Why does Time Fly and Yet Stand Still?
Its amazes me how the appreciation and passing of time changes so much between kid and adult-hood. I don’t think I’ll ever fully understand why this is happens. Perhaps we just have more things to hang our experiences on to as adults and go from one thing to the next no matter how mundane, whereas children just remember the most emotionally significant events and ignore the blanks and bridges in between those which are more mundane? Whatever the reason for this strange paradoxical situation, I do know that this past week has flown by so lightning speed fast, that I can’t even begin to comprehend just how so many things could fit into just one week of a person’s life!
Summer in my Childhood – Nostalgia
I’m feeling very nostalgic for my summer holidays with the Crabb family at the moment, visits to Rachel and Amy’s Nana King and playing in their caravan, ant infestations, and constantly sticky fingers from melted ice creams which always refused to stay stuck to their cones or wooden sticks. So its funny to share in the life of Amy’s little boy Rory on his summer excursions with his gran and great nanna, and to see him enjoying just the same wonderful summers as we spent together as kids, when Amy was just a four year old, not a mum in the midst of hen parties and wedding plans. Aside from Rachel and Amy growing up, it seems as if time has stood still with the Crabb/King family, and they were always a constant in my life as a kid. It was the pleasure of the simplest things with them, cupcakes, eating ice cream, playing in the sand, running about in the park, tupperware parties, time in the garden, halloween. So many happy memories, and I mostly remember it being sunny and being out of doors on rides at the zoo or whatever, and wearing shorts and T-shirts because it was ‘summer’ regardless of what the weather was like or how many tiny goosebumps you might have. I remember those times with Jenny, Rachel, and Amy very clearly as if yesterday, but also have a vague recollection of horror as we discovered that my beloved baby brother had a nappy full of worms one hot summer’s day! How time has flown, and how funny that my nephew is an absolute spit of my brother at that age. Such is the life of a brother who spends his infancy eating dirt!! Or falling off tables and having stitches on a regular basis. I love looking at photos of Rory and seeing how quickly he is growing up and how happy he is, doing just the same activities with his family, as we all did together as kids at his age. That’s the kind of mum I’d like to be, where the celebration is of the little things in life, and every day is filled with fun and celebration of childhood things like eating fish and chips by the sea in Weymouth. Watching Rory brings back that reminiscent smell of Matey bubble bath, Mr Kiplings cakes, and freshly laundered beach towels and picnic baskets – weird what your memory stores up for adult life!!
The start of this week was a very weird one, in which I woke up on Monday morning and was a grumpalump all day for no real reason and came to the point where I was beginning to think that it was probably best if I just stayed home because things would likely go wrong for the duration. I soon realised that the reason for the grump was that I have developed a new menstrual cycle over the past two years, in which I have two days of flow, and the third day am just grouchy, and then that is it. Repeated each month, post menstrual tension perhaps, and another reminder that I’m getting old, and I hate that my thoughts are already on what a nightmare I’m going to be when I start to need things like HRT, and I even wonder how that is going to happen if I am living in Georgia, and what the availability might be. What am I like, thinking about such things already and about hot flushes and menopause, but at this rate, time is going to pass so quickly, that I’m going to be an old lady before I even know it. And with that in mind, I’m constantly thinking about exercising and eating calcium in order to keep my bones strong, because a life without good health is going to be pretty difficult in Georgia.
Doing yoga has been great cycle wise, as I had absolutely no pre symptoms this month. No water retention, no sore boobs, no belly ache, and no back ache, and I’m sure if you sold yoga on those benefits alone, you’d have people lining up for class. This makes me feel even more strongly that yoga just has to come with me on the ocean row, not least, because we will have no toilet and will be on a gruelling routine of two hours rowing, two hours resting throughout the 6 months. I also need to be able to acknowledge those bad mood days, and find ways of not being a nightmare to live with, especially with four of us on the boat, all with a different mood cycle. I could take the pill to counteract the cycle, but having done that for expeditions before, I know that I ended up having an irregular cycle and spotting when least expected. Yes, I know this is a very intimate and not particularly nice topic to discuss openly in a blog, but its an all important one, and needs to be thought about, and I’m sure its something that affects many explorers, especially psychologically and physically, especially those on polar expeditions, with just one pair of pants for the entire 3 or 4 month journey and who have the serious risk of crotch rot. Just read James and Ben’s Antarctica book, they (Ben and Ed) really suffered from nappy rash during their walk! But we are going to be rowing naked most of the time, in order to prevent bottom sores, and we will need to make our own water, so we won’t exactly be showering or washing regularly, which means salt from the waves and our sweat will dry out our skin. And these are all things that are going to have a massive impact on how enjoyable the ocean row will be.
