A NARROW ROAD TO EUROPE

Late in the Summer of 2003 I decided my life needed a change, so I left my job, took a month to settle my affairs (and by that I mean 'take it easy') and jetted off to Australia early in 2004. I spent a year exploring and discovering a totally different style of life, which I have to say I took to like a duck takes to water.
For those twelve months I mixed with a largely international community, made up of mainly by Canadians, Japanese and lots and lots of Europeans. Maybe I was lucky, but the people I met were almost exclusively wonderful and this planted the seed of desire in me that, once Iíd left the shores of Oz, I should go and see some of those countries, starting with the ones I could get to easily. I determined to go on a grand tour of Europe.
Stopping only briefly at a friendís house to leave my passport in a photocopying machine and get someone to glue a patch on the exhaust pipe of my car, I eventually found my way at the ferry terminal for the overnight trip to the Continental mainland.  I was beginning in Holland where I had arranged work with a man who bred parrots and Friesian horses (though not with each other, before I start getting letters!)  When it was time to move on I drove down into Belgium and it started raining as soon as I crossed the border, which was pretty much how I remembered it from a previous visit ten years before.  I met up with some old friends and in the end stayed on with them for six months, dipping my to into the world of Arabian show and endurance horses.
By this time I had already realised it was much too expensive to carry on with my tour.  Those Benelux countries are fiendishly expensive, as is the rest of Europe unfortunately. Also, by now into January of 2006, it was way too cold for me, so I retreated back to England, to central heating and the comforts of civilisation.  I decided to head out to India, with month long trips to Sri Lanka and Nepal thrown in, but thatís another story told in another place.
India was glorious, but at a certain point I felt I had to come back, so I did and after touring round to see some friends again I went briefly back over to Belgium to revisit friends, both old and new.  The clocks wound on as clocks do and it was suddenly 2008.
Ten months now since Kerala and Winter is leaving.  Tuning into the World in Spring brings a simple, sweet profundity about Life.  I have no plan in particular and guess I will probably fall back to Europe again, perhaps to restart my tour or maybeÖ something else.  I donít know, but anyway, not just yet. 
For now there is the wind and the waves to watch, the buds and the birds and the emergence of Life after the of dormancy of Winter.
Reluctantly brave
The fat, contented Wood-Pigeon
Keeps his distance
Walking to the bath

A wary bather
Beady eye casting about
The whole body refreshed
In the cooling of the feet
A stranger, not unknown
The Bullfinch claims the door handle
As his own
You wouldnít think metal
Is the best for cleaning Beaks
But up there on the chimney
The Magpie disagrees
Another beautiful Sunny day
How important it is
To my happiness
Basking in the Sun
Summerís sensual embrace
Bone-deep Orgasm
Finally Iím off.  Iíve let my friends know Iím coming and, still unsure about what exactly it is I am seeking to gain from this, where this Narrow Road to the Low Countries it is taking me, I must make a move.  Iíve dawdled long enough.  Driving my car to the ferry at Dover, I sat and watched as I waited to leave.

A digger on a low barge

Dredging the harbour

Unseen workers delving

Into subterranean mysteries
I am reminded of Siva, my gentle philosopher friend from Kerala and his love of train stations.  He told me once that he liked to just sit on the platform and watch; to watch people coming, people going, each with their own lives twisting away into infinity, each with their own stories to tell.  You can guess where this one is heading, or who that is meeting their friend or loved one with a loving embrace.  Sometimes you might be close to the mark, sometimes wildly wrong, but you will never know either way.

So much to look at, I wrote on as the ferry loaded up.


The Seagull pauses,

A little lift, before settling

Outstretched wings

Time marches on and I must make a move.  Along with my indecisiveness though, the problem is that Life is too comfortable here.  Frustrating at times, yes, but I have topush myself to make a move.