A FRIEND OF MINE WAS RECENTLY TOLD THAT WHAT SHE REALLY NEEDED WAS "A WALK IN THE COUNTRY." IT DIDN'T SEEM LIKE THE MOST REVOLUTIONARY ADVICE AND PROBABLY SOUNDED A BIT PATRONISING. MY FRIEND EVEN ARGUED THAT ALL SHE REALLY NEEDS IS "A PACK OF FAGS AND A FEW PINTS!" BUT I MUST ADMIT, I'VE COME TO SEE THE MEANING BEHIND ALL OF THIS COUNTRY TALK, AND AFTER WEEKS OF FRENZIED WORK SCHEDULES AND BARELY COMING UP FOR AIR, I DECIDED TO TREAT MYSELF TO A COUPLE OF DAYS AWAY. ALONE.
I cannot recommend enough going somewhere all on your lonesome. When I mapped my journey to the Lake District, I didn't have to get train time approval from anyone, I just bought the tickets. "Where should I stay?," I thought. "Wherever you damn well please," I answered.
Feeling weightless and without any hassle, I grabbed my fully-charged Ipod, two books, a few cereal bars and headed for the hills of Grasmere. The train ride itself was good for the soul and the hours slipped past nicely knowing that I was distancing myself from my busy little corner of the world back here at home.
In the two days that followed, I discovered the village and its surroundings at my own pace. I had no one to feel embarassed around about the fact that I wanted to go directly to William Wordsworth's grave (three times) and to both of his homes. Cheesy tourist, yes, but it has to be done for certain heros and embracing the spectacle was fun, especially when I had his poetry read to me through headphones at the museum. Imagine the impatient companion I could have brought with me!
During one of my hikes (I did more pausing and wondering than anything), I found myself in front of a waterfall amid staggeringly beautiful, bizarrely rugged hills. The sun had just begun to show itself through the rain and a rainbow only enhanced this unbelievable backdrop for a bit of reading. I even made friends with some sheep as they made their way up the stream that rushed nearby, a sound so sweet that I had to turn off my tunes and enjoy it. And as I breathed in this scene, I knew that a walk in the country was what I really needed.
Also in the Relaxation pages of the Sept/Oct issue of Bite Life Magazine