Despite being lucky enough to travel to many far-flung exotic locations, I can honestly say this week has been the best break I have had in years – and only 70 miles from home.
A few days in the Yorkshire spring sunshine has been better than a month in the Bahamas. A pub meal just a five-minute stroll away outside in the setting sun is more sumptuous than a visit to a three-star Michelin restaurant (although we did have to wear our thermals). Gosh, it was chilly.
And today, on our last day, the chance to catch up with a friend I haven’t seen for six months, to walk around my favourite part of the country, the North York Moors.
Simple pleasures rediscovered and never to be forgotten, I swear. I will never take what we have here in Yorkshire for granted ever again.
Domestic goddess Nigella might be planning a year in Venice to gather herself after the pandemic. Give me the countryside of Yorkshire any day. This week has not felt earth shattering, or exciting – just normal. And believe me normal has never felt so good.
Even the news that Hollywood has come to town has failed to cause much of a stir here. Not that I registered what was happening as the helicopter flew back and forth above our heads these past few days.
I heard it, saw it and ignored it. That’s how chilled I have been. Some journalist I have become. The fact that Tom Cruise has been filming down the road has been met with typical Yorkshire understatement. As one unimpressed local said: “I think he [Tom] is good but I have other things to be getting on with.”
And indeed they do. Everywhere we have been this week is scrubbed, painted and planted to within an inch of its life. It looks beautiful.
Not only that, it feels safe. Why anyone would want to queue up for hours outside Primark when there is all this loveliness to enjoy is beyond me. But then each to their own. This week has been exactly how I wanted to celebrate my reintroduction to real life.
When I was a child I never appreciated the joy of scenery. I always wanted to get to where we were going and get there fast. I remember groaning every time Mum and Dad stopped to look at the view. We even moaned at the very suggestion of a Sunday run out. Even more so when Dad insisted on capturing the scene on his beloved, old and rather complicated camera.
But how treasured those pictures are now. And this week I have stopped more than once just to take in the view, especially at favourite family spots where we once picnicked on ham sandwiches, boiled eggs and tomatoes (with a twist of salt) and tea from a flask.
Thousands of people have had the same idea. The villages were busy. But with acres and acres of moorland to enjoy, nowhere seemed too busy to feel anything other than completely safe.
Even the beach at Sandsend had plenty of space to meet up with our grandchildren and dig sandcastles and collect shells and pebbles. What a joy that was.
Yes, I have turned into my parents. But it’s been a hard lesson to learn and our new freedoms are all the more welcome after the year we have had.
Now we are turning the corner. Real life for a week has passed me by. I understand there has been a bit of a fuss over football. That didn’t last long. As one fan put it, when asked about the rise and subsequent rapid fall of the so-called superleague, “I’ve had longer nights out.”
Call me naive but I have deliberately tried to avoid the news this week and feel all the better for it. Next week, back home will feel different because of the week we have had.
To all those in and around Rosedale where we have been staying, good luck for the coming season. And, above all, thank you for all you have done to ensure we have had the best and safest of times.
No arguments about masks. Everybody has worn one, even while queuing outside the fish and chip van, the highlight of every Friday night.
In all the pubs and restaurants they have spent thousands on outdoor areas to reintroduce us to the joy that is someone else’s cooking.
We have signed the books or clicked the apps and enjoyed every moment and every mouthful. The staff have been fantastic. Every table full but distanced and wiped down between customers. The campsites have been busy, the village school echoing to the sound of children at playtime and the planters on the village green brimming with colour.
It has been a gentle reminder of what we have missed and what we have longed for. Now, as the arguments rage about reopening foreign travel, let us not forget the locals who rely on our business and who have put their hearts and souls into reopening after a terrible year of uncertainty.
The least we can do is reward them with our custom as life gets back to normal. And remember that for a time during these last few months we would have given anything to be allowed out to visit the stunning destinations on our own doorsteps.
We should also thank our lucky stars that we live in the best part of the country, with enough space for all.
So if you are still feeling worried, then get out there. Enjoy the fresh air. You really will feel better for it, I promise you.
Now I can really say after a week in God’s Own Country, this is what we have been waiting for. And if it’s good enough for Tom Cruise, it’s certainly good enough for us.