Shine Anyway

Beeswax, light & holly sprigs

 

Shine Anyway

The devil will hold on for dear life, but when he loses his grip, he loses his grip. Cheesed off to the enth degree, mightily ****** off, yes, but when he loses his grip that’s that.

Do not be afraid of anything. Have faith and keep facing forward, with determination and a sword of Truth. Stay in the light. Be brave. Be prepared to stand alone, but stand anyway. Be prepared to be mocked, set aside, left out, but smile anyway. Be prepared to be ripped off, bruised, lied about and lied to, but set your sights on higher things anyway.

“Never, ever give up.”

The Light always wins, anyway.

There will be “beauty for ashes” …

After all, this is how diamonds are made and how gold is refined.

So stand.

Hope.
Rest in God.
Persevere.
Trust and do good.

And shine anyway.

❤️

 

With love,
Holly x

 

Beeswax, light & holly sprigs

Beeswax, light and holly sprigs for inspiration.

 

A Visit to RHS Harlow Carr in Spring

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This is more than just about a garden visit.

I am writing this blogpost retrospectively, having visited RHS Harlow Carr in early Spring this year.  Our visit this time, occurred just as the buds were opening on the blossom trees (prunus of several types), the fresh leaves were unfurling in many shades of green on chilly trees, the bulbs’ leaves were emerging from their cosy soil beds, many flowers bravely blooming in the still and freezing-cold Yorkshire air, and various heathers and ericas were in abundant show-off pink colour blaze.

Harlow Carr has become a special place to me, a place where I have enjoyed a few visits since my children attended boarding school in that British county, which is several hours’ drive south of our current home. Visiting gardens is a way for me to connect with the pure life force that I sense is so lacking in society today, a vital way for me to unwind and to find inspiration for all the tasks I’m still learning to understand and to manage, and for strength in the journey of life itself, as well as simply to be in the presence of beauty and grace, for wonder and for fun.

On this day back in April 2017, my husband and I had driven down from the area where we live south of Edinburgh, met our daughter at a train station nearby, and we’d all set off for an afternoon of grounding, family time and chatting about life plans, on a very rainy afternoon. We were lucky to find a table fairly quickly in the very busy cafe on site, and happily enjoyed a simple lunch in an attractively glassed area, which afforded us the privilege of seeing the beautiful grounds around us, while keeping warm and snug inside.  Magically, the heavy dark clouds had moved on just as we were sated from a few hours of chat, so we gathered our coats and cameras and stepped outside into the crisp, damp, fresh air for a quick and intentional walk around the tidy paths.

 

 

As we live further north than this garden, it was interesting to note what was happening there, and to know that our turn would come next. The further south one travels in Britain, the earlier the seasons begin and the warmer the climate is.  Our growing season is brief, when it finally starts, and I always sense a wave of panic when everything suddenly begins to grow like mad up here, all maintenance and other jobs becoming necessary at once.  Thus, it helps to see gardens further south, for the warning signs before they take place where we are.

As we wandered about, strategically and fast (by then near to closing time), I was surprised to see so many heathers in bloom at Harlow Carr. Most surprising, I thought, was that the hungry bees were already out and feasting on their tiny little blooms … a sign that this (the various types of heather or erica) is a good plant, one type of species to encourage others to include in their plantings everywhere – at least in every area of Britain where it does not already naturally grow in the wild (where still allowed).  The British landscape does not currently afford much scope for wildlife to find either food or haven, there being little naturalness or biodiversity left on the main island of the United Kingdom; in most areas a begging starvation of diversity exists wherever one looks.

Gardeners can address this suicidal environmental travesty, but alone we cannot – the large landowners and land managers must take the situation into their hands too. We urgently have to address the plight of our wild pollinators  and other creatures that exist to form a healthy eco system, which we each will benefit from. I digress.  Lungwort (pulmonaria) in its many forms, is another plant that bees love in the early months of the year, flowering profusely before much else is in bloom.

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Lungwort (pulmonaria)

It was lovely to see everything looking ready to receive the new season’s growth, beds tidied and mulched … no doubt left a little wild during the winter, to afford habitat for wildlife and to allow some seeds to feed birds, as well as to drop into the ready soil.  I especially loved the little area near the potting shed, which boasts elegant garden architecture, as well as tastefully careful landscape design.

