Travel; Alloway, Ayrshire; Scotland

Much like Ireland, Scotland has a culture of story-telling and orality. It’s an inherent part of who they are as a collective; so, journeying to Alloway to learn more about one of their most beloved poets was a treat and a half to say the least.

It was a long journey for the few that went on this free course trip. Four hours on a bus is irksome for many, but once again I cannot stress the incredibly uncommon ability we have of looking out of the window and absorbing what landscape surrounds you. The Scottish landscape is something that does surround you, but also consumes you. It is the rugged, tufty lowlands that consumed me on this journey. Though, naturally, the weather was gloomy and deep grey rain clouds weighed on all of our minds as we got closer to our destination. But, the spirits of Scotland (if you’ll permit me to be so invested in folklore, and, in such a place as Scotland, I think you have to) always come through when you put your faith in them, and the weather stayed dry for us, allowing us to walk around Poet’s Path and Robert Burns’ childhood home.

The simplicity of the place historically, you can envisage. With its church ruins and pastoral views, its riverside walk and surrounding woodlands, you are invited to walk along two hundred (give or take) year old cobblestone paths and see Ayrshire as it was, and is.

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Not only did we enjoy looking around the Robert Burns museum and his childhood cottage, but got a guided tour. As I have said before, with a culture still passionate about orality this means, not only are you going to gain a deeper insight into the history that surrounds you, but you are going to have a sore face and belly from laughing at all the jokes (including the highly inappropriate ones) that get fired at you along the way.

As you can see by the featured image, this was a journey for those who not only love history and natural beauty, but also for those who are inspired or attached to literary prodigies, such as Burns. Not only is Ayrshire a path for poets who are inspired by the natural sublimity that encompasses the landscape, but Scotland is, as a whole, a hauntingly inspiring place for those of us that have the pleasure of calling ourselves poets, enjoy writing, or generally, just love reading poetry.

Scotland is, as always, a feast for the eyes, the belly and the soul.

 

 

She

She was born with colour and magic,                                                                                                    into a grey world that held no magic or imagination.                                                                Gifted by the gods they said,                                                                                                          thinking your power could,                                                                                                                        and would                                                                                                                                                        be used for, and by them.                                                                                                                          Yet, so is the flawed nature of men;                                                                                                          so willing to claim what is not theirs.                                                                                                    So quick to take control when power appears.

She was born with sculpture and poise,                                                                                                     into a degrading world with chisels and carves                                                                                       away at original art.                                                                                                                                           Until you are nothing,                                                                                                                                       but the rubble,                                                                                                                                                     the oddments you began as.                                                                                                                           Yet, so is the insecurity of this world,                                                                                                         forced upon all till they feel it too.                                                                                                               Until their reflection is no longer theirs.

She was born with voice and reason,                                                                                                           into an interruptive world which argues and mocks                                                                             your very words.                                                                                                                                                 Any utterance becomes annoyance                                                                                                             so you hide,                                                                                                                                                           you are silent.                                                                                                                                                     Yet, so is the struggle of this world,                                                                                                             compelled to dismiss their talents and tasks.                                                                                           As if you have no spirit; not a life at all.

© Greta Alise Haley

A World of Colour

Everything was black and white until I met you.

With your flannel shirts and loud, poetic music.

Suddenly the world was brighter, clearer than before.

You taught me how to live without ever giving me a lecture.

I saw that sunflowers were finally the colour of the sun,

And skies, they weren’t just one shade anymore.

The world became a pallet, and our love painted it.

Just like an empty canvas, or a new colouring book,

Slowly the colours filled in the blanks,

The colours had tastes, they carried emotion.

Nothing is just black and white anymore,

Only when it needs to be.

No,

The world is so much brighter now.

My heart and spirit are too.

Colour came into my world, the moment I saw you.

An Ode to the Pencil that was Sharpened too much.

I watched as the tree once again endured torture,

Its skin being flayed by a blunt, discoloured blade,

The shavings of skin fall hopelessly into the bin;

Forgotten and distant,

No funeral and no recognition,

Just the sound of scratching and scraping

The little, broken tree shrinking once again to a miniature portrait of its former self.

© Greta Alise Haley

Sleeping Together

 I miss it when he is lying next to me.                                                                                                    My hip against his waist.                                                                                                                        Legs intertwined and fingers the same.

Breathless, yet no action.                                                                                                                       Every other time, object, memory and person is a haze,                                                   Something in the distance,                                                                                                                             Something to forget.

 This stillness is my happiness.                                                                                                            Tired eyes and tired smiles.                                                                                                                            The drift.                                                                                                                                                                The desire                                                                                                                                                         to stay awake so not to lose the feel of  him;                                                                                             The nearness of him.

