Life in a Seagull Colony (Summer 2018)

Katie & Adams Wedding Portugal 01.09.1820180901_155943 copyEvery time I step out the front door here on Brunswick street and breathe in that air, I never fail to realize how lucky we are, I pause, drink it in, take in the easy atmosphere of the place its like slipping on a crisp clean shirt, challenges I’d been dwelling upon seemed to slip off my shoulders, I am always instantly lighter shoulders go back head lifted, I like this place very much

Over the past few years we’d searched for a place, a town, somewhere we both felt comfortable and somehow we’d always gravitated towards the sea, I’d loved Whitby but it’s a lighter feeling here somehow. There is no grind no rush, we live in a noisy part of town, but even the noise is sporadic, the delivery artic for the coop, the bin men, the recycling truck all come along Brunswick avenue past our window, it’s a one way street you see and that is the way the way the roads runs. Their volume ebbs and flows like the tides, and in between you can actually hear peoples footsteps and their voices, friends who’ve visited us comment on it too.Teignmouth 28.06.1820180629_113811 copy

We’ve been busy catching up with friends we made last summer, working at our furiously paced, supposedly part time ‘front of house’ jobs, that expression always makes me laugh, basically we are ‘waiting on tables’ me at the Ness Orsi at the Clipper which she loves, it sure is an education on manners and patience

I’ve also been working in the Serenity Healing Center beginning to carve out a name for ourselves now, we even have our own little development circle with two dear friends here, every Tuesday evening. We have plans for retreats, we’ve settled back in, we’ll begin putting them all together during the coming wintertime. We have learnt that a clear vision infused with strong emotion and desire seems to bring things about, what you expect tends to happen.

We’d been busy over there in the snowy mountains of the French Alps, we’d been imagining and trying to avoid a return to the UK. But all avenues had turned to dust, openings closed and so it was that we reluctantly returned back to the UK. Looking back on that time perhaps we were trying to avoid our responsibilities and the possibility that we would settle in one place for a while, neither of us liked that idea from over there, imagining all the negatives of a UK winter and a summer come to that, but we were wrong. We have found ourselves happy and peaceful here.Teignmouth 26.07.1820180724_134755 copyTeignmouth is a hidden gem, I knew as soon as we came back up over the rise on the Exeter road and looked down on the Tiegn estury glittering below, the moored boats the jumble of roof tops in the old town, the finger of coloured beech huts pointing across towards Shaldon. A quiet busy little coastal town that seems to just keep itself to itself but is open and friendly if you venture in.

Framed by the red Jurassic cliffs, the battered pier jutts out into the English channel and the St Michael’s church tower setting a beautiful scene, England all that is good about it right there, we’d forgotten how much we’d loved it, due to a couple of unfortunate incidents that had clouded my mind, but in hindsight who were they to have that sort of control over us, well, in fact over me. Those clashes had tarnished the shine in my minds eye, but right then looking down onto the place, it shone so brightly and the bogey men lost their grip, I shook them off and remembered all the good there, it would be great, it had been the right thing to do I just knew it

After Morzine and the Alps I’d flown back to Scotland to pick up Pearl in Irvine, she’d been well cared for by our friend Robert Gilchrist. From there I took off for a 3 week drive north to Elgin and Quarrel hill via the eerie Antonine WallAntonine Wall Castlecary Scotland 24.04.18 20180424_155640 copyI went looking for the legendary battlefield of Mons Grapius where the Roman army under the leadership of Agricola routed 30,000 Pictish warriors led by a man call Calgacus who’d managed to unite the Caledonian tribes, though unfortunately and tragically for them, Roman discipline won the day. It had somehow captured my imagination and to this day nobody is exactly sure where the site is though evidence of the Pictish heartland was everywhere when you looked. It’s something that always fascinates me, how can such a place be forgotten, but it is, and so will we be, so make the most of your time here.Sculters Cave beach Lossiemoiuth Scotland 27.04.18 20180427_130830 copyFrom Elgin, I wandered across to Burghead The Place of the Bull and fire worship still, then along the Firth of forth and down through those heartlands and the counties of Moray, Aberdeenshire and Angus, finding so many unexpected hidden treasures, Magvie Kirk, Albermarlo, Aquhorthies and Tomnaverie circles, Mither Tap, Picardy and Dunnideer stones. Sculptors Cave, to name a few.Standing Stone Insch Nether Boddam Scotland 28.04.18 20180428_135146 copy.jpg

