Painful Beauty In Nidderdale

Yesterday was the Most Important Day of the Year. Husband’s birthday. It calls for a great deal of forward planning, ingenuity and inspiration. I’m pretty good on ingenuity and inspiration but the forward planning angle is very stressful, so I was relieved this year to succeed in booking dinner and a room at the rather splendid Yorke Arms in Nidderdale to celebrate the occasion.

Yorkshire is an amazingly beautiful place to live, and Nidderdale, even amidst strong competition for most-beautiful-part, comes out near the top. We arrived late afternoon after a spectacular drive through impossibly gorgeous countryside, and decided there was just time for a brisk 5 1/2 mile hike up and around the valley before dinner.

It should have been perfect except for my Allergic Eyes. I had woken up in the morning with streaming itchy eyes, which was not good news. The itchiness was compounded by going for a swim in my local pool, and the sensitive skin around my eyes being further inflamed by chlorine. By the time I got home and went to beautify myself in celebration of the Most Important Day of the Year, I realized too late that eye make-up was a foolish idea. So by late afternoon I was stumbling around the fields of Upper Nidderdale with red, itchy, swollen eyes. Not a good look, but the sheep didn’t seem to notice.

You would have thought things could only get better. But no. There’s always the Unknown out there, and without warning, ‘it’ flew straight into my left eye with a few miles left to go. ‘It’ stung me badly twice: lower eyelid and upper eyelid, and so I finished the celebratory birthday hike in absolute agony with a swollen half-closed eye.

As the golden rays of the setting sun reached out to the farthest corners of the dale, I was hard put to even see this intense luminous perfection. The only slight consolation was that nor could I see quite how bad I looked for the celebratory meal.

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