 

 

 

The potting shed itself was delightful to visit – attractive and of great interest; it was useful to find a description there of how pest control was managed in the past. Nowadays so little thought is given to the damage that we are doing to ourselves, to wildlife, to ecology, and to the future of our children’s experiences of the natural world by the use of so many toxic pesticides, synthetic fertilisers, all manner of cleaning materials, genetically engineered plants, etc. Indeed, we are “shooting ourselves in the foot”, instead of learning from and following in the footsteps of our clever ancestors, who knew how to work with Nature, to create something out of little, to harm few or none in the process of fending for themselves. I think about these things, when I wander about!

 

 

 

The notice on the potting shed wall reads:

“The Potting Shed

The potting shed is the gardener’s laboratory! Before commercial pesticides became available, gardeners mix their concoctions of chemicals on a stove in the potting shed, using recipes that have been handed down over generations.

Most ingredients can be found easily and cheaply such as soot, elder leaves, dung, urine and ashes.  Other materials that are used can be bought locally such as soap, lime, sulphur and tobacco.

It is a real factory … in order to realise why gardens have so many flowerpots, it is important to remember that every plant in the garden will  have been grown from seed, carefully nurtured and then planted out (there are no garden centres for instant effect at this time).

Potting sheds are the domain of the workforce and the gentry never visit them, just as there is a definite line between ‘upstairs’ and ‘downstairs’ in the house.

Use of Poisons

Dangerous ingredients, such as arsenic and strychnine, are used regularly in the garden as they can be bought very easily – however the Arsenic Act (passed in 1851) allows only people over 21 to buy it, and the sale has to be recorded in a Poisons Book.

The most dangerous ingredients are generally kept in a poisons cupboard in the potting shed. In true Agatha Christie style, if there is a murder on the Estate, the first place the police tend to look is in the potting shed!

In order to keep flies out of the potting shed and prevent them from laying eggs in the compost mix, the walls of potting sheds are painted with Reckitt’s Blue.  This is a blue powder added when washing clothes in order to produce a clean blue-white appearance.”

I find all of this fascinating, don’t you?

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A thirsty honey bee, sipping raindrops from the petals of a white daffodil flower.

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Lovely white narcissus (daffodils) at RHS Harlow Carr ~ and the little honey bee I spied, which features in another photo here, captured close up.

As we ambled quickly along the paths, we encountered a few surprises, such as the very tall willow statue of a Roald Dahl story character, The BFG, which would surely delight every child who visits there and also provides inspiration, perhaps, for what one might do with natural materials found outdoors.  He, the BFG, was a ‘friendly chap’ ~ I took a quick photo to remember the artwork by …

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Heading uphill, onto the side of the garden opposite the entrance, we wandered through tall trees and shrubs, admiring the majestic trunks of rhododendrons, many of which were in beautiful (and some fragrant) bloom.  The honey of rhodendron is toxic, apparently, but the bees need these blooms too and the flowers are always a wonderfully welcome sight, after a long, dark period of Wintry gloom.  I have learnt, at cost to one or two of the mature garden shrubs at our home, that only some rhododendrons (of which azaleas form the same general family) are fit to be pruned!  Would that ours could look as tall and elegant as those at Harlow Carr, which have been cared for by clever people in the know about these things.

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I think this must have been about my fourth or fifth visit to RHS Harlow Carr, since our first visit there in September 2011.  On that day, we had been travelling back up north, having taken our youngest child to boarding school for the first time, and my emotions were in torment.  I remember wandering around Harlow Carr on that day, with my heart in my throat, tears brimming, feeling as though I were a tree whose limb had been ripped off in a whirlwind.  It was an ache I shall never forget … and I thank the universe for making sure that everything turned out well, despite the pain and the challenges and the things that were to come, after that agonising time.  My soul was soothed by Harlow Carr, stopping there as if to apply a plaster to a gaping wound, and it helped me to keep breathing as we left the county, where both of our children were now boarding … it is a relief to have all of that behind me now.

