Come with me. Come with me into the walled garden. It doesn’t belong to us – it’s our landlord’s. But it’s his joy, and his joy to share it with us. We can see it – look – from our kitchen window.
So whenever the weather’s on our side, as it is today, that’s where we’ll be.
Where shall we sit? Here? Right in the centre, where there’s space for friends as well?
Maybe here at the side.
Or tucked away at the very back.
Here there is utter peace: the flowers and shrubs, the main events changing now from high summer to autumn: the bees, fuzzing and humming in the background: the background birds – perhaps a skein of geese will fly squawking overhead on their way to our local nature reserve, then onward, onward to their winter residence.
It’s our magical place. It’s where all thoughts of the dire state that our country is in are banished, and we live in the moment.
We’ll still be able to get our weekly bunch of flowers come the Revolution (Brexit). We shan’t need to worry about just-in-time-deliveries via the Dutch flower trade. We’ll carry on just as we are, strolling to The Secret Garden, just outside Ripon, to choose a bunch of just-picked seasonal blooms.
On Saturdays, as you arrive there, you’ll find a somewhat retro caravan – this one.
Look inside, and there are jugs and buckets crammed with bunches of flowers chosen and gathered by the Secret Garden’s owner, Victoria Ramshaw. Every bunch includes a mix of varieties that complement and enhance each other. Every bunch was picked the previous day and plunged into water overnight to be ready to arrange, tied with raffia and presented in a twist of brown paper. Pick one up… then another …. it’s hard to choose….
Now you’ll need to go and pay. Wander up the garden to Victoria’s hut, and enjoy a chat with her. Listen to the River Laver as it tumbles and jostles alongside. Watch the butterflies and listen to the bees. Spend time looking at the flowers. Enjoy the moment, even though the garden’s now just past its best and a bit end-of-termish. Take your flowers home, and as you look at them, you’ll remember the pleasure you had choosing them, and taking a few moments out from the daily round.
It sure beats cramming a bunch of chrysanthemums into your trolley as you do your weekly shop.
But there’s no need to take framing so literally. There are other ways of a picture inviting you in.
Those fields of rape plot the path we may take over the hills.
Near Semer Water, North Yorkshire.
The Strid, near Bolton Abbey, North Yorkshire.
While these two suggest the limitless landscape lying beyond the dry stone walls.
And these sheep, this cormorant, highlight the vastness beyond them, just as the tree below, utterly unframed, suggests the famous bleakness of the Top Withens moorland near Hawarth, home of the Brontë sisters
Sheep near Conistone, Grassington, North Yorkshire.
A cormorant on railings at the end of the pier, Whitby, North Yorkshire.
Let’s finish with typical Yorkshire weather. A view taken in the Crimple Valley one very dismal day in May.
You don’t have to go very far in Yorkshire to feel remote. You don’t even have to get beyond the reach of the man-made. Those adjacent reservoirs in Nidderdale for instance, Angram and Scar House, both built to supply the City of Bradford with fresh water: Angram in the 1890s, Scar House in the 1920s. They’re off the beaten track, isolated. You’d never guess that when they were being built construction workers had their families with them on site: a shop, a place of worship, a school, all built for their use.
Now the construction workers are long gone, and their community too. Only the odd foundation stone remains. The area feels remote, reached only after a long drive down a narrow B road and one belonging to Yorkshire Water. It’s home to a rich variety of wild life. Walkers love to tramp its walking routes, relishing the emptiness, the silence, the bleak beauty of this spot.
We’ve had Team London here this week: an engagingly exhausting three year old and his baby sister make great company, but we’ve had a tendency to disappear to our beds not long after they do, and be snoring sweetly by 10.00 o’clock at the latest. However, in among exploring York, farmyard life, a canal, and the Wild Woods at the bottom of the garden, we had a day at Harlow Carr, the RHS gardens in Harrogate.
It provided William with plenty of Things to Do Before he’s 11 3/4: roll down a hill; go barefoot; watch a bird and have fun with sticks for instance. He and Zoë were very happy.
But for us, despite their bright enthusiasm for all there was to see and do, it was a green oasis, a haven of peace. We were content, strolling along the quiet paths, or beside a stream, sharing our space with bees, butterfies and birds.