Travel at a Natural Pace; Enjoy the Journey

Oak Tree, Arbour Hill, Wollaton Park

The winding way starts at the front door, especially if we overcome a natural tendency to allow familiarity to blunt our observation. With awareness we fully appreciate what is before us. Here at The Winding Way we have always said that one does not need to go far to travel slowly and enjoy the journey. however short. The awareness created by a slow approach brings even familiar places,  and life, into a much sharper focus.

It was a chance remark at a dinner party with new friends that brought it home to me last summer. Over an excellent dinner our host told us of his interest in poetry, and that he read poetry to his wife under a large oak tree in nearby Wollaton Park. I thought I knew the park well but had no recollection of the tree and location he was describing.

The following morning I set off to find Arbour Hill and the "poetry" oak. Indeed when I found it I realised I  had probably never seen it before despite spending frequent days and hours exploring Wollaton Park over three decades, and more occasionally over several decades more. Although the park is large I thought I knew it well, but not as well as I thought it seems. I had become too comfortable only visiting locations I knew well, I was not truly keeping my eyes and mind open.

The Arbour Hill oak is not far off the path from the gate at Lenton Hall, an entrance I use rarely, tucked away in a corner that leads nowhere. The huge oak creates a peaceful arbour, with traffic on the nearby main road into Nottingham just a distant hum muted by the intervening woodland. In times past, when it would have been even more remote in the middle of a much larger estate, one could image Arbour Hill and its oak as a meeting place for lovers, discreet and peaceful; indeed an ideal place to read poetry to one's lover. Although my visit was on a busy Sunday in the park I saw no one else in the hour I spent under the widely spread boughs of the ancient oak. There is not even a clearly worn path to it, tucked away as it is. It is at the end of a path less trodden that leads only to the bower.

I now have a new place I will use when I want to just sit and be with my thoughts, to write or read, whether alone or with a loved one. So, appropriately, I finish with poetry as Arbour Hill and its oak brought to mind Omar Khayyam's Rubaiyat:

Oak Tree, Arbour Hill, Wollaton ParkA Book of Verses underneath the Bough,

A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread--and Thou

Beside me singing in the Wilderness--

Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!


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