Watching the world go by with... ‘ Wayfarer’
The hotel was a charming hotchpotch of buildings from different eras. The floors weren’t level and you occasionally had to duck to avoid the historic beams.
I sat in my first- floor room, lights out, enjoying the moonlight reflected from a blanket of snow. Two young folk, perhaps back from an evening out, stopped by the “crisp and even” lawn.
In a surprise moment of exuberance, they lay down and made snow angels. Then they held hands and stood in silence looking at their creations. The moment took on a surprising solemnity. They turned to go, but the young man turned back. Gently, he drew halos around their snowy heads, and they left.
What had touched them in that moment of contemplation? Was it the wonder of nature in its frosty beauty, or had they tapped into something more divine, recognising the urge that lies dormant in so many to be closer to heaven, to be angels in this life?
I don’t know the answer. But the question — and the scene — has stayed fresh in my mind for two decades.
Like the hotel the park had a mixed history. A century ago the area was dotted with coal mines, railway yards and miners’ rows.
Now there is a large “pond” in the centre of it all. It’s the flooded mouth of a mine shaft, but I doubt the birds that paddle there care about such details.
In good weather the pond has lots of visitors bearing bread. That’s when the fun begins! The ducks are fast, but the seagulls are bigger and noisier. The swans are slow to rouse but no one comes between them and lunch.
Generally, they keep to their own parts of the pond and anytime something brings them together, like bread, the result is a noisy, squawking free- for- all.
Then winter came. Judging by the undisturbed snow on the banks no one else had been there for days. The pond had frozen from the outside in, but a small area in the middle was still ice free. In a circle of water, maybe 15- feet across, ducks, swans and seagulls co- existed peacefully,