Famous quotes

Inspiring women.

 

Husband and I get a big welcome in Nepal Every day, I meet amazing and interesting women.  I can’t believe my luck.  In they come, through The Potting Shed gate day after day and tell me stories of what they’re doing,  the causes they support and the projects that need help.  They link me to others who are following their passion and working quietly away to improve life for others.  They make sure I know about and help spread the word on coal action meetings, book launches and fundraising events like the Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia event last week at Dirty Janes Emporium. They introduce me to friends and artists who are making and designing things and of the whereabouts of local growers who need an outlet.   Like all the seriously committed participants in this weekend’s Relay for Life, they pass the baton on, and keep money rolling in for all sorts of charities, large and small.   The depth and breadth of this womanly network is astonishing.  It’s not the corporate ‘Linked In’ kind of network.  It’s the word of mouth, we need you to get involved kind of network. Activists, philanthropists, idea makers, influencers and toilers. All pulling their weight. All taking their turn at the wheel.  It is like a giant bee hive buzzing with purposeful life and endless energy.  And so I thought I would share some of their stories from time to time here on this blog.

First up, here’s a letter from a new friend and customer at The Potting Shed, Margie Thomas who inspires me with her passion for the Australian Himalayan Foundation.

Dear Maureen,

In August I’m heading off on a fund raising trek for the Australian Himalayan Foundation. We’ll be crossing the mighty Kali Gandaki river numerous times, trekking over a number of high altitude passes up to 4,500 metres, and riding Tibetan ponies through countryside that is unchanged, and reminiscent of rural Tibet 1,000 years ago. This will be quite an arduous adventure for someone who is 62-years-young.

The Australian Himalayan Foundation is dedicated to helping people of the Himalaya through improvements in education, healthcare, and conservation. Not to mention special projects like the innovative Himalayan Art Award and supporting the Snow Leopard Conservancy. Check out www.australianhimalayanfoundation.org.au for more detailed information. Or jump on this link to my fundraising page: http://makingadifference.gofundraise.com.au/page/ThomasML

I’m making a difference and fundraising for a cause that’s close to my heart. I’d appreciate any contribution, big or small. Donations made through this platform are secure and will be remitted directly through to my charity of choice.  It’s worth noting that donations are tax deductible.  Thanks so much for your support!

Margie

So I asked Margie for more information and here it is:

Maureen here you go … info on the pony trek to the ancient and remote walled city of Lo Manthang in Upper Mustang. There are only a few places left on this one-off journey. The concert by Tenzin Choegyal will be quite mind blowing. You can spend as much or as little time as you want on the ponies which are really fun. One gentleman walked the entire trip last August. 

Good on you Margie … and thanks for including the pics of the buckwheat crop in flower and the spectacular rhododendron garlands … to fit in with my ‘gardening’ theme.  Ever thoughtful!

If you’d like to join this amazing trek, contact Margie on  0418 457 152 or via email at mrsweare@gmail.com. You can download a pdf of the tour itinerary here – Upper Mustang Pony Trek or scroll down for the Trek highlights.

 

Margie is PICTURED ABOVE WITH her HUSBAND GARRY WEARE (AUTHOR OF 4 EDITIONS OF LONELY PLANET’S GUIDE BOOK “TREKKING IN THE INDIAN HIMALAYA” AND DEPUTY CHAIRMAN OF THE AUSTRALIAN HIMALAYAN FOUNDATION) being welcomed with RHODODENDRONS.  

Chorten and snow capped peaks _MG_2413 Grain crop in flower -Upper Mustang Mustang Aug 2013 397 Upper Mustang Pony Trek with the Australian Himalayan Foundation August 2014

Meet up with Stan Armington and Tenzin Choegyal in Lo Manthang. Our 2nd departure will be accompanied by Lindsay Brown, Conservation Biologist and former Publishing Manager of trekking guides at Lonely Planet, Lindsay now treks, jeeps, rides and stumbles across many a mountain pass while writing and photographing for Lonely Planet’s Nepal, Bhutan, India, and Pakistan and the Karakoram Highway guides, among others. Mustang is a wildly beautiful region of Nepal. It is culturally and geographically part of Tibet, and was until about 20 years ago, closed to the world. Tourism is still strictly controlled and limited. The Australian Himalayan Foundation and Adventure Associates invite you on the trek of a lifetime to remote Upper Mustang and the ancient and fascinating walled city of Lo Manthang.

‘Authentic Tibetan culture survives only in exile in a few places like Mustang, which has had long historical and cultural ties with Tibet.’ HH Dalai Lama

Trip highlights

 A unique itinerary devised by the legendary Stan Armington

 Hear musician Tenzin Choegyal perform a special concert for the locals inside the ancient walled city of Lo Manthang.

 Trek beneath some of the world’s most dramatic mountains

 Experience a breath-takingly beautiful high altitude desert and the world’s deepest valley

 Visit ancient gomphas, abandoned forts and maybe a nomad camp

 Visit the extraordinary Chosar caves and Mustang’s oldest Gompha, Lo Gekar

 Spend time in the 15th century Thubchen gompha – arguably one of the world’s great rooms.

