My wife and I have just returned from a week in the Kingdom of Heaven.
For the benefit of those who have their doubts about such a destination, we had a most enjoyable time and, once there, had no desire to make a hasty return. That said, the crossing from this land to that was rather turbulent at times; a process which took just under two hours and involved high winds and tempestuous waters. Nonetheless, it was worth the struggle, with sunshine, peace, tranquillity, and a high level of hospitality. I was also reminded of St Matthew’s gospel (it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven); providing an interesting reflection of the effects of our straightened national economy on those working within the National Health Service!
As one would expect, a dominant feature on the landscape in the Kingdom of Heaven is a church, which can be seen from some distance. However, contrary to expectation, there is also a very welcoming tavern, with lengthy licensing hours and a very good home-labelled draught bitter. Indeed, I confess that our time there was indulgent, with no work and hours free for idleness or leisurely pursuits. Sadly though, all good things must end and we were only able to spend one week in the Kingdom of Heaven before being forced to return; although the journey back was considerably easier, with calm water and a gentle breeze easing our passage. Back in this land, we are mentally and physically revived and looking forward to entering the Kingdom of Heaven again at our earliest opportunity.
Perhaps I should at this stage give a little explanation. In the Bristol Channel lies the magical island that is correctly called Lundy (http://www.lundyisland.co.uk). Over the centuries it has been owned by several wealthy families, including one whose surname was Heaven. Amongst the family was one Reverend Heaven, and it was he who was responsible for building the church; hence the sobriquet, ‘The Kingdom of Heaven’. Lundy is now owned by the National Trust, and the properties on the island are rented to holiday makers by the Landmark Trust. There are no cars on the island, and to get there, involves a two hour crossing by boat from one of two ports in Devonshire. The island is a wonderful nature reserve, with only one shop and a tavern. Once there, one has three miles of unspoilt and uncrowded rural beauty to relax in.
Having had one of your questions answered, you are possible now asking what relevance this has to someone reading this newspaper. My answer is that it has every relevance, especially in economically chastened times. Holidays are meant to provide the panacea to our daily toil. Sometimes, going somewhere close to home (by that, I mean staying within the British Isles) and doing something very simple which does not involve large daily expenditure, can be just as restful (if not more so) than travelling half-way round the world. You don’t even need to travel far from Northern Lincolnshire to achieve that, as we are blessed with some beautiful rural areas in Lincolnshire, Yorkshire and the adjacent counties. Simplicity is sometimes the answer to life’s daily stresses.
This article was first published in the Scunthorpe Telegraph, Wednesday 3rd August, 2011.
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