~ Written after leaving the familiar Bakewell ~

Some say it is in the familiarity of everyday that our soul lies. And if somehow, by some means you are detached from this familiarity, you feel a longing, an ache you wish you weren’t feeling. Losing a long kept job, finishing three years at university, marrying into a new family – everything is detested to a certain extent. It is right to say that fear of being in the unknown, experiencing the strange has stopped many a venture in our lives.

But does this apply to travelling? Do we subconsciously prefer to go to places we’ve well heard of, we know what to expect and how to feel at the end of? When in India, I knew the names of very few places in England- London, Leeds, Oxford, Cambridge, Liverpool. These were the places I had heard endlessly about and was asked to visit. But one day, a muse struck a friend – a muse in the form of a Bakewell tart. That was the first time I heard about Bakewell. I was worried if this small village whose name was unfamiliar to me, to many, could give us anything.

Bakewell, a quaint little town in Derbyshire, around 2 hours away from Coventry. As we neared our destination, the roads began to wind in. The landscape stretched with the darkness of the sky. The hands and fingers of the trees so bare shook ours without shaking. It was eerie, ancient and with soul. As the road wound down, I thought about Karaoke- ‘the empty orchestra’. Ted, in How I Met Your Mother describes the meaning of the word as ‘hauntingly beautiful’.

While the landscape stood obstinate, in its own treacheries and thoughts, we sailed past it, knowing it wasn’t an empty orchestra; yet, it was hauntingly beautiful.We walked out into the darkness of Bakewell. Bagshaw Hall, Sleep Lodge and its surroundings would have made an apt setting for a gothic novel. The looming spire of the All Saints church added to it. But without doubt it was the trees. Their tresses were dry, falling and arched in a bowing stoop. Most of them were bare. The lampposts were only short of a raven.

It was the two of us. I did not know if he was going away for a reason. But I was. To stand still and breathe. To make stand still. Fold it neatly into the time in Bakewell. But the first night in was for me the movement to a new city — strange, cold and dark. We were rejected by restaurants who had stopped serving food for the night, we lost our way, tried to walk up a dark road with a threatening speed limit. But when we finally did reach, we ate what Bakewell had given us for the night- a cheese burger and chips- mine without salad and his with from the only take out open in Bakewell – Pizzakebabwell. To this day, we think of Pizzakebabwell as a well named place!

There is something about small villages you won’t understand at first. That in a matter of few hours, you’d have gone round the village numerous times. We kept walking through the same garden, past the same Red Lion, the same CD and records fair, the same handicrafts exhibition, the same church, the same (and only SPAR), the same pudding shops, confectionaries, the same river Wye. Ah! River Wye! Bakewell’s five arched bridge is seen from where we are seated, in front of the river. White birds, whose names I do not know fly in and out of the water. Ducks immerse themselves for seconds, come out and shake their tiny necks in recurring excitement. We click pictures.

On our last night, a certain gloom took over us. We headed once again to Pizzakebabwell (we had taken the same cheese burgers and chips all nights of our stay there) where we ordered two cheese burgers and chips. Before we could remind the familiar man behind the counter, he asked ‘One with salad and one without?’ It was then that I realised what this gloom in me was – it was that haunting human predicament of separation from the familiar. In less than four days, we had taken Bakewell in and made it familiar Bakewell. When we returned, the roads seemed to share our sorrows; it was only with one consolation that I let myself be separated from Bakewell – the hope that we’d come back one day.

Today, at the mention of Bakewell, I can smell River Wye, hear the cacophony of the birds, the rain beating against my black canvas (aka poor judgement) and the slow waft of freshly made puddings, tarts and cakes. And I cannot help but smile, as if I had spent eternity there! As if Bakewell, in Derbyshire was the closest friend I’d ever had.

Note: The Pizzakebabwell picture is not an original, the one of river Wye’s been stolen from my friend’s phone!


Location: Bakewell, Derbyshire DE45, UK

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