 

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A good read.

sissinghurst-aerial2Every morning I start my day very early,  pull on my jeans and boots and go straight out to walk the dogs, unlock the duckhouse and check there have been no disasters during the night. Then after feeding and checking everyone I come in, make a huge pot of tea and sit at the kitchen table with my toast and jam and read a chapter or two of whatever book is nearby. I generally have several books on the go at the same time, and dip in and out of them depending on my mood. At the moment I’m re-reading Sissinghurst – an Unfinished History by Adam Nicolson (grandson of Vita Sackville West and Harold Nicolson). It is beautiful, poetic, wonderful. He is a marvellous writer. It’s one of my favourites because a. I’ve always loved the books and poetry of Vita Sackville West and b. having visited this lovely castle and its gardens years ago, I can visualise all the places Adam talks about.  I remember well exploring all the grounds, the moat, the nuttery and the famous White Garden with my brother Peter. We climbed the stairs of the tower to Vita’s room overlooking the gardens, and soaked in the beauty of every corner of this beautiful place.  It was an experience I will never forget because this home has such an interesting history and has been home to a truly fascinating family. view from tower vitas room 2In the book Adam talks about restoring Sissinghurst to the working farm he remembers as a child with farmers bringing in crops of hay and hops, yards alive with cattle and sheep, the sound of tractors in the early morning fog and the hustle and bustle of a real farm, as it used to be. And so he puts a proposal to the National Trust, to do just that. To turn Sissinghurst into an organic farm that would supply the cafe and shop, that would sell produce to Sissinghurst visitors, and bring the land back to life.the moat   This morning as I read I thought you would love this descriptive passage:  “You only had to look at it to see that an organic system here, one that rested the land from time to time in fertility-building leys, which restored organic matter to these lifeless soils, was the only way this sceme could go. Organic was the obvious and default option. Only in one place did Phil’s (the consultant hired for the project by NT) face light up. Just outside the restaurant, in the Cow Field, where the dairy herd had always been turned out after milking, I dug Phil’s spade in. If you had been watching it in slow motion, you would have seen, with my first plunge, its worn and shiny leading edge slicing down into the green of the spring grass, slowly burying the full body of the blade in the earth and travelling on beyond it so that the spade came to rest with the ground level an inch up the shaft. Nothing wrong with that. I sliced out a square of turf and lifted it over. A delicious tweedy-brown crumbling soil appeared, a Bolognese sauce of a soil, rich and deep, smelling of life. Inside the small square trench, juicy beefsteak worms writhed in the sunlight. here was James Stearns’s ‘best bit of dirt on the farm’, the stuff in which he had said we could grow anything we liked. ‘It’s got to be the veg patch, hasn’t it?’ Phil said. Smiles all over his face. Peter Dear, the NT warden, came with his dog, and the three of us lay down on the grass there, looking across the Low Weald to the north-east, chatting about the birds, and how they loved the game crop in Lower Tassells. There were two larks making and remaking their song high over Large Field below us. How could we ensure the new farm was as friendly to birds as that? It was a moment when I felt I could see something of the future, that slow, exploratory, otter-like feeling, which you recognise only as it rises to the surface inside you, that an idea might be one worth having.”

Don’t you just love that last line … “that slow, exploratory, otter-like feeling” … which we’ve all experienced when we’ve had a worthwhile idea.  But who of us could put it into words quite like that!  You can order from Amazon here: Sissinghurst – an Unfinished History I generally order ‘used’ books from Amazon or Book Depository, yet often they arrive as brand new books for as little as $2 plus postage.   All that brilliance for $2. Who wouldn’t want to get up a wee bit earlier to soak up a few good chapters.

Sissinghurst_unfinished

The secret garden.

Our little shop, The Potting Shed, is located in a driveway between two large old buildings.  One houses Dirty Janes Emporium, which displays a large collection of vintage furniture and antiques – wonderful pieces from Europe, UK and America – sofas, sideboards, lamps, dining tables, hall tables, vintage clothing and so on.  You walk off the main street into this lovely shop and through to the back section which leads you down a set of steps and onto a landing which looks across to the other building, the Dirty Janes Antique Market, where over 70 stall holders sell more vintage and antique treasures. As you leave the shop on the main street you see from the staircase The Potting Shed spread out below.  Yesterday, as I was arranging some new plants that had arrived, I heard from above two little girls who had followed their mothers onto the landing.  “Oh, it’s a beautiful garden!” gasped one. “And with flowers!” said the other.  “It’s so lovely”, said the first, “let’s go and look”.  And they skippety skipped their way down the stairs and around my little shop oohing and aahing at this pretty flower and that.  The delight that filled my heart in this moment could not have been greater had I won a grand prize at the Chelsea Flower Show.  To hear these sweet remarks, so spontaneous and joyful was, for me, pure bliss. That in this modern world children still love a garden and enjoy its beauty is indeed comforting, and I am driven to bring even more of nature’s bounty to this previously industrial alleyway.  And to share that love of gardening around.

 

“The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies.”

Gertrude Jekyll

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Thought for the day.

Peony urn“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.” – Rumi

I feel this was written for me.  I have long been pulled by a love of nature. Since I was a little girl I have loved the beauty of flowers and gardens and birds and animals and all things natural. What do you really love?  Go into a bookshop and see where you land.  That will usually tell you where your passion lies.