Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Yoga and some socializing!

Better late than never! Had a great weekend about 10 days ago (pre-Cardiff and Dublin)! On Saturday I met an old work friend Rachel, and we did our customary walk down Portobello Road, which was great. Bought some more old side-plates, which I can't seem to get in Australia any more, without paying huge prices. These were around the 1-2 pound mark, and will be put through the dishwasher!

Then on Sunday was the promised yoga meet-up! Because half the tube was out of action, it was easier for Kevin to get to Euston than Bethnal Green, so we went to AYL (my home away from home!) After practice we went to a nearby Pret for breakfast. Another yogi called Helen also came. It was lovely to sit and chat about yoga and Bali, etc etc. Hopefully I can do this again in the not so distant future!

After that I did have to go to Bethnal Green, to visit my friend (another Wendy! I have 3 Wendy friends!) This Wendy is totally into jewelry-making - she had made me a lovely silver necklace, and we spent the whole afternoon making earrings to match! What I mean is, she had me making them under her instructions! It was such fun ... Will meet her again for lunch before I go back, and am taking my Bali bangle along for her to cast a professional eye over!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Photos from Cardiff and Dublin

The beautiful new Cardiff Opera House (from the docks at the back)

Trinity College in Dublin, where the Book of Kells is displayed

Walking towards the famous Halfpenny Bridge over the equally famous Liffey River in the centre of Dublin
Walking towards the famous Sixpenny Bridge over the equally famous Liffey River in the centre of Dublin

Long liost sisters and cousins in Dublin
Long-lost sisters and cousins

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Travels to Cardiff and Dublin

Have been doing so much these past few days I haven't had time to write here at all! I've been in Dublin since Thursday (flying back to London on Sunday afternoon). I spent 2 days in Cardiff before that with Charles and Doris - very nice!

I'm going to write a separate post later about some of the earlier stuff (including Sunday yoga last week). But for now I'll just talk about Cardiff and Dublin. Had a lovely couple of days in Cardiff with Charles and Doris. Spent a lot of time going through Doris' quilting books! As well as admiring an incredibly beautiful quilt she'd made for the bed I was sleeping in (in her workroom) - of deep reds and oranges. I can't believe I didn't take a photo of it now! We also managed to fit in the obligatory visit to Charles' allotment (where we picked the last of the raspberries!), and then went on a drive to the Cardiff docks area which has seen a huge amount of redevelopment over the past few years. Saw the new Opera House, which is really lovely. (Photo will appear later!) Also the Norwegian church and a monument to the Scott Antarctic expedition. I hadn't realised that they had set off from Cardiff. Somehow I always think of Antarctic expeditions as starting from New Zealand, or Tasmania!!

Came back on Wednesday afternoon, and just had time to wash and dry some clothes and pack, before going out for dinner with Anthea, which was lovely too! And before I knew it I was on the bus to Stansted airport at 7.30 the next morning, on my way to Dublin for the grand sisters' get-together! I'd arranged to meet Carla (Irish sister) at Trinity College, as she had a lecture there. So that accomplished, we had lunch and then went in to see the Book of Kells exhibition. That was wonderful. Lots of information about it and the times beforehand, and then we went into a darkened room where we could see 2 openings of the Book of Kells (they have split it into 2), and also 2 other similar illustrated manuscript books. It was very peaceful and beautiful.

Yesterday Carla took me to this wonderful exhibition at the National Museum of Ireland. It was of 'prehistory' and included some amazing things, like an enormously long boat, probably the length of a redwood tree! And of course, some strangely moving exhibitions of bog people - bodies that had been found in bogs from many hundreds/thousands of years ago, amazingly well preserved. On some you can see the hands and fingers so clearly as if it was just yesterday. I really loved this exhibition. Not even mentioning the incredible section of gold torcs and other types of jewellery they used to wear way back when!!

After that we met up with some of the other sisters/cousins who had arrived for this big 'sisterly' get-together, and went off to the Art Gallery to a Metsu exhibition, also very lovely.

