What’s in a name?

I never liked my own name when I was growing up. Other friends’ names seemed much ‘cooler’ and less old fashioned. I knew Rachel was a name in the Bible and that didn’t help. I wished I had a name like Mandy, Sally or even Jackie and worst of all I didn’t even have a middle name. I guess my parents ran out of ideas by the time they got to number five! So upset by this omission, I gave myself a middle name and for a few years I was ‘Rachel Mandy Reay’ – if anyone asked. To cap it all one teenage boyfriend told me my surname didn’t have enough syllables to be respectable. His was Buchanan!

Giving out or choosing names is a big responsibility. As I grew up Rachel didn’t seem such a bad name – I got used to it. Over the years I have puzzled over names for pets, followed by the joy of picking names for our own children. This was even more complicated as the names had to be agreed by two of us and they mustn’t include names of former boyfriends or girlfriends…

One thing I’ve never done until recently is give a name to a house. All our homes had numbers, although the last one also had a name. It was called ‘The White House’ – not because it had large pillars or an American flag but because it was painted white. But after we’d sandblasted the paint back down to red bricks the name didn’t fit anymore, so we just stuck with the number.

This Spring after a long search we bought a new home in Devon. It’s not a new house, but it’s new to us. It isn’t even a house really – it’s a barn. After several weeks of trailing back and forth and working on the garden and setting up the furnishings, we often referred to it as ‘the Barn’ and we could have simply called it that. But we wanted to invest a little more of ourselves, our hopes, dreams and history into this home, which we hope will be a place to welcome friends and family and even strangers.

We had several evenings of brainstorming names and batting them around for views from the family. ‘Farmer’s Den’ was ruled out early on and so were many popular ‘seaview’ options. After all it is a barn so we decided that should be in the name. We talked about our dreams and what was at the heart of all the journeys we’ve been on so far as a couple and as a family. We love wild places and wild activities, we like space and freedom and we love God. When the name was first mentioned it was so obvious, we knew it was right. Wild Goose Barn was chosen.

Why Wild Goose Barn? Here’s a bit of thinking behind the name, with thanks to a diligent researcher Simon Farmer.

Wild geese are inspiring birds. They can live to 30 years or more. They travel huge distances in migration and are often seen in ‘V’ formation. Geese are flocking birds reflecting a sense of community. This is something we’ve been enjoying in this special part of Devon with the local village, the church and the friendship in the Dolphin Inn. It was here we met a friendly agricultural engineer who came to help us with our ageing mower, while others passed on tips about the best wild swimming spots and generally made us feel at home.

When a Goose flies, its wings create ‘uplift’ for the bird following. By flying in a ‘V’ formation the whole flock actually adds 71% greater flying range than if a bird was on its own. Whenever a Goose falls out of formation it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to fly alone and so quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the Goose immediately in front. When the lead Goose gets tired it rotates back into the formation and another Goose flies at the point position. Finally, while geese fly in formation they make quite a noise sometimes as they honk from behind. This isn’t just a random noise but these sounds are their way of encouraging those up front to keep going and keep up their speed.

Devon has wild geese passing through and shortly after choosing the name we spotted a flock of geese flying in formation one evening. We watched as they changed course and flew directly overhead to continue their journey towards the sea into the setting sun. It was almost as if they were giving us a fly past of approval.

In the old days domesticated geese would have been kept around the barn. The Greylag is the ancestor of most domesticated geese. It is the largest and bulkiest of the wild geese native to UK and Europe.
‘Greylag’ either means “grey-legged” or “grey-laggard”, that is late, last or slow to migrate, or in other words, a loiterer or as we like to think just plain ‘laid back’.

Living near the sea, we’ve become accustomed to a deep sense of rhythm, especially the daily ebb and flow of the tide. And in the surrounding countryside the changing seasons are a part of life too, as farmers plough the fields, scatter seeds and gather the harvest. Migrating birds, nesting swallows all lead to this same sense of rhythm.

The Wild Goose is a symbol going back to Celtic times. In 500 AD the Celts developed a strong sense of spiritual rhythm living by the sea in places like Lindisfarne on Holy Island in Northumberland, Iona in the western isles of Scotland, parts of Wales, Ireland and the South West. And it was here in Iona and then Lindisfarne that Christianity first came to the British Isles. The Wild Goose in Celtic Christianity is traditionally aligned to the Holy Spirit although it can’t actually be proved. It is said, “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3: 8). In Celtic tradition unlike the dove of peace, the wild goose fired up the mind and soul with song and dance and reveries of beauty. The Wild Goose is all about a spirit of adventure.

