Thursday, 28 June 2012

Wild and Wonderful...

Lion by Helen Ratcliff

Yes... wild and wonderful... yesterday I went to an exhibition called Art In The Wild. Stunning photography by Roger Hooper. A Man after my own heart... Passionate about wildlife and preserving it. His work reflects the fragility of our natural world, but captures the essence and sheer beauty of the animals. He is also an artist, with an eye for composition and light... This, I really aspire too. One of the images which I was attracted to, showed three cheetahs composed in a triangle against a backdrop of stormy deep grey cloud... the foreground, naturally lit by a golden sun light... Mother nature's cats, captured in all their glory.
 Some of his 'fine art' work showed water - colour paintings over black and white prints, encapsulating the earthy tone with each individual. Such precision, yet insightful understanding of the 'untamed', the importance of preservation and those animals, who are born to be wild and free...


I would like to dedicate this blog to Clarence (Foofy or Loofy). He was a 'larger than life' and very special puss... much loved and adored by The Ratcliff family. He died, sadly, on 26/06/12 at 11 years of age. RIP puss. xxx


Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Sponteneous Scooter...







        


         




After the solstice storm...


Photo by Helen Ratcliff

 Whilst walking home last Sunday evening, the wind and rain gave way to a calm, blue sky. A few soft clouds appeared relaxed above the tree tops... I love skies like this...just moments before the sun begins its pink decent...
 Then, last evening, one of my housemates suggested going out for a ride on the scooter. "It's a lovely summer's evening!" She exclaimed. So... without any pause for thought, we excitedly ran out, jumped on the scooter and drove off towards Putney and the setting sun... Okay, so it's not The Amalfi coastal road, but, after the rush hour (hours)... on a summer's evening, there is nothing quite like being on a bike (scooter), with only long sleeve t shirt, jeans and Birkenstocks. Oh... and a helmet, of course. It gives you a sense of freedom and rebellion! I do not mean in a negative way, err, in a fun way. Or, giving one a feeling of youthfulness... or just being on holiday... which I am.
 Then we chilled for a while and had a drink by the river, before impulsively deciding to ride across London towards the east... Again, like squeaking teenagers, we jumped on the scooter and headed off.
 We went as far as Gabriel's Wharf, Tate Modern. After parking up, we walked back to the river, directly opposite St. Paul's Cathedral. How stunning the dome appears - perfectly spot lit and defining a familiar skyline which always beckons a gasp.
 We found a suitable viewing point, sitting at the end of one of the nearby piers... Wow! Such a vision... The night was clear and the skyline full of light, colour and drama, displaying the city wonderfully. Miniature buses ( like toys), crossing the bridge, were very animated.  Stupidly, I didn't have my camera on hand but found some new inspiration... Whilst observing the city from the pier, my head was filled with new ideas, which will slowly be unravelled to tell another story...
 Suddenly music was filling the air... A pianist was playing a simple but mellifluous little tune, making us want to dance... (would have been a perfect scene for romance!) the piano was positioned outside and a small group of people stopped to enjoy this rarity. It was quite a unique moment...
 Time slipped away... and we hopped on the scooter to return home. As we passed Big Ben, the hour struck one o' clock and... I was beguiled. Funny how London with all its stresses and strains, can have quite the opposite effect. The city really can cast a spell...


To be continued...

Friday, 22 June 2012

In The Mood For Cake...

Slice of Pink
Photo by Helen Ratcliff



 It has to be said, last night was quite unusual weather for this time of year... the wind was really blowing the rain through the windows. We had lasagne... followed by milky coffee and chocolate... (cosy food) whilst being entertained by the elements (and George Clooney). With the back door open... the neighbours cat, Smudge, was doing backward flips as the blustering wind was sending gusts of excitement into the room. I had to restrain myself from going out walking, after all, I do love a summer storm - especially post lasagne... lots of warming energy - I felt happy and rejuvenated. 
 Today, the weather continues to blow strong gusts and the sky is a deeper shade of grey with opposing baby blue patches...The clouds are moving at a considerable pace. And, from time to time the sun gives moments of illuminating hope... So... off for a refreshing walk on the common and then back in time for a pot of tea and cake! 



To be continued...



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Thursday, 21 June 2012

Summer Solstice!

Sunflower
Photo by Helen Ratcliff



Well, it is time to celebrate. The longest day, following the shortest night. All the fairies, pagans and druids will be casting their seasonal spell...
 21st June and the sun reaches the highest point in the Northern Hemisphere. Throughout this de-light-ful duration, defining the beginning of our summer, the sun, in relation to the earth, does not appear to move. Hence... The Solstice ("sun stands still"). Then... the very slow decent and the days gradually shorten. So... let's turn our faces to the sun and let the shadows fall behind us (Maori proverb) and embrace this magical time of year...


