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All Men Are Mortal


News of Neil Diamond retiring from music due to ill health, the death of one of my heroes, Paul Bocuse and also that of Jazz legend, Hugh Masekela, this morning, make for sad reading and the realisation that life is short. All three of these men have one thing in common- they made their mark by living a life less than ordinary and they will be remembered for generations to come. Not everyone will become rich and famous but we do need to have the courage to follow our own path and define ourselves in a harsh and demanding world. Each of us has some sort of destiny and we must have the courage to find it and create our own language. Great sculptors like Henry Moore and painters such as Picasso...
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  552 Hits

A Place To Think


This room is where I do all my thinking, parked up on an old rattan sofa. The feathers are from Percy, the peacock, that everyone wanted to shoot because they found his crowing early in the morning, quite annoying. Percy was given a reprieve at the last minute, the complaint was mysteriously withdrawn, who knows, perhaps a horse's head in a bed was involved. We'll never know. Percy moulted in October last year and one of his avid supporters, Sue, who just happens to be a hunt saboteur but more on that later, gathered up some feathers for me. I think of Percy every day - may he live a long and happy life. Photo copyright SvD.Original link
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  518 Hits

Someone to watch over me


I see this tree which is in a farmer's field near my home every day. There are hundreds of sheep on the farm and had this tree not been protected by the metal fence it would have been munched to the ground long ago. As I walked past the field this morning, the fog was thick, the air damp and the sun, as usual, was nowhere to be seen. The tree shielded behind its metal fence fascinated me. What happens if there is no one to watch over us. No one who takes any interest in whether we manage to survive life with our sanity intact? I get a lot of junk mail and recently a message pinged into my Inbox about homelessness. The stark image of a young child forced to sleep on the streets in this suppos...
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  485 Hits

Some pictures tell the whole story of life


This is one of my favourite photos and it was taken as an afterthought as I prepared to leave a French village after a wonderful lunch. I'm not going to explain the how and the when or what the photo is meant to represent. You decide what you see. Wissant, France. Photo copyright SvD.Original link
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  531 Hits

My kingdom for some proper bread!


Proper bread is hard to come by in our green and pleasant land. When I say proper bread I mean real bread. The best bread I ever tasted was in West Berlin in 1984 before the Wall came down. My very wonderful German boyfriend, Burkhard, lived on the sixth floor in an ancient building with no elevator. How we managed to climb up those stairs after trawling the bars of West Berlin until dawn drinking too much schnapps, remains one of the great adventures of my youth. Our debauched lifestyle was fuelled by enormous breakfasts German style: soft boiled eggs, ham, industrial strength freshly brewed coffee and rye bread with onions, served in thick slices and copiously buttered. The toaster is a ve...
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  608 Hits

Beginnings...


I began my daily walk through the fields this blustery and grey Christmas morning when the village church bells suddenly rang out loudly, enticing anyone willing to join in the celebration of the birth of Christ. The bell ringer sounded as if he was jumping up and down pulling on the cords and the image of him being catapulted into the top of the bell tower made me laugh out loud. The fields were empty as usual and there I was beneath an expanse of never ending sky. The sensation of being rather minute and irrelevant in the world is best felt under a country sky in an endless, treeless landscape. Nature has always been my inspiration and this morning the grey sky, the passing flock of starli...
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  562 Hits

Surviving Christmas On Your Own


This Christmas marriages will break up, old lovers will commit to one another, new lovers will find each other, families will argue, children will hate their presents, vegetarian guests will stick to spuds and sprouts, and granny will overdose on sherry. These people will all have something in common: each other. There is another side to Christmas that is overlooked: those who are alone. The elderly who have passed their use-by date, the divorced singletons who are persona non grata by virtue of being solo, the homeless, and those too impoverished to celebrate Christmas at all. Each of these people will feel desolate and unhappy on Christmas Day - please think of them.For those who are alone...
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  514 Hits

Be inspired


As I walked along the field while the sunset broke, it dawned on me that all the great artists were made great by the inspiration they received. This sunrise evokes Monet and van Gogh for me. I can just imagine them sipping a dark, bitter coffee and gazing towards the rising sun and almost immediately reaching for their brushes. Those dramatic grey strokes in the sky are clouds. The square shadow is the village church. Slumber, awakening, promise of a new day and especially, wonder at the privilege to behold the stirring of the birds, the retreat of the badgers and foxes. Beginnings. And endings.Be inspired today to observe, to be grateful, to reach for the paintbrush which will define your ...
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  548 Hits

God is dead


I was quite surprised to learn that the Archbishop of Canterbury will marry Prince Harry and his divorcée fiancé in a church of God. As a divorced catholic, my priest could do no such thing as there would be too much hell, fire, brimstone and damnation to deal with. Until recently as a divorced woman I was not allowed to take communion and certainly at mass on Sundays, I clearly stick out like a sore thumb when I attend on my own with no cherubic horde of offspring or husband on my arm. Yet the outward appearance is superfluous to me. You see, my relationship with God is extremely personal. There is an understanding evolving between my inner being and God every single day and I live accordin...
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  637 Hits

