Where do you go to, my lovely?

Counting sheep never does it for me. When I waken in the night and can’t get back to sleep then I need to stop my mind becoming too active. I need something to soothe it, a place where my mind can wander. With our renovation work, I’ve been waking at all hours and before I’m even aware of it I’m pondering all the different finishes that door knobs come in and wondering just how much longer the brackets for the veranda posts are going to take.

In the past, my strategy was to divert my thoughts to Cloverdale. Although it was tenanted from almost the moment we bought it, we had stayed in it a couple of times and so I would let my mind walk around its rooms. I would try to remember what the tiles on the fireplace looked like and what the view from a certain room was, and in no time at all I’d be fast asleep again. It’s different now I live here and it occupies all my waking thoughts. Now I wake up in a sweat and think: oh my god, I’ve forgotten to order the tap for the laundry! (It’s the small stuff…).

Thinking of being somewhere else seems to lead me back to sleep. I’ve imagined myself wandering through my childhood home or tried to remember the details of my daily walk to school and while that often worked, once I’d done it a couple of time I didn’t particularly want to do it again. Whereas I seemed able to imagine myself walking through Cloverdale endlessly. It was my dream  home on many levels.

Moving to Cloverdale meant coming up with another go-to place to soothe a restless mind. It was surprisingly easy. Our last big trip before Covid struck was to South America and it started with what they call an expedition cruise to Antarctica. Although wary of the whole notion of a cruise, it was a revelation. The beautiful little ship ticked all my design boxes (hybrid propulsion, chic Scandinavian design, eco-everything), and there wasn’t a single poker machine or nightclub to be found. I adored every moment on it. So it’s been the MS Roald Amundsen that my mind has returned to repeatedly, finding the quiet nook in the lounge where I’d write my daily journal, retracing my steps up to the top deck to view the passing icebergs, and even exploring all the different storage places in the cabin. Much better than counting sheep. I soon fall back to sleep.

Our dreams show that we can go anywhere in our minds. But one I used to have regularly really made me question the connection between dream and reality. It seems, perhaps, appropriately spooky for this time for year.

I was just thirty when my best friend died. We’d been soul mates virtually from the moment we met at school. We could talk for days and never run out of things to say, and no one could make me laugh like he did. His loss shook my foundations and changed the direction of my life. For the first year after his death, I would often encounter him in my dreams. He would be lying in a bed, as he had in the last months of illness, distressed and in pain. Thankfully the dreams began to change but they were still discomforting. I would meet him in strange places, like a deserted carpark or a school playground where it was often drizzly and grey, and he’d tell me how sad he felt. I would wake up feeling such fresh grief. But then, we started meeting in a lush green space very like the beautiful parkland of Studley Royal next to Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire.

Studley Royal (thanks Flickr puffin11k)

This was a place we’d often gone to when we both lived in Harrogate. In my dreams it was always sunny and our meetings were lovely things. We’d laugh and talk as we always had. He seemed happy and I would wake feeling as though I’d just spent a marvellous time with him again.

One night, though, we were chatting as we walked along a broad gravelled pathway through the idyllic landscape. I was suddenly aware of a pair of figures passing us. One wore a hooded garment, like a monk’s, his face hidden, and the other… Well, as they passed he turned and smiled back at me, and I thought: oh, that’s David, a friend of Anthony’s. It was odd enough for me to make a note of it in my journal when I woke up, and notable because I barely knew him and didn’t expect him to pop up in a dream. I’d met him only a handful of times, after all.

A week later, Anthony heard that David had taken his own life. He was in his late twenties and had always seemed such an upbeat fellow. It was awful news. I was shaken again, though, when I learned that he had killed himself on the night I’d seen him in that lovely park.

There, I told you it was spooky.

(The Guardian webpage)

To lighten the mood, here’s a lovely cartoon by Stephen Collins about the difference between Halloween in American and Britain. (I was introduced to it by the talented illustrator Nick Tankard, whose work is worth checking, too.)

So where do you go to, my lovelies, when you’re alone in your bed?

Categories: memoir, Other, Travel, WritingTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Sounds like the loss of your friend at such a young age still haunts you, even if some of the memories must be fond. Like you, I revisit much-loved places in my mind to drift away during the mid-night wakings (not always successfully). I love retracing imaginary steps through places we have lived and trying to recall specific details. Although the year after we sold our house in France and moved to Switzerland, I kept dreaming that we were back in the house, illegally, and the new owner was about to catch us. Guess I hadn’t yet given up that ghost. Counting sheep would be counter-productive as I hear the clang of their bells at night and try to think of something else to fall back asleep!

