One sharp, misty evening in December, we set off on a trip. With pitiful raining drizzling around us and the soggy remains of train tickets in our hands, myself and Mr W hopped aboard buses, taxis and railways to journey across England in the darkest of evenings. We spent an hour aboard a noisy train, and then a further hour curled up in the cold at a tiny bus station, waiting for a big yellow bus that sadly would not come. And eventually, after numb fingers, dripping suitcases and a rather outrageously expensive last minute taxi ride…we found our Haven.
The Haven BnB in Bakewell is idyllic. A multi-floor semi-detached heavenly mansion, it seemed to us as we stepped cautiously through the door. A friendly grin from our host, a quick exchanging of keys, a brief mouth watering description of the full English breakfast that awaited us the following morning – and we were in. In a room with all the touches of an old fashioned guest house, but the warmth and mod cons of a modern estate, we were greeted by a gorgeous king sized bed, a rustic little ensuite bathroom, a TV, kettle and all the tea bags one could ever wish for.
And after unceremoniously dumping our bags and drying off a little, we dashed back out into the night – eager to explore our new surroundings (as well as fill up on some late night dinner!) However, at half past nine at night in a small village in the middle of winter – the sights you see are predominantly cloaked in black and only faintly lit by Christmas lights. We cosied up in a late night Indian restaurant, filled our faces, and with a cheery goodbye to our always-happy-to-chat waiter, ran home in the rain and snuggled up in front of the telly for the night.
Living in a city as big and as crowded as Nottingham, for us small town folk, is a stressful, ever-present fear awakening adventure. We spend our walks home from work tightly clasping sweaty palms, awkwardly trying to avoid the beady eyed advertisers in the street, the unstoppable battering-ram of office workers and the ever-so-slightly urine soaked drunks that litter our street. I truly believe we two people are souls not built for the busy life. We flinch at loud noises, we get cranky on buses and we’re so old before our time that we’ve started tutting at the clubbing crowd, rather than joining in the fun.
So Bakewell suited us perfectly. For a small village, their lifestyles are surprisingly vast – not to mention the morning view from every window in our room was breathtakingly beautiful in the sunrise, just itching to be encountered. With our breakfast booked for 8:40am sharp, we had to be up bright and early to start the day, and for once – without the stress of a commute, the dread of an office desk or the desperate dash to a bus stop, we were actually happy about it.
Our breakfast, large enough to feed several small families, was gone in minutes. Something about the fresh country air seemed to awakened a previously unanticipated appetite inside the pair of us, as we didn’t seem to stop eating the entire weekend. But once our (most likely very unattractive to watch) breakfast feast had finished, we were finally ready to head out into the world again…this time with eyes un-sleepy enough to truly appreciate the beauty that surrounded us with every glance.
Wandering gently towards our original destination in Bakewell, their famous Winter Wonderland, we spent so much of our day getting distracted by every tiny street, cobble and coffee shop we drifted past. Everything was so exciting, and yet so relaxing at the same time. No one was panicked and rushing. No one seemed stressed, or frantic, or entirely displeased with the world. This was a place where people were just satisfied. And so, for those few days we spent amongst the native happy folk, we decided to just be satisfied too. And it was amazing.
Walking through the Winter Wonderland, once rumoured to be a disastrous affair if the Facebook comments were anything to go by, we both felt the same. That no matter if the ground was muddy, the reindeer were pointedly disinterested, and the price of the tickets didn’t quite cover the overdraft-worthy costs of the mulled wine consumed within the market – we’d be satisfied with it. It made such a difference to how we saw things. We saw the fun in the Wonderland, the children playing in the fake foam snow, the mums giggling over the Prosecco bar, and the dads with dogs hopelessly muddied but with the waggiest tails even so. (The dogs that is…not the dads)
Our day grew too short, and by four o’clock in the afternoon, once we’d eaten, drunk, smiled and shopped ourselves to exhaustion, we decided to call it a day. The heavens opened up on us once again, the day had grown dark, so we picked up some hot chocolates, a bundle of bedtime snacks, and spent our evening curled up in our hotel room with all the Christmas films we could handle on TV. I know that holidays are supposed to be these adventures capers, with exciting explorations and undiscovered beauties, but for us, that was our holiday. No work, no stress, no university, no Nottingham. Just the two of us, a big cosy hotel room, a festive film and two mugs of gooey, poorly mixed hot chocolate.
On our last day in Bakewell, we decided to revel in the country life, and take a long luxurious walk right through the hills of the village. Venturing up to the church, we passed the tiniest gingerbread-esque cottages you can image, their rustic pastel doors all decked in cinnamon stick wreathes and holly berry hoops. With each cottage passed, we met more and more village folk on our trek, with each and every one stopping to wish us a good morning and a relaxed, happy smile that no city dweller can ever muster.
A particularly memorable moment for the two of us was when we encountered a bushy tailed tabby lurking near a river we were strolling past. Not only was he as friendly as his human neighbours, but our tiny tour guide even took us down a secret path to a Christmas tree farm, making our already festive frolic seem even more magical and exciting. We stopped off in a coffee shop shortly after for sustenance, curled up with our warming tea cups and were deep in conversation when a sudden movement outside distracted us. Typical of the Bakewell natives, an elderly couple we’d only spoken to briefly early that morning had stopped outside to wave through the window at us, smiling so widely it must have looked as if we were their long last grandchildren, rather than the two unfamiliar strangers they’d bumped into a few hours ago.
It was with an incredibly sad air that we left Bakewell, slumped at a bus stop in town, dreading the world we’d have to return to. I’ve never felt so contended with life as I did in Bakewell. But unfortunately, Nottingham has taken its toll on me yet again, and its back to the stresses and chaos of city life once again.
I hope you enjoyed reading our adventures in Bakewell. We certainly enjoyed having them!