No traffic. No urban buzz.
Just gentle tourists bumbling around, collecting pollen (in cake form) from the cafes and the bakery. Some, wearing Joni Mitchell’s ‘passport smiles’, hail from foreign countries.
They’ve done the Parsonage and possibly the church. Now they’re browsing the shops and small galleries.
Sampling the ale at olde worlde inns.
Stone is all around us, above and below us.
Steps worn into concavity by the passing of many feet.
Church and apothecary, pubs and shops. The old Co-operative Society, sadly gone, except for the sign cut into the stone.
The station where the steam trains run, bedecked in summer flowers, garnished with gleaming paintwork. Heaps of shining anthracite, waiting to feed the iron beasts.
As the day wanes a sound comes from the school the Reverend Brontë established: many hands clapping as the poetry performance we’ve missed comes to an end.
A woman in a bright full skirt with many net petticoats knocks on the next door house, delivering a birthday present. For a dog.
And with that, a burden has been lifted.
Last week was pretty grim in England. Well, that’s if you’re interested in politics. And believe we belong in the European Union.
‘We’ English folk (and the Welsh) voted to leave the EU. Scotland didn’t. Northern Ireland didn’t. But ‘we’ did.
The area where I live didn’t either, but that’s tough. We’re part of England. And contrary to what some (rather snipey) people have said, I accept the verdict. I have no choice.
That doesn’t mean I’m happy. I’m not. I still wake each morning feeling normal and it’s lasting a little longer, now, that normality, but then I remember what ‘we’ have done.
It’s wearing, that feeling of bereft-ness.
By Wednesday of last week I felt worn to a frazzle. Started looking for a place to escape, to recover.
Some force above – or at least beyond me – guided my hands to type ‘self-catering Haworth’ into a search engine. That same force came up with ‘romantic retreat for two’ as its first link. I looked no further. Clicked. Rang. Booked. And here we are.
And here, all is well. All manner of things are well.
Last night we ate at the pub where Branwell Bronte drank. Hard by the apothecary’s shop where he bought his opium.
And later, opium-free, but drugged with a little red wine and fed with a local game pie, we slept well for the first time in a week or more.
Today, the promised rain and grey clouds are nowhere to be seen. Yet.
Rooks caw. A robin sits on a telegraph wire.
Beyond them is a slate-roofed Victorian church where the Brontës all lie buried and where poor Reverend Brontë preached.
It’s a reminder, this happy weather, that, now and then, the Brontës would have had merry times. That not all their lives were spent living with tragedy and the miseries of which they wrote.
Here, in the old forge, in a courtyard, we’re surrounded by small, inward facing cottages. There’s no privacy outside the house walls.
It’s peaceful now, but then, horses’ iron-shod hooves would be striking sparks from the cobbles.
Wooden wheels clattering. The smith at work, iron resounding on iron in the confined space, echoing through the smoky dwellings above and around.
A cacophony joined by voices, barrels and clogs.
People coughing in the streets, some in the early stages of consumption, others with bronchitis. Venting congested lungs, fuelled by coal smoke curling from many chimneys.
All gone. Except the chimneys. And a pair of old wooden-soled, lace-up leather clogs hanging from an elderly woman’s washing line post.
And so, as the sun shines on the church roof I feel blessed – and grateful.
An old hymn plays in my head.
“Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire
Speak through the earthquake wind and fire
O still small voice of calm
O still small voice of calm.”