A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Endless Renewal And Other Things

It's November 1st. Last night was the Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-een), marking the end of one year and the beginning of the next, a time for settling affairs in preparation for the period of darkness and renewal ahead according to The Book Of Wicca by Lucy Summers. On a supernatural level, it is the time when the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest and spirits, elementals, and divine beings are able to walk upon the earth unsummoned.

Outside the weather's wild and wet. But mild. I remember when Novembers used to be bone-chillingly cold with freezing fog. We'd huddle round the bonfire on November 5th in balaclavas and warm coats, looking forward to a feast of roast chestnuts and butter-drenched baked potatoes after the firework display.

Yes, its blustery but mild today, and the wind is whistling round our ornamental cherry tree, shaking leaves of deep burgundy onto the driveway (see pic). After a hard week's work it's nice to stay indoors, relax and curl up with a good book or two. In fact two books arrived from Amazon last week (I'm an Amazon addict. After resisting for months, I've caved in yet again.)

I think I have a treat in store with Rumi's Selected Poems (I've enjoyed so many poems by Rumi on various blogs that I just had to read more) and John Hillaby's Journey Through Britain - somewhat of a landmark book for me. It was one of the first books to inspire my walking adventures. I had a hardback copy once before - which I've either lost, sold or given away.

(Like most other things, books come and go. The whole of my professional life I've been involved with books - buying them, selling them, collecting them, lending them, donating them, just falling short of stealing them, Joe Orton-style. My collection of books is constantly changing. Changing as the seasons themselves. Changing like Samhain following Lughnasadh. Changing as the colours of a flowering cherry tree.)

Back to John Hillaby's Journey Through Britain. I want to reread it. I have half a notion to retrace his journey, then try and write a book about it. We all need these dreams and aspirations. Personally speaking, I find I have more and more dreams and aspirations the older I get. The less time I have, the more I seem to want and need to do. I no longer have the luxury of youth's carefree idleness and enviable procrastination.

I love life! And I want to live and experience and read about and thrill to more and more things with each passing year.


The Weaver of Grass said...

It is a long time since I read the Hilaby - must look at it again. I have to say that so far I have resisted the inclination to register with Amazon - it would be far too tempting.

Chris Townsend said...

Good to see John Hillaby mentioned. Journey Through Britain inspired me to take up long distance walking and Land's End to John O'Groats was my first such walk. I still have my battered and well-read 1973 paperback copy of Journey Through Britain.

Interesting thoughts on November too. I can remember huddling round the bonfire on frost nights as a child. Up here in Strathspey, where I've been living for 20 years, this is the mildest autumn I can remember.

am said...

I am much inspired by the good vibrations of "Endless Renewal And Other Things." Beautiful tree. Intriguing to think that this is the first day of the Celtic year.

"...a time for settling affairs in preparation for the period of darkness and renewal ahead..."

And what a startling revelation to follow the links to:


and discover that the Beatles' management approached him to write something for the Beatles. And to keep reading about his life and death. I had not heard of him before.

I hope you do go forward with the journey through Britain and then write a book about it.

word verification: crytor


The Solitary Walker said...

Pat - Hillaby wrote other walking books too, but this remains my favourite as it's the one which fed my dreams.

Yes, Chris, I remember your account of this walk in your book 'The Great Backpacking Adventure' - another book that inspired me to go walking. I believe you mentioned the Hillaby in your own book? (I can't check, as yours seems to be another in my constantly changing collection that's 'gone missing'.)

I suppose the link to Orton was a bit startling, am! I do like these apparently bizarre links, though. When I was writing this post about my life-long involvement with books, suddenly Orton's prank of nicking library books from Essex Road Library, Islington, came to mind. (Strangely enough, I did a Librarianship course in the 1970s in Essex Road - at the old Polytechnic of North London.)

Orton's stolen and defaced library books are now the pride and joy of Islington's book collection!

Dave Hollin said...

I agree with Chris T in that this is one of the mildest autumns I can remember too. Ok so I live down in South Wales on the coast so have the luxury of the Gulf Stream to warm things up. Still, its been mighty odd recently with the temperatures and all.

I too feel the pull of doing new and different things as I get older. Of course the kids are my number 1 priority but I do manage to get out and about (though not as much as I would like). It makes me laugh when my lad comes in and says he's bored... Bored?! I havent got enough time in the day to be bored. Of course some of that has to do with have a plethora of hobbies that need constant attention (walking, camping, reading, various sports, blogging, wargaming.......)

What I hope for now is a really cold and snowy couple of months and then a quick thaw out in March.

I can but dream...

Grizz………… said...

I have two or three Hillaby books around, but Colin Fletcher was the walker who first opened me to the notion of shrugging a pack onto my back and setting off on a journey afoot. Not simply get somewhere, or to walk for exercise, but to travel by the most human means at the most human pace. Though I've never been able to make the "big" walks of my dreams, I've never lost that desire or interest…and all thanks to those books, and the many other books about various walks I've read since.

I hope you do make that walk and write that book. It would be a dandy.

Rita said...

"... more and more dreams and aspirations the older I get.
.....I love life. And I want to live and experience and read about and thrill to more and more things with each passing year. "

Oh my...this hit home with me!!!
It's the books... those darn books I keep reading... Our son once told his father not to allow me to read any more books, as tehy give me too many "ideas" for adventures. And the older I get, the more adventurous I become.
Could never live without a bunch of books waiting to be read.

Phoenix C. said...

I've only just learned that this is the Celtic New Year!

I echo your last few lines there exactly ...

Your blog is a constant source of inspiration, though I usually comment in another form :)

debbie bailey said...

Thanks for the pronunciation of Sow-een. But I'm still confused, because sow has two pronunciations. One is like so-to sow your seeds in the garden. Another is sow-a female pig. So which is it?

I'm new to your blog and am going to check out your other one.

I'd love to go on super long walks too but am afraid of all the wild animals and people I might meet. How do you deal with those, especially in Britain where you can't carry a gun anymore?

Grace said...

I'm an Amazon addict too. How else am I to remember the names of all those books I want to read? I'm constantly adding books to my wishlist. I prefer to find then at used bookstores, but sometimes I can't wait to get lucky. Last weekend I found two treasures at the used bookstore: Celtic Twight by W.B Yests, and Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind.

The Solitary Walker said...

Rhyming with 'cow', Debbie, though I think there are another pronunciations too.

Wild animals absolutely no problem in Britain unless mice and rats give you the creeps. The splendidly wild ones, the wolves and bears and sabre-toothed tigers, became extinct long, long ago! Untrained domestic guard dogs may occasionally be a slight problem. And from time to time a walker does get trampled by a herd of cows.

The people are generally friendly and unaggressive. If you avoid walking through certain city centres late at night on Fridays and Saturdays.

Don't be afraid, Debbie! I think you're being unnecessarily cautious.

Thanks everyone for all their comments. I've seen the film of 'Perfume', Grace, but not read the book. Dave - I'd love some cold, snowy weather too - but I don't think we're going to get any.

Tramp said...

Hillaby's Journey Through Britain also had a big effect on me. It caused me to embark on a walk through the Czech Republic, where I have been resident for some years. I am following the E10 European long distance path but although it is signposted and marked on maps, there is very little information about it and I can find no accounts of anyone who has walked it. Any ideas?

The Solitary Walker said...

Tramp - there seem to be very little info/walking accounts about many of the long-distance European E-paths, including the E-10.

Many gaps, waiting to be filled. Why don't you do your own E-10 travelogue as a blog? I, for one, would love to read it.