“This is Prune. She’s no good for me”. A scraggly dog with a scar under her eye and jet black fur bounded over to us, tail wagging, brown eyes friendly. Minutes before, we’d pulled up outside a suburban bungalow in the middle of a quiet Belgian neighbourhood. This surely couldn’t be the place, we thought. But it was, and that little house was to see a lot of us over the years.
Nothing. No planes, no cars, no machinery. I couldn’t remember the last time I had been surrounded by such peace, alone with my thoughts. Not quite alone though; there was the sweet song of the blackbird, the mooing of cows from a distant farm, the breeze through the apple blossom trees. I shared the quiet evening with a bird of prey, far overhead, surveying the resting valley. What a view she must have; a patchwork of fields of green and yellow, dotted with plump white sheep, cows and horses like daisies in a meadow. It was one thing to drive through this bucolic landscape, it must be incredible to see it from above.
The fields were full of poppies, blood-red against the wheat, slowly bronzing in the sun. Pale winged butterflies danced across the sky, full of puffy clouds, unthreatening, for now at least. Hardly anything stirred, a heaviness lay in the air, like everything was too much effort. A breeze rustled the reeds, a duck slipped into the water, the only action of the afternoon. Everywhere still, everywhere resting, summer slipping slowly away on that breeze, dying like the day was.
Its been almost a year since I first started doing yoga. I never thought I’d become a yoga-convert; I used to scoff at the thought of leggings and downward-dogs, painful stretches and pretentious instructors. I first tried yoga in the Bahamas, and fell in love. Sure, the yoga studio, where we met each morning, with ocean views and tropical sunlight filtering through might have helped, but there was something so relaxing about it, something spiritual. Since then, I’ve joined a weekly yoga class, and tried it alongside surfing in Portugal and even had a private instructor when I stayed in India.
I was helping out in the local primary school recently when a discussion came up about where countries were in the world. One boy exclaimed loudly that he’d “never left East Anglia” and there was lots of agreement; most kids seemed not to have either. It made me wish that I could give each one of them the chance to travel. To go somewhere new. Anywhere- it didn’t have to be far. It may be a cliche but I think being able to travel has made me who I am and has taught me more than I could have ever learned otherwise. It would be great if every kid could have the same opportunity; to explore, to roam, to learn.