On Tuesday we deserted Dartmoor, for the day, to go to Bristol on a cello buying expedition. My daughter has been saving up for ages and finally the day had come to buy her new cello.
Bristol was great and we coped with having more than one lane of traffic, no visible sheep and the Clifton suspension bridge being shut leaving us to work our way to Upper Maudlin Street by a combination of lucky guess and distant memory. I lived in Bristol when I had my first job and have happy memories of the city.
After well over an hour playing different cellos within her price range, and one well over it “just to see” we headed home with a very smart new instrument, bow and case on approval.
It felt as though we had spent the whole day in the car or in a shop by the time we got home, so I took Rocky for a walk for us both. It felt as though only open moorland would do after being enclosed all day so we took the lane uphill. As my muscles eased and warmed up I felt my stride lengthen and take on an open, easy rhythm. I love the moment when we emerge from the green tunnel that is the lane, with it’s high Devon hedge banks and hedgerow trees meeting in the middle, onto the open moor. It even smells right – a combination of peat, bracken, gorse and the evidence of rather a lot of grazing animals.
It is easy to think there is silence once you round the corner and head over to the gorge, but there are plenty of sounds, they are just all in a natural scale – the murmur of the river hundreds of feet below us, birds calling or rustling in the bracken litter and the wind sighing through the moor-grass.
As we moved at human, and dog, pace over the ground and down towards the river I felt stresses fall away. Sitting by the river enjoying the speckled grey of the granite, the ribs of slate holding the river in her bed and the green of ferns lining the banks was blissful. There is a story told by Bruce Chatwin about some “native bearers” made to do a forced march and finally sitting down and refusing to move until their souls caught up with them. My soul was catching up with me.