambledon Park Wood Hambledon

 

 

Bird of prey scarecrow:

Hawk scarecrow

Park House:

Park House Hambledon Park House Hambledon

Cricket has been played up on Windmill Down, Hambledon for more than 250 years:

Hambledon Cricket Club

Buds budding:

Spring bud

View north to Leydene Park:

Leydene Park, Hyden

Hampshire downland:

Hampshire downland

Horse and foal

Hambledon vineyards, producing English ‘champagne’:

English vineyards Hambledon vineyards

Into the village. Very nice. Very expensive. Sports cars in front of cottages:

Hambledon churchyard Hambledon church Hambledon church cross Hambledon peoples market Hambledon High Street Old letter box MG, cottage

Footpath north through the vineyards:

Vineyard footpath

Panorama north to Chidden Down:

Chidden Down Chidden Down

And back to Chidden:

Chidden Hampshire

East Meon Walk

In bright winter sunshine in a crisp breeze we walked a loop of a few km from East Meon church:

East Meon Walk Route Map

From the graveyard the path rapidly ascends 100m up into Park Hill giving great views over the village. Very soon we were higher than the steeple:

Over East Meon church

 

Even higher above some red kites effortlessly circled over a corn field. A local said they had been recently introduced:

Red kite

On the top of the hill looking east to the south downs stretching away in the haze beyond Butser Hill:

View to the downs

The rolling grassland of Park Hill near to Vineyard Hole. (Now there are some vines nearer the village at the Court House.)

From Park Hill-2 From Park Hill

On the Bereleigh Estate, Park Farm. The ice on the pond would be soon to melt:

Park Farm

 

Hey you forgot the hay!

Hey you forgot the hay!

 

Over open country, down through Rookham Copse, over the road to Pidham Lane. These sunken lanes with trees on the bank always remind me of The Fellowship of the Ring:

Tree roots

 

Old lanes eaten up by motorbikes and sodden led us to the gravel of the Greenway Track:

Greenway Track

No cars. Look how dated the sign design is, some kind of 1960s car:

No cars signpost UK

 

Frogmore lies to the east of East Meon. Only 2km from its source, the Meon turns west here into the Meon Valley proper. Old cottages and a bridge here:

Frogmore cottages The Meon at Frogmore

 

Taking the lane instead of more mud in the fields, we were soon in the village, with it’s thatched cottages and Georgian houses and pub:

Thatch East Meon East Meon-2 Ye Olde George Inn, East Meon East Meon-3

 

Then back to the church in it’s downland situation:

East Meon Church and Park Hill East Meon Church

The old Court House c14 onwards:

Old Court House

 

Ventilation tile:

Handmade ventilation tile

 

Scarecrow at the village allotments:

Scarecrow at East Meon Allotments

Gundleton and Bighton Walk

It’s rained a lot recently so we stuck to lanes this morning. Paths are crazy muddy right now. Starting out just north of Gundleton, Hampshire’s best named village, an hour’s loop:

Guntleton & Bighton

The order of the photos has got muddled and so shall the order of the descriptions. Here are some geese at a small farm in Gundleton:

Gundleton Geese

Snowdrops on Goscombs Lane:

Snowdrops on Goscombs Lane

Two bulls at the farm. The lighter one dominated and soon walked in front of the other, blocking his view of us.

Two bulls

Pigs in the barn and a curious goose:

Goose and pigs

The cows were eating what looks like watercress:

Eat your greens

A wet and muddy horse:

Muddy horse

Many plants were pushing through for spring, the green so bright. Here’s some moss that also seemed to have a glow on:

Fresh moss

A pair of donkeys:

Donkeys

I think this was called Clivedon. Totally old school bungalow:

Bunglaow at Goscombs Lane

A place called The Coffee Tavern. No sign of it being a cafe:

The Coffee Tavern

Greening signposts:

Bighton Dean Lane

A thatched cottage at Bighton Dean:

Thatched Cottage

The Three Horseshoes Public House. Proper old school again Also known as The Three Osees:

The Three Horseshoes, Bighton

The Old House at Bighton. Digging the windows:

The Old House, Bighton

Pines at Bighton Dean Lane:

Pines, Bighton

Looking west from Bighton Lane:

From Bighton Lane

I’m not sure which house this is. Perhaps Bighton Manor:

Bighton Manor?

Windybanks Cottage in Bighton:

Windbanks Cottage Bighton

There’s no ‘r’ in Bighton:

Bighton. No 'r'

Weekend Walk 44 – Portchester & Portsdown – Allan King’s Way

The first stage of the Allan King’s Way, from Portchester Castle to Nelson’s Monument on Portsdown Hill. I then continued along the hill a way and back to Portchester at sunset. On the way: Portsmouth Harbour, Wicor, Foxbury Point, Cams Bay, Downend, Fort Nelson, DSTL Research Base, Portchester Common, Paulsgrove Lake, then the Roman Fort and castle right on the water’s edge.

