Saturday, October 24, 2009

Recognising Love

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking; it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perserveres.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Shifting Sands

"The word art implies putting everything in its right place. If you understand the meaning of that word, the real art is not painting pictures, but the art of putting your life in its proper place, which is to live harmoniously. When you have put everything in yourself in its right place, you are free. Putting everything in its right place is part of intelligence. You will say we are giving a new meaning to that word intelligence. One must. Intelligence implies reading between the lines, between the words, between two silences, between speech, listening with your mind all the time alert to listen. You hear not only with the ear, but also without the ear".
Freedom from the Known

I always feel so impressed with the way some people are able to create beautiful homes and calm spaces for others to to come and be together. Relaxation with just a smattering of style.

Having travelled to and stayed in hundred's of beautiful lodges, camps and boutique hotels in both Africa and India, an appreciation of what makes a place stand out in one's memory starts to emerge.

Why does the essence of a place remain with you long after you have left?
Why, when asked 'what was so special' is it often difficult to articulate?
And how is it that one person may really 'get' a place whilst the next remains relatively untouched?

Tourism pioneers Fiona and Kevin Record stumbled upon Ibo Island by chance about 10 years ago..

"We will never forget that first arrival. Under dhow sail at night with phosphorous bouncing off the water we slipped silently into the ancient harbour of Ibo. The trade buildings reflected off the sea and in the moonlight Ibo appeared to us like a lost city."

In 2006 they opened Ibo Island Lodge.

History plays an important part in the feel of a place. The lodge is made up of three mansions, each over a century old, with walls a metre thick and high, lofty ceilings. It sits on the edge of a beautiful bay dotted with fishing boats. Bright green palm trees sway in the wind and frangipani trees creep and flow around the balcony pillars.

Ibo Island Lodge has a special energy.

My room was blue (of course) and called Nkwazi meaning 'moon'.

It was straightforward but elegant. It was the sort of room that you can't hide from yourself in as it just seems to reflect a truer picture of you than what the mind spins out. The pieces of furniture had been beautifully hand-made by the local community using indigenous teak and mahogany.

Being here was like trying on a pair of brand new shoes in a shop only to find that the leather is already creased in all the right places, moulding snugly around the heels and giving space for the toes to spread.

There were excursions organised, which were all great, but once the the mind has taken a back seat, there is no need to go anwhere. One just feels like making the most of the break in self-criticism. To stay still and enjoy the surroundings...

The swimming pool...

The flowers...

The shady balcony with its view of the sea and warm wind blowing...

The roof-terrace where dinner is served, sundowners enjoyed and dusk envelops the scene with such an energy of love that there is just no more mental fighting to be done.

Laughter echoes across the bay and for a moment, time (or mind) stands still...

As I sit at my desk in a rather scruffy (but improving) flat in Hertfordshire and dwell on this beautiful place that gave me such sweet, although temporary, relief, i'm struck by how my perspective has changed.

I used to experience a great need to travel to exotic destinations. The adventure and excitement allowed me to escape from the unsatisfactory nature of my real life, which, at the time I did not acknowledge. I remember all too well that deflated feeling on return as the realisation hit me that what was possible 'out there' did not marry with the reality of the way that I was choosing to live life. Conflict between the internal and the external weighed heavily on my shoulders.

And so here is a typical Sagittarian traveller, aged 41, born on a Thursday (Thursday's child has far to go.....) and working in an industry which relies on people's need to escape, feeling that the interesting jewel is not 'out there' but 'in here'.

The definition of adventure for me, like Krishnamurti's definition of intelligence, has shifted.

Sometimes the intensity of this journey causes me to spring into one of my characteristic grooves or escape routes but then, if it was easy, where's the adventure..........?

Friday, October 16, 2009


"Life begins at the end of your comfort zone."
Conversations with God, Book 3
Neale Donald Walsch

Universal Wish

"I long, as every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself."
Maya Angelou

Thursday, October 8, 2009


There is a rapture in me
when I think of you.
But is it love, to think?
Or is love
the moment of pure being,
when I am furthest from thought
and closest to an action,
that is not a re-action
but an arising from my heart,
a single moment
when I am not premeditated
when I can’t think of what to do
because there is no time.
I am just me, now, Love.
And you are there, loved,
standing, unknown
and unknowing me.
Something pure, golden
passes between us,
which becomes a memory in our heads
as the momentary opening, closes.
Afterwards, occasionally
there is a memory in my heart,
lightness fills me
freedom reigns,
and I am re-minded
of feelings
I never usually dare to feel.

By Joshua Wiskey

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Simply Be

"Whatever you are being, you are creating."
Book 3, Conversations With God, Neale Donald Walsch

Sunday, October 4, 2009


"Even after all this time,
The sun never says to the earth, You owe me,
Look what happens with a love like that,
It lights the whole world"

Ibo Island

"I wonder anybody does anything at Oxford but dream and remember, the place is so beautiful. One almost expects the people to sing instead of speak."

Three years ago I was standing in a smokey East London bar having the usual post-mortem after the World Travel Market. This annual and hectic Trade Show hosts anyone who is anyone in the world of tourism.

What was the state of the market?
Who was doing well, who was struggling?
Were there any holes to fill in our company strategy?
What were other people doing that we weren't?
How can we differentiate ourselves with so many other African tour operators flooding the market place?
How are we to maintain our edge?

Tesna, one of my smiley and (thankfully) quirkey colleagues broke the flow of industry-speak with a sudden and passionate outburst about a new spot that she had been assigned to represent.

Ibo Island, being billed as the 'new Zanzibar'.

Virtually unknown to the outside world and undisturbed for centuries, this little island forms just one part of the Quirimbas archipelago in Northern Mozambique.

The words flowed out from Tesna's mouth....

It is a place where 'time stands still'.

It contains people so innocent that they are 'untouched by the greedy pull of capitalism'.

It is a 'blue paradise' where artisans work to make the most delicate of jewellery.

...and there is this beautiful lodge that overlooks a sea dotted with fisherman's boats.

Here, there are some of the deepest sunsets on the planet.

None of us had heard of it.

Only a hand full of westerners visited.

It had the makings of the sort of place where I might fall in love (with what or who I didn't know). In that moment I clocked it, resolved to visit one day and have kept it on my radar ever since.

Ibo Island is not easy to box up into words and due to this, I have been avoiding putting fingers to keyboard for months now.

How do you begin to describe a place which brings to the surface such deep emotion? Does the very act of describing something so beautiful reduce it to the finite, degrade it somehow?

True to type, I have to start from the only place that makes sense to me, from within.

How was I feeling as our light aircraft bumped down onto the grassy runway...

What was going on the inside as we pulled up next to Ibo Island domestic airport, Terminal 1....?