Writer Jo Parfitt visits Watermill Cottages

Writer Jo Parfitt visits Watermill Cottages

Waking Up to Reality

Are you going to have the chance of a real break this summer?

I did, when, last week, my son Josh and I headed for the Gara valley in Devon for four days at Watermill Cottages, owned by my dear friend Christine and her partner, John.

Descending for six full minutes from the village of Slapton, through a high-hedged one-car-wide lane, towards Higher North Mill, reminded us of going down a rabbit hole. To discover a real Wonderland in which to play on our arrival was sublime.

Then I had a big shock… no wifi in our cottage, no TV and the nearest mobile signal was a 20 minute steep glute-loving climb up to what Christine calls ‘Texting Corner’.  “Go on, Mum! I dare you!” Josh challenged me. “See if you can go a week without logging on.”

I knew Christine and John had working wifi next door but I resisted temptation and indeed took a week off.

Within just 24 hours I had a thumping headache, which, I am pretty sure, was due to the toxins leaving my body, but then I entered a state of such mindfulness and bliss that I never wanted to leave.

Poetry swirled round my head. Endlessly, lines from WH Davies, Wordsworth, Edward Thomas and my new love Anthony Anaxagorou, replaced the inane chatter, and slowly I was reminded of what really mattered to me in life – words, rhyme, metaphor, meaning, nature and laughter.

Just four days down the rabbit hole and suddenly I saw everything clearly again. And I wrote and wrote and wrote.

They say TV is ‘chewing gum for the mind’. Now I know it’s true. Take away technology and magically, out of the tangle of wires I found myself again. And it was good.

“Oh, no. Back to reality tomorrow,” I said to John on our last night, as we sat by his woodburning stove, singing along to him on guitar and Josh on double bass.

“Maybe this is reality,” said John.

Valley of the Senses
Once upon a childhood dream
I searched for fairies by a stream
and hunkered low by waterfalls,
listened for the swallow’s call,
dressed in week-old mucky clothes,
felt wet grass on sandalled toes,
sucked honey from the nettle flower,
inhaled the mist that filled the air.
And stopped.

And so today I push my tired hair behind deafened ears,
brace my blinded eyes
and remind myself to breathe,
in and out through my heart,
to ignore the constant chatter of my
tinnitus
and monkey mind.
And unwind.

 

Christine writes: If you’d like to find what Jo found here, join me on a creative writing weekend on 3-5 November 2017, Writers at The Watermill