Grey wagtail at Hembury Woods

Looking back to the first post I wrote in August 2012, I sounded like a real river swimming virgin. In Sept 2012, I wrote “I don’t know this adventurous part of me that is up for early morning river swims too well, there’s usually a sensible, “got to get on with things” part that takes over. But now I have this unique opportunity right on my doorstep  “I shall” as often as I can!” How times have changed. Now going for a swim is the first thing I do every morning, so long as the river isn’t flooded and it’s not too cold. This morning, wondering if there would be enough hot water for a shower afterwards, I couldn’t NOT do it!

I wrote in that first post about the dream I had, now 11 years ago, about moving to Devon. A key part of the decision came after waking up one morning “hearing” the words “Locked from the inside”.  It was as if someone had spoken them to me. It took me a while to unravel it, but I knew there  was a strong inner resistance to change. So I took myself off on a retreat, where I struggled to even find the key, never mind unlock the door. But these words from Revelation in the Bible came at the right moment and touched me deeply, “See I have placed before you an open door that no-one can shut”. Such is the profound nature of a good retreat, I came home with a willingness for change, inner and outer, where previously I felt resistance and fear.


The blackbird eggs have hatched


The word that I’ve been holding for some days is gratitude, and reflecting back through posts on this stunning, almost summer’s day, it has only grown as the temperature has risen. Today I swam twice, once early at Still Pool and then later up at Hembury Woods, about a 10 minute drive from here. It is a time when I connect profoundly with nature. Immersed (literally) in the natural world, alert to the sounds and sights around, I am often surprised and delighted by what I see: a kingfisher close by on a branch, a mandarin duck “family” gathered together (male, female and 3 ducklings), the ubiquitous dippers bobbing up and down, and tiny grey wagtails skitting about.


A froglet escapes the robin

And it occurs to me that there are people to whom I’m particularly grateful on this side of the open door. Sam Wernham first suggested the idea of moving to Devon, and I will always be  grateful to her for that. You can read about her latest venture, River Dart Wild Church on; Joyce Ferne accompanied me through key moments on retreat (including the one mentioned above). She co-runs another Coach House  a retreat house  in the most stunning setting by the Moray Firth; and beloved Stephen gave me the richest of gifts, opening my eyes to the exquisite detail of the natural world around us, in the garden, by the river and in the wider world of the West Country. But the greatest thanks have to go to the unseen Creative Spirit, who  is always gently nudging us along to a bigger and richer life. For all this I am truly grateful.

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