When in conversation with friends who live in other areas of the country, I often hear from them how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful town. Photographs of Knaresborough appear in almost every tourist brochure of Yorkshire and the UK, with people eager to spend their holidays here. Our iconic viaduct and Waterside photograph taken from the Castle, is perhaps ‘the best view in Yorkshire,’ if not the UK, and deservedly so.
And now, after this enforced lockdown caused by the Coronavirus, I am suddenly aware of how much I take my hometown for granted. I usually rush from shop to shop, only stopping for a moment to say hello to friendly shopkeepers and maybe patting a dog or two. I am blinkered about my surroundings and often don’t even notice if a building has been repainted recently. The stunning flower displays that beautify our town are just a blur of colour as I hurry on. The historic architecture of every building is lost on me as my mind frantically tries to remember my important ‘to do’ list.
The truth is, like so many of us, I don’t stop and truly look and appreciate just how beautiful our town really is. I am not mindful as I make my way through the town. I don’t look at the ‘little things’ and in doing so, I miss so much. However, coronavirus has changed all that. I realise I WANT to look at the ‘little things.’ I want to be back out there taking in every detail about the town that I love. I want to see every friendly face, I want to walk by the river, I want to taste freshly brewed coffee and I want to visit every local shop and tell them that I’ve missed them.
So today I wrote this article on how to be a tourist in your own town. Once this crisis passes perhaps we can all take a wander into Knaresborough and view it with very different eyes. Perhaps it is time we looked deeply at our town and to express gratitude for living in such a beautiful place.
Once we get the all clear to go out again, why not spend time becoming a tourist? Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Instead of rushing round your town trying to complete all your essential tasks, simply slow down. Walk round the town with an open mind and keep your eyes open. Look at each building as though you are looking at it for the first time. Notice the architecture and the style of a building.
Be mindful of every step you take walking through the streets. Try find tiny streets that you have never walked down before. Park your car in a different car park and take a different route to the Post Office or wherever you are going. Why not watch a real tourist in action? They walk slowly, almost as though they are scared they will miss something. Be that tourist.
Visit our local Tourist Information Centre which is located in Knaresborough Library. These Centres are a mine of information about the local area. Here you can pick up free leaflets about local walks, places of interest and future events.
Select one day a month when you will be a tourist. This way you will not be distracted by your daily chores and you can dedicate the full day to exploring. On this day you could even try a new activity in your area or a new dog walk. Knowing this is YOUR day, you can relax and enjoy the day, just as tourists do.
Part of being a tourist is to plan for a nice lunch somewhere, usually with coffee or tea breaks slotted in and around lunch. You might have rushed past that cute tea room many times on your way round town, but how about you actually go in it and order yourself a nice home cooked lunch. When I am away on holiday, I always find a nice tea room for an afternoon stop for coffee and cake. It brings the day to a nice relaxing close and is time to reflect on the day.
Take plenty of photos on your tourist day and try and see things from a different perspective. Look at buildings and landscapes as though you were a photographer, eager for that perfect photo. Why not use some of your favourite photos and have them printed? Maybe you can create a mural on a wall at home of your favourite photos of Knaresborough? Sometimes we see things differently when we look at a photo. We can see details and perspective that we may never have seen before. From personal experience this is such an eye opener and I feel so enlightened when this happens.
Locate fiction and non fiction books about Knaresborough. This is a great way to experience someone else’s view point of your home town. This doesn’t have to be a tourist book. It can be a fiction book which just happens to be based in your town. I have just started a fiction book by local Knaresborough author, Lorna Foyle which is a story centred on Mother Shipton. It looks interesting and I can’t wait to read it.
Finally, enjoy your day as you step foot into the town once it reopens. It is only when we have lost something that we truly appreciate what we had in the first place. I am so looking forward to that day and I hope to see some of you in town then. I am thinking of a coffee shop crawl to see how many home made cakes I can consume in one day! Who’s with me? 😉
Until that day, take care and stay safe.