Updated: Oct 4, 2019
Last week was the Drops Conference in Budapest, and although, as you all know I hate travelling, in amongst my nerves I’d been excited to go this time, to see Gergely and the other speakers and to immerse myself in the subject matter I love.
Some people visit cities with checklists and plans of what they’d like to see. Much to my daughter Aimées annoyance, I am not one of these people, preferring to experience the delight of finding what’s hidden around the next corner. That said months ago, I’d seen a post about the ten most amazing sculptures was “Shoes on the Danube” and so I’d saidto the The Strong Silent One I’d wanted to find it.
As it happened, we saw people looking as we pulled into the city and ground to a standstill as a result of a protest march across Freedom Square, behind the Parliament building. So when we managed to meet up with my client, Diyana from Terroma, the company that sponsored mine and Gergely’s summit, we decided that after we’d finished our exquisite lunch overlooking the Basilica (wild garlic risotto with roast chicken breast) we’d all like to explore the castle we could see on the hill and headed off across the river.
The elaborately carved, thirteenth century stone white Buda Castle was magnificent, and offered glorious views in the city and it was from that vantage point that I first glimpsed an extraordinary figure of a woman holding a feather soaring out from amongst the hills far away.
You know how you can see something extraordinary, and be overwhelmed by the mundane? That happens to me a lot and here in this gothic courtyard, I became entirely fascinated with how they may have kept everything so pristine. There’s no litter in Budapest, Diyana had confided that she’d been equally fascinated with the trees on Margaret Island, a park in the middle of the river, since whilst the leaves were falling from the trees, very few were being left on the floor, sweepers machined them quickly away before they had a chance to rot and spoil the view.
The stonework of the castle is so white and seems bleached in the gorgeous autumn sunshine. As you walk, a Hungarian musician plays mesmeric melodies on a viola while you marvel at the beautiful mosaic roof on the ancient church. Darrell nudged me just in time to witness a handsome young man surprise an unsuspecting girlfriend by going down on one knee. I agreed there couldn’t be a more romantic place and I didn’t need to understand Hungarian to know the outcome was the one he was wishing for.
The entire city is evocative. Every building is ornate. Not a single detail is missed. Plasterwork is often moulded, or glorious frescos adorn them. Roofs are intricate and often have statues and gargoyles. After a while we simply stopped trying to take pictures in case, we missed something else beautiful. There is overwhelmingly too much to see.
Frustratingly now, as I come to write, I can feel the English limitation, that I don’t even have the vocabulary to describe just how evocative, sensuous and mysterious it is.
In juxtaposition to all the historical buildings, Darrell, Diyana and I walked amongst the moorings to all the cruise ships on the river down to Margaret Island for a drink.
This island has everything you could want from a park, there are playgrounds, singing fountains, coloured bean bags, marquees with barbeques and fire pits with tripods all bubbling with delicious smelling delights. Sweltering in the heat, we settled in a hipster shack, with swings for seats at the bar, and shelves full of Shisha / Hookah’s in different coloured glasses. As Di and I talked shop, Darrell lost himself in their soundtrack of iconic rock. I was sad to say goodbye to her at the end of the day, but we both felt we needed to prepare for the next day.
Preparation, I found out, in Darrell’s book was to walk back to the hotel from Budapest…27000 steps and 11.3km racked up.
Oh, and two blisters. The walk was bliss. Grown up shoes, the next day, were not.
The Saturday of Budapest Drops conference is the heaviest one and the time when you learn the most. Gergely is a stern taskmaster because, like me, he likes to overdeliver on value in everything he does, so registration starts at 7am.
At 8am, I got my first glimpse of Uncommon Scents. Sitting with Jade Shutes, the two of us marvelled at how cleverly Angie and Kristina had collated information. It’s slick, detailed and so powerful, I can’t wait to see it in its entirety.
Whilst it has taken an age to produce, it’s clear not a second has been wasted. Our community will feel immensely proud of the incredible documentary they have produced. They overcame some enormously sensitive hurdles and have answered in the best way possible, with a superb piece of work.
In the rush to watch the first speaker Madeleine, I didn’t have long to capture my thoughts so simply text Kristina “I’m so proud of you. Fucking awesome. Tremendous work” and I meant every word of it. Please, if you have been reluctant to donate to the cause to getting the film to the finish line, let me reassure you, you’ll be investing in something truly wonderful that can only do all of us good.
Now, even though I count Madeline as one of my most trusted friends in aromatherapy, I’ve never had the privilege of hearing her speak before (actually, I’d never heard any of the speakers on this conference before so it all felt so new fresh and exciting) and was so pleased I was going to get to learn even more about CO2s.
Her presentation was detailed and fascinating and really helped me to get a flavour of these tools which, really, until now, I’d never opt for over essential oils. I’m excited to steal her idea of using them with my dementia group to help reminiscence since they are closer to the true scent of a plant. She has convinced me and after Diayana was generous enough to buy me a cocoa CO2 when I wasn’t looking, and then Madeline gave me a lemon balm one to work with too, I anticipate many hours of olfactory explanation ahead.
