With all the big life changes, I haven’t found the time or the space to live very mindfully recently. However, now the Princess’s operation is imminent and the implications are sinking in, I felt the need yesterday to take some time out for myself. I made the decision not to work and took myself off to Knaresborough instead.
Knaresborough is my happy place. The place I go when I need some peace to think or just to be. It’s not somewhere I shop, or go to the library or do anything else normal – it is somewhere purely for pleasure and quiet contemplation. For those who don’t know it, it is a small town between York and Harrogate sitting on the River Nidd and well worth a visit if you are in the area.
It is like several towns in one, I always think. The top section has a high street with plenty of independent shops, a market square with several tearooms and a ruined castle. You can even see ravens around the castle through the summer. From the castle, there is a stunning view across the river and as you descend the steep steps to the riverside, you enter a different world. Here down by the water, old and new properties nestle together in the side of the cliff – some private residences, many holiday cottages, all a little quirky. The Waterside is the tourist heart of the town with couples drinking in the view along with their coffee outside the cafés, families taking walks and bike rides along the narrow street and brave souls exploring the river itself in rowing boats which are available to hire. It is always busy and yet I find nowhere more restful than sitting watching the river, listening to the birds along with the background chatter of holidaymakers, and just letting everything wash over me. Yesterday, I was struck by the vibrant colours around me – all the different greens in the foliage and the mix of pink and white blossom on the trees lining the river bank – and, as I focused purely on the moment, I felt my whole being relax.
After some time sitting by the river, I moved on down the Waterfront. As you go further down the street there are more houses and a curve in the lane takes you away from the river view. Eventually you reach another main road and I suspect this is where many tourists turn back. However, cross the road and you reach somewhere even more special. It becomes quieter, where you might see only dog-walkers and the occasional runner, with a more woodland feel. The houses are bigger, some facing on to the river bank itself, others cut into the cliff behind. The gardens all fascinate me – there are some challenging plots but the owners have all made the most of what they have, whether with terraced beds for flowers and veg or something designed to look much wilder and in keeping with the surroundings. The town centre feels a world away – all you can hear is birdsong. Yesterday, a robin watched me from the safety of a tree, coming out to the edge of a branch to treat me to a heartbreakingly beautiful song, startlingly loud from a creature so small. It is impossible to feel worry or stress and just being there stills the internal noise and helps me appreciate what I have.
I came home feeling stronger and more able to cope with whatever the week throws at us, grateful again that I live in this beautiful place which can soothe my soul in the most trying of times.