We were, inevitably, way too early. But that was okay; it meant we had chance to drink in the morning light … and a morning coffee… at the Barrel Inn, perched high above the little village of Great Hucklow where, in a magical shift of imagination and by the power of a ‘willing suspension of disbelief’, we would soon find ourselves in the temples of ancient Egypt.
For the moment, however, we stood with the wind in our hair, blowing away the cobwebs of the night. Below us a bank of yellow gorse echoed the sunlight, tumbling like a golden stream down the hillside… a river of the sun indeed.
The road that runs along the ridge from the ancient hillfort of Burr Tor is little more than a narrow track. On one side are tamed fields, bounded by age-old walls of Derbyshire stone; on the other the wild moors lead to the distant peaks that stand sentinel over the landscape. Here you have the feeling of being poised between worlds… a fitting place to take a deep breath before plunging into the magical mayhem of the weekend.
On the one hand you could perhaps call it madcap mysticism… a time of laughter and friendship, where a playful spirit reigns, where traditions hide their eyes in their starched aprons as we use popular music for meditations and we all dive for the pub at the end of the evening. On the other hand it is a true spiritual journey, exploring aspects of the inner self and bringing spirituality out of the shadows to be where it needs to be… right in the centre of everyday life.
There is a misconception that spirituality needs to be sober and serious. It is both, of course, and more than both, yet that does not preclude laughter or mischief. The spiritual journey should bring joy and is characterised by a lightness of being rather than a heaviness of heart and the weight of sorrow. Here, on such a morning in spring, it is as if the world smiles back and the blossom-laden trees nod in approval.
We watched the sky as the clouds raced.
“That’ll be Steve,” said Stuart, eyes twinkling as he nodded at the paraglider swooping down towards the village.
“That’s one way of making a grand entrance…” I raised the camera, knowing it would make the third director smile when he actually did arrive.
We wandered back down to the village and parked the car, way too early for the lunchtime rendezvous at the pub. It was rather nice to have the village to ourselves for a little while. The mellow stone was softened by great swathes of flowers. Magnolia and cherry trees vied for attention… stately grace and laughing blossoms. Bluebells nodded in the breeze and daffodils turned sunny faces to the sky for a golden kiss.
We walked through the silence broken only by birdsong, already seeing what the landscape would offer us for next year’s workshop where the Green Man would reign. Climbing the hill we looked down on a village that feels like home after all these years. There is no place we would rather be than right here, right now; nothing we would rather be doing than waiting for our friends and companions to arrive. A glance at the clock told us it would not now be long before they did. “Shall we?” We headed down towards the Queen Anne and the weekend had begun.