Lines on an Autumnal Evening

Scenes of my Hope! the aching eye ye leave
Like yon bright hues that paint the clouds of eve!
Tearful and saddening with the sadden’d blaze
Mine eye the gleam pursues with wistful gaze” (Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1793)

This time last year (pretty much), as I write this, we were just pulling in to the Inn at Whitewell, late for lunch. As ever with these things it seems both like yesterday and a lifetime ago. Life (and, with its third iteration, The Trip) has of course moved on. We turned 40, I moved jobs and into a new house and my eldest son’s recent 5th birthday signals that I am now beholden to term time holidays.

None of these developments came as surprises of course, but I look back this year with a growing fondness for the excursion and also a melancholic appreciation that it will stand alone, for the time being.

Also in the months since I enjoyed The Trip to Spain. Amusingly, I am sure its release drove some traffic here, if only because “The Trip 2017” was by far the biggest search term used by people navigating to the blog. Perhaps they found some of its content entertaining, if confusing.

I have also taken time to listen to the audiobook of Steve’s autobiography, Easily Distracted. It includes some production insight into The Trip, not least the startling revelation that it took five weeks to film and multiple return visits to the Lakes and the Dales to plug gaps and re-shoot. Naturally I am entirely ignorant of filming logistics/schedules (and I was aware of course that it wasn’t shot in six days) however five weeks is quite something. It certainly explains the continuity “errors” that I embarrassingly gleefully catalogue at points in my earlier posts. Again, as I learn more about Michael Winterbottom’s filmmaking style, I realise that continuity is not a big part of it (see Chapter 4: Michael Winterbottom, A self-effacing auteur? by William Brown, Seung-hoon Jeong, Jeremi Szaniawski, The Global Auteur: The Politics of Authorship in 21st Century Cinema, Bloomsbury Academic, 16 June 2016). It seems strange to have tried to recreate The Trip so faithfully in that regard but, equally to my mind it is a credit to the production, which felt so real and authentic that it meant I was so hell bent on having our own “authentic” experience.

The gnawing nostalgia for last year’s road trip means that I inevitably toy with ideas for doing it again. I talked in The Trip 2017: where next? of heading west, trying out new regions, new restaurants. But I keep coming back to a sense of unfinished business with the North of England. My rotten sickness and lack of working taste buds last year was miserable. Clearly we also missed out on a few of the original experiences: lunch at Whitewell rather than dinner; L’Enclume rather than Rogan and Company., Hipping Hall, wandering Bolton Abbey, scaling Malham Cove, the Yorke Arms. And I loved being in the Lakes, I want to do it again. A slight eastward detour might also be required now that “the best restaurant in the world” appears to be in North Yorkshire.

The time of year is important as well. To my mind it has to be autumn/winter. Pubs/Inns are cosier then. The crowds diminished. The scenery enhanced by Autumn’s hues.

School holidays and family commitments are set to scupper us in the near term. But while the first trip (ours) took some six years to come to fruition, I hope the next one isn’t such a long wait.

Until then, I’ll just reminisce about 2016 and work on my impressions.

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