Of Castles, Weddings and Fairies…

Of Castles, Weddings and Fairies…

‘Tis time! ‘Tis time!
They gleefully cried
And the medieval muses 
rushed to my side…

Gather round my friends
and ye shall hear
Of Melissa’s adventures
Both far and near

Of enchanted castles
And storybook tales
of mystical fairies
And love that never fails…

I couldn’t resist the storybook poetic beginning. England just seems to bring it out of me. I think Shakespeare would have been proud, don’t you?  Ha!

I’m finally getting around to writing about some of my other adventures in my brief sojourn to Brockenhurst.  This time we visit a country manor (a castle in my opinion), stumble upon a fairy tale wedding, and I even captured a photo of a fairy!  (It looks like one to me anyway.)

20191108_122236_HDROn a cool, rainy November day, I visited nearby Rhinefield House. Driving up a one lane road, the stunning scenery was lined with ancient oak trees in their prime of autumn colors.  Then the car turned the corner and the castle came into view.  Catching my breath, I just uttered “Wow!” This old castle turned hotel was the epitome of elegance and refinement with years of history around every corner.

Though it was closed when I visited, the Alhambra Room is an artistic masterpiece and the story goes that a woman had it built for her husband as a smoking room.  She wanted him to be able to smoke in luxury.  I think she achieved her aim, don’t you?  (Ah the whims of the wildly wealthy…)RHI-Alhambra

Of course, such a place is a magnet for weddings and there was one in preparation the day I visited.  I peeked in the medieval banquet hall to take a photo and was stunned by the wedding cake in the opposite corner.  No that’s not a fake photo…the cake was about 10 feet tall.  I’m only in the picture so you can judge by my height ( a mere 5’4).  Complete with waterfall, I decided that it must have belonged to a fairytale princess.  It just seemed like it should belong to royalty.  In fact, the whole room seemed to have an enchanted glow about it as I gazed on it from above.  

The wedding cake 20191108_120940_HDR

From the grand interior, I exited to silently stroll around the considerable and beautiful grounds…fountains, ponds, autumn arbors and open vistas graced every turn.

20191108_122225_HDRFountainsArbor at Rhinefield

Even an old, hidden door beckoned one to secrets that lay beyond…

20191108_123526_HDR

But time was waning and the secrets of the old castle would have to wait for another day.  Perhaps someday I will return…only destiny knows, but with so much country left to explore, it will likely be just another memory tucked away into my love affair with England.

And what of fairies?  On a cold, early Sunday morning as I was making my way across the fields towards the train station, I stopped in awe as the sunrise seemed to catch the light of every dewdrop and turned the whole glittering scene into a magical panorama.  I had to take several pictures.

While going back through them, I found something I had not seen when I took the photo.  If you look on the path, you will notice a small blue light.  To me, it looked just like a blue fairy.  Had I just stumbled upon her as she was finishing her morning rounds of painting each blade of grass with dew?  Who knows?  Choose to believe what you will, but while visiting England, magic found me and with it, I found childlike wonder in the every day.

So closes this 2nd chapter of my adventures in Brockenhurst.  Will there be more?  Yes, for the muses tell me there must be.  The magic must be shared… 🙂

The Blue Fairy

 

‘Tis All Hallows Eve!

‘Tis All Hallows Eve!

For my next installment of adventures here in England, I of course had to make it Halloween themed!  With a couple of visits to the nearby old churches and graveyards, I found spooky gravestones and eerie feelings and yes…even a ghost story!

75252917_2620795168040893_3063494593350729728_oThis is the story of two old English churches and their graveyards.  On a quick tour provided by my lovely elfin innkeeper, Sue, I was shown two sites that weren’t normally frequented by visitors.  The first was a church which had been standing since approximately 1200 A.D.

Sue told me how spiritual it was to sit or stand with your back against the 1000 year old Yew tree and survey the area. She said there was some connection to the old Yew tree and the ancient roots (roots…get it? haha!) of the area.

76611007_787178365067214_5742101765554176000_n73349345_2503540293071315_9219300429333004288_n

74162065_471220457073564_4612678069973417984_n

One of the interesting stories of this graveyard was a group of soldiers from New Zealand who came to this church and to Brockenhurst to recover from their wounds in WWI.  Oddly enough, they all died here…
mysteriously…
OOOOOOO!

 

73083645_933169337059189_5116450795759337472_n

Onto the next graveyard…with it’s headstones all laid out nicely in a row.  Sue had told me that there was something about this graveyard that was different.  It had a different… feeling.  As I began to wander, I felt nothing, just the same fascination of history and mystery as before.

73413151_392697861616682_5251473409220542464_n Until I reached here…

Oddly enough, right in this spot, I felt a knot in my stomach.  I couldn’t explain it.  Everywhere else I had felt just fine and all of a sudden…something just not quite right.  Here’s the eerie part: Sue told me that she had brought someone else there to tour the church and graveyard and they had the same feeling in the exact same spot!!  Now that’s CREEPY!!  And here’s the weird thing…those two grave markers you see in the picture?  One of the former Reverends and his wife.  Ummmm…take from that what you will.  Hmmm….

74377345_706631626494957_4747965571247636480_n

I close my creepy post with the following two gravestones:  now who would have a skeleton head with a raven on top carved into a gravestone?  (Edgar Allen Poe maybe?) That’s just…weird.  And the other one I thought was beautiful…in a creepy way.  haha!  And so my children…ghost story hour is now closed for another year…

74287529_560774451338437_4655295784911110144_n

“In England’s Green and Pleasant Land”

“In England’s Green and Pleasant Land”

Corfe Bridge

“And did those feet in ancient time,
Walk upon Englands mountains green:
And was the holy Lamb of God,
On Englands pleasant pastures seen!