I was also “seeing “ I’d thought I was all on my own, but in hindsight, again, I realize we never are. It was a time of introspection, quietness, no real plan, just a windblown direction, but I have often driven out into the wilderness to meet that old solitary friend and returned the better and the wiser for it, that time out there would prove to be the same

I’d had a seeing up there as I’d sat in the cab of Pearl, wrapped up in a blanket shivering, hands cupped around my sex pistols mug full of hot coffee staring glassy eyed out across the Moray firth as snow and sleet blurred the windscreenA man in a long hollowed out stone canoe that looked rather like a standing stone in retrospect, was paddling hard against a strong current that flowed left to right in my field of vision (north to south) he pulled himself slowly against the relentless current northwards and out of view to my left, I simply hadn’t understood it at the that moment and brushed it aside.Lindisfarne 01.05.18 20180502_161528 copy.jpg

But after a couple of weeks out there amongst the stones, it clicked and I reluctantly turned south, crossed over into England after weeks of U turns back up into woods and the hills, a feeling had nagged me

“There’s work to do”Lindisfarne 01.05.18 20180502_185907 copyI made my way south apprehensively but finally made my peace with it on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne a place I had always wanted to visit. On a whim as I was leaving the place I U turned again just as the tide was coming up over the causeway road and got myself stranded there for the night and to my great surprise had profound dream-vision, about an old friend, an addict, I’d been saying goodbye to him, I let him go. I realized it there and then and woke energized, I’d gone for a walk at 5am that morning along the stoney beach and as an offering, I rebuilt the collapsed stone sculptures right along the beach, the only conscious thought I had wasLindisfarne 01.05.18 20180502_164808 copy.jpg

“Leave something beautiful”

I was out of my head, it lifted my spirits to surprising heights and I didn’t notice till I stopped piling up the stones, something strange and remarkable had happened there, I felt it profoundly, I was giddy, I’d been looking for something, but still it took me off guard when it happened, its always that way isn’t it.

I was refreshed, I was ready now, southwards ho.Whitby 03.05.1820180504_134219 copy.jpg

I’d called in at Whitby on the way south for a day or two popped in to see the very lovable Sandy who was still doing tia chi outside the bus stop on Station Parade. I spent a few days and went for a harbour cruise with dear Chisato, I called into the Dispensary on skinner street and waved a white flag at Lucy, it was really good to see her. Then cautiously on to London via the Yorkshire Dales and the Peak District national parks trying to avoid the rising tide of traffic the further south we sailed.Ribblehead Viaduct N Yorkshire Dales 05.05.1820180505_172755 copy

I’d rolled into Anglia house car park, my dear friend Mikheil there to greet me with his wonderful easy smile, we’d only just opened Pearls back doors when Orsi came around the corner back from Hungary, amazing timing, it was so good to see her.London 07.10.1820180907_172416 copy.jpg

That few days in London was a blur of visiting preparing and loading the van with the gear for the festivals later in the summer, then the two of us took the long road back towards Devon ‘Bad Religion’ blasting in the cab.

Orsi had a job arranged back at the Clipper I had a Job interview lined up at the Ness up on the promontory in Shaldon across the river mouth from Teignmouth, I was anxious about it all, we were both a little nervous as we drew close, so we slowed up and took a few days to be by ourselves over at Porlock on the Somerset coast, then, as we finally came peeping over the rise on the Exeter road and looked down on the glittering Teignmouth harbour, it all made sense.

Orsi had insisted this year on having 4 walls not just 4 wheels, mainly so we were able to shower with out any stress or guilt. If we were going to be working there she didn’t want the dash across the town center “Den” lawns to the public showers as we had the year before, she’d always felt a little uncomfortable with that, it had always amused me, but had proved unreliable due to the café above burning down and so the whole area had all been cordoned off due to an asbestos scare, I nobly capitulated.