To be continued...

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

A Walk In The Park...

The Tree Line


   So... today... a walk in the park. I followed the tree line to stay out of the lunch - time heat, and, keeping cool, I enjoyed the breeze which made a rustling sound in the leaves and gently blew across my cheeks. The air carried a slight scent of damp moss and a subtle perfume... possibly Chanel No.5. Well... that's what I sprayed this morning...
 Then, I began walking towards the bandstand - evoking thoughts of lazy, summer afternoons... the string quartet creating the soundtrack - whilst the small party looked on... over smoked salmon sandwiches and champagne... err, Anyway...


Delicious Green...



I began to feel quite soothed in the dose of lush green. I particularly like this park, Battersea... another gem (emerald) in South West London.
 Oh, it's that time... the medicinal aroma of lavender. French or English. How we love lavender. Pulling  between the thumb and forefinger... and wafting under the nostrils... arrr... the multi - tasking plant of miracles. And... that colour...


Sweet Lavender

Then... on the way home... a little treat with a pot of earl grey... Summer tart!

Berry Tart

"Any single cream?"

Photos by Helen Ratcliff



To be continued...

Monday, 18 June 2012

Fate Behaving Badly...


Romeo & Juliet... Destiny or Fate?
Photo by Helen Ratcliff


So... Once again I am itching to get stuff written down and expressed. Yet, sometimes it's as though there is nothing to be said. Oh, I am sure many of you would agree that I am no expert, but there is a constant craving which needs to be nurtured. A small voice which niggles with guilt and keeps prodding at the back of my mind and in the pit of my stomach. What is it? I can tell you that it is likened to a yearn to finish. Perhaps this is related to my studies (which I can only complete when I am earning once again), but it feels like I am being pulled by my gut (gently).  Maybe it is what one calls... destiny.
 Well, there's a subject. And, is there such a thing? Are we all branded in some parallel universe or are we really the masters of our path? Oh, what can I possibly be thinking to take on a question like this? Crikey!
 The predetermined course of events are generally called fate - a concept born of needing something to believe which makes life purposeful. To have faith in a fixed, natural order of the cosmos. Although fate and destiny are used as meaning the same; they can actually be distinguished.
 Fate defines events as ordered, inevitable and even unavoidable. Destiny is kindly used to determine the finality of events, giving a sense of destination. It is mostly related to the natural ebb and flow of life. You could say, organically unfolding, for example... falling in love.
 it would seem, then, that fate implies no choice and destiny suggests that the real existence is participating in achieving an outcome that is not random (like a fateful accident), but is directly related to itself. Destiny happens wilfully.
 Moreover, it is the will to live. To adapt and survive in a better way. I think fate is a word we use to replace blame or the unexplained. It can help us to accept that bolt of lightening... However, destiny keeps the form of Amor fati (love of fate), through the will. And that is the basis of human behaviour... And... there's another question??


To be continued...

Friday, 15 June 2012

In The Mood For Summer...

Bumble by Helen Ratcliff
Well, of course I would love to be sipping coffee in Provence, stalking lynxes (to photograph) in Alaska or camping in the wilderness with the wolves... But, I am actually blogging and sipping tea in South West London.
 This is my holiday. I spent the first half of the year dealing with stuff and searching for work, and now, I finally and happily have the job offer... I can indulge in 'peace of mind'. Sadly, with no funds to take my self away... I need to make the most of my rest and relaxation time before I am back in full time work. Strangely, I feel a sense of freedom and cosiness (I think), it's quite a nice place to be. No urgency, just resting in my environment. Usually, this would drive me crackers after a while. However, this time, the difference is that I feel happier in my space and in my head... Phew!

In the mood...


Giant Daisy by Helen Ratcliff

Grasshopper by Helen Ratliff

Drinking Nectar by Helen Ratcliff

Wedding Rose by Helen Ratliff

Bugs by Helen Ratcliff


To be continued...












Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Beanz or Lions?

The other day I wrote a little bit about a subject which continues to break my heart and reaffirm my loathing for killing wild animals. Canned hunting, a 'so - called' sport which needs exploring, so that these bored, rich, ignorant little people can be exposed as cowardly killers and stopped. The shooting of semi - tamed animals in fenced enclosures...

