The Sunday Telegraph - Sunday - - Front Page -

scat­ter­ings of wind tur­bines and elec­tric­ity py­lons there are still places where our own in­flu­ence upon the land­scape can high­light its beauty. To gaze upon Abra­ham Darby’s bridge, built across the Iron­bridge Gorge, is to mar­vel at the work of man and the work of na­ture. The gorge it­self is only 15,000 years old, the prod­uct of the last Ice Age. Darby’s bridge dates from 1779, al­most as far re­moved from present-day life as the Ice Age it­self. Stand and stare at the two and muse on the fact that most of our great views are, in­deed, a com­bi­na­tion of nat­u­ral ge­og­ra­phy and hu­man in­ter­ven­tion. Each of us has trea­sured favourites – prospects that sig­nify spe­cial mo­ments in our lives, happy en­coun­ters, or time spent with those we love. For me, the view from the Cow and Calf Rocks at Ilk­ley over the Wharfe Val­ley be­low re­minds me of my child­hood in the York­shire Dales – the river snaking like a sil­ver rib­bon though the glacial val­ley be­low. In later life I have come to love the Mi­nack Theatre in Corn­wall. Built on the rocky cliffs by the in­domitable Rowena Cade from 1929 to the mid1900s, it hosts plays and mu­si­cal per­for­mances by am­a­teur com­pa­nies right through the sum­mer – some­thing dif­fer­ent ev­ery week. It mat­ters not what you see. Go along and sit high up in the am­phithe­atre, and in the in­ter­val, or when the per­for­mance has its lulls, you can look out to­wards Lo­gan Rock and watch dol­phins and bask­ing sharks putting on a per­for­mance to ri­val that of any the­atri­cal com­pany. As the sun sets, the moon rises, and the view is trans­formed. But it is the fact that views can trans­form us that is their great­est value, if only we would give them the chance. Some­times they can be en­joyed with oth­ers, but of­ten they are best savoured un­ac­com­pa­nied – your mood alone will dic­tate your thoughts, or the ab­sence of them. As the old say­ing goes: “Some­times I sits and thinks, and some­times I just sits.” It’s time we all did more of the lat­ter – sit­ting and gaz­ing at the glo­ri­ous prospects be­fore us, whether they are of man-made cathe­drals and el­e­gant pub­lic build­ings, of nat­u­rally sculpted coun­try­side and me­an­der­ing rivers or sim­ply of trees and sky. When all around you are los­ing their heads, take your­self off and sit in front of a view that you know and love. Sit there for longer than you re­ally feel you ought to, re­mem­ber­ing that it ex­isted long be­fore you ar­rived, and that it will, God will­ing, be there long af­ter you have gone. Muse on your re­spon­si­bil­ity to it, vow to en­sure its sur­vival, and be grate­ful to those who have gone be­fore and cher­ished it. But above all, the con­tem­pla­tion of what lies be­fore you should al­low you to put life in per­spec­tive far more ef­fec­tively than a bot­tle of pills or a ses­sion with a ther­a­pist. If only you will sit there for long enough…

And while you are there… The first Bri­tish ap­ples are in the shops. The early-ripen­ing va­ri­eties like ‘Dis­cov­ery’, left, and ‘James Grieve’ may not be good “keep­ers” but they are, as an ap­ple grower re­minded me this week, ‘the Beau­jo­lais Nou­veau’ of the ap­ple world – best eaten fresh and savoured for their crisp­ness and flo­ral flavour. As I bit into a ‘Suf­folk Pink’ plucked straight from the tree, I re­mem­bered that there is at least one good thing about au­tumn. Where’s that Wens­ley­dale, Gromit?

Sights for sore lives: gaz­ing at a cher­ished view, such as Mi­nack Theatre, the Cow and Calf rocks on Ilk­ley Moor or Chip­ping Cam­p­den High Street, can do you more good than any pills or ther­a­pist

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