If you have the chance to visit any of the Royal Horticultural Society gardens in Britain, do consider doing so; I am sure you will not be disappointed.  So much care goes into preserving precious plant species, designing landscapes that stand out, inspire and motivate and heal the soul … and now the RHS are also behind a great push to make the public, citizens of all ages and all walks of life, aware that we must take care of our natural environment, our pollinators, our precious and vital earth.  I am so grateful for the chance to see such places, to absorb the positive energy there, to benefit from the calm and order and consciousness … very grateful indeed.

In mindfulness,

Holly x


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Delicious Tomato Soup

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I made this tangy tomato soup for a family lunch this week and it was delicious. As my son is about to head off to university too, his older sister having graduated last year, it seems like a good time to add to the recipes already noted on my blog so that he (and others) can refer to them for inspiration.

Please note that all the recipes included on The Holly Tree Tales are those which have been created in our kitchen at home, which I have used myself and, in most cases, devised the recipes for. As far as possible, ingredients sourced are organic and many of the fruits, vegetables and herbs included are / have been grown in my own organic garden.

 

Delicious Tomato Soup

Ingredients

1 medium onion – peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic – peeled, core removed, chopped
2 TBS extra virgin olive oil

2 cartons / tins of about 390g each organic tomatoes (chopped)
Half teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon fresh thyme (destalked)
About ten fresh basil leaves – sliced (reserve a few to sprinkle onto soup when serving)

About 1 litre filtered water
1 teaspoon seasalt (flakes)
ground black pepper to taste
1 heaped teaspoon vegetable bouillon powder (preferably organic)
1 teaspoon honey

Serve with chopped chives and sprinkle with a few slithers of basil leaf.
(can drizzle a little cream over too)

Method

1.  In a suitably sized saucepan over a low heat, saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil, gently, until the onion is translucent (take care not to burn the garlic).

2. Add the chopped tomatoes and herbs, stir and leave to simmer for about five minutes, to enable the flavours to merge and intensify.

3. Pour in the water (add more later, if needed) and add the seasoning, bouillon and honey. Stir and leave to simmer a further five minutes.

4. Take off the heat, and blend with a hand blender (or place in a processor), until smooth.  Taste and adjust seasoning, if required.

Serve as suggested above.
Scrumptious accompanied by fresh bread, butter and cheeses.

 

Enjoy!

In good health,

Holly x


PS. Do let me know if you make the soup ~ I look forward to hearing that it was a great success!

Truth And Love

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This piece is raw and unedited. It was written straight from the heart.

 

Truth And Love

When I was a little girl, we had a black “houseboy” called John who cried when we left our home in Natal, to go to Cape Town. He had been my closest ally and loved us all so much, bending over backwards in so many ways to put our lives and needs before his own. Not only did that parting hurt, but so did losing my beloved pet cat, “Kicky” on the journey … and then our father disappeared from our lives a little while later … to reappear magically fifteen years later … but that’s nothing compared to what happened during those fifteen years.

No one knows my full story. No one knows the pain that I rise above every single day. No one else I know has walked a similar path – in Africa, Britain, Australia, and bumped back down in unfamiliar territory in Britain – and I have no one with whom I can compare stories or gain direction from. So I hang onto God and I never ever know what He’s going to do in my life each day … but I always know that He is there and he’s keeping me breathing through it all.

For about twenty years, I had a type of amnesia. After unwillingly leaving South Africa at the end of 1985, and then being totally immersed in British country life for almost two before taking myself on the next (challenging) adventure to London, without back up of any sort, I had completely forgotten the languages of the country where I was born and grew up. Survival mode had kicked in full ball. I had no contact with most of my oldest and dearest friends and many of my beloved relatives for most of the years since leaving South Africa, through no design or choice of my own, and over the past decade or so many have reappeared. This, in itself, has been a massive heart stopping exercise, one that has been on a curve and a roll and non stop for a considerable amount of time. I thank God for these people, every single one of them, and for the serendipity that has been working to repair the broken jigsaw puzzle of my crazy life.

In the meantime, all of life has to happen too.
And, by my God, it does.
Full ball.

