A few months back I cycled into Staines for the first time. Google Maps gave me 3 options so I picked one and off I went. Each time after that I chose a different route. The third time Google Maps took me along the river for part of the journey – definitely my favourite route to take now!
The River Route
Since then I have cycled to Staines taking the ‘River Route’ almost every time. The first time I was concentrating so much on where I was going I only just caught a glimpse of this darling little cottage out of the corner of my eye. As I started on the gravel path that ran parallel to the river I made a mental note to come back that way and have a proper look at all the details around the front of the house. It caught my attention and I definitely wanted to have another look. Alas, Google Maps took me back over 2 bridges, one massive roundabout, with no river in sight.
I promised myself to take the River Route next time, and sure enough the following trip into Staines led me straight past the same quaint cottage. This time I stopped and stared in amusement and playful curiosity at what lay before me… The cutest little cottage you could imagine, with care taken to where every bush, plant and flower pot had been placed.
Meeting Them for the First Time
What had caught my attention the previous time was that at the front door, on the low brick wall, in front of the wall, on the pebble path next to the house, everywhere my eyes glanced were these little creatures and characters. Im not sure what they’re made of, maybe stone or concrete, maybe some kind of clay. Most of these animals had some kind of item of clothing hand knitted or crocheted for them, making them almost come alive. I half expected to see Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail bounding through the garden at any minute! It was truly a magical moment.
I suddenly realised I had been standing there staring at this enchanting scene for longer than was probably socially acceptable. I started to peddle off, but not before I snapped one cheeky picture – I couldn’t leave without having a memory of that setting. Seeing that magical little scene in detail for the first time put me in a jovial mood for the rest of the day. And that image stayed in my mind for quite some time afterwards as well. This time I made a promise to myself that if I ever met the owners of this beautiful little cottage with its almost magical front garden, I would definitely stop and tell them how much joy I had gotten out of it.
Meeting The Owner
I’ve taken to naming favourite places and things along my adventurous journeys. This could be a tree, a hill, a park with flowers, and sometimes even a house. It makes things more fun and it means I’ve always got something to look forward to no matter where Im going. On this journey to Staines, I have multiple ‘favourites’, but it always starts with this little cottage. So by the time I reached the house, I was already smiling because I knew it was coming up and I was looking forward to seeing it.
And then, there was the owner doing some work in the front garden! I stopped and said ‘hi’ and told him how I loved cycling past his house and seeing all these gorgeous little characters on display. And he replied by saying, “Thank you, we do this just for fun”.
And I remember thinking how amazing that was. The kind man went on to explain that himself and his wife often have passers by come and look more closely and take pictures, some people are from all over the world. (Confession: I did a little happy dance inside when he mentioned that people take photos and that they dont mind. I had felt a tad guilty about taking that cheeky picture a few weeks earlier but when he mentioned everyone does it I didn’t feel too bad!)
I was going into Staines for a meeting so I couldn’t chat for long so we said our goodbyes and off I cycled. On my way back home along the river I had this thought: if the gentleman was still around, I’d ask if I could write this article about him and his wife, and their beautifully quaint cottage in the countryside with all their magical little creatures and characters. But specifically about how they started off doing this just for fun, and how its grown and become a place where people cant help but smile as they walk past.
Bruce And Mavis
The lovely couple were sitting in their front room when I cycled past and I blew a kiss to all their animal friends and their beautiful garden. I was about to cycle off when the gentleman came out and said: “Thats the first time we’ve had kisses blown to us” and laughed. Then he recognised me from earlier and thats when we got chatting. Bruce and Mavis live in this darling little cottage, they bought all these animals and gave them their own little personalities by adding a handmade item of clothing to each of them.
The Simple Things
The thing that struck me the most is that they have done this for quite some time and their only reason for doing it is for fun, for the enjoyment of it and for the joy it brings others. As Bruce and I were talking, another man walked past and Bruce and the man exchanged pleasantries. Almost immediately afterwards, a woman walked past and smiled and said ‘hi’ to both of us. Something so simple yet so imaginative as a cat with a blanket or a dog with a beanie has brought so many people so much happiness and joy. You really cant help but walk away from their home and smile or be that little bit happier than you were before you saw it. It brings sunshine even on the cloudiest of days.
Bruce and Mavis have been part of the local community for years, Bruce was the Choir Master in the local church for many many years. And they try to live a happy and positive life everyday. I wanted to carry on chatting with Bruce but it was getting late and Mavis was probably wondering what had happened to him!
When Life Gives You Lemons…
But there’s something so refreshingly beautiful about what this lovely couple have created in their front garden, and I believe we can learn so much from their example. Life will always have its trials and tribulations, and this is important for us to know and accept. If life was easy-going and relaxed all the time, what would we learn about ourselves or others? How would we grow? Challenges are good for us. They broaden our horizons and help us to see things in a different light.
The way I see it is that we have two ways to view any given situation: We can have a negative outlook (‘I cant do this’, ‘Why me?’, ‘I don’t deserve this’, Why is this so difficult?’ etc). Or you can view the situation with light, playful curiosity (‘The silver lining is…’, ‘What can I learn from this situation?’ ‘I cant wait to see what’s around the next corner!’ etc).
Make The Choice
Making that conscious decision everyday to be positive and think positively; finding things that bring you joy; doing something just for the fun of it, laughing at the situation instead of getting angry; all this will attract more positivity and happiness into your life. Soon any negative thoughts wont feature in your life as much anymore, or they will at least seem out of place when they pop into your mind. But I believe this wont happen automatically, its something you need to practice and be aware of. Eventually it will become second nature and then my friends, it is a most amazing way to live life!
A Great Amount of Gratitude
A very special thanks to Bruce and Mavis and their quaint cottage in the countryside with all their magical little friends in their front garden! Thank you for making so many people smile; thank you for letting me use your home as one of my ‘favourites’ to look forward to on my adventurous journeys. And most of all, thank you for inspiring me to write this article.
What thoughts make you smile? Which things bring you joy? Have you come across something recently that has made you smile and think how wonderful it is to be alive? Please feel free to leave your comments below, I would love to hear from you.
Much love and happy positive vibes for you!