Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Spring-time Meditations

Dearest Emily,

I remember last year, harping on to you about the lovely Horse Chestnuts that line our view from both shops over on School Green.

I'm rather in love with one in particular, that sits resplendently opposite me whilst I drink my morning coffee. It has become my morning meditation, just gazing at it, sun and season offering different views, and shades of viewing.

Here's my tree again this week. She's resplendent in setting right now, just as she starts to bud, with the daffodils, crocii and snowdrops adorning her grassy carpet.

Today, this view is a lovely reminder of the season ahead where everything springs into life and colour and invades our consciousness!
Let me tell you a little tale...
Once upon a time,
There was a young man, who was interested in Science at school. so he studied hard and went to a Grammar school as they were in those days.
He couldn't afford to go to University, so instead he chose to do a Degree by 'correspondence course'.
Meanwhile, during his studies, he started working for a Chemical firm, and was so good at his job, that he rose up through the ranks quite quickly.
He was sent to Germany where he worked with several eminent Scientists.
One day, his Boss who was Jewish became alarmed about an impending War, and he resigned, giving the young man his job.
War broke out, and the man was tasked with finding out about the passages and types of chemicals that the Germans were moving and using. He became quite useful to the Government, and was given the title of an Honorary Lieutenant Colonel.
He now had to 'interrogate' the colleagues he had worked along-side in Germany- the depth of his knowledge being the ally here, and he was successful in returning valuable information to assist his Country.
When peace came, he was moved nearer London, and embarked upon setting up a Research Centre for his Company.
His Scientific Life, was in no way at odds with a more Spiritual one, and he and several members of his family were involved in the early days of the 'Interplanetary Society'. The British arm of this Society was originally set up to test Rocket fuel, and actively engage in the development of Interplanetary travel possibilities. This aspect became impossible in 1936 when it was brought to their attention that a law had been passed in 1875 preventing this kind of testing on British soil.
He was active in matters Theosophical, and wrote and lectured extensively.
Here is a picture of him,

He was your Great-Great Uncle, Emily, and following a chance memory awakened at a Yoga class a couple of weeks ago, I'm embarking upon a fascinating journey of putting together some biographical notes on him, primarily for you, and Bel and Flo.

There's something else that fascinates me here too, Emily.

Your Great-Great Uncle strove to underpin 'Seeing', Clairvoyance, and Meditation, with Science.

It appears he was way ahead of his time...

More to come! 

Hope you had a good half-term, how lovely to see that Florence can sit up on her own now- much more fun for her than watching you both hop about from a lying down position!

Your ever-loving Grandmother,

GiGi xxx

Sunday, 19 February 2017

A Journey to the Past and the Future

Dearest Emily,
It's been a significant week, one way and another, as I was just explaining to Daddy, what with finding a letter from General Garibaldi dated a month after he was here on the Isle of Wight in 1864, and surviving a glass shower door shattering over me this morning ( I'm ok, just a bit shredded and sore) and as Uncle Joe says- getting used to having 'dodged a bullet'. All that aside, there's a story that I want to tell you- that is to be continued...
On Monday, I started Yoga class again, having left it alone for over ten years. During the class, the Teacher asks what kind of yoga I've studied before. "Hatha" I say straight away, then knit my brows in perplexity. Because Em, I didn't study Hatha, it was Iyengar, but as the teacher is explaining this class, and I'm wrestling with my mouth and my memory- I didn't feel it appropriate to correct myself.
Later we did a fab relaxation and during this, he guided us to the inner flame that was the true self.
This true self that had made up her yoga history glided, chilled and centred, to work.
A delivery of old books arrived for me to sort and buy what I could sell. I sort through them, and a 1960's Teach yourself-Yoga, caught my eye, and rang some memory bells...
Of course! That's it- my Great Uncle Wallace (who had one leg) taught Hatha Yoga- he'd written a book on it I seemed to remember. The story also went that he had lived with Mum's cousin Kathleen, but kept going off travelling and once surprised everyone by coming back married to a Hungarian lady.
Anyhow, I thought I'd look up his little book.
That's where it all becomes rather flabbergastingly interesting Em.
Great Uncle Wallace didn't just write a book on Yoga. He wrote several, and he classified all the types of yoga into types that are still classified and quoted as such by him, today.
That's not all! Your Great-Great Uncle was a bit of a dude and I'm going to gather together some biographical notes on him for you girls at the very least.
He was important in the Theosophical Society, lecturing and producing papers on matters Theosophical that I shall expound upon later.
Suffice to say today- that V (for Victor) Wallace Slater (1900-1987), as explained by my mum this week was 'brainy' but couldn't afford University, unlike  his Wife Doris (that- unusual enough in the 1920's) but he had managed to get a job at Laporte Chemicals- and risen to be a Director there.
Em, he discovered Hydrogen Peroxide! ( my hair couldn't be this shade without him!)
He trained as an Osteopath, was a strict Vegetarian, and after reading some of his findings on 'Occult Science' (don't let the definition put you off Em, it's historical) it seems that your anscestor was working on stuff that's just about now becoming scientifically recognised- significantly the ability to meditate deeply and use guided imagination to possibly change the body's D.N.A.
Your Great Uncle and Aunt Doris were way ahead of their time, and after several emails to the Theosophical Society who kindly sent me his Obituary and a bibliography of his writings- I have a quest, and at the very least a Wiki stub to produce forthwith!
A lot of what I have read, chimes with my own instinctual choices in life.
It's nice to learn a bit about the puzzle!
I shall fill you in along the way!
In the meantime, I've done you another picture.
It is of Sarah's (she of cake baking fame here at the Rabbit Hole) Uncle's garden as peered at through the trees.
Golden Cottage, sits at the foot of Golden Hill, and evokes a time gone by, when it was the main house that had the Orchard, that now is filled with houses all the way down to the High Street.
Dall Square still bears the family name, and after the recent death of her Uncle, it's about to go up for sale.
A beautiful house in a beautiful setting, who knows what it's future might be.
For now, I just wanted to paint a glimpse through The trees as a child might see a Secret Garden- golden, as its name describes.