Please understand that I’m still doing my absolute best to recover from the last nervous breakdown, the second of two which occurred in Australia over the fourteen years that I lived there, the last in the process of the chaos that was our leaving our home and life in Australia, putting my lovely business to bed ~ hoping to pick it all up again after a little soiree abroad …

One day I might write the full story.
The full story.
The full fifty plus years.
But. I’m afraid to expose those who have betrayed or hurt me ~ I realise that’s their indaba and not mine. I can only live with Truth and we each have to live with the consequences of our own decisions, choices and actions … as do I. We each have to learn to grow and mould ourselves into better shapes and treat others better and gain compassion, understanding, learn forgiveness and practise the loving art of grace … each of us … I do not manage the universe … so one day my story will come out, because it just might help one other person on their rocky path.

God bless those who love unconditionally and who do not judge. Your reward will be waiting for you in heaven … meantime, on earth we each get to experience that which we give out.

Choose LOVE.
It’s the most reliable, I’ve found.
In all its facets.

 

 

 

~ Holly ~

 

 

 

Poem: Caught Betwixt

This is a reposting of one of my poems, which was published on The Holly Tree Tales a couple of years ago.

~ : ~

 

The Holly Tree Tales

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I came across a journal containing a few of my poems yesterday, scribbled down in pensive moments many years ago. This poem was written in September 1986 … less than a year after reluctantly leaving my beloved Africa. I cannot recall whether this was personal or a reflective observation, but have no doubt that I would at some time have known the emotion.

~ * ~


Caught Betwixt

Beating on the shore of a sensitive ocean
Lashing waves of tumultuous emotion
Deepest feelings, passionately wild
Rhythmically drumming in the heart of this child.

Great gusts of hurtling, mixed desire,
Tingling dramatically, searing like fire.
Tumbling like flames through veins vulnerable
Affecting this child, young, green and gullible.

Coming together, the fire and the sea
Warmth and coolness of sweet discovery.
This child torn apart, not knowing direction
Wary of love, afraid to meddle in reflection.

One will win through to dictate the outcome;
One will show…

View original post 43 more words

My World – A Poem

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My World

My world, this is my world –
It is all mine when I feel it is.
I have the power in me
To create, to make it beautiful.
I can love and give of my heart,
I can make myself and others happy.
I can share, I can explore and
Invent the cures to prevent all misery.
This power that we all possess
Could make our worlds a happier place
If only everyone would come to realise
The strength that lives within them
To create a glorious Paradise!

~ : ~

Written in May 1983

© Holly Maxwell Boydell

New Hope – A Poem

 

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New Hope

Star of David, there you stood
Behind your cross made of wood.
When you looked down into my eyes
The love I saw was a huge surprise.
Just when I was feeling low,
I had no hope, no place to go,
You stepped in and took my hand;
You showed me heaven, a wonderland.
Now, like Alice, I feel delight,
No longer afraid in the dead of night.
Living for today, not fearing tomorrow
New Hope is mine, far flung my sorrow.

~ : ~

Written 5 May 1990.

© Holly Maxwell Boydell

 

A Poem To A Young Man Entering The Army

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Some of my Readers know that I grew up in South Africa, during the Apartheid years.  At that time, all boys who had completed their schooling (or immediately after attending university) had to do their ‘national service’, in either the Army, Navy or Airforce.  They had no option and were forced to do this compulsory service in one form or another.  The threat of national service in South Africa led many to leave the country, or to protest in various ways, or to seek office roles within the services . Few were in the Defence Force as a matter of career choice, at the time. Some Defence Force experiences were a lot easier than others.

When I was a teenager, many of my contemporaries went away to complete their service in the South African Defence Force over a period of two years – part of which consisted, for some, after ‘Basic Training’, of being sent up to the Angolan Border for around six months.  This was often a time of deep testing for the boys, just as they were becoming young men, and it was emotionally challenging for their families and friends as well.  There was little contact with them, and all letters were censored. A friend from the time, whom I recently reconnected with after many years, reminded me of the food and letter parcels that I had sent to him and to various others of our friends during the months of trials on the Border. It was a tough time, and many of us supported our friends as best we knew how, under the circumstances.

At some point, I cannot recall when, national service was reduced to eighteen months, and then to one year. I left South Africa in 1985, just after my twenty third birthday, and have not lived there since, so there is much that I have yet to rediscover about the land that I grew up in and loved. There are large gaps in my knowledge about the country as it is now.  However, I do know that when Apartheid was abolished, national service was not far behind.

