Brown-Signing Is Very Much A Thing

Brown-Signing Is Very Much A Thing

People choose to spend their time in so many different ways.

And there are a lot of different and peculiar ways in which to spend the precious and ever-diminishing hours that we have left in this life. Most we just do without thought. A remote-controlled way of passing the time. Others we prepare for and take great delight in meticulously planning and executing.

And then there are the spontaneous. The things we just do. Often, hopefully, just for the fun of it.

I like those the best. Where we just do something on the spur of the moment and live with the consequences, whatever they may be.

So if you, like me, have tired of edible knitting or pen spinning, or have decided that suspended workouts or crochet sculptures are not really your kind of thing, then give a thought to brown-signing.

Yes, brown-signing is a thing.

The very random past time of spontaneously following brown tourist signs whilst out and about in Britain.

I have to admit to knowing about it for a while. I find the whole concept a little quirky and, well, rather British. There is a lovely little web-site that I stumbled across some time ago which gave me an introduction and the concept has hung around in the back of my mind ever since. And yesterday, whilst out on a rather long drive in somewhat miserable weather, I made the monumental decision to try it.

A “just do it” moment.

Because life is too short not to brown sign when you get an opportunity.

And brown sign number one was beautiful.

A cave, said to be Britain's oldest fee-paying tourist attraction, with a well, waterfall, weir and stunning riverside walk and views. Add to the mix a magnificent Victorian railway viaduct, a rather peculiar museum of items donated by the rich and not-so-famous and “petrified” in the calcified water. And also an example of money growing not on but in a tree, and there you have it. Old Mother Shipton's Cave in Knaresborough, Yorkshire. Sign spotted on the A1. British history and eccentricity at its finest.

And as in life, our path was made all the more enjoyable by the people we met on the way. In Knaresborough, the chatty and charming woman on the (very narrow) entrance gate who provided a lovely, warm welcome before advising that thunderstorms were on their way was very much in that category.

A very worthy choice for number one spot.

And then, as is so often the case, number two followed on shortly afterwards.

Further up the A1 and very different to number one. A place of peace and contemplation with wild, open vistas. Here, nature and beauty exists alongside history and spirituality. Crossing the causeway at low tide to visit Holy Island at Lindisfarne felt like an adventure in itself. The feeling of taking a step away from everyday life was very real here and that sense of being remote was never more evident than when leaving the car and taking a walk through the dunes. A sea of stunning wild flowers complimented the sound of waves crashing in the distance and truly felt like experiential heaven.

And experiential heaven may be as good a metaphor for brown-signing and life in general as I can find at this moment in time.

I await my next brown sign excursion with, in the spirit of this post and with reference to traditional British understatement, perhaps a little anticipation.

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