The other day, I made my semi regular pilgrimage to the seat of, as far as I’m concerned, the greatest literary minds in the history of the English language: The Bronte’s home village of Haworth.
I’m closing in on the very end of my maternity leave which, with other factors thrown in there, has depressed me a tad. So, my husband jolly well bundled me in the car one morning after the school run and we drove off to have another wonderful Haworth adventure.
I love Haworth. I even lived there for a couple of years too when Thomas and I first moved in together. The commute was a pain in the arse, but the pay off was to be living in a tiny early 19th century cottage in Haworth. It was lovely.
It was also a box ticking exercise really. My husband, the committed and nerdy historian and me, the dedicated bibliophile. History and literature in one place? Check.
We started off our day with a Mackie’s breakfast – terribly unhealthy, but I don’t care. I’ve lost a lot of weight since the birth and am well below my pre-pregnancy weight, so thought I’d go mad.
The baby was good as gold and just sat merrily playing with her octopus toy, uninterested in her parents.
We drove the familiar route back to where we used to live; even driving past the house we used to live in. It was crazy to believe that we started out as a young couple in that little Yorkshire stone house, but we did.
Of course, since those days, we have gone forth and multiplied four times and couldn’t all fit in there, even if we wanted to!
After negotiating the stupidly steep hills that used to utterly amaze my family who hail from the rather flat St Helens, we made our way to the dreaded quick-clamp car park on Changegate and fed the baby. There are things you can never escape from when you are a parent.
It was an absolutely gorgeous, blue-sky sunny day. It was ‘cracking the flags’ as we say back in St Helens.
We bundled our nosy, happy baby into her pram and went for a stroll along Main Street, joining the throngs of milling tourists from all over the world. It is a quaint Yorkshire village that also just happens to be where the Bronte family lived.
I took some touristy photo’s when I got there, including, which is a bit weird when it’s somewhere you used to live. I just cannot help but love where I did in fact used to live – that cannot be a bad thing. For some reason, I never have
the urge o take photos of St Helens or Ormskirk whenever I go back there!
When you live in a tourist village though, you get fed up of tourists. I mean, you have to really like the money they bring to the immediate economy, but they can get a bit annoying when they start peering through your living room window.
I once drove down the Main Street, just to annoy people. I am ever so naughty, aren’t I?
We walked the length of the street, browsing in some of my favourite shops (Silverdale… I need to win the lottery and buy EVERYTHING in there!) before sitting down on a bench at the end, admiring the bunting and
comedy signs from the recent Tour de France that had passed through at the weekend.
We talked for a good twenty minutes, just about our past and our future. We reflected in the same way I have on this blog recently. We looked at how far we’d both come from our early days, how we got together in the first place and how things were nowadays.
It was amazing to look at our journey and look back at the distance we’d travelled.
We called into The Fleece on the way back up the steep street and I had a glass of wine, whilst my baby tried to eat the table. She’s at that stage of teething were everything is pretty much fair game.
We reminisced about coming into that pub years ago with friends and drinking the night away in and amongst the tourists. It seemed like a lifetime ago now and it felt like we were so young back then.
Thomas was nominated to push the pram back up the hill and considering he’s a rugby-built-man-ox, he had no problems. I’m a little, unfit, asthmatic thing so I ‘leisurely’ strolled behind him. Waaay behind him.
We elected to go towards the Parsonage to have walk round Parsons field at the back of it and have a look round the church too, which I’d never actually been to despite how long I’ve lived in Haworth for and visiting it.
For me, it was a pilgrimage. A holy and revered place for any writer. I wanted to take my shoes off when entering that church out of utter respect to the souls of the literary goddesses that were the Bronte sisters.
It was also very deeply emotional, coming face to face with the resting place of my two idols: Emily Jane Bronte and Charlotte Bronte. A few feet below me were the bodies of most of that family (Anne of course dying and being buried in Scarborough). It was overwhelming and I had to take a few minutes to sit down in the Bronte family chapel and pray in gratitude for their lives, which have touched so many.
I’m not Christian, but I respect the fact that they were and therefore prayed in accordance with my beliefs in respect of theirs.
Their works are part of my very being and I’ve assimilated them, absorbed them if you will, into me.
After being particularly overwhelmed by the experience of being in the church and in the presence of their greatness, I decided to have a walk up to the Parsonage with the husband and baby, both happily following along.
My husband understands one thing about me: love me, love the Bronte’s.
He also understands a lot more than that… I hope! But I digress.
As we walked up towards the old school and Parsonage, I had my photo taken with a random dude dressed in multi-era clothing. I had no idea if he was deployed by the local parish to entertain the tourists, or just fancied a trog out in the sun in his top hat. Either way, the dude rocked.
We didn’t have enough time to go round the Parsonage, which I have been round loads before, so we went onto the field at the back. It was empty, completely, so I took my shoes off, let my hair down and whilst my husband gave the baby her dinner on a blanket on the ground, I took to just running round free.
The wind was up, but the sun shone on. It was an almost other worldly experience. Just running wild on the moors that inspired the words of those novels. How could you be there and not be inspired?
I loved the wind in my hair and how it whipped about me, tugging away my scarf. I loved the peace and tranquillity. I adored the cold, soft grass under my feet.
I loved feeling as though I was half-savage and hardy and free. I’m a Catherine and I became the literary one for a moment, just one beautiful moment.
After we’d finished our procrastination (and baby feeding), we nipped into the museum shop where I bought a key ring and note book and headed back to the car.
I dragged my feet like a grumpy child at the end of a day out. I was sad to go home and back to reality again. I wanted to spend all day and all night running on the moors like Catherine Earnshaw.
The Reverend Patrick Bronte once said that in Haworth, he felt as though he was amongst strangers, whereas in Thornton, he was amongst friends. For me though, I am amongst friends in Haworth. They are shadows of the past, of the very long dead and they are foggy, ambiguous sprites from the imaginations of quiet women. But they are still my friends.
We called into the Edinburgh Woollen Mill on the way back, where I did a few cheeky selfies with the reasonably creepy mannequins. Rude not to!
Feeling like my old, fun loving, optimistic, joyful self was wonderful and desperately needed. I cannot wait to get back there.
Thomas has said we’ll come back and go to the Parsonage for a walk round, as I hadn’t been round there in a long while. Until then, this has been my glorious, gorgeous visit and pilgrimage to my old home of Haworth.