An Escape, Nonetheless

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“I don’t think this place is ever dry,” my husband says as our little car takes another curve on the winding, nausea-inducing Yorkshire roads. “But, that’s probably why everything is so green,” he continues, taking yet another curve a little too fast for my stomach.

And he’s right – it’s uncommonly green for late autumn. The grass is green as spring, even if the trees are alight with fiery oranges and reds and sunny yellows. Sheep graze just over the stone walls on either side of the road. Cows, horses, here and there a pig in a little enclosure. The animals seem content, happily chewing, chewing, chewing.

It’s a quiet place. An out-of-the-way, charity-shop-and-tea-shop-filled place with more older people than younger. The meat and produce are locally sourced, so much so that the people we meet let us know that the butcher the next town over is considered too far.

Aysgarth, the village we are staying in, has spectacular waterfalls, the ruins of a castle can be espied in the distance, and a spectacular church filled with carved wooden pews and gorgeous stained glass surrounded by a graveyard that contains graves so old that instead of maudlin, it’s charming.

At night, the dark is so absolute and the silence so complete that it’s easy to think you’re not only in a different, earlier time, but on a completely different planet. The countryside here is like that, a complete escape from the fast-paced city life we left at home.

Except … our son is traveling with us. He is 18 months old, and jet lag hit him hard. A tantrum at the tea shop, a meltdown at the antique store, waking up in the middle of the night and staying awake, giggling for hours in that complete country darkness. At all meals, he throws his food, his utensils, his toys, our food. He doesn’t seem to notice the sleepy villages, the gentle hum of the tea shops and the general lazy good humor and quiet civility of the people we meet. To him, Yorkshire is much too quiet. There are things to throw, after all, and food to spit out. There are ears to listen to his complaints and so many antiques to try and kick, knock over or destroy in any way that he can.

Is this adventure less relaxing than our last trip into Yorkshire? Absolutely. There are fewer late nights spent in a snug at the local pub. There’s less time spent slowly browsing the shelves at the shops and more time spent yelling, “let’s leave now!” over the cries of an angry toddler as onlookers offer glances that are half pity, half annoyance. Meals are louder and less cozy, and we spend a good deal of them with a small child on our laps, poking at our food and grabbing for flying forks.

Our bedtime is earlier and our daily plans include nap times. Car rides are more stressful, as are excursions to castles, walks in the Dales and basically, all everyday interactions. But I have to admit that even if he makes the trip a little more challenging, he also makes it a little more exciting. As crazy as he makes us, he also brings out the best in others. Even in his tantrums, he charms every woman in the vicinity. Even when he’s screaming in a shop, the second he’s outside he’s smiling and hugging and holding our hands as we walk down the high street. Just like Yorkshire, his stormy moods only highlight his green, sunny personality. Travel sure is different, but it’s still an escape even if it’s just from the boring comfort of routine – a toddler guarantees that.

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