My life - Ina Beeston

Ina Beeston is incredibly wise, cool and funny. Ina, is the owner of the travel blog Are You Laughing At Me? In this Q&A, she talks about divorce, turning 49 and tattoos.  

What would be your dream holiday destination?

Africa has my heart as I grew up in a country there. But, my ancient soul is Viking, my ancestors were Swedish.  I am torn between the smell before the rain in Africa and the tart scent of pine forests in Scandinavia. So I am going to say neither of those as I know both would be dreamy and easy and opt for a month or so in India.  I have never been and would really like to immerse myself in this subcontinent.  I am not sure I will find it easy (driving through Kathmandu left me a bit shell-shocked) as I am not good in crowds with lots of noise, so the hustle and bustle of the cities will have to be balanced with the quiet of the mountains and deserts.  Wildlife exploration will be an essential component of this trip.

Who is your favourite living icon?

Jacinda Ardern, the New Zealand prime minister. A human and humane head of state who has her finger on the pulse of real people while living a real life of motherhood. An outstanding role model not just for our next generation but for everyone.

What is your favourite TV show that is currently on?

Gogglebox, not even going to apologise!  I used to scoff at the idea of watching a TV programme of people watching TV programmes - I mean how boring and desperate is that?  Until I then got over my snobbery and fell fully in love with all of them. It’s genius and it’s the only thing, apart from Graham Norton, that is guaranteed to make me laugh out loud - that’s LOL to my children.

What book are you reading at the moment?

Always the overachiever, several: Ultimate Knitting Bible as I recently tried to knit to a pattern and found it like the Enigma code and as a German, I should understand this and I did not. This upset me. The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by S Turton as part of my two books a month target on Goodreads. It’s almost halfway through the month and not finished it yet. Best choose a slim book next! Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg as part of my quest to become a writer. 

What book have you read that positively shaped you?

The Animals of Farthing Wood is the first book I remember reading and being completely immersed and taken away to another world. It started a lifetime of wonder through books, laughter, and tears, oh so many tears.

Ina in our denim maxi skirt.

You just celebrated your 49th birthday, what excites you about life right now?

Living more consciously.  Being single for seven years after my divorce has meant really getting to know myself, being ok with silence and solitude.  It’s not easy but it is a wonderful gift too. For me, that means making decisions consciously and not simply out of habit or boredom or stress or sorrow. I am a long way off having mastered this, but the fact that I am thinking about it has changed many things in my life for the better. I listened to a podcast this morning and a poem by David Whyte called Everything is Waiting For You was read. It included, “Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity…. Everything is waiting for you.” I appreciate that everything will include things that will surprise me in both directions, good and bad. To be ok with that is a wonderful place to be.  I want to live my life, not just exist.

Pinterest or Instagram?

What is Pinterest?

What is your favourite food?

Japanese, freshly made with the rice just lukewarm.

Favourite drink?

Cold German beer and Yorkshire Gold tea.

Favourite dessert?

A cold orange peeled in the shade of an acacia tree or homemade bread and butter pudding with custard.

What is your most treasured possession?

My phone. I know that is not very sentimental but it connects me to the people I love, it keeps my memories, it takes me off into the world and it helps me cheat at the crossword. It can get me out of trouble and if my house burnt down it will help me rebuild it.

Name five people you would invite to your dream dinner party?

Jacinda Ardern. My great grandfather who was a missionary in Namibia; I want to ask him if he really believed what he was doing was a good thing. Gerald DurrellDorothea Lange and Nigel Slater - who will hopefully offer to cook but we would all help chop stuff.

What advice would you give your 14-year-old self?

Be brave. Don’t listen to the teacher telling you you weren't good enough, he was wrong. Also, counting elephants is actually a career so also ignore all the people that stood in the way of that too and find a way to make that happen.

What is your greatest fear?

Dying alone.

What is your best quote?

“When you cannot change the direction of the wind, adjust your sails.”

And: Go see.

What are you most proud of?

Without a doubt how my daughters have turned out. That had a lot to do with me and it’s ok to be proud of that. It was bloody hard work!

What has age taught you?

What I thought was important is not important but I needed to live to learn that. Other people’s anxiety does not have to become mine. This is my path. I will walk it. My crown is a bit battered, but it’s intact.

Abstract skirt selfie.

Describe yourself in three words

Honour. Dignity. Decorum. I wrote these words on my wall after my ex-husband left. I was determined not to be bitter and twisted. They served me well.

I am also: Funny. Loving. Creative.

If your life was a song, what would the title be?

The Four Seasons by Vivaldi.

If you had a tattoo where would it be?

I have a tattoo on my right inner arm. It says stubborn gladness. It is from a poem by Jack Gilbert called A Brief for the Defense.

"We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world. To make injustice the only measure of our attention is to praise the Devil”

The day after I had it done, my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer.  It is very apt.

To follow Ina, her Instagram page is the.history.keeper.

January 11, 2020 — Yvonne Telford