Tag: what is love

The Day Of Love – Valentine’s Day


Tomorrow is the day of love – Valentine’s Day.

I know Valentine’s Day is about romantic love, but being fascinated by the origins of things we take for granted, I discovered that the history of Valentine’s Day is rather obscure, and clouded by all sorts of legends.

The holiday’s roots lie in the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, a fertility celebration commemorated annually on February 15. But Pope Gelasius I changed the pagan festival into a Christian feast day, declaring February 14 the day to celebrate the memory of St. Valentine, a Christian martyr. But which St. Valentine is supposed to be honoured isn’t clear as there were about a dozen of them, the name being a popular one during the fourteenth century. There was even a Pope Valentine.

The festival used to begin when members of the Luperci, an order of Roman priests, gathered at the sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or Lupa. The priests would sacrifice a goat for fertility, and a dog for purification. They would then strip the goat’s hide into strips, dip them into the sacrificial blood and take to the streets, gently slapping both women and crop fields with the goat hide. Far from being fearful, Roman women welcomed the touch of the hides because it was believed to make them more fertile in the coming year. Later in the day, according to legend, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city’s bachelors would each choose a name and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. The matches often ended in marriage.

But, in fact, the medieval English poet Geoffrey Chaucer may have invented Valentine’s Day as we understand it today. Chaucer did what many historical romance fiction writers of today do – he often placed his poetic characters into fictitious historical contexts that he represented as real.

Around 1375 Chaucer wrote a poem, “Parliament of Foules,” in which he links a tradition of romantic love with the celebration of St. Valentine’s feast day. No record exists of romantic celebrations on Valentine’s Day prior to his poem, that received widespread attention. The poem refers to a belief commonly held, especially in France and England, that February the 14th was the beginning of birds’ mating season. His line from the poem, “For this was sent on Seynt Valenteyne’s day / Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate,” is supposed to be the reason for the invention of the holiday as we know it today.

We know that Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages. But written Valentine’s only started to appear after 1400.

Charles, Duke of Orleans, while imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1415 following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt, wrote a poem to his wife. It is the oldest known Valentine still in existence today.  (The greeting is now part of the manuscript collection of the British Library in London, England.)


Today, Valentine’s greeting cards rival the amount of cards sent out at Christmas.

Telling people we love them is so important

View from Table Mountain

My family live in several countries around the world, which I guess is quite normal for families these days. It doesn’t stop me loving them the same as I have always done.

One of my sisters celebrated her birthday recently. She lives in Cape Town and leads a crazy busy life, but I managed to get her on the other end of a phone over the weekend. It’s always wonderful to catch up with her and to hear news of the rest of the family. She told me all about how great her birthday was, the lovely gifts she’d received, the dinner, and she told me how she went up Table Mountain via cable car with her whole family. They stayed there until eight o’clock in the evening, taking pictures of the setting sun. She said that was the best gift of all – having all her family with her to enjoy the views with her. She promised to send me photos, and I fell in love with the one accompanying this blog, which shows part of the cable car and the views of Cape Town below, the sea and Robben Island in the distance.

At the end of our conversation, I told my sister that I loved her very much, not only as my sister but also as my friend. She said my words created a cozy warmth around her heart.

Her reaction reminded me once again how important it is that we tell the people in our lives that we love them. Often we assume they know how we feel about them, and I’m sure they do, but it’s so important to say it, especially when they’re still around to hear it. Life is so short.

In the end, isn’t it what we all want – to be accepted and loved unconditionally for who are, warts and all?

What does the beautiful autumn mean to you?


I saw this beautiful autumn tree on one of my recent walks in the park near my home, and just had to take a picture of it. It looks as though the tree has spent all summer absorbing all the colours of the sun, only to give it back as a thank you just before it sheds its leaves for winter.


I love all seasons, but Autumn is special – it’s filled with a kind of excitement for me – perhaps because there’s a crispness in the air and a very definite change in nature, or maybe it’s because it’s getting to the end of the year. This is the time of the year when I like to look back to see how many of my dreams came true. l also take a look forward to the next year, and to set myself some new dreams. It’s a game I play with myself every year. Most years I’m blown away by how many things I’d achieved and how many wonderful people I’d met.


I’m curious to know if other people do this, too?


Journey to Hong Kong


I’m a traveller. I LOVE visiting other countries, other cultures, other peoples, as in my recent journey to Hong Kong.

But travelling isn’t only the physical acts of booking a holiday, booking the flights, hotels, cars, etc., packing a bag, arriving at the airport and checking in on the right day at the right time. Nor is it the anticipation and the excitement that precedes the journey.

No, journeys are far more important. A journey is also an emotional and spiritual expansion. That, more than anything, is what fascinates me about travelling.

We change and grow and evolve from moment to moment, of course. Each interaction with another leaves us forever changed. But nothing speeds up our growth and expansion in the way that travelling to another part of the world does, at least for me.

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Years ago, I lived in Hong Kong for nearly eight wonderfully crazy years. That was more than eighteen years ago, now. But I had an opportunity to spend Christmas 2015 there, and became enthralled again by its unexpected beauty among the many high rises, the glittering gems of its many lights at night, its otherworldliness, its uncommon smells, its fast paced materialism, and its perpetual spirituality. Hong Kong remains, for me, a contradiction, a mystery, a home.

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The day before I was to return to the UK, I had an opportunity to visit the big Buddha. Talk about journeys! I went with my husband and members of his family by cable car, and that journey alone was worth the effort of getting there. It felt as though we were leaving Hong Kong far behind as we travelled over a vast area of unspoilt trees and vegetation far below us. A small footpath snaked through the undergrowth where, every now and then, a brightly coloured speck was the only evidence of brave souls venturing towards the big Buddha on foot.