Whilst much good can, and often does, come from the lessons that life teaches young people in challenges such as those experienced by the young men of South Africa, the brutality of much of the Defence Force system there at the time, made life very confronting, often graphic. It was especially life-changing for young men stepping into the real world just beyond the school gate.

I was twenty one when my brother went into the Army, just before his eighteenth birthday.  I remember that day as if it were yesterday, the tearful farewell, the sense of utter bereavement at the sight of his empty bedroom – and my brother was one of the ‘lucky’ ones, who it turned out was able to perform his national service duties close to home. Due to having suffered serious illness as a young child, my brother found himself exempt from much of what other young friends had to endure during their national service time. That, given all else that we had been dealing with, was a blessing in disguise.

This is a poem I wrote, privately, to my brother, on the day that he went off for his first taste of Army life. I poured out my ‘grief’ through my pen. I do not think I have ever shown this ‘poem’ to my brother before, nor to anyone else. Yesterday I typed it out and published it to my inner circle via the internet, today I am posting it here.  It is amateur writing and it speaks from the heart of an older sibling, who was carrying a lot on her shoulders at the time.

I dedicate this poem to my brother, now, and to all who are going through life-crushing trials .

Keep hope alive!

Be strong ~ even when you fall, know that you can and will get back up again.

With love,

Holly x

To  A Young Man Entering The Army In South Africa

Brother, for years we were told,
But never really believed,
That one day you, too, would have to join
The long, frightened queue
Of young men, new recruits of the Defence Force.
The Organisation, so powerfully strong,
Snatching, from our arms, our boys
So brave, but oh! so young.
Without you all, how would we fare
In these troubled times of war + fighting,
Dangers so desperately near?
They are but selfish thoughts that bring me to tears,
But how can I help feel pain for you
As the next two years seem achingly long,
An eternity of an unknown future.
My brother, you are so very dear to me
And with my heart I pray that you find
Some measure of peace deep inside –
To face the torments and anxiety,
The discomfort of cold and hunger too,
To learn to reveal or to hide true feeling
Whichever best suits a particular moment.
Learn to have patience for those not so strong,
And a kind disposition to  help the lonely get along.

There are many like you, struggling to be brave
Put on your courageous smile then
And show them your way to overcome
Anguish and fear,
Enabling them to gain strength through you.
Have confidence and optimism –
You will survive!!

Written on 12th July 1983
Cape Town, South Africa.

© Holly Maxwell Boydell

Treats And Truths Of Country Living

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Our peaches are ripening! The bumblebees, and a little hand pollinating by feather, have done the trick. An exciting time in the rickety greenhouse on our organic acre in Berwickshire, UK.

These are the treats of country living that are hard to beat, a blessing so much appreciated, especially when one pays such a high price for living in the British countryside, surrounded by vast acres on which synthetic fertilisers, highly toxic sprays and huge machinery are employed to perform every task. It’s the little blessing that gives strength to the next hour.

It has been a journey learning to live in this cold and temperamental climate, living very isolated in a range of ways, learning to understand the lie of the land, to work with the seasons, to make sense out of some vicious hands that have been dealt. The eight years have been incredible in many ways, but they have also been eight of the hardest years of my life, pressed and crushed and shocked by all sorts.

With every squeeze, in every rocking challenge, I always take my focus back to the blessings, back to what is solid, back to what is beautiful, back to what is miraculous, back to what is even fleetingly lovely, back to what is simple and straightforward, back to what is truth, back to what is sustainable, back to what is real and utterly good … Always refocusing, always learning, always getting back up, always moving forward inch by tiny inch …

These peaches are quite symbolic, representing what is still reliable, what is honest, what is wonderful, what tastes and is pure and purely good. Nourishment for the body, nourishment for the soul. The taste of Summer, the taste of health, the taste of joy and delight. The taste of innocence, the taste of simplicity, the taste of hope.

I started this blog / website a few years ago, to record some of my experiences, poetry, recipes and thoughts, now and over the fifty plus years of my interesting life. The blog grows in hiccupy stops and starts, but there is a fair body of collected writing here now.

These peaches form part of the story of the last eight years, and so much more.

 

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Yours mindfully,

Holly x

[This post has been adapted from the original, which appeared on Instagram on 13 July 2017  Link: https://www.instagram.com/p/BWeocXsgLZQ/?taken-by=hollymaxwellboydell ]