Today we have been to the Temple Bar Farmers Market, which I love, and then to yet another art exhibition, by Lavery. It was quite political - he was painting portraits of people involved in both sides of the Irish troubles at the beginning of the 20th Century. Very interesting, when I recognised the names!

We've also been doing a lot of great eating! Had a great family meal here at Carla's last night, cooked by her of course. Today we found ourselves in a great Mexican/Spanish tapas place for lunch, and in an hour or so will be going out for dinner somewhere else! I wonder if  I will even be able to do Marichyasana A (ed: let alone B, C or D!) on Monday when I finally get back to yoga! I have definitely been having withdrawal symptoms - have been staying in places with absolutely no room to put down a yoga mat, so I didn't even bring it! However, when I go to Portugal next week I will definitely make sure I bring my mat with me, and make a space somehow ... :)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Plans are made to be broken!

Well, I had this great idea that I was going to go to yoga 3-4 mornings this week, particularly as I will only be able to go 1 or 2 days a week after this week. But life, in the form of a nasty cold/cough, intervened! I actually made it to Euston station on Wednesday morning before accepting that a) I didn't feel well enough, and b) I should not be going to that small hot space and spreading my germs to everyone there! So I turned around and went back home, where I stayed for the rest of the day.

Felt a lot better yesterday, but knew I still wasn't up to it, particularly as I had to go to Brighton to meet up with a couple of old theatre friends. So that's what I did. Met Fizz in St Pancras station and travelled down together. We had such a lovely time - eating, drinking and talking, talking, talking! Hopefully it won't be quite so long before we can do it all again!

And today I finally made it back to AYL ... Still feeling a bit out of it but determined to make the effort. Of course it was worth it and I was really glad I did. Once again Hamish got me into Mari D on one side, once again stunning me!

Off to the ballet in a few minutes with Judy and Charles!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

London Tourist!

St Pauls Cathedral skyline from the Millennium Bridge
This is where I was yesterday afternoon. Bit of an adventure actually. I got to St Pauls tube station and when I went to buy some water, discovered I didn't have my purse - only my Oyster card (London travel card) which I'd been keeping separately! Either I'd left it at home (possible as it had been in a different bag when I went to yoga), or it had been stolen!

At first I thought I'd just have to go back home - no money meant I couldn't get into the Gaugin exhibition at the Tate Modern, which was where I'd been heading. But then I thought this is stupid. I'm here now and there's bound to be lots of free stuff. So I carried on, and so it was! Picture below is of this amazing installation by a Chinese artist - millions upon millions of tiny ceramic pumpkin seeds! I was looking from above and all the people in there just looked amazing! (And my purse WAS at home, thank goodness!)
Pumpkin Seed Installation

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Marichyasana D!?!

I have always thought that Mari D was most likely a "not in this lifetime" type pose for me. It just seemed so ridiculously far away as a possibility. But today in Hamish's Shala, he got me into it on one side!!! I just couldn't believe it! (Mind you, he did say the right side was not possible yet without incurring a hospital visit!!!)

When I said something like this on my way out, he smiled and said 'nothing is impossible - it's all in the breathing!' I really do like practicing at Ashtanga Yoga London with Hamish. He is such a nice, humble person, but with an amazing capacity to see what people can do, and help them!

I'm going to practice there most mornings this week. After that, it will be just one or two mornings a week as I'll be away traveling quite a lot.

In London now!

Well, here I am in London now! Luckily it's not as cold as I feared (yet!), but I still went out and bought a thicker jumper/cardigan today (from H&M), and eyed up some wonderful things in Zara! Must tell Emma about that shop for when she and Jo arrive!

I arrived at about 7am yesterday (Sunday), and managed to stay up a all day till about 7.30, at which point I collapsed and slept for 12 hours! Feeling great so far today ... Yesterday Judy's two children, their respective partners and babies came over for tea. It was a nice English autumn afternoon, complete with home-made scones and Cornish clotted cream - yum!