We’d visualized a cottage for around £400 and after a few days of searching, looking in on a few grim places, being put off by a few greedy landlords and also a few beautiful places way out of our price range. Then one day we came across a fresh add in a newsagents window “cottage for rent” I called immediately, it was right in town 2 minutes away, we went straight round.Teignmouth & Brunswick street 22.05.1820180522_204153 copy

A lovely blond Scottish lady called Jean answered the door and welcomed us in, we liked her instantly. Rent was £400 a month; she’d said she’d only minutes earlier put the add in the window and seemed quite surprised by us. She it seemed liked us too. We took it there and then and paid the first month on the spot. Her son Lewis lived there too, though we hardly saw him the first few months he turned out to be sweet, friendly and the local Yoga teacher in Teignmouth, it was ideal for all of us. Jean left at 5am next morning for Lanzerotte where her and her husband lived for most of the year, and that was that.

The house is a two minute walk from the “back beach” the harbour and the Ship Inn, a three minute walk the other way to the sea front the English channel and right around the corner from the launderette and Serenity CenterSerenity Teignmouth 19.06.18.jpg

Linda the lady who had built ‘Serenity’ up over the previous two years had welcomed us back in with open arms, gave me Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons 2pm-9pm for a nominal fee and began sending people my way. Orsi even found time to get some space at an allotment up on the hillside in Shaldon and has been growing vegetables and getting to know the locals there, it’s been remarkable; we have chance at a beginning.Allotment Shaldon 23.06.1820180623_162003 copy

We noticed last year that people here really do talk to one another, drivers are noticeably more polite, people wave at you, say excuse me and all those small pleasantries that seem to be missing in many other regions up and down the UK, and its treasure, it’s subtle, but the place has something special, we happily stepped straight back in where we’d left off, and it seemed people were glad to have us back, the only drawback is a 5 minute walk to the shop can easily turn into anything from 45 minutes to an hour

I got the job at the Ness up there looking back across the mouth of the river to Teignmouth, I can’t really say a lot as I still work there and I’ve learnt that even if you mean well people don’t always like to be written about. Lets just say that the first couple of weeks there were jarring and awful, but I needed the job. It felt like being thrown in the deep end with very little explained. It’s an incredibly busy place and they have some amazing individuals there, but still it took me a couple of weeks to settle down and settle in, I’ll save you the details, I messed up orders, a bullying belligerent chef, a new till, many a rude arrogant greedy public, and so much more, it was stunning and played right into a lot of my own issues, nerve jangling it was, a baptism, but I’m up and running and running we do, I’m breathing deeply, working hard and doing ok.Ness 02.06.1820180602_124201 copy.jpg

So after the euphoria and surprise that our imaginings had actually manifested, the other residents of the town began to creep into our awareness, actually I mean scream. It dawned on us that in fact Teignmouth is a seagull colony, they are so very loud and they never ever stop from the beginning of June to the end of August. We honestly mostly don’t mind them, they entertain us; but mostly, other people hate and fear them and I have to say at times by 3 or 4am the endless screaming and calling right outside our window can wear a little thin

We were told that a few years ago severe storms had destroyed the sea wall and the railway tracks between Dawlish and Teignmouth, after the rebuild, steel netting had been draped over the cliffs on the eastern side of town to prevent rock falls onto the tracks, the feathered residents of the cliffs had been evicted and so consequently moved into the next best thing; the roof tops of the town, which also provided a steady supply of ice cream and chips and sandwiches.

We’d arrived back towards the end of May and noted it was unusually quiet, we realized the Gulls were preparing nests and laying their eggs but once the chicks hatched the squabbling and territorial posturing became continuous, 24 hours a day, hundreds of them, we couldn’t open the windows at night as they simply never ever stopped screaming and posturing. I’d been brought up in Blackpool and I’m not sure why but here they seem louder, fitter stronger much more sure of themselves.

