All posts tagged culture

Just Like ‘Sliding Doors’

Published June 11, 2012 by copperknob

Hello again

My friend Gail and I chatted in her den this morning. We watched the pouring rain through the patio doors. Indoors it was warm and cosy and I hugged a mug of tea. Gail leafed through my book about India. She reminded me about the time in 2001 when I was preparing for my seven-day visit to Jaipur and Dharamsala.

Out of the blue she told me that my story and what happened to me was a bit like the 1998 film Sliding Doors starring Gwyneth Paltro and John Hannah. In the first few minutes of the film we see the ‘heroine’s’ life split into two. And throughout the rest of the film we are to-ing and fro-ing between what would have happened in each version of her life. Her whole life changes in a split second when, after being sacked from her PR job in London, she misses the Tube-train to take her home. One part of the film follows her catching the train and seeing the consequences of getting home and finding her bloke in bed with another woman – the other part, when she misses the train, shows how she gets mugged before landing a lowly-paid waitressing job.

Gail’s assessment of my life was fascinating. What if I hadn’t been to the fishmonger in Bookham that winter’s morning in 2000 to interview him for a possible story? What if I hadn’t crossed over the A246 Leatherhead Road at the exact time that I did? After all, the Buddhist monks only stood begging for food outside the supermarket until midday when they went off to eat. If I had crossed the road a few minutes later I would have missed them. Timing is everything.

I came home from Gail’s  in wondering-mode about 2000, and about our conversation.

What if I had never met Tenzin Josh, never learnt about meditation or the Dalai Lama, never visited Dharamsala, met Tibetan monks or the Tibetan Children’s Village?

Twelve years on from that chance meeting with two Tibetan monks in our village I wonder what I would be doing now…


Published June 9, 2012 by copperknob

In my new book: Every Great Journey Starts Somewhere ~ Seven Days in India:

…I wrote that my visit to this wonderful country “really did happen as a result of a fortunate series of chance meetings between 2000 and 2001. It was a time when my life was going through a period of great change and I had just embarked on a new career as a freelance writer”.

A Comma in Bookham“, the story I wrote about the Buddhist monks in my home village was published in the Surrey Lives section of the Surrey County magazine in April 2000 – the first of a run of my stories about people living in the county of Surrey that they published…. stories that seemed to crop up by chance.

That year I heard about a vicar at the church in our village with incredible skills as an escapologist, and the only man known to have escaped from a straitjacket whilst tramplining! I photographed him, wrote a story, submitted it to the editor of the Surrey County magazine…another acceptance in the Surrey Lives slot. …

Soon afterwards I spotted a man in the bushes close to the lay-by on the main road that runs through our village. It was hard for me to ignore activity…anywhere! The guy was hedge-laying – a feature of the British landscape…..and …the story became another feature in Surrey Lives.

Next came my story about Healthy Cows in the Surrey Hills which was published in the same magazine.

I can’t quite remember exactly how Gardens and Guests came about. I think I may have heard something on local radio about Derek St Romaine, a Royal Horticultural Society Gold-Medal winning photographer, and his wife Dawn who ran a B+B in their Surrey home. I probably then phoned them to get my own take on their story… and towards the end of the year it was another article in the Surrey Lives series – with a story about their gorgeous garden with its numerous nooks and crannies and private corners, and where, at every turn, there is something different. Secret arbours, ornamental hedges of rosemary and cotton lavender and a hosta inferno in a dark corner as you snake around the garden.

Thinking back, this was a significant time in my early writing career… honing my skills… and at the same time posting articles to the Writers Bureau College of Journalism in Manchester, with whomI was following a freelance journalism course. I was finding that gardening and the great outdoors were popular topics with magazine editors…well, they were for me! I kept my eyes and ears open for snippets of anything that I could turn into stories.

This is where my sister Diana makes an appearance in my story. We chatted regularly on the phone about this-and-that. During one long conversation she mentioned her ex-husband had found a niche market for the diaper-shaped garden tiles that he was producing in his garden shed in Stoke-on-Trent. It sounded like my kind of story. Diana and I arranged to travel the 150-odd miles up north to meet her ex in his garden shed. The meeting for some reason had to be cancelled. But me, being like a dog with a bone would not let an opportunity disappear into thin air……more later

Every Great Journey Starts Somewhere ~ Seven Days In India

Published June 7, 2012 by copperknob

My new book, Every Great Journey Starts Somewhere, is a collection of photographs I took in India during a seven-day visit, accompanied by quotes, captions, and notes I made in my journal.

You have probably heard the word ‘serendipity’…this wonderful flying-visit to India really did happen as a result of a fortunate series of chance meetings between 2000 and 2001. it was a time when my life was going through a period of great change and I had just embarked on a new career as a freelance writer.

My book is a picture story of how a Buddhist monk, a stone merchant and a businessman all led, in their own ways, to my trip, and how I discovered a sense of adventure I never knew I had.

Every Great Journey Starts Somewhere will delight all who love India or have visions of travelling there, are fascinated by unheard-of places and tribal outposts, and will inspire anyone to go with the flow of events.

When opportunities arise, no matter what, grasp them with both hands…as I did.

On this blog I will share some photographs taken in Rajasthan, and Dharamsala in the foothills of the Himalayas, and excerpts from my articles that were published on my return to England after the trip.