Wednesday, May 21, 2014

I Have Moved!

Visit my new home on the web... here.
See you there!!

Monica xo

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

From my English Country Diary: Reawakening.

I took these pictures two months ago, in mid February.
Winter has been exceptionally mild here in England this year (and all around Europe from what I heard from family and friends- I don't watch tv nor weather forecasts, so I just wait to learn from someone I know! :)).

Hence in mid February, we've had some gorgeous sunny days, with very warm temperatures... like the very day when I took these photos. It was so beautiful, that I decided to go exploring a new area (about 10 miles away from Banbury), wellies in the car boot and big camera on hand.

Nature was reawakening... and I was right in the middle of this. Looking in retrospect, I believe I was re-awakening too. To old committments and ideas, to who I really am and how I want to live, what I have to do in order to wholeheartedly answer my calling in this life. It's such a good think to sometimes pause and ask yourself where you're going and why, and after busy deadlines when you take time to rest, is quite a good moment to do so.

Daffodils were at the "leaves and green bud" stage. Now in mid April, the daffodils season is over, already, but I'll show you in another post. 

The colors were definitely changing from the dull shades of gray to vibrant sienna, bright blue and tender greens.

I love to go walking without books/maps, and be surprised at each and every step I take... so when I spot a green sign indicating a public footpath from the road, I stop, wear my wellies and off I go! It's funny that I write this now, because I've always believed I had no sense of direction... but surely having to deal with a bit of a challenging situation when moved here, helped me practicing trust. And I now trust completely that I can absolutely do that without any fear or worry (and that I'm in for a treat, always!). 

Seeing this view surely sparked my interest...

... and after I crossed the fence doing the usual acrobatics on the stile (holding camera, bag, Iphone and obvioulsy taking an insta-picture for Project Life, trying not to roll down!), I saw this.
You bet my heart started racing, after months of inactivity...

As I walked, beaming like a child, and with the occasional giggles too, I met the inhabitants of the adjacent farm... we exchanged smiles and chats, and I proceeded full of anticipation. It must be grand living there!

... and at each stile my heart expanded on to an open, vast, exciting, new view.

As soon as I entered the wood (quite difficultly actually, because the stile was really wonky!), a poor pheasant started screaming like crazy, running away from here...

... and immediately I raised my eyes and realized I was in the middle of an untouched path. Perhaps no one had walked along it for a long time...

I standed still for quite a while, observing all around me with eyes of wonder and gratitude. My mind was silent, my heart at peace with the same peace of that place. As soon as I slowly started moving, the handsome, feathered guy started screaming again, this time launching himself in a spectacular flight across the vegetation, to reach the open fields nearby.
I decided to not disturb the fauna anylonger, and go back. 
While U- turning, I noticed the adjacent property's garden... with a white bench in it... ♡and wondered who sit down there and their feelings when doing so (and about living in such a paradise). I dreamt of how that would have looked like when Spring was in full swing. I may come back again.

A simple life, very little needs, living close to Nature, and learning from it, savoring the little things, soaking up the beauty and the silence, and being grateful for and inspired by everything. That's my kind of Heaven on Earth!
Monica x

Friday, April 4, 2014

Sharing Beauty and Inspiration Worldwide. A Somerset Life Article.

For reasons I already wrote here and there during my ramblings, and I may want to told you about again in my posts in the future, I don't submit to magazines any more.
When a magazine knocks at my door, and the feature they are interested in is aligned to my calling in this life, I'm glad to say yes! Otherwise I gladly leave room for others to grow.

This article means a lot to me, it's the most inspired I've written so far (actually I had no idea what to write, but the right words materialized themselves on the pages), because it's the first one I write from a new frame of mind. The new issue of the magazine is out, so I can share it with you here now.

Many heartefelt thanks to Christen Olivarez and all of the team at Somerset Life (this magazine has, and will always have, such a dear spot in my heart. It's always such a pleasure to contribute to it) not only for these gorgeous pages, but for they have believed in me since the very beginning! I have tears in my eyes just writing this.
A very, very special thanks to former Somerset Life Editor Jennifer Taylor who put it together, choosing the "just perfect" pictures to share a bit more of my heart and soul.

... Enjoy!

Monica xo

Friday, June 7, 2013

From my English Country Diary: Hidcote Manor Garden.

*This is not an informative post about Hidcote Gardens- lots of infos can be found online should you fancy. It is more of an inspirational post about living and exploring from an artist's perspective.*

I was about to start this post telling you that part of my life as an artist and a photographer is to go out and look for inspiration for my work.  Yes, that is fundamentally true, but mostly, as both a strong introvert and an artist, alone time is vital to my well- being, my sanity and also for my job.
When I am alone, I am able to connect with the abundant flux of ideas, and definitely recharge my batteries. I become inebriatingly happy, calm and serene, full of energy, and in the zone for all kind of creative activities.