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For us, the cable car journey went on, and on, over several hills until finally, there stood the Buddha, enshrouded in a light mist, a guardian over Hong Kong, hands extended in blessing before him. It was a breathtaking and otherworldly vision, indeed, which intensified the nearer we went.

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En route, through the small shopping centre, where all sorts of Buddha paraphernalia could be bought as treasures to take home, a small theatre presented shows about Buddha’s life and philosophy.


Then, after the long walk, where sacred cows approached the tourists for snacks, we encountered the many steps that lead up to the big Buddha’s statue, the steps, a symbol perhaps of the effort it takes to reach enlightenment. I was certainly winded and relieved to reach the top.

The atmosphere around the statue was surprisingly serene despite the hordes of tourists visiting the place. By the time we left, I felt thoroughly imbued with a sense of calm, peace, and renewed strength for whatever the journey of 2016 might bring, and a serene kind of happiness that made me smile at strangers for no apparent reason.

Afterwards, on the way back down to the cable car, I had the opportunity to add my wishes and prayers to the prayer tree that 2016 will be a wonderful year for us all in the Year of the Fire Monkey.

But once home in London, I wanted the feeling of peace, contentment and happiness to continue, and came upon a book I felt might be able to help me to not only understand it, but to sustain it. The book is called “Happiness, a guide to developing life’s most important skill.” It was written by Matthieu Ricard.

A scientist turned Buddhist monk, Matthieu Ricard presents interesting points and words of wisdom on the state of happiness – well worth a read, and it does not matter whether or not you are a Buddhist – I am not – or even harbour spiritual beliefs.


Basically, the book is a reminder of the fact that we get so entangled and bogged down in our journey towards whatever it is we think will make us happy, that we often can’t find it. But the irony is that happiness is an internal job – a state of mind – and not at all dependent on anything external. A great reminder, indeed.

Happiness, I find, is rather a good goal to have for 2016!

This is the second vlog in which I respond to readers’ questions on The Healing Touch.

I have received so many questions about the spiritual aspects in the novel that I have decided to split the responses into different parts.

This is the first part:

This is the first vlog in which I endeavour to answer readers’ questions about The Healing Touch. More to follow…

What is love?

What is love? That was the most searched for phrase on Google in 2012. It has dropped to third place in 2014. What is Ebola and ALS claimed first and second spots in 2014.

But it remains an interesting question, doesn’t it? What is love? It fills me with hope in our turbulent times that people are still searching for love. It confirms what I have always suspected; that no matter the person’s behaviour, at the bottom of everything is the fact that we all just want to be loved for who we really are. We want acceptance and the perfect feeling of ‘home’ that only love can give us.

It is also the reason for so many romance novels. Not that romance is the only form of love. But it is the one we seem to strive for the most.

In my debut novel, The Healing Touch, the heroine, Isabelle, loves three men deeply, but in very different ways. Based on real events in my life, writing The Healing Touch, was a deeply cathartic experience. And I’m delighted that readers have already been in contact to confirm that reading it has helped them, too. I could not ask for more than that.

At the beginning of The Healing Touch, we find Isabelle:

Isabelle switched off the tablet. The book was finished. She simply had to write this book.

She had no idea what category or genre it would come under, but she knew one hundred percent, that it would help others in a similar position. Even if it did not, it had helped her, healed her, made life make sense again.

After her colleague, dear friend, and much loved soul-brother had died unexpectedly, aged only thirty-three, her life had changed forever. She had felt so low, and life was utterly without point, that she had seriously contemplated checking out, not necessarily to be with him, but what was the point of it all?

Of course, the book could not exist without the people in her life who affected her day-to-day existence so profoundly.

James, who had transitioned where she could not follow, had, before he left, inspired her to strive for new horizons in friendship and in her career. Together, they had worked on two very important performance pieces, both of which she wanted to finish. She believed they were great and important works of art, and through their existence, he would continue to live in this world for as long as she did.

Victoria, her long-time friend and confidante, had become her trusted colleague as she created the music for these two projects. Victoria shared the secrets and sadness that James’s leaving had left behind, with dignity and reverence.

Simon was her husband of twenty-two years. They shared a strangely close bond, even though they had not shared intimacy or any kind of relationship for many years. He felt like an old shoe, comfortable, worn smooth where it otherwise might have chafed, but without the excitement of anything more stylish, more alive, more life affirming or expanding. Their non-existent physical relationship had instead become the thing that chafed, and the chafing had become unbearable.

Angelo was her delicious Greek lover, who had appeared in her life at exactly the right time. Throughout her marriage, Isabelle had never even looked at another man. But the lack of physical intimacy eventually became too much for a sensual woman like Isabelle. When she had to have her car repaired and Angelo, with his dangerous good looks and magnetic personality, turned out to be the mechanic who “healed” her car, she wondered if he could heal her, too. With the encouragement of several of her friends, she boldly approached him, surprised when he confirmed that he would be delighted to be her special friend. But now, a year later, their relationship had turned into the red-hot passionate love affair she had only ever read about.

Angelo had encouraged her to write the book, primarily so they could raise money to buy their own place. It was their little joke, of course. But writing the book had brought so many unexpected insights, not only into the people who shared her life, but it also gave her a rare opportunity to glimpse inside her own soul.

James was right when he told her once “…we don’t meet people by accident. They are really meant to cross our path for a reason.”


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