Iceland in the middle of winter

I made my first visit to the Arctic Circle (give or take a few 100km) and visited Iceland. If you’re going to visit Iceland, you might as well do it in the middle of December when the sun rises at 11am and sets a few hours later.

iceland

Throughout my visit I was frequently told how lucky I was with the weather

“it may well be -10 degrees – but at least you can see the sky and some light.”

“We’ve just had a month of wind, rain and darkness” – these were frequent refrains.

I should add on Saturday we went to an outdoor hot water spring. It sounded crazy to go in water outside when it’s so cold, but the water was very warm. I’ve never done that before on a Saturday night.

iceland-2

Ironically, I left during a snow-storm in England, which left the area around London, paralysed by an inch of snow. I’m sure the Icelanders would have coped better with a bit of snow. Continue Reading →

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The good life and a new vegetable plot

One of my favourite comedies when growing up was “The Good Life”. A warm-hearted satire on suburban life and the attempts of a middle-class couple to become self-sufficient growing potatoes and raising chickens in their back-garden. It was a funny comedy but also the idea of being self-sufficient was quite appealing as an idealistic teenager.

Well, I never did make the plunge of living on a self-sufficient organic farm. I don’t know whether being an economist counts as the good-life, but there’s only so many airplane flights you can buy with surplus beetroot.

Still the process of growing vegetables is something I’m going to have another go at.

veg-plot

It may not look much at the moment, but someday, there might be prize leeks growing here.

Continue Reading →

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Competitiveness and detachment

A few thoughts on the competitive spirit and the philosophy of detachment.


In Sri Chinmoy’s book on Emil Zatopek, he mentions an anecdote.

“Zatopek is sincerity incarnate. He has always given the topmost priority to truth in every aspect of his life. At times, his sincerity has been so soulfully moving. On the eve of the 1948 Olympics, his sincerity reached the highest height. “It was my first competition in Olympic Games and I was surprised to come to Olympic stadium and to read most important things about the Games: ‘Not to win but to take part’. What — not to win? Ah, but I wish to win!”

Emil Zatopek: earth’s tearing cry and Heaven’s beaming smile, Agni Press, 1980

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Belphegor’s prime

Belphegor’s prime is 1,000,000,000,000,066,600,000,000,000,001: a palindromic prime number with 666 in the middle and 13 0s on either side. It is named after Belphegor, one of the seven princes of hell.

Source: QI

In the western world, the number 13 is often considered an ‘unlucky’ number. But, Sri Chinmoy felt thirteen was a divine number (or words to that effect) – a number with special significance in his own life.

Many significant events in his lifetime became associated with the number 13. For example, his arrival in the West (New York) April 13th.


There are always so many ways of looking at the same thing.

In this case, we might think 13 and 666 are numbers representing ‘ignorance’

Alternatively, we can see the Creator’s hand in every aspect of life – hiding a few secret jokes, even in numbers.

If you take 13 as a divine number, you can see Belphegor’s prime as an example of how World ignorance (represented by 666) is perfectly surrounded by the divine.

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Trick or Treat – no thanks!

When I was a child I used to enjoy the annual ‘trick or treat’. Our friendly neighbours would give us sweats, chocolate and, best of all, money. As a child, I thought this was great!

trick-or-treat

Now, 30 years later, and I’m on the other side of the door – and I have to admit I’m very bad. On trick or treat night, I turn out the lights and pretend to be out! I feel like a modern day scrooge, because I don’t want to answer the door and give away my Kit-Kats or money.

One of the laws of the universe is – “as you give so shall your receive”. Continue Reading →

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Garden late October 2017

It’s late October but still quite mild.  Some critics may say grass needs cutting but I’m walking on it a lot so don’t want to cut too low.

These bright pink flowers seem slightly out of place in mid-Autumn, but I’m not complaining. They have had a second spurt and look very colourful. 

View up the garden. Continue Reading →

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