Tomorrow morning I'm going to Hamish Hendry's Shala (pre-arranged by email with him!). I had intended to do a practice here today, but my room isn't big enough, and I just didn't get around to it. Hopefully I won't be too stiff!

More photos - from the gorgeous yoga space

Here are a few more Bali photos - mostly relating to yoga.

Going into the yoga space:
going into yoga space

Waiting for class to start:
before class starts

Me in the yoga space with rice paddies view behind me:
Susie in yoga space

And the view from where we had breakfast ...
view from where we have breakfast

And the view from where we had breakfast:

Friday, October 08, 2010

Last (morning) class

We had the last morning class today. There is a session this afternoon, but it'll be short - we're heading out to a last night dinner at 6pm.

The class was different. Dena and Jack both practiced with us just up to navasana, before finishing poses. The idea was for us all to be together. So if someone finished a pose early, they waited for everyone to come to stamistithi before moving on. As Dena said, we'd been following her breath all through the week (in pranayama, etc), so she wanted us all to be breathing and practicing together. With no attachments to what we thought we would like to be doing. It was lovely. We did a full vinyasa practice, which was something I'd not done before. Tiring, but rewarding!

Then because some people had to leave before this afternoon's final class, we did the sharing our experiences thing, which was veery touching.

Justw having a final coffee in the wonderful Tutmak cafe before going back to get ready for the final final class! Tomorrow it's off to London, for the next adventure! But I definitely want to come back to the next workshop Dena does here! We'll see how that goes!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Yoga and lazy day

Sitting in a cafe in a little street off Monkey Forest Road ... Having lunch and checking email, etc. I was tired this morning - possibly because I went out for dinner last night to a wonderful Japanese place, and drank beer! Not sure that's very conducive to getting up early to do a strong yoga practice!! Lucky I don't have any pressing shopping or anything to do! So I lay around reading the rest of the morning after breakfast, and just ventured out for lunch, very decadent!

I am stopping/stopped at navasana ... But there's so much in every pose of the practice as Dena says, so I am content. We are doing all of standing sequence led, which means at a cracking pace! In fact, because I normally take quite a while to set up in the UBH (standing balance?) I haven't got balanced by the time it's on to the next side/pose ! Oh well ... Today Jack (Dena's husband who assists), got me into the first side of Janu C. I don't know when that last happened - if ever! I can manage the second side, but never the first by myself.

In yesterday's afternoon session we went through the 2nd sun salute in minuscule detail. Also long discussions/try-outs of different styles of down-dog, and the reasons for each. I am learning a lot! Looking forward to whatever this afternoon's class brings ...

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Photos at last

Just a few at the moment ... Views of the hotel

The outside bathroom wall ... (I don't have an outside bathroom any more!)
Bali bathroom wall

And statue (not sure of who, not Ganesh) at entrance to yoga room ...

More (many many more!) will follow later ...

Monday, October 04, 2010

First Bali yoga practices

,So, the yoga! The reason I am here in Bali ... ! Already it is very special. Dena is somehow not how I expected at all. (Why did I think she was tiny?!) In one way she's a normal Aussie girl (OK, woman!) But there's a real strength and control in there, and I know she is going to teach me so much, bring my yoga practice to a new level.

On the first afternoon we spent a lot of time with the breath (how nice!). Then we very slowly went through Surya Namaskar A, breath by breath, breaking each bit down. Ditto with Surya Namaskar B. Then just finished with a few gentle backbends. After that we sat in a circle (all 30 of us) and talked a little bit about ourselves, our practice, whatever. I guess the class is more Aussies than anything else, but there were Swedish people, Americans, Japanese, and a couple from Brazil!

