Category: travel

thing 48: ‘a thing of beauty is a joy forever’: Blackwell House

Of course, Keats didn’t live in the age of the halogen bulb. If he had, things might have been different.*

I was feeling the need to find somewhere lovely and just be there, with no demands, difficulties or despairs. Blackwell House is only a quarter of an hour away and I had a visitor coming for the weekend. Excellent. That would do the job nicely.

The perma-rain—fairly discouraging as far as getting onto the fells is concerned—was due to lift a bit on the Saturday afternoon, so (more…)

thing 47: ‘immensity taps at your life’: Shap Abbey and Keld Chapel

Bewildered, amongst bewildered sheep, I was blundering around a mud-skiddy fell in the steady, slanting, seeping rain. My legs, however, were having a whole different experience—of sea breeze and wide sky and blue air; of sand sliding away beneath my feet. It was a powerful muscle memory of walking in dunes on Balmedie beach when I was little: how tiring it is; how your feet slip away from you, slowly and sometimes swiftly, at unexpected angles; how hard it is to gain any ground. I felt 52 and 8 at the same time. Very odd.

This grey Sunday afternoon I’d finally managed to lever myself off the sofa, having decided on a small adventure: visiting the Chapel at Keld. Someone had (more…)

thing 45: ‘outside falls away’: Gladstone’s Library

I now have a new way to classify the people in my life: those who, informed I was going to Gladstone’s Library for the weekend, glazed over with a sort of envious lust for books, silence and retreat; and those who looked at me with a sort of uncomprehending, slightly pitying wonderment. Admittedly, the most bewildered of the latter group had just told me she was off to Barbados for a week, so I can see that a library in mizzly north-west Wales might seem lesser by comparison. But my goodness, it was marvellous.*

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thing 40: ‘what will survive of us is love’: St Hilda’s way, part (iv)

This would be a fine place to spend eternity.

From the lichened drystone wall where I sat the land rolled away to the horizon, a series of gradual grassy undulations punctuated with clumps of shrubs and trees. In the distance the peat browns and heather purples of the moor spread their muted patchwork; within the tiny churchyard itself, oaks, ashes and other trees were stretching (more…)