Just Gentle Go is the chosen name of the artistic duo formed by John and Julie in late 2022.
Julie lives high up on the Mendip Hills in Somerset and writes extensively about her beloved neighbouring Countryside while John lives on the Dorset Coast and performs as a Musician under the stage name 'John West Weymouth'
ALWAYS FOLLOW YOUR PASSIONS
“Follow your passion” is a mantra often aimed at the young. But its relevance isn’t age sensitive. Julie and John, both now in their mid-seventies, are living proof of this. They meet via internet dating at seventy years of age and ever since then they have been carving out a fascinating and adventurous life together, following their respective passions, and combining them together into the “Just Gentle Go” project.
MUSIC - JOHN'S DEEPEST PASSION --
Throughout his professional career as an Architect and latterly as a property renovator (both in the UK and mainland Europe) John had been composing his own songs on the guitar and piano, although he rarely ever played them to anyone outside his immediate family circle. His meeting with Julie changed all that.
Within a few months of their relationship, with Julie’s encouragement and support, John had recorded his first EP, which included two songs inspired by, and all about, Julie! The first was entitled “Coming Down from the Northern Air” which set out how their ‘long-distance’ relationship developed when after their very first date – at the Hive Beach Café on Chesil Beach – Julie travelled off to spend Christmas with her son in Sweden and they spent hours every night facetiming and growing ever closer together. “Although you’re a thousand miles, you wrap me up inside your smiles, coming down from the Northern Air and it just feels right”. The second dedicated piece - “These days I’m always amazed” - describes that point in a relationship when you first realize that you totally connect with that special person, their emotions and their thoughts. “And on that rock by the Sea, where we sat holding hands, drinking in the views and watching the spray as the waves hit the sands, and I just knew what you were thinking. And I’m always amazed”. Another important track on that EP is entitled “I will be there to hold your hand” which is about John’s grandson and how he stepped in to give young Rufus a stable and trusting ‘father-figure’ to make up for the lack of a proper parent for the boy which his biological father didn't provide. “Of all the things that made me cross I could never understand, why in the times when you were lost, he wasn’t there to hold your hand. I will do the best I can. To make up for his loss. So, when you wake up in the dark, I will be there to hold your hand”. And finally, there are two tracks about Weymouth, Johns adopted retirement town. “Just a trick of the light” which is about how memories from your past are inclined to follow you about through life (Although he was brought up in Letchworth Garden City, John spent every school holiday between the ages of 6 and 13 with an aunt who ran a boarding house in Weymouth as Johns parent both worked. So he had lots of memories, both good and bad, to deal with when he first moved to Weymouth) “There’s a storm hitting Chesil tonight. I know, ‘cos there’s tankers laid up in the Bay. As I walk out on the Pier in the dying light two fishermen are putting their rods away. The wind’s now whipping up a foam, I can see mackerel dancing out in the moonlight. But those fish don’t come here anymore, that was just another trick of the light. I wish I could be like the tides and just go, with life’s ebb and flow” The title track of the EP, which encapsulates all the charms and history of Weymouth and Portland is a ‘poppy’ little number called “It’s Such a Magical Place” which apart from the family fun of Britain’s best beach, highlights the famous Quayside Music Festivals in these lines - “Oh, it’s such a Magical Place. When music hits the quay it puts a smile on your face. See the children beam with pride on the Donkey Rides, Yo, it’s such a Magical Place.” This track was featured on BBC Radio South “introducing new music” and received over 15,000 plays on Spotify within the first two months of its' release.
Johns' EP can be heard here on Spotify
JULIES COUNTRYSIDE WALKS - JUST BEING THERE IN THE MOMENT.
When Julie was at school, she was always interested in birds and their calls, flowers with their complex structures and trees with their variety of shapes and forms. This interest followed her on into university, studying Botany which involved an even closer connection with Nature. After University Julie became interested in Mental Health and for many years worked as a Psychiatric Social Worker. However, treatment of mental illness was at that time very heavily reliant on the use of drugs and electric shock therapy. She didn’t feel comfortable with this situation and so moved away to therapies that were more based on counselling and addressing core mental issues through insights and realisations rather than suppressing them with drugs. The key common component in all of these ‘alternative’ therapies was to go out in Nature and be ‘in the moment’, be ‘mindful’ and truly be at one with the natural world. Julie says .. “It has always been my experience that when a person walks in Nature deliberately looking at the trees, the shapes, the leaves, feeling it all and becoming ‘as one’, all the ‘chatter of the mind’ falls away and a feeling of calm and peace follows”.
From the early two thousands, Julie spent many years volunteering with the RSPB at Ham Wall surveying different species. This often involved sitting alone on a high chair in the middle of the Somerset levels, in all weathers, for five hours or more at a time, just quietly observing. Not just the variety of birds, but the formation of the clouds, the winds rippling in the reeds, the iconic booming Bitterns and of course Harriers hunting their prey.
Julie recalls … “This experience is something I will always treasure and the sense of tranquillity it gave me has been a valuable tool for life. The natural world is there to be experienced. All wildlife, spiders, snails, worms, birds, rabbits, fox and badger. Trees in all their spender and the way they change throughout the seasons. All the different wild flowers and mosses are there be become at one with, by quiet observation and appreciation in all weathers, with no added distraction from the trappings of our ‘modern life’.”
JUST GENTLE GO - OUR JOYFUL BOND
Our philosophy is simple- to gentle go in Nature; appreciating the bird song, the sound of the wind in the trees, the pattern of a spider’s web jewelled with rain drops. This is such a perfect way to find peace in a world so demanding of our attention, with phones, computers, advertising, chatter and endless ‘bad news’ of wars, sufferings and calamities being thrown at us daily. We can, of course, be aware of these but we need also to be able to disconnect from all the urgency and frenzy of the modern world and find that ‘safe quiet space’ within us. This ‘space’, this sense of oneness with Nature, has been there since the dawn of time but is often now just drowned out by the pace of our modern ‘civilised society’. That feeling of calm can be regained by quietly appreciating Nature in all its Wonder.
Its about ‘being in the landscape’, feeling nature, moving through the natural world, letting your senses guide you.
Moving more like a wild animal does, than a ‘modern thinking twenty first century human. Trust your senses, and your awareness gradually becomes honed to the rhythms of the organic world, the seasons and the cycle of life. Most of us, with our “educated and trained minds”, are so often merely transversing superficially through Nature, seeing things with our minds rather than feeling and sensing them, with our bodies, in an unfiltered natural way.
John likes to give this example - "Just think of the way that when a wildcat is stalking its prey, it just ‘feels’ that twig under its paw and senses instinctively not to press down. Whereas a modern group of walkers, following that very same path, plough through with their wellingtons, chattering and laughing, unaware of the significance of that tiny fallen twig."
We firmly believe that “Through Nature we are Nurtured”. As john sings in our signature piece, from which we have derived the title of our collaboration ‘Just Gentle Go’ - “Throw off the shackles of your digital screens, embrace the passion that you feel in your dreams, and leave only footprints behind as you gentle go.”