Anyhow Em, that's enough for now,
Will write more about your Great-Great Uncle, in the mean-time I'm off to yoga again, with some cuts and bruises from the shower-door episode and a secret, that I didn't study Hatha, but someone close to us, did, quite a bit and more besides,
Your ever-loving Grand-Mother,

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Run of the Mill Memories

Dearest Emily,
Seeing as Grumpa's encouragement of me to carry on painting, has translated into an upcoming exhibition at the Earl Mountbatten Hospice this August, I've been catching up for lost time after a year's hiatus on my hobby. I've also been giving myself a bit of a talking to, in order to send feelings of being a bit of an imposter artist into the distance, and instead apply myself with some thought to a pastime that I thoroughly enjoy.
In attempting to do this- something a bit wacky happened whilst I was engaged in painting the last offering, which I can't properly explain- other than that it is similar in feeling to when the creative process began whilst I was designing fashion collections in the past.
The creative process just seems to take over, and it felt as though the painting was just 'being done' and that I didn't really have much to do with that- other than to carry it out.
I know, it does sound wacky, but that's the way it is.
And in this process, I'm somehow able to remove some of my own blocks to the process, and even sometimes feel happy at what is emerging.
Anyhow- it's probably I should imagine, how it is for you and your 'junk-modelling'- you'll have to let me know next time we speak.
So, on to the next one we go, and as I've decided to censor some early pieces from this exhibition, I'm going to have to play serious catch-up, in order to get enough of a body of work together for my brief- which I've called- 'My Freshwater'. It's a personal perspective on views of the local landscape painted throughout the year, throughout the different lenses of the seasons, so often blessed with the clarity of our beautiful West-Wight light.
Except not this week, and not for a recent painting of the Fog over School Green at Christmas, and the milky January sunshine over the spectacular Freshwater Bay last month.
This week it's bleak weather, so, now what? I thought as I considered that I could start another one...
This was turning over in my mind as I set off to Yarmouth nearby where we used to live, and as I drew up to park, I was looking out over the marshland where I used to walk Marley when we first moved here five years ago.
The bike shop was closed, so I set off for a walk retracing old steps, memories seeming to spring up from the earth I was trampling beneath my feet. Here, we came when we first swapped Metropolitan life- following Grumpa's first diagnosis, for a rural, and by the sea existence, building a new simpler life together.
I turned a corner, and came across the view across the Mill pond, where we used to 'walk' our imaginary dog Hendrix together (a Springer, actually Em- who was only replaced by a real dog, following Grumpa and I having an actual argument about who left the imaginary dog behind- yes Em, I know it wasn't the dog who was 'barking, was it!)
I sat down revelling in the memories of that time, full of promise, full of simple enjoyment of our new life.
As I looked up and out over the familiar view, I noticed anew its beauty.
There was no beautiful light from the sun, shrouded in cloud and fine drizzle, and I remembered a day out with you Em, when you were just eight months old.
It was Easter and the day of the Yarmouth Duck Race. It was a similar day weather-wise, and we all stood, wrapped up in scarves and gloves, as the mass of little yellow ducks were ready for their race.
But with no wind- not much was happening.
The announcer over the tannoy, tried hard to commentate about the wait, making cheesy jokes, and comments whilst the tannoy screeched annoying feedback, and we all felt slightly grumpy after a while.
Mummy turned away from the ducks and wandered across the common, we followed.
We stood and looked over the Mill creek- the same view in front of me now.
Mummy said how much she loved it, and how it reminded her of Kent- and in particular, it evoked in her a Dickensian kind of Kent.
I liked that, so my inspiration had arrived.

I've got too used to the quality of the light here Em, thanks to Mummy's observation, and my memory of it, I can see the beauty of a view on an otherwise dull looking day!
So, when I next see you we shall discuss the joys of Junk modelling- and don't forget you still have to reverse the spell you cast on me at Florence's Christening. Don't tell anyone, but I'm still the Secret Fire Breathing Dragon!
Lot's of love from your ever-loving Grandmother,
GiGi xxx