Groups of them stride confidently along the streets, in amongst the shoppers, like thugs sizing you up for a mugging, they’re so smart and they’re fast. We’ve seen them dive in on people, pick sandwiches, ice creams, and snacks right out of peoples hands, full fish dinners right of people plates, sometimes as people sat for dinners right off the table, they always come from behind, the older ones showing the younger ones how its done. They’re muscled tough looking and fit, scurrying along looking at you, menacing yellow eyes, side on, calculating, weighing you up and just out of reach, they’ve become town dwellers

A friend said to me the other day “If you see a seagull out at sea its lost”

I’d been working at The Ness for a few weeks, I didn’t think we had a problem there until suddenly a group of about 5 began regularly stealing food off the tables, I do admire their daring they make me laugh, but I’ve come to realize just how much people hate and fear them and in fact hate nature, that’s a whole blog in itself. People say they would happily slaughter the lot of them, simply for loosing an ice cream or a crab sandwich. You hear stories of how people poison them with bicarbonate of soda, which I find sickening and saddening if the stories are true. I keep it to myself as its fighting talk here sympathizing with the gulls. I reason that it gives people weeks worth of conversation and well worth the price of an ice cream and really; when you take the time to watch them as Orsi and I regularly do they are incredibly beautiful flyers.

We’ve only done two festivals this year due to commitments at the center and we have missed that rolling life style very much. So just Rebellion & Cornbury festivals both simply because of the people we work with at both.Cornbury Festival 12-15.07.1820180713_104012 copy.jpgCornbury was mid July in Oxfordshire, I call it ’The Healers Rendezvous’ we love the time there with the “Therapixies” who are a loose confederation of around 15 therapists who’ve all come together under the guidance of Nina Truman an amazing lady, gentle sincere and loving who has gathered an amazing bunch of people together. If you are ever at a festival and see the Therapixie logo and have ever wondered about having a massage, do it..!! They are a very highest standard, hard working, quality bunch of people, Cornbury Festival is the one where most of them can all make it and so has become a tradition gathering now, we feel honoured to be working amongst them.Cornbury Festival 12-15.07.1820180713_101355 copy.jpg

We worked so hard there too, we were booked solid for most of the days, we had returns and recommendations from previous years too, some with startling results. I sometimes get to watch Orsi sitting on her stool leaning on the green felt covered card table, focused, giving out her goodness during her readings, watching the uplifting effect she has on people who come to her, I love that Girl. In the evenings we played hard too, or we’d sit around with the therapixies and the Circus performers who camped just behind us, just relaxing and laughing wandering off to see a band now and again, such a joyful happy rewarding time there

Then there was the Rebellion Punk festival in my hometown Blackpool, we love it, the openness and dare I say it; the love that flows around that place. It’s such a spectacle. Jennie Russel-Smith had as usual made it possible for us to be there, AAA passes even some beer tokens this year. Its because of her we can do many a reduced cost or free session. We both of us think we are taking something out there, drip-feeding to people who wouldn’t normally come into contact with what we do, breaking down barriers.

Rebellion Festival Blackpool  01-05.08.1820180803_143334 copy.jpgThis year more than ever, so many people came to say “Hi” old friends from School, from the Blackpool punk scene, punk rockers from up and down the country, old friends and peers from many a great band, the Defects, the Test Tube babies, the UK Subs, even the security guys stopping by for a catch up, such good times.

We’d both of us been waiting particularly to see Discharge again who are still astonishingly full of pure raw fury and power, their singer JJ Janiak is spot on and bassist Rainey is a master player. I lasted the whole set down at the very front in amongst all the action. At one point two guys had bent down cupped hands and signaled me to run, and leap and go over the barrier at the front of stage, I hesitated, I thought if I land on our friend Dave, head of security, on the other side he’d not be pleased, but we met him later and he saidRebellion Festival Blackpool  01-05.08.1820180804_223846 copy.jpg

“Oh you should have gone for it its great fun ‘we’ (the security) love it”

Wild Picts and ordered Romans came to mind as we talked with him.

I played a set on acoustic stage with Buck from the Defects on Harmonica and later a song on Rebellion Radio thanks to Del Strangefish; we were both so nervous, like two little schoolboys, you wouldn’t believe it watching the Defects set a few days later, raw and confident, they were great.

