Tuesday, 07 December 2021
Gillie Sutherland Gillie Sutherland

Darkness Before Dawn

Written by  Feb 22, 2021

Apparently it is the darkest hour just before the dawn, and with Spring in the air today, it certainly feels that way.

Let’s face it, it’s been a tough winter. This is my first full winter in Croatia, so I’ve nothing to measure against, but my local friend Ivana tells me that it has been the hardest winter in Molunat she has ever known.

We’ve had extreme weather to deal with, another lockdown, and the ongoing uncertainty of the pandemic and all it means for the season ahead.

Over these past few days news from the UK has meant for me that my four retreats I had booked out in May are now unlikely to happen, nor am I likely to get back to British shores anytime soon.

It’s not disastrous but I feel the disappointment of my guests, as well as venues and other business owners whom this affects.

It’s been hard to see there is light at the end of the tunnel, when it will ever settle down again, and when we can get back to our normal working lives.

I felt it too.

But then.....

“What a difference a day makes.... just 24 little hours....”.

This song is in my head as I take the paddleboard out on the flat, clear water of the Adriatic Sea for the first time in 2021.

The sun is shining, it’s a relatively balmy 13 degrees, and there’s just me and nature.

I’m lucky in that I can step out onto the water from my doorstep, paddle round the bay to the supermarket for provisions, hug the coast around to Metale beach for a little stop off, and then make my way over to Veliki Skolj (little island) for my little piece of paradise.

It’s a deserted island, except for some wild goats, with a pretty little cove and then a scramble up to a clearing in the woods. On this particular day, I encounter a little kid goat who seems to have lost his way, and is separated from the herd.

I can see where the rest of the goats are, but the little kid can’t see and is a bit distressed, so I call over to him and try communicating in my (very limited) goat language, mostly sign to be honest, as to where he needs to look.

There’s a moment when our eyes meet, and honestly I felt like the whole world stopped, and my heart just melted.

It was the most beautiful scene as he looked over and saw the herd, and all I felt was pure love. No fear, no frustration, no disappointment nor worry, it was all overcome by love.

Everything that had happened up until this point in my life was a distant memory, all the worries I had felt like they’d been blown away with the Jugo, and all there was was this perfect moment in time.

“Life is magic”, I thought, as I watched the little fella trot like a young and excited Bambi over to be reunited with the herd.

I was reminded that, in order to maintain our sense of balance in this often-crazy world, we need to take time away from it all, even if it’s just for a couple of hours to remember what’s real and what’s not.

Just me, the board and nature, that’s all it took.

There’s a pure simplicity to SUP, and if you’ve not tried it, I’d highly recommend it. It’s eco-friendly, gods for fitness, it hardly makes a sound, and as the paddle cuts smoothly through the water in time with my breathing, it’s like a moving meditation.

Molunat, as a protected bay, with so much to explore, is perfect, and it looks like the whole week is going to be weather like this.

So I make a commitment to myself to do this each day, in the morning when it’s flat; to take myself away from it all, to my little piece of paradise, to nature’s abundant playground, and to look for the magic.

For like the light, magic is always there, if you look for it.

And as we feel the light return, it really does feel like it was the darkness before dawn.

Read more Gillie here...  


Gillie Sutherland grew up in the north of England, before settling in Devon, but has now swapped her UK address for one on the Adriatic in the very south of Croatia, in Molunat. A professional Wellness Consultant she now runs retreats and online courses from her Konavle base. She also writes a weekly column for the Devon newspaper, The Express and Echo.

To find out more about Gillie go to www.behappyfit.co.uk


The Voice of Dubrovnik


Find us on Facebook