Thursday, May 31, 2012

Back In The Present

I would like to say that it feels great to be back, but the realities of trans-Atlantic holidays being what they are - helped along by a combination of waking up earlier than necessary in London yesterday and a three-hour delay at Heathrow which meant I was awake for twenty-four hours, and then only sleeping for five hours before my body decided it was the middle of the morning rather than the middle of the night - I feel something less than sparkling. It was of course lovely to be greeted by everyone at breakfast, and to start telling stories. I just hope I last the day.
Overall it was a splendid trip. I had some logistical vexations, with my bank card, the rented car and phone, and with Boris bikes on occasion, but I got to see the people I had hoped to see, spent much time 'chillaxing', to use the ugly mot du jour over in England, and best of all, the weather was mostly gorgeous.
Personally, I was very happy with the retreat - which seems long ago already. I was very graciously hosted by Francis and Bernadette, and pleasantly surprised with the turn-out: there were twelve people the first day, and sixteen the second, and mostly people with a lot of practice experience, so our discussions on the Tenzo Kyokun were pretty rich. There was a nice amount of sitting as well, and it was of course completely gratifying to be doshi for a short service before lunch where everyone's pronunciation in the Heart Sutra was the same.
This is a picture of the group at the end of the second day - and if you are counting heads, a couple of people had already left by then.

We did a few posed shots as well, but I like this one better

There was some minor controversy over the fact that I allowed for a break in the schedule to watch the Olympic flame go by; I had been told when I arrived that this was the biggest thing to happen in Totnes for some time, and there certainly was a festive atmosphere in the town after lunch on Sunday. Seeing as the torch was due to go right by the building, and most people were excited to see it, I decreed that we could have a long period of kinhin, and if people wanted to leave they could. The minority view, I think, was that a retreat should be stricter than that... It has to be said that the whole country was getting quite feverish about this, the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the games themselves - quite similar to my last visit during the early, optimistic days of the World Cup, but perhaps more cheerful this time.
Naturally there are about a thousand photos I have to sift through in the coming days, but here are a few examples, just so you know - if you are not reading over in Europe - that I was not exaggerating about the weather.

The sun was not out in Totnes, but it is a charming town, and the cows were very friendly when we went to visit them

May greens in England - this is the road to my dad's house in Cornwall

One of several nice places to sit and read in my dad's garden

Walking in Hereford with my mother on Sunday morning, and the very particular colour of the earth there

I had twenty-four very happy hours in Paris on Monday, which involved sunshine, bikes and food

Covent Garden in London on Tuesday - the bunting is out in full force now


Full Moon said...

HAHAHAHAHA! I always used to giggle when you said neither. Udumbara's version of the Heart Sutra doesn't have either. Or should I say eye-ther;)
BTW, is that a road or your Dad's driveway? wink! wink! nudge! nudge!

Shundo said...

Roger said that everyone was doing it 'properly' here when I was gone...
And the family property is not as extensive as it was back in the day.

Sandy's witterings said...

By now you should have recovered from the jet lag I think (I've never passed enough time zones to know anything about it).

It's good to hear of somebody using Boris's bikes (I once spotted the man himself on a bike - he cycles in real life and not hust for the news). I saw them shortly after they had come up but decided to opt for the discount version, Shank's pony. The system works great in Amsterdam it seems and I'm glad it's still going in London. Our local town tried it but it disappeared fairly promtly.

"chillaxing" - eugh!!