It comes in cycles, this urge for beauty, silence and light. Usually when I've spent too many days staring at a computer screen, when I'm chilled by winter and trapped indoors. Seems that time has come again.

I have an overwhelming need for green, quiet space. I had a good look at myself in the mirror this weekend - a weekend spent working until 2:30 in the morning, a weekend filled with head-down home-bound slog with only a brief foray to the Spur for my son's birthday. It has me looking pale and haggard. I'm surrounded by concrete and brick and machine, constant noise and pressure to do this, finish that, move on to the next thing.

Picking up a magazine recently, it fell open to an image of a Zen type garden room, surrounded by green, with a pool at its feet, all warm golden wood and stone. The kind of space I'm longing for, but cannot yet have. A place that's all mine where I can just be still for a while.

My yard? Not an option - the back is filled with the noise of the busy road, the front with the neighbours peering in and cars passing by. My home? No - although we're mostly keeping things in place, every corner is taken by the possessions we lock up at night, the things we need to keep us going. I could get away for a few hours to somewhere else, but I'd merely be a visitor there.

So it's mental retreats instead - snatching moments of quiet where I find them and letting the imagination paint broad green strokes for the backdrop.

One day I'll get my Zen Zone....