One of the most difficult things for me in these days is the absence of beauty.
I've always been a bit of a monster about my need for a particular kind of 'beauty'. It's necessary for me to be happy, somehow. And it's not about skin-tone or weight, it's not about fashion. For me, it's just all about my environment. A favourite beach, an old chair on a wooden verandah, a pier, or a view.
My history is littered with places found and colonised by myself ... and back home, in New Zealand, there were dogs too.
Belgium has challenged me. In NZ I was known for not liking brick houses. Not at all despite them being a sensible option. They felt wrong to me. There's a lot of brick here in Flanders. Our house is brick however the Belgian bloke did paint the walls so that we live in a space filled with various shades of yellow through into terracotta.
And in all of the places I've lived there's been that place I would run away to. The place that somehow restored my soul. I don't know how to describe it. It's a need not dissimilar to my need for music, perhaps. I have a 17 song playlist that creates some kind of 'space' for me when I work.
I like what I like and it's looking more and more like I'm particular.
And so here, in this incredibly industrial city, located on the crossroads of Europe I struggle. But I had found a variation of wandering. I discovered the blog of Mystic Vixen - created by Elizabeth Duvivier, and she took me wandering with her and her dogs, via her words and her images.
But it's been summer, she bought a house too, she organised some massive international gatherings ... I've missed her.
I also wandered with Nina Bagley, over on her blog called Ornamental. But it's been summer and Nina, like Elizabeth, has been busy. And so there's been no virtual dog wandering out there in Nature via my Plan B escape routes.
So I thought, 'Okay Di, if it's that important to you, why not write what you want to read? Go find it here in the city.'
But I can't. And it's so very frustrating. I've been home here in Antwerp for a few months now. Here, where there's no dog and where Nature is somehow smothered so that I struggle to walk in that beautiful park where the 'mist' from the massive international highway next door wraps itself around trees and softens vistas.
And I know this seems so very negative and yet it's my truth and so I think it's okay for me to write of it.
Anyway, I'm sure of my ability to find those places. I've been doing it for years and have become an expert at finding that space my soul needs. I'll keep searching because oh how I miss it.
Don't be surprised if you read it here one day, Di got a dog and life is good.
The photograph was taken at Hunter and Claire's place ... down in Manapouri. In Fiordland, New Zealand. I went out walking one morning, amongst the trees Hunter has planted over years. The light, the air, the birdsong. It was quietly spectacular.