When I was a child, I remember seeing a postcard that one of my relatives had received from a friend who was visiting Ireland. From what I recall, the postcard was an image of a flock of sheep walking down a country lane and impeding the progress of a solitary figure on a bicycle.
I was drawn to the card for two reasons. One, I realised, even at my relatively young age, that it was meant to be humorous, and two, I’d never visited Ireland and so I wondered if it was not just humorous but actually true. Could there be places in the world where everything moved so slowly amidst wide-open spaces? Now it seems silly that I could think such a thing, but I was living in a council estate in the City of Hull – and even though the roads were nowhere as busy as today, I still understood what a traffic jam was.
Well, several decades later, I came to live in the Breamish Valley and, within a few short months, I was transported back to this childhood memory as I witnessed for myself the countryside gridlocks and the sheep herding through villages. It was a bit like smelling apple pie and being transported back in imagination to a warm, cosy childhood.
So, even today, I quite relish a countryside gridlock (mmm…we used to call them ‘traffic jams’). I try to take my time and just enjoy the experience. Of course, I realise that this is largely because I’m now retired from work and so the need to get anywhere fast has, by and large, disappeared. So, I do still have sympathy for workers who need to get on their way and about their business. However, if having to wait for a few sheep or a few cows is inevitable, then it’s probably worthwhile trying at least to enjoy the experience.
And I enjoyed this one at Branton a couple of days ago…