We set up our Dome upstairs in the cool of Spanish room in between the Punk Art exhibition and the tattooists who buzzed and hummed continuously and hypnotically. There isn’t too much chat in a tattoo parlour it seems, all focus and gritted teeth to the muffled background sound of the Stranglers Black and White album.Jordan Tattoist.jpg

Next to them out in front of our blue geodesic dome Orsi read the Tarot and inside I did Hands on Healing, Indian head massage and Hypnotherapy, lots of good works were done. At one point Jordan; my heroine, appeared and tattooed her signature on a girls leg, quite remarkable thing. Later that evening she wandered on stage with the UK Subs as Warhead lifted the roof off the winter gardens, the whole of the empress ballroom sang along, it was also quite a moment; the Subs were great.

We’d parked up pearl on a friend of a friends drive way on the corner of Park road and Reads avenue, had breakfast each morning and a showered at Julies my brothers wife’s house, ate mushy peas and chips every evening when we’d finished, then wandered the circuit of Ballroom, theatre, Arena, bars and bazaars, art deco arcades back stage corridors, stage to stage, by the third day I think everybody was in the same way, wasted tired after walking miles. Dod Morrison the photographer said he’d walked 55 miles that weekend.

But back to other realities and life changing choices. A few days earlier before we’d set off north we’d spoken with Vicki and Nick of Mountain Heaven. Back in April they’d told us they were going to open their new 5 Star Chalet, half a mile up the valley from The Golden Goat. We’d grown to like them and their family very much. They’d all come to stay with us often whilst we worked there that last season but since we’d left we’d not heard anything.Avoriaz 12.04.1820180412_132555

We’d come to love the life style out there, the Chalet, Morzine, the locals, the mountains, skiing on Christmas Day and New Years day, blizzards and the clear blue skies, we’d become quite accomplished in the Chalet and on the slopes, the sense of freedom and exhilaration, even the guests, most of whom had been charming and wonderful. But it’s slightly unreal and each year the build up to spring time was an anxiety, where to next, coming back to zero and starting all over again.Looking back on route de la manche.jpg

They’d come back with an offer of doubling our pay, and many other benefits when we talked with them on skype, our hearts opened. We’d talked over our ideas, the coming season, and the different chalets, it was a wonderful opportunity, we felt it could elevate us, it would be a whole headdress of feathers. We’d asked for time to talk between us, they’d asked us if we could let them know by that weekend, we talked it over on the way up to Rebellion.

It is a crossroads.

We have anchored in Teignmouth for now, I have been getting weekly clients, not enough to pay all the rent yet, but a start, I’ve held evening lectures, its gone very well, word it seems beginning to trickle out, the community seem to have opened to us, we both feel that Teignmouth is a place we have been looking for, Orsi is at present taking her Yoga teacher training course, when she returns in October qualified we feel we have a good rounded package to offer, a good foundation for the retreats we plan to run.

We have a lot of work to do, there is a website to get up and running, promotion and social media, our own particular studies, we are to begin Yoga and mediation classes, self hypnosis groups in town.

In the alps all of these things would be put on hold for 5 months and though it is a leap of faith, when we put everything on the table, we knew that we have to stay in the UK this winter at least for the next year to see how we do.

We sat one evening at The Rebellion in the dome and wrote to them, it was such a wrench but it felt right. It saddened us, we’d miss them, but we knew they would understand, they are in business themselves, its how they had begun, we have to go for it now whilst the wave was building.Teignmouth 10.06.1820180610_192111 copy

It has been such a beautiful summer I’d asked many times “Are we on a film set”

As the two of us sat there on the back beach harbour wall feet dangling over the water below, in amongst the locals, sipping on a bottle of wine at the end of the day, laughing talking, being silly and serious, ‘we are lucky’ we say and yet we went and looked for it, went in search and it seems for now we’ll leave the anchor as it is and get down to it. I hope we have it in us to carry it through. We’ve put our signal out strong, a light house, a bright clear beam, we are expectant, the summer sun has descended we will have the storms wind and rain to contend with here, but to see it another way, energy and exhilaration coming right at us, we’ll keep that beam on, we are ship shape and finally ready for the voyage, here goes.

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