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  • Writer's pictureEvelyn Roberts

A Volcano, More Rants, And Many Airplanes, 2017

Updated: Apr 10, 2022

August, 2017

4.30 am, and on the way to the airport. Some people in Bali have already finished their shopping

England tomorrow. Things popping into my mind, (besides a diverse group of completely wacky, searingly intelligent, old friends), are AbFab, Fawlty Towers, sticky toffee pudding, custard, Marmite, Branston pickle, vinegar sodden chips, those hideous old school uniforms, swans, pubs, cheese, fish paste, and being called “love” all day long, (with unabashed sincerity), by total strangers.

It's been 18 years since I was last there, but now I have the privilege of once again attending part of the Faculty of Astrological Studies Oxford Summer School.

A fellow class-mate from way back when, Carole Taylor, is the programme organiser and also a dear friend and my partner in many new and exciting upcoming astrological endeavours.

I know of no other event that I would be more excited to attend. The creme de la creme of dedicated astrologers, meeting in such a glorious historic setting.

A pinnacle of what we all hold so dear.

Who knew... Rubik's Cubes were so loud. Sitting on a bus to Oxford after 20 hours of travel, with the young man opposite, obviously incredibly talented, (and obsessed) with it. I am embarrassed to admit I would like to throw the annoying sounding thing right out the window, but of course I won't. Yet another example of my low irritability threshold, and not so much evolvement this lifetime, especially when sleepless, in public places.

Harris haws keep the pigeons in check at Exeter College in Oxford, (a bloody but fascinating sight to behold). I have arrived. One of the great thrills of being in England is history’s heart having missed not a single beat.

At my lovely abode for a couple of days. I was most tickled to see an old red phone booth in front, and even more impressed to discover it houses a defibrillator. Such a great idea.

Horse cemeteries, giant mushrooms and marvellous roofs. All in an English country lane stroll about. Ferret Racing - yes, I'm definitely in England.

I just gave a young man holy hell for rudely barging in front of me and my giant suitcase just to get on a train ahead of me. A huge bonus of being this age is complete lack of hesitation when it comes to mind-speaking in such situations. And I do believe his own grandmother would approve.

Visiting my 2nd friend in a row, to live in a 400+ year old, thatched roof cottage.

Something I just don't understand. In the collective callous rejection of all the displaced, hopeless, suffering refugees of the world, ignored and shut out by hugely wealthy countries with plenty of space, what do we expect these people to do? Vanish into thin air? If I was scrambling for survival for myself and my children, I have no idea what that rage and pain could would devolve into. Surely we are creating our own worst nightmares by this blindness and cruelty. Desperation will turn fundamentally good people into desperate warriors, (a.k.a the very thing we most fear: terrorists), when the very survival of their children is at stake.

Not sure which is the more shocking, especially considering so-called human intelligence, our vicious cruelty, or our staggering stupidity.

Stone circles, old mills, and an old school friend from 50+ years ago. So many forgotten details. Thank you, Sheena Powell Mccormack, for your far sharper memory than mine.

A sudden flashback: I just walked by the exact spot where at the age of 15 a young male friend, (and I do remember his name), commented on how knock-kneed I was. For many years after I didn't wear short skirts or shorts, and I've never forgotten it. How incredibly vulnerable we are when young.

Travel; when even the mundane is part of the adventure, especially when visiting "old" places with new eyes.

50 years of friendship. My dear friend, Colin, has stayed rooted in London, and I breeze through from year to year.

Train to Cornwall tomorrow, the beat goes on.

Have had the happiest of times bopping around seeing old friends.

A friend is someone who leaves you with all your freedom intact, but obliges you to be fully who you are. - ?

Don't know who wrote this, but it's what real friendship feels like to me.

On the train, my absolute favourite way to travel, especially when on the way to meet old and new friends and discover ancient mystical places.

Again, while I traipse around the planet, those talented Balinese worker bees made something else wonderful. Additional dining space in our restaurant, from all the left over tile and bits of reclaimed teak.

The sheer fun of stepping into someone else's world for a while.

1st day of exploring this amazing landscape of ever changing weather and colour, literally from moment to moment, (it’s on and off with the layers of clothing). A place at the very end of the very furthest tip of a country. Not so long ago it was on the edge of the unknown, a place of endless possibilities and extremes, of pioneers, pirates, Arthurian myths and pre-pre-historic mysteries. So far, there is not a thing not to like.

From Bayad, Bali roosters to Penzance, Cornwall’s seagulls; nature's alarm clocks around the world.

I adore the comforting dependability of the sea. No matter where you follow her, no matter how different her shoreline, she forever shares a changing constancy with that grand pearly conductor, the moon.

Take my breath away, Cornwall.

The group is fun and fabulous, and the weather wonderfully co-operative. We are, however, going to have to rename the programme "Photography and Phood". We are literally eating our way through the town. We have turned into a mob of female, marauding, scone and clotted cream devourers. No cream tea is safe when we are in the vicinity.

Due to the threats of a volcanic eruption, at the property in Bali, they are preparing for several cm of ash, (hopefully there are some tarps to still be found on the island). Even an extreme worst case scenario for us will be nothing compared to what others will go through.

My love of walking has to be one of the greatest gifts of my life.

The group is off on a photo shoot, and no room for me in on the bus, so instead I'm off for an explore. Few things make me happier than packing a little backpack and heading off to somewhere never seen before.

September, 27: My beautiful daughter is 40 years old today. Happy Birthday, Tara. Today she told me there is only one reason she wished she'd had her son 10 years earlier. Because then she would have been able to spend 10 more years of her life with him.

