The hour was golden. The deer, dappled bambi types, stood unperturbed by the water. The swifts, closer than ever before, banqueting in the sky surrounding us. Not a single other human around.
Because, it turned out, the park had shut thirty minutes earlier.
We would learn this in ten minutes’ time, as we ambled between two lines of trees in the general direction of home. The park ranger was kind as he pulled up, said he’d meet us at the gate to set us – accidental rebels and interlopers – free.
“To those who are enthralled by mountains, their wonder is beyond all dispute. To those who are not, their allure is a kind of madness. What is this strange force that draws us upwards,
This siren song of the summit?”
– Robert MacFarlane, Mountain
I’ve been spending time with mountains. It started with the British Film Institute’s London Film Festival for a showing of ‘Mountain’. The film is a collaboration between director Jennifer Peedom, the Australian Chamber Orchestra and writer, Robert MacFarlane; an experiment in stomach-soaring cinematography, sparse narration by Willem Dafoe, and a soundtrack of original and classical music. The collaborators explore our changing relationship with the peaks over the last few hundred years. They note, but don’t push, concerns about the destruction that can accompany our quest for the summit, or a high-speed descent down it. They hint at the inequality of relationships – those touristing to the top and the sherpas who get them there (“those that have the least, risk most”). There is admiration and terror of the heights – and the drops – to be found across this world.
Holidays have always been a big part of family life for me. Each year as a family we would have a treasured three weeks traveling together, moving every few days, keen as we were to keep exploring new places. We’d take a stash of books that we’d all work our way through, sharing hushed conversations about unexpected twists in the tales, away from those who had not yet read them. As most of our holidays took place on boats, we’d often dine on delicious locally-caught seafood in small tavernas. Continue reading →