Where is the summer, the unimaginable / Zero summer?

Was on another long odyssey through the West Country, visiting remaining members of my mother’s extraordinary family. Great Auntie Betty and Rosemary mean I’ve now met 5 of the 13 siblings – and my research into the Cooper Clan deepens. And darkens. But on the way back I stopped off in beautiful Sidmouth to have another peek at Boswell Farm.

I’m so relieved to have found somewhere that can compare to the beatitude of Holy Island. And the course in November has some big shoes to fill. The five days on Holy Island last month were the best I’ve ever experienced. That group of students were so amazing – so inspiring and inspired. The Island does most of the work – but I also felt that it was the best teaching I ever did. Somehow, I didn’t feel like my normal worrying self was getting in the way, instead I just let go into the billows of the moment, surfing my way from person to person, responding not reacting. What joy.

There was a mountain climbed, a pot poured, Karma played and a tower built. I felt i was walking on sea-breezes for 10 days. But the warm, earth energies of Devon have started to work their magic on me now.

Sidmouth, the Regency resort a couple of miles from the Farm, is all seaside breeziness. I walked down the long, dappled parkway called the Byes that fringes the River Sid as it flows through the Devon countryside to the sea. And the the seafront is magical. A long promenade with deckchairs and real Devon Ice cream. I paddled in the ocean and toyed with the idea of skinny-dipping in the lulling, crystal clear water. Despite summer running to an end it was a hot day.

In the end I dozed in my deckchair and fed a gull my ice cream cone. Then walked back along the river to the farm cottages.

Boswell is run by a wonderful Pilates teacher who has lovingly restored these 16th century barns and stables into a courtyard of cottages, sequestered in a fold of the Devon countryside. Wisteria curls up into the blue sky and pears ripen against the brickwork. I can’t think of a more restful spot. Where Holy Island is all gusty gulls and wind, Boswell Farm seems to fold in onitself. It’s perfect for mediation – and (since the next course is going to be in November) it’s snuggly warm. All the cottages are insulated and heated and well equipped.

But it’s the countryside that really makes it. To get to the Old Kennels where the mediation will take place you have to walk up away from the cottages, winding up a hill, through a field. That sense of elevating yourself is a nice physical analogue of what happens in meditation. I can so imagine heading up there on a crisp November morning with ice-blue skies and chalky white fields.

I’m busy organising a local organic supplier so the food is all from the area and nutritious and Linda is bringing a magical-handed masseuse who will be tending to my meditators if it all gets too much. I can’t wait. I’m almost relishing the evenings curling in and the leaves going rusty. Roll on November.


  1. David O'Donnell

    September 8, 2006 at 7:52 pm

    I discovered you when BBC America came into my life and have loved
    watching you on Cash in the Attic—and now I find you’re just as eloquent and lovely
    in prose as on the screen! I can’t wait to read more.

  2. Peter Newman-Legros

    September 8, 2006 at 9:24 pm

    Apart from the thought of you skinny dipping – what a tease you are! – this description of a piece of heaven here on earth is supremely enticing. Your images are, as ever, a treat.

  3. Larry

    September 10, 2006 at 4:11 pm

    What type of camera do you use to take your photos? They are always so stunning with their vivid colors.

  4. Ben

    September 10, 2006 at 4:37 pm

    A blue telephone box? I must have it.

    Beautiful photos as ever, Mr A – like being splashed in the face with fruit punch.

  5. Ken Frantz

    September 10, 2006 at 5:14 pm

    Boswell farm looks and sounds fantastic! I agree that your
    photos are always great with vivid colors.

  6. st

    September 10, 2006 at 7:58 pm

    You find the most inspiring places to teach meditation
    that I don’t know how you can not open yourself up and
    soak in the engery and be at peace. The pictures make
    you want to visit Boswell farms, and I can just imagine
    smelling the sea and feeling the sea air hit my face as
    I type.

    Will you be adding the Burningturban to your contact list
    for future references?

    I was also wondering if you are close to releasing the DVD
    for “The Man Who Drank The Universe”, I am looking forward
    to watching your documentary on Ayahuasca.


  7. Pete

    September 13, 2006 at 11:42 pm

    Always enjoy reading your blog. Keep writing.


  8. Alan McKoy

    September 21, 2006 at 1:29 am

    I have been watching you on NZ tv “house doctor” and thought you were great. Then I read this article and which is brilliant. The experience you had and your spiritual search is something I envy. Keep living and searching and most of all sharing. Thanks

  9. Daniel Murray

    September 21, 2006 at 4:43 pm

    Dear Alistair:

    Oh…very nice photos. As I was reading along here, and enjoying the photos, I thought
    “hmmm….I wonder if he would ever consider putting on a little video clip here??”