One of my favourite walks so far, despite its proximity to urban areas.

South Downs Way – Final Leg – Alfriston to Eastbourne

For the final stage of the 100-mile SDW, I took the Coastal Route from the downland village of Alfriston, through the Cuckmere valley, across the Seven Sisters Country park with its bright white cliffs, via Birling Gap, up to Beachy Head before leaving the downs, descending into Eastbourne and it’s seafront promenade. A thoroughly enjoyable last twelve miles – a classic!

Weekend Walk 39 – Beaulieu to Lymington – The Solent Way

From the Hampshire village of Beaulieu to the town of Lymington, the Solent Way proceeds south then west. At first it follows the bank of the Beaulieu River to Bucklers Hard, where many of Nelson’s fleet was built. Two unique terraces of Georgian houses survive. The path then head inland to St Leonards Grange, Sowley and Walhampton, with its oversized monument. The walk finishes in maritime Lymington, with cobbled streets and historic quay. It was surprising to see the wild (if owned) donkeys of the New Forest right there on the streets of Beaulieu. While much of this stage is on tarmac, the lanes were quiet even on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

Ramsdean Walk

Wanting to explore the area to the north of Butser Hill, east of East Meon, south of Stroud, we parked in the small Hampshire village of Ramsdean. The area is more varied than is often found around the South Downs, with small streams, undulating countryside and ancient lanes between meadows and copses. The track from Ramsdean to Stroud (pr. strood) is a delight, with warn stone underfoot and steep banks up to beeches overhanging the path. Very hobbit-like. We turned north off the track towards Langrish, up through meadows with great views of Butser Hill behind us. Then down through Mustercoombe Copse almost as far as Stroud, meeting a herd of cows, both curious and literally shit scared of us. Then it was back onto the ancient track to the village with its cottages and farms.

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The beginning of one of my favourite months of the year.

Evening at Chithurst monastery with two friends for the dhamma talk which follows some chanting (in English tonight) and forty minutes quiet sitting. Probably about fifty lay people and twenty monks. The talk was by the Abbott, some pointers for meditation practice. He always surprises me with his worldliness, speaking of browsing the internet, walking through London. A monk’s life is not entirely how I imagine. I get distracted a little from the talk by the monk’s heads. They fascinate me, their shape and hairlessness.

Afternoon at home. Made another intros video. That’s musical intros not dating intros. Discovered that youtube let it be if you use less than 30 seconds of a song, and anything over that gets picked up by their musical analysis algorithms and a copyright notice is given. They seem to let that slide to a large extent too, saying there is a claim but they will allow the video and that they might put an add next to the video. This is just a download link to iTunes. I’m enjoying selecting the music, discounting anything with vocals or voice samples in the intro, and doing it letter by letter. Today artists beginning with D.

This morning hiking with Roland who is visiting Brockwood for a little while. We drove to West Meon then hiked along the old railway then up to Old Winchester Hill. Our usual route. Chatting about this and that, seriously and light heartedly. Usually we are talking about women by the time we reach the top of the hill. After a break, we posed for photos up on the old hill fort.

Me:

Roland:

Alarm is set for 0630. Want to try a regular wake up time now that it’s only getting a little light around then. Starting an Iyengar home course – more about which soon.

Peace

Weekend Walk 38 – Hythe to Beaulieu – Solent Way

Continuing east-west along the Solent Way, from the ferry at Hythe to the Hampshire village of Beaulieu. This is an inland stage once leaving Southampton Water, entering into the New Forest through Fawley Inclosure, Beaulieu Heath, to Hilltop, then down into the village itself on the banks of the River Beaulieu where I was sort of attacked by a goose. Disappointingly, most of the walk is along roadsides, or very near the road. I’d really like to see an alternative route for the Solent Way to the East of Beaulieu.

Apologies for the dirty image. It’s not on the lens but inside the camera.

 

Weekend Walk 37 – Wickham, Funtley, Knowle

A Hampshire walk from Wickham including Webbs Land Farm, Botley Wood, Stonyfield Copse, Funtley, River Meon, Knowle Village, Knowle Asylum Cemetery, Mayles, and finishing on the Meon Valley Trail with a wedding taking place at Wickham Church, the bells ringing out. Lots of horses and a reunion of a pony with its mother.

How the hospital/asylum once looked. The cemetery is in the woods top right.