                                         The Beast is Dead.. Google Image 06/06/12


The original piece I had written was lost in virtual space... I had pressed the wrong button and all my work just vanished in the blink of an eye... Perhaps the virtual editor was displeased, I can tell you, I was, when my effort had become invisible. Hmmph!
 Anyway, a friend sent a link to a well - known wildlife photographer, who has just published a book on Big Cats... Seeing some of the spectacular images, inspired me to rewrite something on this cause. It is an important one. We have such a connection with these beautiful animals... imagine a world where the Big Cat does not any longer exist. How devastating would that be. You see, dinosaurs would be hard to live with but Cats do not consciously strive to kill humans. They do not want confrontation. They behave instinctively to protect their species. We can live along side them. We need to be intelligent about it though. They are here for a reason. To teach us their wisdom, if only we are prepared to watch and listen. They maintain a healthy eco system and deserve a fair chance at life. What gives humans the right to play God?
 In June 2007, a story on CNN detailed canned hunting in South Africa and included a video of a canned lion hunt where the animal is shot against the fence (CNN -"Shooting Lions in South Africa"). They call this fair? The animal doesn't stand a chance. It is exhausted, terrified, confused and has unknowingly faced its killer. There is no hope, the animals death is meaningless. And, all because some rich person wanted a trophy to feel better. To feed the ego. Selfish and twisted. If someone can shoot a defenceless animal in cold blood - what does that tell you? A lion may have teeth and claws, but these weapons are for natural hunting and killing of prey for their survival. Hopeless against a rifle.
 The beast lays still, eyes staring out, cold like marbles. the killer is proud and wipes blood across his brow.... He stands tall, in his own mind. He has paid around £10,000 or $15,000 for this moment.
 I believe a legislation had formerly been introduced to the American government, but fell on deaf ears. Anyone in possession of an exotic animal for the purpose of allowing the killing or injuring of that animal for entertainment value, should be prosecuted and imprisoned for at least one year. Some may argue that the funds are put back in to research and preservation of endangered animals. I disagree. It is these very people who are endangering the wildlife, because they can. The law cannot touch private land owners and their enclosed animals. It is their property and their business.... a dirty, ruthless and rich business. It is a very resourceful and powerful world they live in. Sadly, it is still growing and canned hunting is becoming more and more popular amongst wealthy and bored holiday hunters.
 So... how do we stop this growing industry? I say, by raising awareness and continuing to show the truth which lies beyond the exciting safari. The blood - shed, the greed and disclosed and unctuous manner in which these trips of a life time are conducted. It is up to us caring folk to keep stoking at the canned hunting and poaching embers. If we let our voices go out, theses animals will soon follow. Take down the fences and stop the killing. What good is a world where we teach new generations to destroy our wildlife?
 Then, when all the animals have needlessly become extinct... do we turn in on our own species. Do we put the weak and sick in to a cage and shoot them? Would that be okay?
 Then, it would be safe to say that, the animals, with which we are blessed to have bestowed upon us, could, in fact, just vanish in the blink of an eye. One shot... that's all it takes...and that cannot be rewritten.


Lion Cub Yawning by Helen Ratcliff

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Good Times Ahead...

                                           Rose Wall Pink by Helen Ratcliff




At last, I have been offered a job. Life has changed for the better. Weirdly though, this was a position I had previously been hoping for months a go and had not been successful, after a very long process. Now, things are different, clearly the right time for progress. The same company but a better, more - suited location and much closer to my nature... I am delighted! Quite an artisan and nourishing environment... Just what was needed. You see, in my recent blog about the 'law of attraction' - I mentioned being ready to receive...
 And, todays picture, the beautiful, scented roses growing around our front door... The garden is just amazing this year. We have been really blessed.  It has been my number one for some time, but roses  always fill the senses with deliciousness, a little of Mother Nature's luxury.
 So... June. The month of the rose... a little dose each day... breath in... and enjoy... happy days!

To be continued...

Monday, 4 June 2012

Clarity Prevails...


                                          Summer Fruits by Helen Ratcliff




What a difference a day can make. Today, I have been inspired.  I visited the Tate Gallery to see the exhibition of works by Yayoi Kusama. What a lady. She has been on a phenomenal journey over the decades with her art. She has survived poverty, homelessness, drugs and by working obsessively, has become Japan's most successful living artist. Some of the work reflects a woman searching for something very extraordinary. I felt like I was able to see inside her mind, at times - complex, dark and mysterious.  But as you were drawn further in to her world, you were able to grow with her strange and magical vision. I think her best pieces have been later in her career. She reflects someone confident, committed and precise. Bringing your imagination to the fore with her colourful artwork, installations and forests of light... "Filled with the brilliance of life..."
 Then, after drifting through some of the other geniuses of the art world and dabbling in a little Man Ray and Salvador Dali, we were lucky enough to witness the most vivid rainbow I have ever seen. As we walked along the Southbank... suddenly, people were turning and gasping... Then, as I turned to see what the crowds were looking at... let out a huge "Wow!" Really, the colours could have been painted in acrylic across the sky. Each separate one as bold as it could be. I have never seen such strong colours in a rainbow. It was as though my eyes had been washed... such clarity. Suddenly, everything appeared clean and clear. The tide had been particularly high, so buildings such as The Houses of Parliament, were sitting on the water. The light, with a subtle lilac -sepia tone, was softly enhancing the view. How could this be? Is this what new inspiration looks like? Everything was its usual grey tone before - I am sure of it!
 Sometimes, when in search of inspiration. To observe another's journey and engage with their determination and passion,  can open a window, where the shutter has been blocking out the light. To suddenly realise that you are not so different from another and allowing yourself to receive something as simple and pure as colour, can really bestow a new image of the world in front of you. The rainbow happened because the drops of water are mirroring the sun's rays... I know this, but isn't it more pleasant to imagine something more spiritual or magical? Couldn't we all benefit from that pot of gold? I know that I could...
 And the summer fruit? Well, it's seasonal. I have no rainbow pictures yet, but I like to dress the page with something visually stimulating.... and, they're filled with the brilliance of colour...