    I was even thinking…my goodness…how fun to hear him talk about meditating on/in
    a video clip. (It could even be filmed on one of those little handheld — minutely jiggly — cams.

    Just a thought.

    Thanks Alistair.


  10. Brian

    September 24, 2006 at 5:02 am

    Hey, Al! Glad to have found your blog…

    I’ve watched your appearances on Cash in the Attic and Dr Who without even
    knowing you ever had a blog… lol… or reading about you or really knowing much
    about your life… I was very smitten to find that you were also (like me!)
    gay and buddhist.. which is flippin awesome.. On top of that, I’m also a writer, so I hope you visit my site
    and hear my podcast and read about me. Anyways, I know you’re probably busy
    but I wanted to drop u a line to tell you that your blog is amazing and rich with
    beautiful photographs (love em) and a great slice of your wonderful life. Keep teaching,
    and reaching out because you are definitely one of those brilliant little stars that
    are so few and far between, and you bring out the best in people, I can tell that just
    by reading a couple of years’ worth of your blog (well, not straight through, but
    skipping around, lol.) Keep up your life’s mission… and remember that every person
    you touch (like me) is what keeps you inspired and thriving to share more. Keep
    sharing and inspiring! Keep living your life and touching others and go on in your
    days knowing that your life’s purpose is to spread the spiritual word and the zest
    you have for life.

    Hugs from Texas!


  11. Donna

    September 27, 2006 at 9:22 pm

    Devon is a magical place isn’t it? I can’t believe the good weather we are continuing to
    have here either! Beautiful photos Alistair, thanks for sharing 🙂

  12. Thomas Norton

    October 5, 2006 at 4:57 am

    and then honestly, if you can an honest critique is needed,

    “My Love Goodnight”

    We met when I needed him most.
    And for that I loved him more.

    Days of ideas and ideals exchanged.

    It took time before we forgot time
    And allowed emotions to overcome our state.
    When he kissed me, my soul awoke!!
    I dared not move for loss of a single memory.
    How easy he was to love.
    With his eyes he could mend a strangers broken heart.
    His smile would tell me all I had never heard,
    All I needed to hear with words, he could never say,
    Or hear,
    for fear.

    Not a word spoken, not then, not ever.

    Yet thoughts spoke through simple eyes
    Honest feelings came to light with the touch of a hand.

    Time passed as time must, days and nights
    Carried into each other. I even hated to sleep
    for in those hours I would miss him…
    His touch lost to my dreams. Yet one comfort,

    My dreams did carry,
    There I would hear him yell,
    “I love you.”
    …words never spoken, though my heart longed to hear.
    We simply whispered, “Goodnight,” and let our
    Bodies speak the unspoken.

    Even when time passed faster than before
    And granted fewer chances ahead, he pleaded,
    Only Goodnight,
    …which I would do… and softly kiss his lips,
    Hold him close, hide my eyes and rest beside him.

    How easy he is to love.

    I can feel it all.
    His touch, kiss, warmth…
    I watched and I saw him fall
    No Earth to hold such a heart. No heart in all Heaven
    To sooth such a pain which life casts.
    And when he fell, his body shaken with fear,

    I lay by his side and touched his brow,
    Eyes distant,
    Reaching for compassion, I wept

    for here in my arms I held love in purist state

    And no comfort could my embrace bring.

    He softly kissed my lips and I held him so tight
    Wiped away his last tear fallen,
    And cried,
    “My love, Goodnight.”

    © Thomas {Thom} Norton. Ytd=1998@

  13. Rich

    October 10, 2006 at 3:24 pm

    Dude from cash in the attic and house doctor. Quite a cool website… not sure how i came acros it?!!!
    Keep up the good work. Day time TV rules!!!! (well it did when i was a student)
    Don’t think ‘ve got much in my attic… maybe dust.
    Is that worth much these days??? Dust… anybody? No? Dust?

  14. Vicky

    November 3, 2006 at 7:13 pm

    Wow, just read your piece in the Sidmouth Herald about your visit to Boswell Farm. Discovered the beauty of The Old Kennels years ago! Many visits with family over the years, then eventually moved down to experience the peace of unspoilt Sidmouth. Practiced yoga at the Kennels, it really is a fantastic place with lovely views. Hope you enjoy your time here! Just don’t tell everyone!

  15. Marcellie

    November 8, 2006 at 12:50 pm

    Hi there!
    You are gay.. I’m woman… you are buddhist… I’m Christian.. you are special person
    and I love you!!!
    God bless you always!

Leave a Reply