Silver linings notebook


Every cloud has a silver lining. I lie on a hillside, turning those words over in my mind, gazing up at an undisturbed blanket of blue, searching for the hidden treasure amongst the flawless cerulean. For the past few days I have been suspended in a cloud of my own, one of negativity and frustration. I was missing a place to work, envious of friends with their writing desks and un-stolen computers, their long hours clocked at the keyboard.

I needed space to clear my head and let the words back in, a place to let my imagination come alive, away from the noise of the internet café and the noise of my self-doubt. A place to call mine for a while.

So I have come up here, to a deserted hillside, to find peace and productivity while the windswept waves carve their stories into the rocks below me.


I make the short commute from my house, around the soft curve of Colomb Bay, to where the road slowly tapers off, and everything changes. It’s like stepping through the wardrobe into Narnia, but instead of pushing back thick fur coats, I’m turning up a nondescript path, ducking my head beneath low hanging branches, and leaving India behind.

The pathway to my own little Narnia

No sign of Mr Tumnus, sadly

Suddenly I have entered a new land, one that could more easily be mistaken for a rugged Greek island than the chaotic country I have called home all these months. Palm trees give way to a wash of pines, their fallen needles blanketing the rocky ground, the air heavy with their delicious perfume. I climb up and up, along narrow, barely worn walkways, carefully picking each foothold until at last I reach the top.

This is it; my outdoor office, scruffy, relaxed and wild.

I kick my flip-flops off and nudge a few fallen pine cones with my foot, preparing a smooth space to lay down my desk blanket. I set out my stationery and books, light some incense, and pull on my sunhat. I stretch out on the blanket with my hands behind my head, and allow myself to just be. To relax and take it all in, unhurried.

I’m not trying to find the words; I’m waiting for them to find me, and when they are ready to be written, I’ll begin.

An office with a view

In the distance, Palolem beach skirts the edge of the hills like a yellow ribbon. I close my eyes and listen; the only sounds the sea, the birds, the breeze and the distant hum of fishing boat engines. The air feels different here, cooled by a steady rush as the sea air meets the cliff top with a muffled roar, reminding me of crowded stadiums, cheering me on, blowing words of encouragement from distant lands.

An endless swathe of blue tumbles secrets in its waves, ushering them to shore. I feel like, if I stay here long enough, maybe I’ll hear one of them, whispered on the wind.

And just like that, the words begin to arrive. Whole sentences and paragraphs rush in, and all I have to do is reach up and grab them, tucking them away safely on my page, lest they blow in one ear and out the other. I wonder, is this normal, or does it only happen to writers – and if so, does this mean I really am one?

Portrait of a writer?

My elbows are tired, pricked by pine needles as I write, but I can’t stop. I put my pen to paper and let the ink flow, writing everything and nothing, pages of words that don’t go together, just happy to set them free.

It is simple and easy and glorious, and I laugh in disbelief at the speed with which I allowed myself to forget the most basic of truths. That I can always carve out a place for myself, a place for my subconscious to spill forth, where I can drink it in and write it out. It doesn’t have to be perfect; I just have to show up.

A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.
– E. B. White

I return to my hill the next day, eager to get back to the words. This time I pack something extra amongst my office essentials; gratitude. This break from modern technology, this chance to fall in love with new ideas and form new habits, has been a blessing. I smile beneath the branches, thinking of all the things this tree has seen. If only I could crack her open and learn her stories.

But instead the tree just stares down at me knowingly – for she is wise, like all trees. She knows that I am the one who has been cracked open, and it is to be my stories shared on this hillside, not hers.

I allow my eyes to drift from the page across my bent knees and follow a row of fishing boats setting off towards the horizon. I wave and the men on board wave back, our hands the only form of communication needed.

I shift my gaze from the fisherman to my own hands, resting them gently in my lap with my pen and notebook. I know I already have everything I need.

The silver lining of a cloudless sky.