Sunday, 3 June 2012

Quest For Self...



Photo by Helen Ratcliff


Sadly, I do not know the name of the flower in the picture above. However, the scent was so strong that I was drawn towards the tree and just had to photograph the pure source of perfume filling the air. I think it may be related to the tuber rose or, even, gardenia. the white succulent petals remind me of them and the scent was a heady, sweet, aroma, which really had my senses all in a delicious frenzy. Then, I noticed a true relative of the rose family...





Dog Rose by Helen Ratcliff

This, by comparison, was delicate, soft and unassuming. Scented but not shouting... Back - lit by the early evening sun, whispering gently.... innocent and wild beauty.
 So... Quest for self. What on earth is she talking about now? She....err... I, me, self. Yes, in search.... a quest! A few months ago, It was recommended to me to read 'The Secret" by Rhonda Byrne.  I avidly printed off sheets of A4 covered in quotes from the above - named author. At last! The answers to life, a revelation, I am here because... And, so on. Well, here are a few examples - I quote, " You are the one who calls the law of attraction into action, and you do it through your thoughts." Err..oh, "You will attract everything that you require... You're going to be attracted to things and they're are going to be attracted to you". Okay, interesting... "Ask once, believe you have received, and all you have to do to receive is feel good." Sounds pretty easy and straight forward, don't you think? I thought so...
 Then, I began the mission to accomplish all the things not yet achieved by my good self. Well, then it got me thinking about the bad stuff such as not being the perfect Sister, Daughter, employee, person. Negativity was seeping in through the cracks, becoming more and more influential to my very existence. Not hearing from potential employers, tough love from the family, a pigeon crapping on my shoulder whilst out walking, falling over whilst crossing a really busy road and quietly sobbing all the way home...
 However, something kept me going and is still. I do believe that there is something in the law of attraction. It is definitely a test of strength of mind. Of being the 'top cat' in your own life. Making your own luck by being truthful and positive. Now, I find it difficult to keep focused on my goals. Especially when there is always someone or something to remind you of your failures... pulling you in... like the heady scent.
 As a young teenager, I had many dreams of being something extraordinary. Not unlike most teenage girls. Yet, negligence can be a result of addiction. I was the daughter of a very dear, kind, generous and sensitive woman, who enjoyed a tipple, a little too frequently. For some time it was her respite from a life she did not dream of as a little girl. She longed for romance and an easier journey... Unfortunately, I think her drinking sometimes disabled her and was all consuming. At times... Although, always present for her family in the physical sense, not necessarily able to engage, show interest, respond or give attention, when needed, in the mental or emotional sense. Without wishing to appear ungrateful or cruel, I do think I am a product of my Mother's weakness. I have always found it hard to succeed and commit. I am easily distracted and able to disengage from reality.... There, I've said it... phew, exasperated!
 So... this has me thinking again, past catching up to be forgiven... I have. My Mother was a beautiful, nurturing, soft, innocent woman... a little like the Dog Rose (wild rose). She loved, cared and healed.... that was her role.
 I have learned in reflection of the past few months, that I have been blessed with "time". To appreciate one of my favourite things, which always makes me happy and grateful. The 'on - going' subtle miracles of nature. I have been able to stop and witness the details. The splendour of late spring and early summer.... The unique and natural perfumes of short - lived blossoms, The playfulness of a twilight bat, the surprise visitor in the garden... A woodpecker! (I had never seen one in real life before). Not forgetting the jumping fish chasing mayflies and, of course, the goose family. I have new friends in the house, who have given unexpected support during my time of change. And, always a constant in my life, there, giving unconditional love and affection... Jaffa and Otto, my feline companions.
 Perhaps, then, my attraction to nature, has indeed, made me the attraction to these creatures. It is, after all, the law... The law of nature.
 Let us forget and forgive. There is only one law for me and it's a positive one... I am now feeling good and patiently waiting to receive...


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