Despite my fond imaginings all those years ago as I sat in my tiny London flat with the roar of traffic passing outside my pollution stained window, it’s not all peace and quiet in the country. Even though we bought a house that was down a rural track and bang in the middle of green fields, it wasn’t just the lyrical tweeting of garden birds and the odd rumbling baaaaaah of the woolly ones that we used to hear.
I remember once being woken around 4am by the insistent throbbing of a car engine outside our bedroom window. Unable to go back to sleep, I eventually threw on a dressing gown and went outside with my guard dog (ok, in truth it was my plucky little, now sadly departed, Jack Russell) where we found a loitering taxi. “Lucky Shoe Cottage?” the unapologetic driver asked with a dazzling smile. “No” I replied somewhat grumpily “that’s about half a mile down the road“.
One precious lie-in ruined. Unable to go back to sleep, I made a cup of tea (quiet as the proverbial mouse) and took it into the garden – shivering slightly but keen to enjoy the fresh fragrant air, hear the lyrical tweeting of the birdies and admire the jewel coloured flowers. Even in this idyllic setting there was a steady drone of planes high above me in the washed out blue sky. True, the birds were singing, but so were the screaming engines of the motorbikes on their pre-dawn raids enjoying the police-free narrow Sussex country lanes.
Seems that wherever we go, peace and quiet is hard to find. Years ago I tried escaping to a very remote yoga retreat near Valencia – surely that would be a silent haven? Well, it was, at first. The smell of orange flowers was fantastic, matched only by the simple joy of picking an orange off the tree and eating it – the peel just falls away and the segments taste so… well, orangey. This was the sun-drenched quiet environment I had been hoping for. As night fell, I lay on my bed enjoying the golden silence as my eyelids dropped closed.
Then a dog started barking. And another. And another. And soon the night air was punctuated by all kinds of woofs – aggressive, plaintive, bored – there must have been hundreds of them. And it was incessant. The whites of my eyes were now illuminating my dark bedroom. Then the fire alarm went off. And went off again, for longer this time. In fact, it went off seven times until we ripped the battery out. By now I was convinced that I would have to save up for a Virgin space flight if I was ever going to get my P&Q. But I was wrong.
The next morning, after our yoga session by the pool, our teacher got us to sit cross legged on our mats and close our eyes. Her soothing voice asked us to take really long, slow, deep breaths, in and out, in and out. Before I knew what was happening, I was meditating (apparently) and thirty minutes disappeared in a sort of blissfully silent trance. Peace at last. So, if like me you are desperate for some much needed peace and quiet, get your yoga mat out! Om shanti to you all…
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