Monday Written Off
Anyway, Monday was a non starter, I was in a grump for no real reason, annoyed with myself for running late and things were happening which meant I missed yoga, and I was stressing out because I felt like I’d been neglecting OPG and had lots of deadlines looming, and I was putting pressure on myself, so I decided the best thing to do was to take a step back, miss the two sessions and catch up on some work. I think there were higher forces at work though, as having just made my decision to stay and work at home, we had an earthquake, lots of heavy rain, and the kitchen roof developed a leak in one of the old earthquake cracks. It was around 5.7-5.8 on the Richter Scale, and I quickly checked the house to see whether any of the old cracks had moved, and they hadn’t, and the leak was an old one, but had just started and thankfully seems to have stopped now, but does mean that the roof needs fixing. So it was a bucket on the floor to catch the drips kind of a job, time to drink lots of cups of tea, and enjoy being indoors.
I wasn’t at all surprised about their being an earthquake, because I’d felt a few tremors the previous day, and rather like a wild animal, I often feel out of sorts just prior to such phenomena, like a deja vu feeling, but I can never explain why, and it was the same when I was a kid, and I’d often have deja vu and predict things, and my father says he was always the same, and I loved listening to his very cool stories on that front. We used to go on some pretty mad adventures together when I was a kid, as we lived on the Dorset coast, and would spend hours out in nature, looking in rock pools, finding cool stones and colourful fish, and then having to scramble up cliffs and climb rocks when the tide came in fast and looked like it would cut us off, and entering firing practice ranges when the red flags were raised. He was always a bit of a rebel my dad, but I always felt very safe with him, and we had some great adventures, never really knowing where we were going, finding ourselves walking through nudist beaches, catching ferries (or fairies as I called them, since I didn’t know the difference), drinking cans of Lilt and eating Yorkie bars, driving with the windows down because it was so hot in the car and air conditioning probably wasn’t invented back then, and listening to music and singing away, my dad smoking his cigarettes and sporting his blue denim and shades. We had some great times, and I guess that is where my love of the ocean comes from.
I miss those British summers on the coast, and its one thing I’d love to pass on to my future kids. Something that isn’t expensive, but is just about being close to nature and having time together that feels like it is not constrained by routine or clock watching. Sometimes I think my dad has lost that magic a little as he lives by the sea now, but is always so busy with working the land and running the small holding and has less time to enjoy the nature the way he once did. But life really changed for him when he developed blepharospasm and now he struggles to keep his eyelids open, unless he has regular botox injections which also have side effects.
What a Day!
So Monday began with an earthquake, a leak in the roof, a misunderstanding with someone, and later in the evening, I lit the gas oven, only to discover some 20minutes or so later, that it had gone out, and so I quickly switched it off, opened all the windows and doors and spent the next 30minutes worried about any sparks or electrical shortcuts that might prompt a gas explosion, given that the gas in the kitchen leaks anyway, despite being seen to by the gas people. But a catch up with my row girls, cheered me up and a cup of hot chocolate fixed me and put me back on track. I even had an early night, going to bed at midnight for once, was in the best sleep I’ve had in ages, until I was awoken at 2.30am by my house guest who had been locked out of the yard by our neighbour, so I had to dash out in my pyjamas in the pouring rain, half asleep and let her in, getting back into bed soaking wet, and now wide awake and remained so until about 5am, thus ended up doing some work and being grumpy all over again, and felt rubbish and tired the next day (Said house guest was very apologetic and all is otherwise well in that department). I guess it all counts as training ready for the polyphasic sleep pattern on the ocean row!
There were more than 80 reported earth tremors today!
Tuesday, I was tired physically from lack of sleep, the kind of sleep deprivation where you are left with a feeling a bit like a hangover and just don’t want to do anything, and feel a little nauseous because your body was stressed out. But one or two random incidents put the spring back in my step and gave me cause to chuckle to myself, as I often seem to do when things tickle my imagination a litlle. Firstly, as I arrived at the yoga building and started up the dark and many levels of stairway, a Georgian lady rushed out of her apartment and asked me if I spoke English, she asked me in English too, me at the top of the stairs, her at the bottom, so I’m sure everyone heard the discussion as we shouted to each other! I was a bit taken aback initially and thought she was about to make a complaint about something, maybe about people going to the yoga class on the top floor, or else she was going to ask me about lessons or something like that. I’d just rished to class, worried about being late, and here I was dragged into a lengthy but rather charming conversation and something and nothing!! Complaint was my instant reaction (I’m clearly still a Brit and naturally guilty and assuming the worst). So it was quite funny that she simple wanted to know how I pronounced the word ‘Caucasian’ as she had just been watching CNN and heard the word said in a very strange way, which I explained to her was probably the difference between a British and an American accent. She seemed very excited about that and gave quite a long talk about the quirks of the word, to the point where I was worried that I might indeed be late for class if she didn’t end the excitement soon, but she was a very nice lady, and I was pleased to somehow make her day.