Those pesky cities with 2 airports. Yes, I did. Went to Heathrow instead of Gatwick. Nothing like a frantic rush through central London with a 50lb suitcase and zero lifts to get the adrenaline going. And apparently I don’t have the ‘damsel in distress’ look. No-one helped. I made it though. Phew.

Woke up in California, for the 1st time in almost a year.

In the smallest place, with the highest concentration of friends, on planet earth.

It just took a few days to dust off my old car and get it street legal again. My 1996 Ford Escort has been sitting in a field (with a cover) for 11+ months without any attention whatsoever through all kinds of weather, and it just started up on the very 1st try. It was stuffed full of dryer sheets, which apparently mice hate, but the real lifesaver is a little $40 solar battery charger that has been keeping the battery alive. Big thanks to the best mechanic ever, for always finding me the best deals imaginable on cars, and then helping to keep them alive, as I gallivant.

As the buying season insanity approaches. Bake them a cake, write them a poem, give them a kiss, tell them a joke, but for god’s sake stop trashing the planet to tell someone you care. All it shows is that you don’t.

After Britain had a mass shooting in 1987, the country instituted strict gun control laws. So did Australia, after a 1996 shooting. But the United States has repeatedly faced the same calculus and determined that relatively unregulated gun ownership is worth the cost to society. That choice, more than any statistic or regulation, is what most sets the United States apart.

“In retrospect Sandy Hook marked the end of the US gun control debate,” Dan Hodges, a British journalist, wrote in a post on Twitter two years ago, referring to the 2012 attack that killed 20 young students at an elementary school in Connecticut. “Once America decided killing children was bearable, it was over.”

FB just told me Carolyn and I had been friends for 5 years but they are wrong, it’s closer to 28. And we’re still walking the vineyards and hills of SYV together, and we’ve still never run out of things to say. I love her more every year.

There's an owl hoot hooting outside the cabin and I am once more reminded of the enormous privilege of living in the midst of nature. One of the greatest riches I have been gifted with this life is usually living in wild places.

My Pisces friend won't ever take eggs from her chickens without bringing them a treat in return and refuses to accept nonsense from anyone. Tender-hearted steeliness. Here's looking at you with admiration, Carolyn Balaban.

On my way to Bali today, with as many masks and goggles as I could cram into the corners of my suitcase. Oh, my. After 25 hours of travel I now find myself on a Hello Kitty themed plane for the final leg to Bali. And the tinkling chirpy muzak matches. Trippy.

All is green and thriving. The volcano looks pretty sleepy, but…

It’s that threshing time again. Observing the cycles from my patio.

Is there an astrologer alive who doubts how likely it is for this situation to just keep intensifying later this week? For non-astrologers, 2 of our most volatile and unpredictable planets, Mars and Uranus, are moving closer and closer to a high tension relationship with one another as the week progresses.

I now know what a volcano smells like; charcoal. The air is thick and heavy and ash is starting to settle, even although we are downwind and far away. Covering all we can as quickly as we can.

With the greatest of respect for this planet and what she holds (not so) deep in her belly. The stark realisation that we live on the surface of a ball of fire, this powerful, is incredible. We truly are only specks of dust by comparison. The bright silver lining of this very dark cloud. The Balinese are all very aware that this seemingly awful event will eventually result in their island's soil being rejuvenated and replenished beyond measure. Our garden awaits.

Whenever I want to feel really happy I look at a photo of Henry.

Ah, Bali, full of beauty and tiny imperfections. Ever teaching me to go with the flow.

Really looking forward to the movie about this ludicrous Presidency, then I'll at least have a shot at understanding everything. In real time it is head-spinningly long-winded and confusing, and certainly way too much for those of us with day jobs.

The island is peaceful, beautiful and wonderfully uncrowded. This is possibly one of the very best times to visit. I for one am planning to go on a jaunt to the east coast on my scooter, passing as close as possible to Agung, (zero risks involved, and mask and goggles ever at the ready). I have found a room on the beach with a volcano view.

Our media really isn't helpful at times like this, with all of its sensationalism and fear mongering. IT IS PERFECTLY SAFE HERE. I feel privileged to be able to witness this once in a lifetime event and look forward to floating in the Bali Sea staring at such a wonder of our world.

With thoughts always for those who are being impacted by displacement and being abandoned by fearful tourists. This is a very difficult time for all the Balinese who depend on tourism for a living.

India. I almost hyperventilate when I remember I will be back there in just one month. It is so like that one great impossible love in life that never ever releases the heartstrings. A fleeting memory is enough to evoke waves of joy, awe, confusion, sorrow, bliss, wonder, and anxiety.

I can hardly wait.

What is it in human psychology that fully knowing others are struggling we can feel perfectly okay (and even smug) about exploiting this to our own advantage?

Tourism is way down in Bali, so (some) guests feel they can just name their own price and throw down peanuts that may not even cover expenses.

Embarrassed about my species. Again.

I just ran away from one paradise, scootered across the island and found myself in another. This will do just fine for the next few days.

Woke up under a sleeping volcano. This is my perfect sleep place, listening to the ocean all night long. Recalibrated, refreshed, and about as content as a soul (even although spellcheck decided I should be the fish variety) can be.

I love everything about our project here, but what gives me the greatest sense of accomplishment is watching all the other little living things that have come to share this space with us. So long as they are thriving, all feels hopeful.

I believe I just inadvertently discovered the perfect sleep aid. A bowl of gardenias right next to the head. Luckily we have five prolific bushes. Best sleep ever.

p.s. apparently a known herbal remedy fact.

Happy 2018. Here’s to New Beginnings and the Active Nurturance of all Dreams, Hopes and Goals.


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