    • Treasured memories so the grief never goes… Love the idea of you squatting in your old place. I wonder if you’ll do the same when you move to the new place? I can sympathise with the bells. The night we spent in your neck of the woods, I slept so badly due to the clanking of bells all night long outside my window (cows, not sheep, though). I’m sure they were doing pilates or something in the dark. Swiss nightlife is definitely different!

  2. If I wake up and my mind is a sack filled with fighting rats. I know I just have to wait for them to stop. Concentrating on my breathing usually helps. I’ve never wandered through houses in my mind while trying to get to sleep although houses I have lived in do figure in my dreams. Recently my main anxiety dreams have switched from the usual exam ones to being surrounded by boxes and knowing I’ve got to move and thinking I’ve got more time than I think. Then being told ‘No, you have to go now,’ and knowing I’m not going to be able to take everything I want. After those dreams the rats in a sack are quite relaxing!

    • I felt so anxious after reading this that I had to lie down. Unfortunately I had a dream of rats in a sack… I was going to say that I seldom have anxiety dreams but then, last night, I turned up at a work thing, realising I hadn’t prepared a single word of a speech I was going to give. I blame you. Dreaming of houses is much more calming…

      • Oh, Colin … the horror, the horror and sorry! There’s a memory thing isn’t there about placing things you’re trying to remember in certain rooms of a house in your mind. They used that in the Sherlock series but I think it’s based on a classical writer. I’ve never really understood how it works but have always been interested in it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

La petite musique des vendredis

Le blog culturel d'Hélène Cascaro- arts visuels, cinéma, patrimoine, artisanat d'art, architecture,...


This WordPress.com site is the bee's knees

Avisha Rasminda

Hi, I'm Avisha Rasminda Twenty-Two years old, Introduce Myself As A Author , Painter , A Poet.

Ananda Only

an empty space between silence & stillness

A r e w e t h e r e y e t ?

Diversions, detours and discoveries

Nick Alexander

Author of Perfectly Ordinary People, From Something Old, The Road to Zoe, You Then Me Now, Things We Never Said, The Bottle of Tears, The Other Son, The Photographer's Wife, The Half-Life of Hannah, the 50 Reasons Series. And more...

Dr David T Evans, OBE NTF PFHEA RN(T)

Sexual health matters! It really does!

Dr. Eric Perry’s Blog

Motivate | Inspire | Uplift

Cole Moreton

Writer and broadcaster, Interviewer of the Year for the Mail, winner of Radio Academy gold with BBC Radio 4


British Wildlife & Photography

Place, Plots and Plans

The PlaceMatt Blog

viewer site

Barbara Heath & Malcolm Enright - our viewer site blog

kirilson photography

the stories behind the pictures, and vice versa

Not-So-Modern Girl

Thoughts of a twenty-something girl navigating her way one blog post at a time

Anthony Hillin

Training, Facilitation and Policy development

Notes from the U.K.

Exploring the spidery corners of a culture and the weird stuff that tourist brochures ignore.


T.V/Movie News & Reviews

SAVING OUR TREES - Marrickville municipality

Community Tree Watch - working to protect healthy public trees in Marrickville municipality from inappropriate removal


Film Score Reviews by Jonathan Broxton since 1997

A life in books

Book news, reviews and recommendations

150 great things about the Underground

An unofficial birthday salute to a public transport titan

Mistakes & Adventures

What I've always wanted


Literary Geography

UNSW Built Environment's Blog

Information from students and staff at Built Environment at the University of New South Wales, Sydney Australia.

joe moran's words

on the everyday, the banal and other important matters

The Back Road Chronicles

Curious soul...and it makes me wanna take the back roads!


My occasionally weird life in France

Wee Notions

Notes on a napkin

Philip Butler Photography

Architecture & Observations

Susie Trexler

Secret Knowledge of Spaces

Rebecca Renner

Welcome to Gator Country

kidlat habagat

Portraits of Urban life


DynamicStasis is basically an attempt to think about and discuss integrity, beauty, and delight - in architecture and elsewhere.

%d bloggers like this: