“That you, lass?”
“Oh!You made me jump! Yes, it’s me, Grandfather. I was just tinkering with some ideas…”
“Hmm. Very atmospheric.”
An awkward silence settles briefly between us.
“Where have you been?”
“Erm, well… away, Grandfather.”
“What do you mean ‘away’? Away where?”
“I, well… er… we had a couple of week’s holiday in North Yorkshire a little while back!” I offer.
Frowning, he regards me.
Was the lure was bright enough?
“Did you go to Kirkbymoorside again?” he asks, his eyes lighting up for an instant. Then he frowns. “But you’ve been away a lot longer than…”
“Mmm, we stayed in the same place as last year – a farm just outside Kirkby” I interrupt hastily. “Oh, Grandfather, it is so beautiful there. And we had lovely weather!” At this he harrumphs and looks at me “Lovely weather? In the Autumn? In Yorkshire?!” he says with a wry smile. I think he’s swallowed the bait.
“Yes, we were really lucky – it only rained on one day, I think. Unfortunately, it was the day we walked along Douthwaite Dale, although it actually created a wonderful atmosphere – as we walked, wisps of cloud drifted past us like wraiths.” He begins to smile, all thoughts of my absence forgotten. “You were right, Grandfather, it is a marvellous, ‘primeval’ place, and I really felt it hasn’t changed since you learnt to swim by the footbridge over the Dove near the ford at Yoadwath, when you were a boy. Although it’s more overgrown, I guess”
“Ah, lass” he sighs wistfully “Douthwaite Dale.”
“We took up your invitation in ‘A Corner of England’- do you remember it?”
“As Renfrew says in the Criticisms at the end of the essay – your description makes ‘one wish to go in person and enjoy the beauty of this unspoilt Corner of England’ – and we did!”
“Did you?! Well I’m d——d!” His smile broadens into a grin. ”Ah yes, I seem to recall my fellow SES members were quite complimentary.”
“Well, it is a beautiful description, Grandfather! In fact, we took a copy of the essay with us, and walked as much of the route as we could. Sadly though, we couldn’t access part of the walk, and a lot of the river was hidden by huge trees.”
“That’s a shame, lass.” He pauses. A shadow seems to fall across his face and his smile becomes wistful. I recall the lines from his essay where he begins to reminisce about fishing with friends at the Leg of Mutton Pool:
…with the gathering shadows memories come thronging of all the good fellows who have sat here in the gloaming with me.
“It is a shame, but it was still so lovely. I was really disappointed not to see the Leg of Mutton Pool, though. I think the trees have grown so big they hide it. Anyway – here, let me show you some photos of how it looks now.”