A trip to the Yorkshire Dales: ‘Walks fuelled by the painting of nature’.

We’re driving through the Yorkshire Dales on an early Spring evening. The road is winding and hilly; up and down like we’re on a rollercoaster. It’s 6.25pm and it’s still light. But the kind of artificial glow when the desk lamp is on, in an otherwise dark room. Objects within the surrounding landscape are given an unwanted spotlight. On show like paintings in a gallery that you can’t get close to. Or under interrogation by the tired sun. Working overtime. Hiding, every now and then, behind a cloak of cloud, like its eyelids are getting heavy. Unable to stay awake and alert for much longer. Nothing feels real. It looks like a Windows screensaver. Have I truly logged off? Why doesn’t it feel real? Why does it feel so far away?

It’s been a week of elements. Mosquito nets of rainfall in the distance, a signal that the storm is on its way to you. Torrential downpour whilst the sun is still shining, like someone left the big light on when they weren’t supposed to. Then a rainbow springs up out of nowhere. The weather is as muddled as my own head feels, after a week of work. We need to re-set and re-start. Turn ourselves off and on again.  

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I ate some lovely things that weekend and I ate some not so lovely things. Sometimes food lights up hidden corners of the mind. Sometimes it adds fuel to the roaring fire inside your belly. Sometimes we let things melt on our tongue and seep into our memories. But not every time and that’s ok.

In some ways, my walk through the Dales was brightened up by a ham and cheese sandwich from Two Dales Bakery with colourful leaves and peppery mustard. Making it not just any old ham and cheese sandwich. In other ways, my walk was fuelled by the painting of nature, unfolding before my very eyes. A dusting of icing sugar-like snow left on the hills, looking like the start of an abandoned chalk drawing. Newborn lambs dotted around the fields; little buds of cotton wool on a mattress of grass. Bouncing about with the joy of new life before curling up for a much-needed nap. Up above, trees that drank yesterday’s rain shiver in the breeze like maracas and a chorus of birds all seem to be singing from a different hymn sheet but it still sounds nice.

That evening we had dinner at The Sandpiper Inn. Then, time to head home the following morning, almost fully re-charged. We ambled over to a nearby stream to soak up our last dose of nature. The healing sound of running water. Turning the bath tap on at the end of the day. A moment to wash off the person you played. Re-set for tomorrow.

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