Friday, 19 February 2016

A life that is useful and beautiful



A family funeral in the Yorkshire Dales seemed a long journey at this time of year. Yet I felt I wanted to be there.
I coped with a long, dark drive one evening and was so glad to have overcome winter hibernation stagnation and ventured forth. Meeting up with distant family connections and seeing cousins from my childhood was moving and, despite the sadness of the event, cheering too.
The following day I headed towards Northumberland via a rather long detour through the Lake District.




I took a wonderful, single-track road which winds its way from Ambleside to Boot. It was quite an exciting drive, scarily steep, full of hair-pin bends and beautiful empty hillsides. It was a day of alternating sunshine and showers, so the light was wonderful, bringing out the colours of bracken andgrass. All the way, I kept getting tantalising glimpses of snowy peaks.





It was only when I reached the end of the pass that I checked the map and realised I'd been tempted way off my supposed route and would be hours late reaching my friends.


Luckily they both have a relaxed view of the world, they know me well and have sanguine temperaments. When I finally arrived, full of apologies, they smiled and said that they'd been hoping I'd found something interesting to explore upon my way.



I've known Martin since my first year at University and Madeleine for nearly as long. I consider then two of my dearest friends. I love their home, a fortified 15th century farmhouse, it fits them as a snail does its shell, it is filled with their personalities and interests. Even the wood burning stove feels part of the family!


As for their beloved Dorothy, a more noble dog I have yet to meet. She has stolen my heart.




There is also Holtby an enchanting quicksilver kitten, who was too fast and to full of life for me to capture the spirit of her in a photograph.
I love visiting them, their life is no fairy-tale but one grounded by hard work, commitment to their beliefs and the strength of their relationship. Even on cold, stormy days their home brings me comfort and peace.




 I have to be honest though and say that they are hardier than I am, so huge fires are lit for my comfort throughout my stay.
I enjoy catching up on their plans and projects. Madeleine is a Bee Keeper and is passionate about tending her bees in a natural way, often using skills learnt from the past. She made this skep, I love it and the bees are happier in an organic shape. Although the bees are sleeping we still went to greet them and tell them of my visit.



Madeleine also has a pantry... I have to admit I'm envious, I've always longed for somewhere to keep stores and supplies. For them however, it is a necessity, as they may be cut off by bad weather for days.




Martin has learnt the skill of making dry stone walls and is continuously re-building and repairing. It's immensely hard physical work but also needs a sensitivity to shape and pattern.




He is also in charge of the fuel supply. Isn't this wood pile a thing of beauty?



They are both great walkers but kindly allow me to go on more gentle potters with them. I love the winter landscape's beauty. Form and colour stand out in simplicity.



 
 

This visit we walked to the nearby willows and collected withies for garden projects.  Madeleine is planning to make hurdles and supports for the garden and I picked some slimmer branches to make a wreath base. The day was still and calm, the only sounds coming from our work and the slight rustle of branches and grass. I could have stepped back in time a hundred years.



 
 


 I feel sad saying farewell to my good friends. We live too far apart to visit often. Yet I always leave them feeling refreshed and re-inspired to leap back into my life with renewed enthusiasm and optimism. Thank you both.




16 comments:

  1. This post required more than one view. The photos are lovely and show a life so different from mine here. You're right - the woodpile is a thing of beauty. It takes a very special temperament to succeed in the sort of life your friends have chosen but it is clear that the rewards are huge.

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    1. They are two people who actually live out their lives according to their principles and their dreams. I have such respect for them. Thank you for liking my photographs, I must admit to being quite pleased with them!

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  2. What a lovely and comforting visit. I wanted to be in your pocket. It makes my day happier just reading it. Diane

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    1. Dear Diane, that is the wonderful thing about sharing our lives on our blogs, we can enjoy all sorts of different experiences! Jane xx

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  3. Beautiful photos. How lovely to meet up with special friends. I have special friends I miss too - we met up last August, and hopefully will be able to later this year, but it's a long way for me.

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    1. It is hard being far away from good friends, I do hope you have a chance to see yours before too long

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  4. Just found your blog through Down by the Sea and I'm so glad I did. Your friends sound amazing people living a simple but no doubt very satisfying life. I will be back. Barbara

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    1. Hello Barbara, Thank you for visiting, I'm glad you enjoyed this post, it has made me happy remembering the time I spent with them.

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  5. What a beautifull pictures. It looks like a homecoming visit.
    I came along your blog and I will be back.
    Have a nice Sunday
    Manon

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    1. Thank you Manon, I'm glad you liked my photographs. It's always hard to decide which capture the moment perfectly!

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  6. A magical journey that took me to a part of the country I know so well having lived for several years in Northumberland. Your friend's life looks idyllic but I know that it must require plenty of hardwork and resourcefulness on their part.
    The countryside is lovely at this time of year when mother nature bares her bones for all to see.
    I am following you.

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    1. Hello Rosemary, I love the bleak beauty of the wilder parts of England in the winter. I'm glad you enjoyed this post.

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  7. How lovely Jane to visit two such beautiful parts of the country. I loved our visit to the Lakes a couple of years back. Such lovely photos too. You sound refreshed and renewed. Liz

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    1. It was such a wonderful break away from everyday life Liz, I did return feeling so much better.

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  8. Wonderful stone walls. One of the nice things about walking in winter is that you have to make a bit more of an effort to see the beauty in nature - and appreciate it so much. Willows are always a joy, as are the underlying shapes of the land, the textures of bark, moss, lichen, etc. which tend to get overlooked in the other seasons.

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    1. I agree, I sometimes feel that winter is England's most beautiful season. I always appreciate the landscape more when everything is simplified.

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