This year I have been able to explore Belper with new eyes and at a slower pace whilst being off work on maternity leave.
When spring came I began walking through Belper Park into town and discovered the calming effect of the trees. I have sat next to the brook and been enveloped in its beautiful musical space.
In town, I have loved my regular game of dashing into one of Belper’s brilliant coffee shops as soon as my baby falls asleep. Many hours have been spent downing lattes, trying to refuse mountainous slices of cake (failing), and watching my baby’s delight in the sights, sounds, and smells around her when she wakes up.
I have stopped to sit in the Memorial Gardens and soaked up the lush grass and spectacular floral displays. I have enjoyed watching the movement of the town around this quiet little oasis.
I have sat in silent meditation with others in Belper’s historic Unitarian Chapel, and wondered at the wildness and beauty of just being in our minds. And I have been down into the crypt beneath the chapel to stand where members of the Strutt family lie resting, enveloped in the earth.
One afternoon I stumbled upon a poem from Beth’s Poetry Trail, and have made it my mission to find them all, one all suffer if we kept silent.
Having this time has meant that I have been able to talk to those around me during my wanderings around Belper - in the park, at the shops, sitting drinking coffee. I had no idea how much it would come to mean to me to know the names of, and recognise the faces of the people I live amongst. And I was deeply moved at the recent meeting at the Strutt centre where hundreds of people gathered together to take stock of the current housing proposals.
This year, Belper has taught me to live, really live, in the place where I am. I have hope for our town, regardless of the struggles we have next to face. And I am looking forward to carrying on exploring what our town has to offer.