{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

Jenny February 26, 2013 at 13:23

Gosh, gosh, gosh, how LOVELY! You gonna make people out there jealous of you for getting your laptop stolen 🙂
Jenny recently posted..Frog with a Broken Heart


Hannah February 27, 2013 at 04:25

Haha, thanks honey!


Scarlett February 26, 2013 at 13:42

Scarlett recently posted..Tales of the Surreal.


Hannah February 27, 2013 at 04:25

I’m so glad 🙂


Steph | February 26, 2013 at 14:15

Oh my god Hannah, you’re just one of those naturally talented writers that inspires and trasforms people with your perfectly chosen words! Your blog is one in a million…and there really are millions. So glad I have the pleasure to read it!

Thank you for inspiring us all with your words, your life and your photos! 🙂
Steph | recently posted..Photo of the Week | Misol-Ha Waterfalls Outside Palenque, Mexico


Hannah February 27, 2013 at 04:26

Steph, thank you so much for your wonderful comment, I’m smiling from ear to ear 😀


Charlie February 26, 2013 at 14:19

Lovely post! What an amazing place to get to write! Better than my desk stuck indoors behind a laptop any day!


Hannah February 27, 2013 at 04:27

Thank you Charlie, it really is a stunning spot, isn’t it?! I feel very lucky to get to enjoy it for a while.


Sofie February 27, 2013 at 07:22

I have to agree on that one!
Sofie recently posted..Stick your tongue out against cancer!


Carmel February 26, 2013 at 15:08

So proud of you for realizing that the laptop is only a tool…the words and expression are all you. It still sucks, but you’re making the best of it and you’ll probably come out stronger because of it.


Hannah February 27, 2013 at 04:27

Thanks Carmel, it took a while but I got there in the end!


Toni February 26, 2013 at 19:33

So happy that you’ve managed to find the silver living to your laptop being stolen. The words are within you wherever you go whether they flow through keyboards or pens.
Such a beautiful piece 🙂
Toni recently posted..Why internet friends are real friends…


Hannah February 27, 2013 at 04:29

Thank you Toni, I’m so glad you liked it, and you’re absolutely right – the words are always there 🙂


Lindsey February 26, 2013 at 21:37

Hannah, I absolutely love the ethereal quality that haunts everything you write. It’s just so achingly beautiful and I am so happy for you that you’re finding it easier to capture it again. I was devastated for you to hear about your laptop, but I’m glad that you’ve found peace, and the words, in the simplicity created by putting pen to paper alone in the wilderness.
Lindsey recently posted..Singapore’s Changi Airport – An Overnight Layover Guide


Hannah February 27, 2013 at 04:30

Lindsey, thank you so much for your kind words, I’m thrilled you enjoyed it. Losing the laptop was a nightmare, but it has been an interesting journey to see how that has changed everything about the way I work – for the better.


budget jan February 26, 2013 at 22:57

A blessing indeed.
budget jan recently posted..Tuesday in Townsville at the Queens Gardens


Hannah February 27, 2013 at 04:31

It truly was!


Mark February 26, 2013 at 23:09

Casuarina equisetifolia (beautiful name!) – are the ‘pines’ that you refer to in Goa (also known as ‘she-oak’ in English). So maybe you can take strength from this and be a ‘She Oak’ over the theft of your laptop. I hope that pen and paper suffice.


Hannah February 27, 2013 at 04:32

I LOVE that they are actually called She-Oaks, how entirely perfect! Thank you so much for sharing that 🙂


Margaret Hogan | Destination Here&Now February 26, 2013 at 23:17

Ah Hannah you’ve got me pining for the New South Wales far south coast. That shot on the point is so similar. Break out the sketchbooks, the paints! Bliss. I just bought Paul Bowles book recently, The Spider’s House. He wrote it here ( in the 1950s on the south coast of Sri Lanka. Take a leaf and go for it :)) xx
Margaret Hogan | Destination Here&Now recently posted..Bathurst and a quick Sunday drive


Hannah February 27, 2013 at 04:33

Wow, Margaret, you’ve just planted a seed there… that place is amazing. I have to go there one day! I’ll be sure to check out that book as well 🙂


Elisa Choi February 27, 2013 at 02:57

I enjoyed your writings so much, Hannah! Your lovely new office is just beautiful to behold. Your optimism is an inspiration. Love your writer’s portrait!
Elisa Choi recently posted..Painting Daily Day 21


Hannah February 27, 2013 at 04:33

Thank you Elisa, that makes me so happy!


