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Rural Retreat

7 August 2011
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Yesterday we left our Swaledale cottage and made the long journey back to London. We wanted to fit in one last run in the fresh air so I set my alarm for 6.30. We hadn’t slept well. The room was damp, the bed lumpy and there were ominous scuttling sounds in the wall.

The previous evening, over delicious fish and chips and local beer, I had happily agreed to risk the rabbit run again – this time the mountains would be but molehills! In the grim light of dawn expectations were duly lowered. During whispered negotiations over tooth-brushing we agreed: 15 minutes out, then turn around; slow; no big hills.

It was not a great run, as you may expect. Yet now that I am in London, hemmed in by concrete and other people’s radios, I remember it differently. In 30 minutes we passed pheasants, sheep, chickens and rabbits (of course). We crossed a shallow river, a waterfall almost trickled dry, pushed our way through wet grass and hobbled over mud and stones. The air threatened autumn in its chill and the clouds hung low over the valley. Stone walls and ancient houses meandered along the river. No-one was watching but us.

On my way from the tube station to Tesco last night I saw more people than I did all last week. It’s so strange that we choose to live in the pockets of strangers like this.

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