Incidentally, I should tell you about the incredibly talented set of interpreters who deliver our work for us. As I presented in English, my slides are shown on the board in English too, those who are not fluent wear headphones. At the back of the room, hidden in a box, an interpreter explains all our work, in real time, for them to hear in their native tongue. Conversely, when Ildikó Berecz presented in Hungarian about her work with plants on Crete, I was able to put on my headphones and understand the beautiful words she had written to go with her many delightful pictures of Crete.
I braced myself for a strong clinical lecture, from Rhiannon, that potentially, because my chemistry is so poor, I was thinking I’d struggle to understand.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Her lecture was genius in its simplicity and made me really focus my mind on what I knew, nay what I felt, about using essential oils.
She spoke about inhalation and what it does to the emotions. Demonstrating scientific evidence for the efficacy of aromatherapy, she showed me I’d been making a very silly mistake for almost thirty years.
When I hand someone a bottle oil, I always ask, “what do you think about this one?” but by twisting it to ask: “How does this one make you feel?” it taps into an entirely different energetic. This came to be the single most important thing I took away from Drops and has coloured my thinking for every moment since I heard it.
Just as an aside, I should also amend my statement that far from being intimidating, I have found that Rhiannon is extremely approachable and lovely, Tim is adorable, and when I had dinner with them later in the weekend, I discovered Rhiannon to be like medicine, a bewitching story teller with a laugh like bottled sunshine.
That’s the beauty of going to conferences, and perhaps the magic of Budapest, everything seems much much-ier somehow, enchanted in a fairy tale bubble of magical joy. You get to meet people and discover who they really are, not just to try to make guesswork from their facebook posts and books. I hope I can persuade more of you to come and experience it for yourselves in two year’s time.
As I mentioned earlier, Ildiko spoke about the work she had been doing learning to distil plants on Crete with the wonderful Janina Sorenson. I’d been looking forward to meeting Ildiko and she had hunted me down first thing in the morning and threw her arms around me, saying I have been following you for so long, but I really wanted to meet your soul. Can you imagine anything more lovely to say?! I was so touched and delighted when she explained that not only had she been reading my books but had bought mum’s book to learn about The Aura too.
Well let’s start with the work stuff, what that lady can’t tell you about niaouli or nerolina essential oils could be written 365 million times on the back of a postage stamp. She is that knowledgeable. She showed me the new book she’s written, and I wanted to punch her, it’s so good. Not only does she talk about essential oils and herbs, but also meridians and iridology too. I can’t wait to devour every page.
She is kind and gentle and so, so, so, so funny. Her Australian wit is lightening quick if she decides she likes you, run and take cover. My sense of humour sounds like it is coming from a nun’s mouth when sat next to hers. Anyone who knows me will tell you that’s saying something, but being very delicate, Deby’s filter has very large holes and I love that.She and I sat next to Shirley Routley from Fragrant Earth when we went out to dinner, who also is completely hilarious and whom I love very much. When I woke up next morning, I didn’t have a hangover, only jaw ache from how much I had laughed with them, Sue and Madeleine. I feel like I made a really lovely new friend, who is one of the few people I’ve met who might make me look like I might be well behaved.
Note to self: Never take The Silent One and Deby anywhere where good behaviour might be required. He is no longer the Strong Silent One, he’s the one being very loud and taking the P**s. The two of them most definitely bring the worst out in each other. (The same can be said for him and Shirley and Donna from Fragrant Earth…he and Donna are naughty twins separated at birth.)
It’s the happiest I have seen him in years taking the mickey and enjoying being with so many likeminded people.There is just something about the place. A twinkle…Perhaps we were sprinkled with magic dust.
So then was the boring bit of the day. A redhead in a flowery frock showed some pictures of a place called Ludlow and said some stuff about the brain.
Or maybe, I need to promote more than I thought.
That might also be a thing.
My lecture was about how the brain’s processing can change so someone whose pain should get better as they heal after injury may not, and they may be stuck with pain for a long time to come, for many reasons, but often because of stress.
Most exciting, I guess, was I also signed some of my rose book that Gergely and Oshadhi had translated into Hungarian too. That, people, was both amazing but entirely surreal at the same time.
Just past the shoes is a lifesize bronze of a man with a hat, and his coat laid down beside him. When we saw him, we wondered if he had been a Jew watching as his family and friends were slaughtered before him. As they days have passed, I have come to feel that perhaps he was a gentile, horrified at the view, ashamed, afraid and hating himself for not having the courage to intervene.
the past she imbued. One day perhaps my writing will be complex enough to counjure just how evocative a place it is, but I’m not sure it can ever be done. It’s something you have to see hear, touch, smell and hear for yourself.