Friday, March 14, 2008

The Hills

The Malvern Hills, to be exact. This week’s visit to the hypnotist was not only an opportunity to explore hypnotherapy; it was a chance to discover yet another part of England: Worcestershire! (Like the sauce). My only previous encounter with anything to do with Worcestershire was of course, in Bloody Mary mix. Little did I know that it’s an entire picturesque region of England. After yet another long and scenic drive through some of the United Kingdom’s best hills and farmland, Helen and I arrived in Malvern- about an hour from Gloucester. Being a couple of hours early, I had ample amounts of time to walk around and explore the area.

The lush and rolling Malvern Hills rise over Herefordshire and Worcestershire with spectacular views of both. As I walked into town, rain started hammering down so I threw my scarf over my head babushka-style and ducked into a church. Inside, it was dark and damp but exquisite all the same. I took out a book and read under the rich light, tinted by the stained glass windows- until the rain subsided a bit and I could venture further.

The town is out of a storybook. There are no large supermarkets or chain stores, only antiques vendors, modest bookshops, and inviting tea parlors. A few hotels line the streets and I happened upon one, The Priory Inn, which appeared as though it was a Disney inspired Haunted House with sinister vines crawling up all sides of the aged stone. I made my way to The Unicorn, a local pub that has probably served resident patrons for over 100 years. If it weren’t for my later appointment, I probably would have stopped in for a “cheeky pint.” Instead, I continued on my way and found another cathedral: The Great Malvern Priory. The Priory served as a monastery on land belonging to Westminster Abbey from 1075-1540. In 1541, locals actually bought the building to replace their deteriorating parish church. Due to time constraints, I didn’t actually go into the impressive structure but I took a few good photos of the exterior. The remainder of my walk through town, breathless up and down the hilly streets, was calming. A massive rainbow appeared over the hills which left me with an intense desire to either continue walking the trek until I could venture no further or to just simply sit and do something creative.

I later learned that many artists have gained their inspiration from walking through Malvern just the same…which makes sense. In fact, J.R.R. Tolkien often strolled through the hills- as well as my good friend from last weekend, composer Edward Elgar. Evidently, during his final illness, Elgar mentioned to a friend, “If ever after I’m dead you hear someone whistling this tune (the theme of his Cello Concerto) on the Malvern Hills, don’t be alarmed. It’s only me.” I hope I can leave a tribute to someplace as beautiful as Malvern one day. W. H. Auden also taught and wrote poetry for three years in the 1930s in the Malvern Hills.

I certainly could have spent more time wandering around Malvern, possibly a short weekend trip just to get away. But alas, the hypnotist called- and I answered.

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