The plunge

into broken sleep.

Waking up at every movement.                                                                                                       Waking up every time my other heart awakes.

© Greta Alise Haley

Travel; Amsterdam, Netherlands IV

Well, it seems life got a little too dull again and I once again retreated back to my favourite city for a small break from the mundane.

With a 4am start and tired eyes I journeyed to the airport to return to the city of freedom. Despite the weather forecasting rain, cloud and cold; we were greeted with immense sunshine smiling down on us, rickety bicycles flying past and a bacon pancake smothered in maple syrup.

We journeyed round the back streets and along the familiar canals, once more breathing in the sense of peace that Amsterdam generates; before we would both be returning to another busy year of work and study.

Rather than visit Vondelpark we went to a beautiful park near the hotel which was situated between all the museums; coincidentally named, Museumplein. Whilst sat amongst neatly lined rows of trees which sheltered us from the heat of the European sun we watched Amsterdam life go by.

It was a short and sweet visit hence the short but hopefully sweet post; filled with nostalgia, laughter and a desire to stay forever.

© Greta Alise Haley

Travel: Majorca, Spain

I’m always curious when returning to a country that I visited as a child. Curious in the sense of wondering what elements of this new holiday, in a familiar place, will encourage sensations of nostalgia; and, curious of what new sites and experiences I will inhale.

I spent this family holiday in Port de Pollença, a beautiful little island situated on the Mediterranean. I stayed in a white washed villa with several apartments splitting the building up, with a striking blue pool, lazing below the front of balconies that face the sea.

The nostalgia kicked in upon arrival to Majorca; the heat and atmosphere were exactly as I recalled. The colours; the peaches, the pastels, and the whites decorating every house along the promenade. Houses adorned with deep sea green or blue shutters, with white or cream drapes and curtains flapping in the cool sea breeze. The sandy, dusty feeling everywhere, even in the suburbs. The smoggy visage of the mountains holding the bay and villas in its grasp whilst the sun sets behind them. It is exactly like I remember; like a painting, dripping with colours only seen created on a pallet; or like an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel, emitting several adjectives in one sentence so as to ensure you see exactly what his words want you to see.

I’ve spent the first two days mirroring every chilled out holiday; swimming, sun bathing, eating and drinking. Where the hardest decision to make was on whether we should go to the beach, or to the pool. What more could one ask for?

Well, my feet were itching for history, art and exploration. So, I woke up early and had a lovely morning walk with my mum along the promenade, and down a trail called the Pine Walk; an old cobbled walk with residential villas and apartments situated on one side, and the static ocean on the other. Old couples were dining and swimming amongst yachts whilst the water was silent. Locals were cycling to the markets on rickety, rusty old bicycles; laughing and joking with each other.

I also journeyed on to the markets in Pollença town and I was instantly enveloped in the smells, sights and sounds of the place. Towering around and above were crumbling dry stone buildings, with shutters which had peeling paint, and painted images of the Virgin Mary on the walls of the buildings; reminding us of the heritage and history of the area. As always with fresh produce, the colours were unimaginable; the tastes, too. The zesty tones of abnormally enormous, fresh fruit and vegetables; deep pink and red, salty cured meats; pastel and opaque, rich cheeses; all of which you were given tasters and being left wishing you had enough money to spend and feast like royalty on such palatable groceries.

 

If the food was anything to brag about, so was the home wear, clothes and accessories that other stalls had to offer you. Mediterranean coloured pottery and crockery; light, bohemian outfits; jewellery made from natural products such as paua shells, freshwater pearls and precious crystals all tied together with locally sourced twine. With the sound of classical guitars producing twangy and energising Spanish melodies, I ambled amongst the locals and tourists through winding streets and past both olive and hibiscus trees, happy in the discovery of fresh food and culture.

With everything from American grill houses to traditional Majorcan cuisine, we were spoilt for choice when choosing evening meals. I don’t think I have eaten as much seafood in a week as I have whilst being here. The seafood being both caught and cooked fresh, I couldn’t help but choose as many dishes as I could which had the local catches thrown into them. King Prawns, Langoustines, Salmon, Anchovies, Whitebait, Clams and Mussels; all being cooked in garlic and herbs. I think its safe to say that chewing gum is a necessity when eating here, unfortunately, my family learnt what it is like when you don’t have chewing gum and you reek as much as I have this past week.

I travel home today, back to the sad version of summer that England has to offer me. Thankfully, I have enjoyed having my body back in the sun and by the sea; devouring copious amounts of fruit and fish; and, chilling to such a degree that I am actually ready to be back worrying about money, study, and the other mundane worries and routines of every day life.