Monday, May 7, 2012

Reality: reflections on the best laid schemes.*

Reflections in the lake, Sarnico, Italy 20th April 2012

I like to believe I travel to experience novelty in my life but know that novelty is neither the only nor the principal reason that I choose to leave home comforts to risk the unknown.  I travel to get away from the perceived pressures of being at home; to be free to do that which I want to be doing without the nagging pressures, perceived and real, of what I believe I ought to be doing.  The reality seems to be that the pressures are, in a society that expects us to be in continual contact, far from easy to escape.  The reality is also that it is impossible to be travelling, experiencing novelties, and to be recording them.  To create requires time settled.

Chalet de Pascaline; lounge, kitchen, breakfast room
The first week of my current trip to Ireland I spent driving here, most of which was very pleasant and rich with new experiences of which the highlight may have been  an overnight stop at a delightful bed and breakfast establishment, Chalet de Pascaline, near Les Houches in the French Alps.  Pascaline, the vivacious, loquacious proprietor, spread throughout her eclectic, artful, little Chalet a rather wonderful atmosphere of warmth and good cheer.  I was very comfortable there and as with most of my overnight stops wished I had allowed myself time to linger longer.

The ferry crossing from Cherbourg to Rosslare was, to say the least, lumpy and the ferry busy with several ‘groups’ of french schoolchildren and geriatric german coach tourists so, not particularly conducive to following my chosen pursuits, although I did essay to make a drawing in the privacy of my cabin.

Chalet de Pascaline; overnight snow!
Settled at last for a week in a cottage in an ideal out-of-town environment, matters yet conspired to distract me.  For many months past I have not been able to use the integral keyboard of my laptop but have managed well enough with a wireless external keyboard.  At Cork city, an hour or so away from the cottage, there is an Apple Store.  I did not let pass the opportunity to have my laptop fixed.  At the Apple Store I learnt that the problem could not be attended to immediately, I would have to leave the laptop with them and return later in the week.  This was all unplanned and unexpected business - distraction - as was the e-mail I had received from London requiring me to sign and have witnessed various documents and to return them as close to immediately as was possible.  To do this, to get the documents printed, it was necessary to join the County Cork library; a painless experience which cost me just two and a half euros.  I chatted there with the librarian who told me that, in Ireland, the library service is free of the difficulties being faced by  the public library service in the U.K.  Ireland, free of funding the likes of Trident is, I suppose, able to afford the luxury of a decent, comprehensive library service.
This week perhaps I shall be able get to it.  Or shall I?  Yesterday was fine and sunny, too good an opportunity to explore the Burren to miss.  Later in the week friends, motor-home ‘gypsies’ last seen in Greece, will be arriving nearby.  And so it goes on, and on.  Delicious amusement but distracting!  It is a manifestation of the chicken and egg question; distraction equals experience, no distractions - no experience - no inspiration.

*Part of title I acknowledge to Robert Burns and link:

Wee, sleekit, cow'rin, tim'rous beastie,
O, what a panic's in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi' bickering brattle!
wad be laith to rin an' chase thee,
Wi' murd'ring pattle!

I'm truly sorry man's dominion,
Has broken nature's social union,
An' justifies that ill opinion,
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
An' fellow-mortal!

I doubt na, whiles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
daimen icker in a thrave
'S a sma' request;
I'll get a blessin wi' the lave,
An' never miss't!

Thy wee bit housie, too, in ruin!
It's silly wa's the win's are strewin!
An' naething, now, to big a new ane,
O' foggage green!
An' bleak December's winds ensuin,
Baith snell an' keen!

Thou saw the fields laid bare an' waste,
An' weary winter comin fast,
An' cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell-
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro' thy cell.

That wee bit heap o' leaves an' stibble,
Has cost thee mony a weary nibble!
Now thou's turn'd out, for a' thy trouble,
But house or hald,
To thole the winter's sleety dribble,
An' cranreuch cauld!

But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain;
The best-laid schemes o' mice an 'men
Gang aft agley,
An'lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!

Still thou art blest, compar'd wi' me
The present only toucheth thee:
But, Och! I backward cast my e'e.
On prospects drear!
An' forward, tho' I canna see,
I guess an' fear!

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