I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:
Till we have built Jerusalem,
In Englands green & pleasant Land.”
~By William Blake~

As most of you know, I have been back and forth to England many times over the past 9 years. People have often asked me what it is I love about the place and why I always wanted to go back.  There are many reasons, but I believe the main one has to do with this beautiful feeling of being “home.”

The Priory

As a child, I grew up in the Spokane, Washington area among rolling green hills, mountains and lakes. I spent many happy memories wandering through farm fields, playing by streams, and going to the park.  I was happiest laying on the grass under green and leafy trees on a warm summer’s day.  The scent of sun-warmed blossoms drifted on the breeze and in my imagination, I adventured through many distant lands.

IMG_20190425_120910DSCN2528

When I first stood on a hill overlooking “the green and pleasant” countryside of England, I felt as though I had found those “distant lands” that I once imagined as a child.  My soul felt at home in a way I hadn’t felt for a long time.

IMG_20180422_120437_393

But why?  I had never been here before.  Why would I feel at “home” in a place that I had never lived in?  Over time, I concluded that it was because I must have wandered its lands as a spirit before I was born.  Had I rambled the pastoral hills with my ancestors? Had I lived in those ruins that so spoke to my soul?  Had my spiritual feet traversed the beaches, fields and moors?

IMG_20180518_185237

Was that why the flowers in their ethereal blues and sunny yellows were so familiar to me?

1552429861758Wisteria

When I stood upon the ruins of a castle wall, is that why I felt as if I had somehow been there before?

IMG_20180520_130906IMG_20180412_092605_360

Is that why I felt such passion when I tenderly caressed the ancient stones?

47680494_2069154479871634_9191244053688090624_n

When I walked along coasts of jagged rocks and watched the ocean crash on the shore below, is that why I felt a longing for something I could not put a name to?

IMG_20190420_164649

Was it the mystery of history that spoke to my romantic soul? Was it me or my ancestors that whispered “Welcome home…”

IMG_20190429_125856 32974169_1764909140296171_3823329579947261952_o

Though that chapter of my life is now closed, I will continue to carry with me the memories of extraordinary adventures, dreams fulfilled and lifelong friendships made.  I will always treasure my journey in “England’s green and pleasant land…” and maybe one day, I will once again traverse the well-known paths with those who have gone long before.

(All pictures by me in England, Wales and Cornwall 2015, 2018 & 2019.)

From Prisons to Palaces

“Adventure” is one of my favorite words.  It is a word so full of possibilities, excitement and the sheer thrill of the unknown right around the corner!  But as you will see in this post, adventure most definitely has it’s ups and downs.

When I was very young, we lived in a small farming community in Washington state.  We rented a home on a farm out in the middle of several wheat fields.  It would seem like an isolated place to live, but I had four older siblings and my imagination to keep me company.  I had a generally happy childhood and was content with my life until one “fateful day”.  I remember being about 5 or 6 years old, standing in the middle of the wheat fields and staring at the hills and mountains that surrounded me. All of a sudden, I had this intense desire and curiosity to see what was beyond those hills and mountains.  And that’s when it began…the desire for adventure.

Since that time as a child, I have been fortunate enough to have experienced many adventures, both good and bad.  Have you ever heard of the phrase “Curiosity kills the cat”?  Well, that would be me.  Like a famous character out of my favorite book, Anne of Green Gables, curiosity regarding this world has thrown me into some pretty unbelievable situations.  This blog has described but a few of them.

Yet, adventure has also allowed me the incredible opportunity of seeing many parts of the world.  I have sweated profusely in the jungles of the tiny island of Palau and frozen in the bitter winds of a Northern England winter. I have reveled in the beauty of an ideal Hawaiian beach and basked in the warm, Autumn twilight on a mountaintop in the Rockies. I have awed at palaces in London and visited dirty, cramped cement rooms in a 3rd world prison.  I have walked on 500-year-old castle walls in Cartagena, Colombia and skimmed across gray waters on a Seattle ferry boat.  From each place I have been, I have taken away many beautiful memories, lessons learned and lifetime friendships.

I know that this sounds exotic and exciting and may even seduce you to leave your current life and travel the world, but the life of an adventurer is not always one to be envied.  One must remember that to be an adventurer, one must give up other things in life.  I have been lonely, poor and sad many times.  At times, I have felt like a will-‘o-the-wisp scattered upon the winds.  I have lacked the security that comes from a home in one place with roots.  I have lived out of a suitcase sometimes and have never owned my own house.  I have seldom ever had more money than what was needed to pay the basics.  I have never held my “dream job” and I have worked more temporary positions and done more boring tasks than I ever want to remember!

Traveling the world and visiting new cultures has been a dream come true and so for me, some of the sacrifices were worth the rewards.  But I am now at an age where my desire for adventure struggles with my desire to become established in one place.  I still yearn to see many places in the world, but my energy wanes and curling up at night with a book and listening to music is often more enticing than crossing distant oceans.

Though I know this world still has eventful experiences in store for me (because as noted above, I seem to have the curious habit of just “falling” into them) I have discovered that the greatest adventure of life is the adventure of love within the walls of your own home with your own family.  And that, my friends, is an adventure I want to experience over and over again. Not all those who wander