‘My special place helps me come to terms with heartache’
Julia Mitchell, 41, from Wilmslow, Cheshire, never knew how much the serene waters of the lake would help her.
Whenever I visit my parents’ farm, I follow the same routine. I walk across the farmland, up into the beautiful rolling hills and valleys of the Lancashire Pennines, until I come to my favourite spot. I sit on the ground with my back against the oak tree that overlooks the beautiful lake. This is the only place where I can truly switch off and relax my mind.
I first fell in love with the lake when I was seven years old and my family moved into my grandparents’ farm. Though my two younger sisters didn’t share my passion, I immediately embraced farm life and spent hours roaming the vast acres of arable land. It was like having a huge, safe garden.
The lake, known to our family as The Lodge, is roughly the size of three
full-size swimming pools and is dotted with trees. At first, my parents would take us there as children to play and have a paddle, but gradually my sisters lost interest and it was only me visiting – it was like my own private lake.
I watched ducks paddling and herons wading as sheep grazed and bleated in the fields beyond. As a teenager, I’d gather up my revision books first thing in the morning, pack myself a lunch and stay there studying for my exams all day. Sometimes I’d take my little Sony Walkman and listen to the Rolling Stones as I walked the banks. I remember a particularly bad teenage break-up with a boyfriend when I sat sobbing beneath my tree, but my private sanctuary offered the comfort I craved – and
I felt much better as I headed home.
Inevitably, when I headed off to university, got a job and married, visits home weren’t so frequent and my trips to the lake fizzled out. But, eight years ago, I moved nearer to my parents and I rediscovered my lake. Times there are precious, especially as I’m running my own PR business now. I’m constantly connected to work, so a chance to escape is something I really need in my life. I’d stay there all afternoon like I used to if I could, but these days I have to make do with an hour or two while my parents look after my daughter Audrey, who’s six. On those occasions, I’ll leave my phone with them and wander down for a quick reboot.
I’m going through a divorce at the moment and it’s still very raw, but visiting my special place is helping me
come to terms with the trauma.
I always leave feeling restored.
Audrey loves visiting ‘Mummy’s Lodge’ too, and it’s heartening to see how she’s following in my footsteps and learning to love being away from technology and enjoy the natural surroundings.
Moment to reflect
I think all women should have a special space where they can reflect and have a moment’s pause from the rigours of daily life. These days our lives are so busy with work and family. We’re constantly rushing around, running the home, cooking meals and scrolling through social media – we’ve forgotten how to be by ourselves and listen to our own thoughts.
I dread the day when my parents retire and sell the farm, even though I know it’s inevitable at some point. Until then, I’ll savour every moment there. It’s my little slice of heaven.
‘A chance to escape is something I need in my life’