Class was also ace, and this week has been a lot about the music in my life, and I always find music a good way to re-energise and put you in the right mood for life. Each yoga session, we are encouraged to dedicate our practice to a person or event and to send positive energy that way, and today’s instructor wanted to dedicate the session to Adam Yauch one of the founding members of hip hop group ‘The Beastie Boys’, who died from prostate cancer, aged just 47 a few days ago. Adam was once seen as something to fear as far as 80s parents were concerned, but in later life, he became a peace activist and Buddhist, and unbeknown to me, produced a lot of very spiritual (I hate that word) music, some of which is ideal for yoga, and very nice to listen to. But here is some of their earlier stuff:
I really enjoyed the mix of music in today’s session, and on enquiry, the teacher told me that she found it on the internet by just typing in ‘Beastie Boys’ and ‘music for yoga’. On doing the same thing, I also came across some nice, easy listening podcasts and mixes too: http://jimbalaya.us/mixes/agoyagev/ I especially like this mix because it includes a lot of the composers/groups that I usually listen to, like Moloko, and Thievery Corporation, I’m also a fan of Frederick Rousseau and Claude Challe, and some of my favourite clubs in the world include Buddha Bar in Paris (http://www.buddha-bar.com/) and the L Bar in Beirut. There is also now a Buddha Bar in Tbilisi, but I don’t think it is a George V one, more of a copy (http://buddhabar.ge/).
Wednesday Without Wobbles
Tuesday and Wednesday were actually super days, with much achieved on the OPG front, grant writing and in general. Was back on form, and had two brilliant yoga sessions, and was able to do a lot more than the previous week, including a proper tree pose. I was feeling much more flexible and energetic after the weekend’s rest, and I also discovered that I would be the featured student of the week, which put me back in a good mood, and its funny to think that someone wanted to interview me about that, and I still feel like a fraud given that I haven’t rowed an ocean yet, or done anything other than attend class.
We have had a lot of afternoon showers, and heavy rain and thunder, hot mornings, but wet afternoons. Thankfully the leak in the kitchen seems to have stopped, but I have now developed a leak in my bedroom, which has also again stopped thank goodness.
Wednesday and Friday evenings are my favourite yoga sessions it seems, mainly because these are my two favourite instructors and I always feel like I’ve worked really hard, but have also been very encouraged. The morning sessions are most busy, and evenings are generally quieter, and this week has been think on the ground, probably a combination of crazy weather and public holidays. Friday’s session was very invigorating, and I’m pleased that I feel that I achieved so much this week work wise and also from a yoga perspective.
Friday was finished off in the perfect way after yoga, and I was overjoyed to receive a call from my old host family in Samtskikhe Javakheti to say that they would be coming up to Tbilisi for the evening. I can’t tell you how much I miss them and how often I think abut them, after being placed with them some 16 months ago when I arrived in Georgia. They are so poor and work so hard, yet they just give me everything and are so warm and kind. It was so great to spend the evening with them, and I lost count of how many hugs and ‘kargi gogo’ comments I received, and I can’t tell you how much it broke my heart to leave them when I moved to Tbilisi. But, I love meeting them, and to know that nothing has changed between us, and that connection is still very strong. My host sister has exams soon, and then next year she will be moving to Tbilisi to start university, and that really excites me as it means we can spend a lot more time together. I hate how hard their life is, and how little I can do to ease their stress, but then they never seem to complain and are always so jolly and positive about everything. Apparently the price of cabbages was at its highest whilst I was living with them, and I seem to have developed a bit of a reputation as a cabbage whisperer – which makes me laugh, because I hated cabbages until I came to Georgia, and suddenly my entire life with them was filled with cabbages, even now whenever I see them! Their family, like many families in the area, grows cabbages for a living, and that means that school is cancelled when people need to plant or pick their cabbages, or wish to take them to Tbilisi to sell to the city folk. I think we picked and de-headed some 15,000 cabbages in my first few weeks with them. But this year, people were not buying cabbages and so holes had to be made in the ground for the cabbages to be burnt and no one made a profit on their cabbages. This has a massive impact on families like mine, and puts a huge pressure on the children like my host sister, who now has to get 100% on her test if she wants to win a scholarship to attend university. She always struck me as more of a historian, and I have to say I;m a bit disappointed that she has decided to study law, as almost every young person I meet is studying either law or journalism, and it isn’t so hard to get into as it is in the USA or UK. There are already far too many lawyers and not sufficient jobs to go around. Her mum wants her to be an economist, and I wish she could pursue her passion for history, though she said that there are not really any history degrees in Georgia, which is quite surprising. I was also upset to hear that my host grandma is now not very mobile, and that my host brother broke his leg again this summer. Last summer he was laid up in bed the whole time when he fell from a tree, and this summer he did the same again, but on the other leg. This left my host sister running around after both him and my grandma, emptying bed pans and taking on extra chores at the home and in the field. By all accounts, my host brother is lucky to be alive really, as he was born with serious heart problems, and was resuscitated several times by his mum as a baby, and they dragged him to the city for operations and treatments during very dark and difficult times of civil war, with no money or transport, and reliant on the goodwill of others. Local people donated blood for him, and it was only through aid efforts that he got the treatment he needed, and he isn’t in the best of health, often tiring easily, and not being able to drink alcohol, which makes life quite hard for him as a guy in a community where drinking and toasting and signs of man hood. My host mum also suffered with serious illness and tumours and lymph problems, and works incredibly hard. I admire them so much, and it was just lovely to spend such an intimate evening with them both, very unconditional and unassuming. I’m such a lucky person.
