So it’s homeward bound after a lengthy and restorative sojourn up in the north of England, in Wordsworth country. Walking, eating, drinking, playing and writing, all in abundance, also fighting with Collect+ over their pretty lousy tracking system that resulted in a package making its way all the way up here and then back to the sender with nary an update. Hmm. Still, frustrations of modern life aside, this period of slow living is one of my favourite of the year. In between all the doing nothing, which, of course, takes up a lot of time, I did manage to get some writing done as well, working on the new piece for the Parliament Choir, now on its second restart, so version three. Time is running out for this, so this is undoubtedly the final version I will be able to write, but at least it feels as if it could be honed into something approaching a finished product. It is also on its second text, so Keats rather than Shakespeare, and as I stood atop Helvellyn last Wednesday, master of all I breathlessly surveyed after the long and strenuous ascent, I thought of the young poet’s mention of it and the spirits of his age – Hear ye not the hum of mighty workings? Alas, all that could be heard of a morning in the cottage was the sound of frantic scratchings of pencil on paper, with the occasional softly muttered oath.
Back to work it is then, and the mark of a proper holiday is that is renders one ready to get back to the everyday, and I am certainly at that point. September is, for me, much more the beginning of the year than January, much more the point at which resolutions, foolishly made, might actually coalesce into habits, so my intent, as always, is to write more (possibly) and better (definitely). The Keats setting has proved to be a challenge, but I think that experience has seen me through, to my relief.
Farewell, then, to the Lake District for this year. It has become apparent to me of late that it seems quite the sensible thing to do to head north for the summer and south for the winter, at least if you intend to remain comfortable through the best part of the day and not lose it to hiding in your air-conditioned apartment. Find me around 20 degrees in new money all year round and I think I’ll be satisfied, and who minds the occasional deluge when you have a shelf of the latest cardboard to play with, and a pub three minutes away with excellent food, a vast range of proper beers and table big enough to spread out your copy of Star Realms or Race For The Galaxy?
It will be good to be back in Somerset, though, and at least the crushing sense of doom at the end of a holiday has well nigh disappeared since we moved away from glamorous Mitcham and our charming neighbours there. The year ahead could prove to be challenging on a personal level, however, and I have no doubt that by August 2017, wherever I will spend my summer, personal things may well be quite different from how they are now. In fact, there have been distant rumbles of thunder through this holiday from various directions, but I have survived unscathed, which is more than I had expected.
Even after three weeks we have not quite managed to do everything we intended to do. Some restaurants remain unpatronised, some peaks unclimbed, some idyllic valleys unvisited, some games underplayed, but my impression has been of a full and worthwhile holiday. Alas, the skies were cloudy then the shooting stars came round, so no lying on our backs in a field at dead of night like last year, but there is always next time, and our new host has been gracious, friendly and welcoming. In fact, we have become so much a fixture round these parts at this time of year that we were asked the day before we left if we were locals. Not yet, I said, not yet…