TammyOnTheMove February 27, 2013 at 02:59

Every office should have a view like this. Stunning!
TammyOnTheMove recently posted..Koh Kong in pictures


Hannah February 27, 2013 at 04:34



Kim February 27, 2013 at 12:19

Beautiful Hannah. So glad that you have found this new outdoor office and that the words are flowing again. Remember, this is how writers did it for years and years (you’re probably actually on to something that once was known and is now almost forgotten).
Kim recently posted..Brian’s Beard Goes Around the World


Hannah February 28, 2013 at 07:23

Thanks Kim! I thought about that a lot last week. Imagine writing a whole book with a quill and ink. I don’t think I’ll be going that far, but the pen and paper are definitely sticking around, computer or no computer 🙂


Patricia GW February 27, 2013 at 16:56

Your writing is so ethereal and lovely… and resonant. I agree with Kim – you’re re-discovering something that people have forgotten to recognize; that you have everything you need, and the light comes from inside you, no matter what tool you use to let it shine.
Patricia GW recently posted..REFLECTIONS: Touching the Infinite


Hannah February 28, 2013 at 07:25

Thanks you so much for your kind words Tricia. It’s crazy how reliant we become on modern technology, isn’t it?! I’m all about the biro these days!


Candace February 28, 2013 at 15:14

Hannah, my friend, here are the lessons to be learned from this post:

1. You need to write in the present tense more often; this reads like pure magic.
2. Writing by hand has obviously not held your ideas and inspiration back in the *slightest*.
3. I have nothing to ‘teach’ you this weekend! These photos are gorgeous and heartbreakingly evocative.

Loved this so much. Keep writing! xxx
Candace recently posted..dharamsala or bust: on the wonder of ‘what if?’


Hannah March 1, 2013 at 07:24

1. Thank you!
2. Thank you!
3. Thank you!


Tracey March 1, 2013 at 13:25

This is beautiful Hannah. I love the quote, So true! I am glad you found your silver linings notebook. Your new office is pretty amazing too.
Tracey recently posted..Travel and Eating Our Words


Hannah March 2, 2013 at 04:06

Thank you so much Tracey, I’m so glad you enjoyed it 🙂


Adena Harford April 1, 2013 at 21:22

Hannah! I gasped out loud when I saw your photo of your writing spot – it’s right oast where Jamie and I were staying, and we spent quite a few afternoons napping aay the heat up there. SO nice and beautiful. <3
Adena Harford recently posted..Top 5 Chill Honeymoon Spots


Hannah April 2, 2013 at 10:48

Isn’t it the most perfect spot ever? The breeze, the sounds, the smells… I can’t wait to go back – I’m trying to persuade Lee to rent that house up there for a few months later this year 🙂


Montecristo Travels (Sonja) April 9, 2013 at 21:21

The tools do not the talent make. Proof is in the pudding.


Hannah April 10, 2013 at 16:50

Thank you Sonja, it was a great learning curve; adapting to a new way of working, but I loved it 🙂


Dariece - Goats On The Road April 15, 2013 at 05:09

Everytime I read one of your posts, I can’t read it fast enough, I want more and more…if that makes sense?! haha. As usual Hannah, you have won me over with your wonderful words, you are extremely talented and I enjoy reading your stories. Enjoy Thailand 🙂

Dariece – Goats On The Road recently posted..You Know You’ve Been Travelling A Long Time When…


Hannah Loaring April 20, 2013 at 01:56

Thank you so much Dariece, I can’t tell you how much that means to me, and encourages me to keep writing and working on my blog 🙂


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