Today we had a brilliant project session. The school has exams now so we can’t use the building and are planning to be out and about a bit more now. Today I had arranged a kind of city based treasure hunt, that would help them with team work, time management, communication, self esteem, and would also help to see who would or would not deal with expeditions. They were all very up for it, and were immediately off and raring to go. Here are a few of the videos from one of the teams. I’m going to compile some things from all teams when I get them, and will post the final version later. But for now, I hope you enjoy these….
Give a flower to a stranger…
Interview an Old Person….(this one had a birthday!)
Dance in Public…
Find an insect and make a short documentary about it…
(I think they got a bit mixed up between ‘snail’ and ‘lizard’!).
Visit Sun Yoga, Tbilisi and demonstrate 10 yoga positions…
Eat a lemon ice cream…
Make an IMEDI style news report…
Eat an apple with style…
After the treasure hunt, I joined a few of the kids as they went to the zoo to do some enrichment work with the animals. Today they were going to put fresh fish in the ponds in the lion enclosures, and it was great to have a personal tour of the zoo, and to watch our Project Leader Tako stroking and scratching the lions under their chins, like oversized pussy cats. I really am so lucky to have such an amazing team of both leaders and students on project, and I’m overwhelmed and full of hope at how much work they are all doing and what they are learning.
I won’t write too much about this, but I really encourage you to read the blog of a TLG volunteer from South Africa, by the name of Brigid who joined us for the day. Brigid was in my thoughts a lot over the past year, as she was teaching in Georgia and living with a host family, but suddenly received news that her mum in South Africa was sick, and within a very short space of time, diagnosed with a brain tumour and soon died. Brigid was so strong and a real inspiration throughout all this, and I’m so proud of her for coming back to Georgia and taking off from where she left off. She now lives and works in a local hostel with back packers, as well as teaching in a school with TLG. She is such a lovely person and full of energy, and we would love her to spend more time with OPG in the future. She wrote a very nice blog about us, which you can read by clicking here: http://thegingerwhinger.weebly.com/1/post/2012/05/inspiration-and-the-zoo-as-you-do.html
I’ve stolen a couple of Brigid’s pictures to share with you, so I hope she doesn’t mind too much:
As per the rest of the week, the mornings have been hot and the afternoons, wet and thundery. Saturday was no exception, and the day was dark very early as the clouds arrived and the storm began. It was just the same last year at this time, and right up until the start of June, though the weather is also very, very localised, often with humungous hail stones in one place, and sunshine in another. So there was nothing to predict what would happen next. Here is a video I took from my bedroom (with the leak in the ceiling!) of the storm, that went on all night with some pretty crazy bolts of lightning. Its not the most exciting video in the world, and I just recorded it on my phone, but I think it illustrates how much lightning and rain there was in a short time.
This is what the lightning looked like over Tbilisi:
Saturday Storms: The Aftermath!
We even made the news, including the BBC!! Here you can see footage of the cars driving through floods as the river bursts it’s banks: http://www.palitratv.ge/akhali-ambebi/shemthkhveva/17274-tsyaldidoba-saakadzis-moednidan-vakhushtis-khidisken-mimaval-gzaze.html
BBC News Article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-18050415
BBC Video Report: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-18052727
Also on Sunday, our OPG Patron Sarah Outen MBE, finally got a weather window, and is now headed across the North Pacific Ocean on her solo row:
You can listen to Sarah’s podcasts each day and talk to her through here: http://www.sarahouten.com/london2london-sarah-outen-16th-phonecast/?utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitterfeed
Sarah is raising money for four great charities, if you want to support her efforts: http://www.sarahouten.com/charity/ and she is always happy to talk to schools live from her row.
Let’s see what the next week brings!!!