Mixed Blessings

What a week, exactly what it said on the label
Exploring the Grounds
- mixed blessings! It started off beautifully, a surprise call from my lovely friend Tracey who is also a distant cousin of some variety to say that now the summer holidays were here, her 8 year old son would be staying with his Nanna for a week near me if I fancied popping by. Well yes of course I did! Just the previous day I had been really missing my two children and had felt quite tearful about it, missed the snuggles and kisses of them as babies and children and felt the pang of a half yearning for grandchildren. 

Goddess appeared to have loaned me a small distant cousin as a compromise instead....
Long story short, a few days later on a hot and sunny day, after a false start when a slightly nervous Ashton wasn't sure if he fancied going out with his slightly crazy big cousin, I picked up this precious boy and set off to explore the famous nearby Leeds Castle. I was slightly nervous myself as Ashton is shall we say a lively lad who speaks as he finds. At Christmas he articulated his understanding of same sex relationships by boldly and earnestly declaring 'Oh you're boy lesbians!' to our lovely Dan and David, much to the amusements of all the adults, before asking them to help with his building toy we'd given him. What a funny night that was! 
A Grotto Shell Goddess
By the time we'd arrived I had been deemed to be worthy of the title of Auntie Claire Bear - that always happens! After exploring the castle, asking the guides a thousand questions, completing the I spy trail successfully - no clue or spy left unsolved, purchasing a toy wooden sword - for Ashton, not me and enjoying a very lively ice cream that was hell bent on escaping it's cone, Ashton excitedly grabbed my hand and pointed to the sign for the maze and the grotto. Dragging me along the path, he suddenly stopped and asked what I wanted to do, explaining that he had been spoilt twice and now it was my turn to choose...bless his heart. Had to be the maze and grotto! Laughing out loud, I chased him this direction and that through the maze intent on finding the centre and the grotto entrance, til running on ahead he disappeared from view. All of a sudden he shouted 'Aunt Claire!' at the top of his lungs 'I've only bloody found it!' Pulling me in to the dark stairwell down, he asked me if there would be magma, I said I hoped not! Admiring the shell decorations, he shrieked with delight and pointed at a shell Goddess complete with a shell cornucopia, saying 'Quick, you'll love this!' before asking a million questions as to how they made this grotto, did Dinosaurs live here or did Henry VIII bring his girlfriends here? Distraction technique of spotting the play area, meant I had, yes HAD to go on the zip wire and down the slide. What a wonderful afternoon. Worn out, amused at the title of Aunt that conjured me an image of an ancient or victorian family member, I decided I could enjoy my lack of next generation a little longer!

St Margaret's Bay
I awoke the following day though viewing the world with younger eyes for a while, his youthful company had left me with a childish happiness of remembered endless summer holidays, picnics, beaches and of playing out. I found myself near the sea for a work presentation, some 50 miles from home and decided that rather than rush home at the end of the working day, I'd stay and find a beach to explore for a while. I had a rather surreal moment when I turned into a winding country lane to discover a colourful Hare Krishna Peace Pilgrimage complete with 2 huge cows pulling a cart with a a small flowered shrine on it, singing and chanting their way up the road... You don't see that everyday! Sitting on the beach I threw pebbles into the rolling waves, watched an end of term school trip squealing at the seaweed in rock pool and generally sat back soaking up the atmosphere in a new place enjoying the sun. 
A Mystery Memorial
After my bum had gone numb sitting on the pebbles, I went for a little stroll finding a beautiful leopard print moth and a curious plaque in a closed off cave as a memorial to a mysterious sounding character. No amount of googling has uncovered any solid facts, this lady appears to be a mystery to all the locals too, with some speculation that she was a Belgian lady - I love the idea that no one appears to have known how old she actually was, I imagined a wily old crone guarding her secrets, fantasy letting rip until she grew into a sort of female Merlin in my mind - hundreds of years old, a timeless hermit that lived in the sea cave, dancing around her fire at night. I collected some pebbles and shells, just because I could, finally dragging myself and my wild notions away grinning at the childish stories I had woven, as though the Maiden had paid me a late call. 
Golden Wheat
Heading up the road I stopped to admire a golden field of wheat, picturing the playful Maiden of my meditations dancing through it with me hand in hand. Fortunately I resisted the urge to actually do it! That might have taken some explaining - 'Well officer you see there's this Goddess called Ker and I am one of her children....' Might not have made it home that night! Driving home I amused myself counting lorries like we used to as children, full of youthful exuberance and seeing the joy in everything. What a gift that was - to see through a childs eyes for a few days. 
It may have been a treat before a less pleasant and care free few days. Cats pulling their stitches out, vets visits, losing a credit card, only discovering this whilst trying to pay vets fees and worse himself developing a horrendous and painful abscess on his tooth that affected his whole mouth, jaw and throat, spreading to his saliva glands that kept him in hospital for a couple for nights. I'm used to spending the odd night maybe two on my own whilst he's on scooter runs, but this was very different knowing he wasn't out there having a good time, but in pain and feeling crappy. 
Leopard Moth
On the positive side though, himself has now been liberated from hospital with his own pharmacy stash and we were both overwhelmed by the love and support from our families and friends as well the fabulous care he received from our wonderful NHS, oh and I saw two deer, both does wandering across the road on our journey to the specialist hospital. Deer  - symbols of innocence, spirituality and gentleness. A deer crossing your path tells you to silence the inner critic, to trust your instinct and reminds us of the gentle beauty of the land. In this case it also told me to slow down and get to the remote hospital more slowly and in one piece, which we did!

             Mixed Blessings Indeed..

Have a Blessed Week x x 


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