Thursday, April 05, 2007

A trip to the North..

The train speeds north, past retail sheds and ploughed fields and rape, nearly in flower.

Around lakes, men sit watching the water with tents behind them. Lonely wives wait, not dreaming of fish.

The house is set on a windy hill. A turbine rotates at speed, bringing us light and warmth.

We walk inside the earth, near Clapham. Magical forms greet us (the sword of Damocles, the mushroom, the witches hand..) A city lies far off, underneath the water.

We drive for miles upon miles across the treeless moors. Crags rim the heights. Shallow streams bauble past small boulders in the valleys. I remember something a teacher from Yorkshire taught me over 26 years ago: SUNWAC. The six rivers of the Dales: Swale, Ure, Nidd, Wharfe, Aire, Calder.

At Malham Tarn, a strange clump of trees drift in and out of vision. The landscape is milky and spectral. Mallards float on the cold water. We cannot see the other side.

At Malham Cove, we spy a peregrine falcon high on the ledge through someone's telescope. It sits proud, gripping the rock with yellow tallons. It can kill and carry cats and herons, diving at 200mph. The twitchers are held in awe, staring up at the crevice.

In the Lister's Inn, I drink fine Belgian beer (Duvel then Chimay). Dad has a local bitter, mom a pear cider. My niece and nephew chatter in their partially closed world. The pub is perfection.

Two days later, the train whisks me back to the continental warmth of London. The place names of the Dales haunt my imagination: Cracoe, Threshfield, Appletreewick, Grassington, Otterburn.


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