We hope Wild Goose Barn will live up to its name and be a place for coming together while offering a base for exploration and adventure. We’d like everyone who stays to receive a renewal of inner strength or ‘uplift’ as they gather with friends and family for adventures along our beautiful wild coastline.
To find out more or if you want to book a stay click here.

Advertisements

the end of summer?

Today feels like coming towards the end of a very long summer holiday and the approach of September has a ‘back to school’ aura about it. The sand between my toes and now collecting in corners on the floor of the car is a tell tale sign of days spent at the beach. Damp towels, sandy snorkel masks and a striped beach bag in need of repair will soon be packed or thrown away, having served us for over two years.

It’s always sad feeling the summer come to an end. The past two years, although not a complete holiday, have felt more like a vacation than any other period of my life. Sitting watching the sun sink towards the horizon across the water tonight could hardly be more idyllic… as the sun sets on our time here. Even now there’s a warm breeze fluttering against my face while the sea is shimmering gold, and miniature waves lap with calming rhythm against the sand below us.

This week has been filled with ‘last times’ as we have revisited favourite haunts from cafes and umbrella lined bazaars in bustling Nicosia and the buzz of Kyrenia’s harbour at night to the remote wilderness of the Karpaz peninsular and its idyllic golden beaches.

IMG_1889IMG_1903IMG_1917

I don’t want to say goodbye to these places I’ve come to treasure and which are filled with happy memories of time spent with family and friends. Today we went to a different part of the beach and had a drink at a different cafe. This was partly for a change, but also on my part, I wanted to avoid the feeling of having to go somewhere knowing we’re not coming back any time soon. I decided I’d rather remember the last time there and hope we will return one day. I don’t like goodbyes.

Although we have been revisiting what I would call our ‘top spots’ on the island, we’ve also ventured out on a new experience.

On Friday we were guests on board an 80ft yacht with a Turkish captain and his mother. http://www.velayachting.com It was an unforgettable time from the moment we stepped aboard and removed our shoes to the fond farewells at the end of the day. Yacht ‘Vela’ was a treat. A beautiful old sailing boat with wood lined decks, neatly coiled ropes and relaxing navy cushions everywhere became our home for a few hours. A handful of us enjoyed a jaunt down the coast of northern Cyprus for the day stopping off at bays for swims and snorkelling along the way. This time it was a relief to know that while I lounged on a deck cushion the responsibility for dropping and picking up the anchor was someone else’s nightmare. It was a kind of treat not having to heave ropes or jump across jetties to secure lines, although one member of the party couldn’t resist lending a hand! I wasn’t even required to go below and rustle up rations as ‘Mama’, (we had been instructed to call her this), had already prepared a sumptuous feast of Turkish dishes spread out on the table when we returned from our swim.

IMG_1928 IMG_1931 IMG_1960

Meanwhile, Captain Serhat was doing his bit precariously barbecuing fish and lamb at the bows. Peaceful music tinkled all around and during the lunch we were serenaded by what sounded like snatches of an opera. It was a surreal yet lovely experience and Capt Serhat had some good banter with the other skipper on board, as they exchanged plenty of old sea tales. He also impressed us with a tight 360 manoeuvre below the castle walls… although someone kept muttering, “bow thrusters are cheating”. During the day there was ample time to watch the coast go by, muse on the identity of a flock of birds and natter with friends who had joined us, while we sipped strong Turkish coffee from miniature China cups. It was in fact a perfect finish to our Cyprus adventure as we sail into unchartered waters and life back in the UK.

IMG_1973IMG_1958

Last night was also topped off with a mini ‘night exercise’ along the beach. Having swum with turtles and seen their carefully marked nests on the beaches here, we were hoping to catch a glimpse of some baby turtles making their way to the sea by moonlight. Torches in hand we followed a path and steps onto the darkened beach where the crashing waves drowned out all other sounds. We were alone on the beach checking the sand for signs of mini turtles or broken shells, even the tell-tale pattern of fin prints in the soft sand. Although we saw a few of these and some scuttling mini crabs, there were no turtles in sight. Gradually a silvery moon appeared from behind a cloud and we took a break on a couple of empty sun loungers. Sometime later I woke with a start realising we had both fallen asleep. We’d probably slept through the turtle-hatching bonanza and missed everything. Either way it was too late, as we drove back along the cliff tops a little while later, I wondered why the light seemed bright in the car and realised the driver still had his head torch turned on, adding a third beam to the car headlights on the dirt track… time to call it a day. The quest for hatching turtles will have to wait for another summer – maybe on a return trip?