Albion, ancient sites, Art, Life

The southbound road

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It seems a little odd posting about my last sojourn in the north when I am back there again for the monthly meeting of the core group of the School. The time in between has been non-stop busy and I still didn’t get done everything I wanted to do before I left, so to be back amongst the hills where I can breathe and smile for the sheer joy of being alive is heaven. If I had to describe my version of some traditional heaven it would look like this. Rolling hills and wild moorland meeting the sky. It wouldn’t matter what the season… as long as it cycled through their beauties. The crystalline wonder of a winter morning when the rising sun gilds the snow; the eager light of spring kissing the earth to waking; soft autumn mists and copper landscapes… but when the heather paints the hills that, to me, is already heaven. Not long now…

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The last drive home, I had the roads to myself for the first hour… I didn’t see a soul. Not another car, dog walker or early morning rider. Even so early in the morning, that is unusual. I did, however, manage to resist the temptation to stop… most of the time. Until the banks of geraniums growing wild… I couldn’t pass them by. They remind me always of the road to my dance class as a little girl, which passed beneath the towering chimney of Yates’ mill. My childhood was an odd mix on many levels, growing up in the heavily industrialised landscape of a northern city, yet all my memories seem to be of green places and stone.

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The stone, though, came into the city too… the mellow golden sandstone of Yorkshire, that for most of my childhood was still soot-blackened from the mills and a century of pollution. I remember the cleaning process that began with the municipal buildings, shrouded in sheets as they sandblasted the dark facades; when the sheets came down, it was as if the sun had risen in the city.

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Derbyshire, through which I was driving, and my home county of Yorkshire bleed into one another, their hills, moorlands and homesteads of the same, soft stone are akin. The drive south to where I now live always feels like going back, rather than going home, while on the drive north my heart lifts with each mile I climb. The early morning homeward trip always feels like an intimate gift from the land itself, when the quiet of day breaks gently, as if just for me. And sometimes, the locals make the gift even more beautiful…


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