Then this morning we went through the standing sequence led, before Dena 'let us go' to finish the rest on our own. Halfway through the sun salutes she stopped everyone to pull us up on the 'Upward facing dog' section. Reminding us all that this is the first backbend in the series, and that we should be aiming to bend the thoracic section of our back, not the neck or lower back (from whence comes back and neck pain!) It was really interesting - about how we had to first stretch our back by pulling from both ends, the toes and the head, so there is space to bend! I could go on about stuff she said, but I won't ... But I really tried to do this through the practice.

Bali workshop day 2

Best laid plans and all that ...wrote this yesterday and had planned to go to a fast Internet place in Ubud today so I could upload photos etc. But when I got down there, the electricity was off! However, I had discovered that there is limited wireless access here at the hotel, so have come back to pLay with that! Photos will probably have to wait another day ... This below is what I wrote yesterday to post.      

I'm going to write a separate post about the yoga so far (incredible), but wanted to write about today's 'trip to the countryside' with Sujana first. Such a sweet and unassuming man - I'm so unaccustomed to that! So, we set off on this drive up into the mountains. First stopping to see some amazing rice terraces - mind you, rice is grown everywhere here, including all through the grounds of this hotel - as photos will reveal soon!

Then on to a place that grows all sorts of spices and coffees. Coffee, cocoa, vanilla, ginger, ginseng, cloves, cinnamon - you name it! The owner (another sweet guy with an adoring little 2-year old daughter clinging to him!) reminded me that Indonesia used to be known as the Spice Islands. They served us up a variety of teas and coffees - including wonderful cocoa and incredible 'ginseng coffee'. That was the best! I had to buy some - I think it's just powdered ginseng mixed with coffee, but Yum!

Then we carried on driving up the mountain, through beautiful Balinese countryside, orange groves and up to the top wih a spectacular view of two live volcanoes! Nothing happening there I hasten to add, but evidence of the lava flow from an eruption about 70 years ago. Had lunch at a restaurant overlooking the view - vey nice! Came home after that to have a restful rest of the afternoon. I have arranged with Sujana to go to some Balinese dancing on Thursday evening. Maybe Maxine and/or someone else will want to come too.

I would never have done something like this - go off for a drive to the countryside by myself with a taxi-driver I hardly know - in somewhere like India! It is a completely different world here!  

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Friday in Bali

There is something to be said for writing with a pen. I wrote a whole note on the iPad to copy and paste into this blog when I got to a wifi cafe. Well, either you can't or I haven't mastered that yet! (Note: I appear to have somehow got the copied text in but mAybe a bit out of order. For info - that was written yesterday. The yoga workshop starts this afternoon. I'll get better at this soon!!)

Of course I am loving Bali. Who wouldn't?! The people are so nice and the countryside is so so pretty! Yesterday (Friday)Oi had a lovely day. Had intended to go down into Ubud to try a wifi cafe, and maybe go to the Monkey Forest. Then the taxi driver suggested a few other things and I thought - why not be different! So he took me for a drive through the lovely Balinese countryside, first to a silversmith place (where I ended up buying a nice silver bracelet, of course!) and then to this batik place, where they have demos of the batik process and ikat weaving. Plus a very large and wonderful shop! I emerged from that some time later with my travel money card somewhat lighter, having bought some very nice clothes, a sarong and a few presents for people.

After that he took me to the Bali Bird Park, where I saw some amazing birds, although a few not looking so happy, including a cassawary. But there were huge caged rainforest areas that you could walk through with the birds flying freely in there. Including birds of paradise. That was lovely.

Came home exhausted after that ... I really enjoyed driving through the pretty pretty Balinese countryside! Such a sight for sore eyes (if my eyes were sore, which they're not!) I think I'm going to go for another drive with him up into the mountains and more rice terraces on one of the days when there's only yoga in the morning ... Not the sort of thing I normally do, but it is so lovely, (and the people are really gentle and nice, and trustworthy!)

Now I'm back home, and in a little while I'm going to do some yoga. Managed a bit yesterday, but I didn't even get through the standing sequence. Hopefully better today. The workshop starts tomorrow afternoon and it'll be full-on from then! had been


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