The House At The End of The Road

By Niamh Buck (Coláiste Na Maighdne, Waterford) (Age 15-16 Category)


The train journey to my aunt’s great house in northern England wasn’t too long from central London. Three hours and forty-five minutes isn’t considerably long when you are preoccupied, with your head stuck in a book.

The whoosh of the passing train was distracting, especially when it bore a beautiful view after it had passed. The hills and fields glimmered in the afternoon sun, appearing especially beautiful. One could not simply resist the essence of its beauty, only to stare and stare until it was no longer in sight. The early summer air was lingering around and a gentle breeze was causing flowers to sway with its flow.

I wasn’t accompanied, unlike on most of my travels when usually a friend, either just made, or long-term, was there to keep me from reaching my supposed boredom. But summer was different. Central London was the place to be during the summer, unlike northern England, except for some people like me who enjoy the company of a book, and a scenic view.

I was never much of a people person. I found that I got on better with books, and nature. However, when the time came and I had to be pried away from my books and luxurious view, I became quite a sociable person and found myself getting along well with other people, which brought me on my present journey. It gave me an opportunity to do both, read and socialise.

I have always loved the smell of the country air. The smell that reminds me of my childhood with my aunt. It all reminded me of the excitement that I would feel on the journey. Getting there was half the fun.

I could never sit still on long journeys, not until I found myself devouring a book, eating into the pages, unable to stop until the train came to a halt which left me with no other option but to put my book away and venture out into the wilderness of Northern England with my mother.

From the train station, it usually didn’t take too long to get to the guest house, better known as the ‘House at the End of the Road’. Only half an hour. I would be so excited to see all the things that I missed while I was away.

To re-experience every part of nature that I had missed; to hear all of those stories from my aunt, about all of the amazing people she met. To be able to experience everything again for myself. I simply couldn’t wait.

The minute I would step out of the car, the fresh air would hit me, envelope me, and soothe my lungs with cleanliness. The sun would kiss my skin through the leaves of the trees overhead. The excitement could all be let loose. I could enjoy it, explore my surroundings. I could relax and run free.

What I loved the most about staying there was getting to experience the season’s change. Watching the young summer age, melting in with the early autumn, experience the crunching sound under your feet as you step on the beautiful fallen leaves that have turned into a mass of golden crisp. A small part of my heart stays with those leaves, fallen and trodden on.

Getting to experience the trickle of the stream getting louder and the feel of its liquid getting colder. It was all a part of the placidity of the merging seasons. Watching each morning greet you with more layers of crystals on each individual blade of grass, feeling the cold air tickle your lungs with the first few breaths. Seeing your breaths fading out into the world. It was all such a sight to be seen. It was nothing more though, without the company of a book.

It made reading all the more magical, and nature all the more lovable. My mother would have to search to find where I was hiding out with my book. Some days, in the middle of a meadow; other times by the stream. More times accompanied by the leaves while sitting under the tree. A few times in the garden, where my aunt had prepared afternoon tea. I loved every sight that nature presented me with.

My mother once asked what it is that I found to be so amusing, being awake at the rise of song of the birds while sitting out in the cold air, reading a book. I told her that my answer was simple – to see nature as a gift. Its beauty is indescribable. Its presence is peaceful. Its colours are refreshing. Its sounds cleanse our whole body and its whole being is nurturing us at every sight, without even realising. People say that they don’t believe in magic. I say that we live in it.

My aunt often enquired about how many books I have read, and to how I haven’t become bored. The answer is many, more than I have kept track of, and I can always find something that I haven’t yet explored. There is always a story untold.

I stayed there all summer, until late August. Until I finally had to be pried from the area of comfort. I cried my eyes and heart out, begging to stay just for a little longer, and prayed that she would give in. Hopeless of course, and futile it was, really. I knew deep down that I did have to go, and she was as stubborn as a rock. The one good thing about leaving is that it means that there was less time until the next visit. I stood up and stretched out as the train came to a halt, signalling the end of my journey. I reached for my bags and carried my book as I shuffled my way towards the exit. The doors opened. The fresh air hit me. I was home.