It’s so good to get away for a bit – essential to see other places, things to make you think differently. We’re in Calderdale this week. Not the valley, but a cottage on a crag high up with a view of cows, beech trees and a cat so white I can see it creeping in the distance without my glasses on.The local pub in 10 minutes walk though a graveyard. Branwell Bronte spent his time there sketching locals, writing poems and doodling. A good thought. We went walking through Hardcastle Crags today for the first time. I must have passed the sign to the carpark 100 times without stopping. I was actually worried I might not be able to walk all the way to the mill but I did and had extra energy on the way back. Just shows it’s all psychological and letting myself lose confidence in my ability to do the most gentle walk (as it said on the leaflet). The trees were stunning: birch, beech, oak, ash, alder, rowan…. There was the rushing river with stepping stones across and a tree where people have burrowed coins into the wood. I found a good stone in the river and knocked the oldest coins in my purse into the bark: 1972 and 1986 (both tuppences). Strange and happy to know my dad was still alive when those coins were made. The National Trust cafe at the mill was disorganised and funny. The hot water had gone – no tea! They forgot the plate for the cake and I think we must have been the only people ever to buy a bottle of beer as the search for the opener was epic and required several staff! It didn’t spoil anything though.
Hebden Bridge was buzzy and good for a walk about and a drink and snack in The Old Gate. The river was running quickly and very iron-or red. I’ve written a couple of poems tonight. I’m fed up with myself for submitting work too early with silly typos (and my stupid auto-correcting computer that changes things I don’t notice in the excitement of writing). I haven’t submitted 70% of what I’ve written, but when I do I screw up my eyes and send rather than methodically checking first. Of course I can use correct grammar and spelling but my ambivalence about submissions makes me act on impulse and I kick myself afterwards.
I’m looking forward to starting my holiday reading and, hopefully, seeing I, Daniel Blake – Ken Loach’s new film – this week. I’m also debating whether to book onto a poetry residential course – something I’ve never done. I should screw my courage to the sticking place and do it. I’m also looking forward to no alarm going off in the morning – respite from the ‘Toad Work’ as Larkin said, and he was right. There’s so much more to be done with time.