One of the things that I love the most here in the Cotswolds, is going on a solo drive around the glorious English countryside (something I was not able to do in Italy because of the general chaos and crazy-ness of traffic, my continued migraines that have gone here, and yes, lack of my own will to do that in a place that I didn't feel as "kindred"), driving on the "wrong" side of the road as I had always did that before. It's just so natural to me, and I feel so in my element in these places at a profound level,  that I have been confirmed, day after day, that I was truly meant to live here. Everything happens for a reason, and I am sure that I am here for a precise reason, which will eventually unfold as I walk along my path.

When on Tuesday morning I awoke to a blue blue, cloudless sky and pleasant summer breeze, I decided out of the blue that it was the perfect day to visit Hidcote Manor Gardens, where I'd never been before. I had tried once last year with my hubby, but the weather was so horrible that in the end we gave up.
When you are your own boss, you can decide how you organize your time, and I love this aspect of my job, the freedom I have (which however, needs to be paired with strong discipline to have your work done on time!).

And following my own advice to always savor the journey instead of merely thinking of the destination, I enjoyed a most beautful drive along winding, narrow, country roads, all dotted in stone cottages and (mostly) yellow flowers. Beauty and Abundance were so easily perceivable that I could barely breathe and just had to give thanks at every turn of the road.

The roads became more and more narrow as I proceeded up and down the hills of Oxfordhire, across Warwickshire and entering Gloucestershire. When I finally arrived, stepping into Hidcote, you could easily hear me bubbling and giggling inside, full of thrill and anticipation...

... and ooh-ing and sighing at all of the beauty (I may have done it also not that silently and innerly more than once, I fear ;)).

There is such a special thrill when you explore new places, uh? And I didn't want to miss a single bit of inspiration along the way. So while everyone was rushing through this door to see the gardens with no further delay, I just stopped and let them go ahead, and fully enjoyed the simple, amazing beauty and peacefulness of this door open on to the woods.

The gardens themselves are such an awesome collection of "rooms", beautifully and cleverly designed by Lawrence Johnston in the 20th- century, and the National Trust (which now owns the property) did a very good job trying to preserve the original feel of a private garden (for example, by not adding plant labels).

But I confess, what really made me love this place were the unexpected views, the hidden corners...

... the purple, bold beauty of Allium at its peak...

... the unusual perspectives from which you can admire an object...

... the interesting mix of colors that could easily be those on a painter's palette (even if the tulips were already fading)...

... trying different angles to capture a scene...

... the hidden and scarcely noticed, the less traveled paths, the gardening tools left unattended here and there...

... the signs of animal life...

... the shades of blue...

... and the things that no one else was paying attention to.
When all of the crowd is looking in one direction, just turn 180° and look there instead! You can be tremendously surprised by what you can see.

This is the interior of two twin gazebos from which a stunning view of the gardens could be admired. But the gazebos themselves had such a voice to my ears, and no one was caring about them! About their faded colors contrasting with the bold, colored vaults, the cracks, the textures created by the passing of the years... the light that caressed the details, revealing love, care and exquisite taste and design.

The fading flowers that captured my attention with their beautiful imperfection...

... and the two friends happily chatting sitting on a bench, and catching up the wonderful sunshine like lizards, spoke to me of friendship, shared secrets, laughter and simple pleasures...

The gardeners at work under midday sunshine did not receive but questions about gardening, instead of heartfelt thank- yous for all of their hard work, sweat and tears to make that place so fabulous for all of us to enjoy! This shot reminds me to not take anything for granted.

And this one, that there is beauty and grace and value even in the things that the world considers without value. Look at the fantastic color combination of these bulbs that will end up in the compost bin- the shapes so neatly perceivable in this stage of their life, and the visual composition in the green rubber trug.

And this room just outside the kitchen garden... look, no one entered it during the half- an-hour time I spent in there, and when they did, just a few quick looks and then off they went, almost disappointed. And it shields such treasures, instead!

I was so charmed by all of the gardening tools and objects with memories attached, and carefully preserved to be admired by future generations.

The restaurant/ tea room decor was nothing short of beautiful. I loved the artsy writings on the wall and the stunning flower decorations- again, taken for granted by so many, and barely noticed.

People looked surprised by seeing me taking pictures of this cool and lovingly arranged corner. Didn't they have their eyes open?

In the end, may this post be just a little reminder to always look where no one else is looking, to move from a fixed point of view, change your own perspective, to notice the little things that others believe not to be worthy, to look for beauty and inspiration in the most unlikely places. They're right there if you only take a little time to stop and open. your. eyes.!!

That's me in the gardens- with a smiling heart! :)

Monica x