Our dark winters feed the soul


My daily walk in a vast open field with nothing but the sky for company. This is what I see morning and night while our winter has forced the sun into hiding. The short, dark days where our eyes are dazzled by the faintest ray of sunlight, are the perfect time to commune with our inner being- that true self which is concealed beneath the façade we present to the world. I LOVE my solitary walks where I can distinguish the crows, finches and wrens from the sparrows in the dark as they rustle branches on their return to roost. I feel safe despite being alone or perhaps my age means that I am prepared for anything. A lack of fear is not courage but a knowledge that the universe is more in contro...
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  519 Hits

Freezing Brrrr..itain


Age has caught up with me- rheumatism in winter which gets worse when temperatures dip below zero. Last weekend I felt so cold out walking in open frost-covered fields as unrelenting biting wind stung my face that I actually contemplated abandoning exercise altogether. My favourite thing in the whole wide world is walking which I could do forever and the prospect of not being able to cover ten or fifteen miles a day for fun over the weekend especially, has sent me into a morose, 'poor me' state. I can't say that I am looking forward to my rheumatism getting worse as I age. I don't mind the grey hair, the sagging bits but I do mind not being able to walk. The other option is to emigrate to a ...
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  575 Hits

Just the way you are


Yesterday I popped into London, the center of the universe, inhabited by the Gods of all things historic, materialistic, fast and furious. I had plans to meet old friends- two who I hadn't seen or spoken to in 16 years and another who I had last clasped eyes on 21 years ago (and who I have known since we were both four years old). Wow! None of us had seen the time fly or our feelings change for one another. We reconnected as if the elapsed time had been so fleeting we hadn't realised we were older and very much greyer, the children were all grown up and the usual dramas of life had never even happened. None of was particularly interested in material accomplishments to brag about but all of u...
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  648 Hits

Sexual harassment and the sheer hypocrisy of it all


I've written before about being sexually harassed. I can recall several separate incidents where men behaved inappropriately towards me. Rampant inappropriate behaviour was all the rage in my salad days where the flush of youth, a heady combination of throbbing hormones and plump lips sends men sniffing around hoping to strike lucky. I was able to extricate myself from unwanted embraces and tongues down my throat and on each occasion the men reluctantly albeit gracefully backed off. One of my bosses made it plain that if I didn't sleep with him I would not get promoted. I resigned and went off to explore life and eventually found a new job. When I look back on all these experiences all I can...
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  480 Hits

My latest article on The Huffington Post


13 October 2017Archive of all my articles on The Huffington PostOriginal link
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  83 Hits

Banish The Blues By Living In The Present


I used to be unhappy until I understood how to live in the present moment. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not talking about being spontaneous to the point of not thinking about the effects of my actions, I'm describing a more philosophical approach to living in the now.What is the now? Perhaps I should begin by explaining that our perception of reality is in fact the culmination of the past and an anticipation of the future. For example, we have opinions or behave in a certain manner based on our upbringing or past experiences. We regard the future as a phase in our lives when we hope to able to enjoy retirement because we would have saved enough to do so, etc... In the middle between past and ...
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  368 Hits

Some love affairs never end


Je t'aimePhoto copyright SvD.Original link
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  362 Hits

Endless possibilities


I feel sorry for those who live in cities, cooped up in apartments without a view or a vista that propels the soul into a realm far beyond the ordinary. This evening sky symbolises all that it happening in my life: change, transience, new beginnings, hope. I would often open a book randomly and more often than not, would fall upon a page where exactly what was happening in my life was mirrored on the page. Nature is the book of life and here it is in all its glory. Guess what's happening to me.Evening walk with the hounds. Photo copyright SvD.Original link
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  374 Hits

Bordeaux, je t'aime


The one constant in my life is my love of France. I am lucky to live very near to France and can hop over quite easily. And so once again I ventured off solo with one suitcase and one piece of hand luggage in case my suitcase got lost. I normally drive but this time decided to fly.I had spent many happy years as a student at university in Bordeaux. This time I was going to tour vineyards and take a couple of wine courses. And I should add, meet old friends who I was at university with thirty + years ago.Suffice it to say that my trip was the best holiday of my life and one which I could probably write a book about. We're older but we're the same and how we feel will never change- that was th...
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  377 Hits

How to Stop A River of Tears


In my 20s I was hopeful, in my 30s accommodating, in my 40s philosophical, in my 50s too wise for my own good but never too old to change. There is an old joke about what has three legs at dusk. Answer: an old man requiring a stick to walk with. In the process of aging it is not just the physical body that needs a crutch. We are now getting used to waking up to bad news- terrorist attacks, mosque attacks, deadly fires. Rather than becoming inured to bad things the opposite is happening: bad news makes us less reliant on the metaphorical crutch, somehow more resilient and yes, more emotional- suddenly we realise that we had better make the most of life on our terms as there is a very real pos...
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  386 Hits

Down at the farm...


Sheep have been shorn of their Winter coats and are spending their days and nights outdoors munching on grass and a special feed the farmer delivers early in the morning. These are ewes which will give birth again in the Spring. Sheep are not that interesting and not half as curious as cows. Sheep are very skittish (like pigeons) and never want to say hello. Cows on the other hand would like to spend all day chatting to you:The calves are one year old and will soon be 'osso bucco'. Here they are meeting my darling doggie. Some calves will join the dairy herd as well.I call them babies and give them pats as I walk past but they are much bigger than me! Thankfully their teeth are quite flat an...
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© Words and photos copyright Samantha van Dalen

  394 Hits