Thursday, 24th September, a trip to Blackshaw Edge

8:56am. Autumn is here. The rain is coming down steadily, lighting up the slates on roofs, animals seek shelter, people hurry instead of taking their time. I got the last of the summer on Tuesday morning. Tuesday afternoon the clouds came, the temperature went down and autumn crept in ever so slowly. We will see the sun again but it’s a different sun, further away, not as warm. The earth has rotated one more degree and the changes here are measured by cloud, wind, rain, sunlight and temperature. We have all moved one step closer to our destiny, a destiny none of us can avoid.

I love the coming of autumn and all the changes it brings as the earth begins to get ready to go to sleep, getting the thicker duvet out ready to go to sleep when winter arrives and the earth regenerates itself ready for another year.

I’m feeling emotional, creative, happy. I have feelings bursting out of me wanting to go somewhere, anywhere, everywhere. I want to dance in the rain and feel it slide down my skin, reaching down into my soul, awakening feelings and emotions that have lain dormant for too long. Rain making me feel human again, making me remember what it is like to be touched ever so gently that you feel no pressure just raw excitement as the gentlest of touches sends shivers and tingles all over your body that you struggle to contain, yet contain you have to for fear of exploding in a mass of thrilling sensations.

I woke thinking about something Claire said to me on Sunday that a lass I was talking to after the Yorkshireman fancied me. As is usual for me someone says something and I either don’t reply or don’t know how to reply yet if it is something that has touched me it will niggle away at me deep down in my mind and this did. How did Claire see something in someone that I didn’t? This for me is my autism and where I really, really struggle with body language and facial expressions.

I didn’t read anything into this lass talking to me. She’s someone who I see at races a couple of times a year and we have a chat and that’s it. I’ve never thought anything more about it. She’s a nice lass but I don’t fancy her in that way. What Claire said got me wondering though about other women who might have fancied me and I didn’t pick up on their signals and I missed out on having some fun or more.

When I look at someone I see a face and I hear words and see bodies move but that’s it. I understand the more obvious things like smiles but it’s the subtle ones I don’t get, the little ones that are the difference between friends and more, ones I have got wrong in the past and made a fool out of myself and now prevent me from getting it wrong again and making myself look foolish. What should I do? Go with what I feel but don’t see or do nothing? I don’t know. I wonder if anyone does.

What have I missed out on because I don’t understand body language and facial expressions, what opportunities have passed me by unbeknown to me, opportunities that may have made a difference to my life. I don’t know and probably never will. I marvel at people who do pick up on body language and facial expressions and who seem to know exactly what to say and do. I’ve had friends like this who could look at someone and know exactly what they wanted whilst I looked and saw a face and nothing more.

Some people I get more than others and some people get me because my own body language and facial expressions are not always the best, I know because I’ve experienced this and been told it too. All I can do is express myself through words and try and explain to people the difficulties I have and hope that they are kind,  considerate and understanding and take time to get to know me and not the person I appear to be.

I never know what signals people are giving off nor what to do about them. This autistic life has advantages but has a lot of disadvantages too.

3:18pm. Because of the rain I thought of the poem ‘RAIN’ by Simon Armitage on the Stanza Stone at Blackshaw Edge. I’d never been there so I decided to have a drive over to see what it was all about. I put my walking shoes on and my raincoat and set off over.

I went through Mytholmroyd and up Cragg Vale Road to get to the reservoir. I made the mistake of parking at the first place I saw and then discovering I couldn’t get to the reservoir from there although I did see a fashion shoot at the side of the road and I realised I couldn’t walk very far in my walking shoes as they were making my Achilles worse. I went back to the car and drove round to the White House pub which is what I should have done in the first place. I then changed my shoes, saw a trail, went down it and realised it was the wrong trail and had to turn back. Another classic error from me but the views were worth it.

I went back to the pub and got on the right trail this time hoping I didn’t take a wrong turn and end up lost again! Fortunately I was on the right trial and even I couldn’t go wrong. It was a nice trail, nothing exciting in that but the views were simply stunning, so far reaching. I could literally see for miles and miles, Littleborough, Rochdale, skyscrapers in Manchester and beyond. I might have seen Liverpool as I could see some tall buildings on the horizon but I wasn’t sure. It didn’t matter. The views were what mattered and nothing else. I felt very lucky to be out, free and able to see and experience these amazing views.

I had an encounter with a lovely dog who wanted to lick me to death and soon after I was at the Stanza Stone. It was everything I thought it would be almost hidden away from the main trail, the words only visible close up, looking out over Manchester, Greater Manchester and beyond, the words perfect for a rainy day and a rainy city,


Be glad of these freshwater tears,
Each pearled droplet some salty old sea-bullet
Air-lifted out of the waves, then laundered and sieved, recast as a soft bead and returned.
And no matter how much it strafes or sheets, it is no mean feat to catch one raindrop clean in the mouth,
To take one drop on the tongue, tasting cloud pollen, grain of the heavens, raw sky.
Let it teem, up here where the front of the mind distils the brunt of the world.

©Simon Armitage 2010

This is the second Stanza Stone I have visited and I intend to visit them all before the end of the year. I love the poems Simon has written, they touch me as the moors that have inspired them touch me, they go to my soul and make me think about my surroundings and where I’ve been and how I experienced them.

I turned and headed back to the White House and my car. My time here had been short but enjoyable and it was more than worth the drive out.

On the way back I took more photos as I always do. The views excited me and brought out the passion in me, a passion for exploring and discovering new places, seeing new things and doing something new and different while I can.

The clouds began to part and they revealed some dramatic skies and another excuse for me to take more photos.

The beauty of the moors never ceases to amaze me and inspire me. You can go along the same path day after day and have a very different experience each day, wind, rain, snow, sun, clouds all make each day different and unique. I am at my happiest when I’m on the moors away from the stresses of life away from thinking and wondering about myself and my place in the world. This is my place in the world where I find calmness, solace and peace in an otherwise increasingly pressured and stressful world. Here on the moors is where I can be myself and not worry about how my autism affects me and how others see me. The moors are my best friend, my inspiration, my muse. They only give and never take. Very few people are like that.

On the drive home I felt happy and content. I had found a new place to roam, a place not far from home, a place I could call my own and be happy.

8:37pm. It’s been a really good day. I’m back in uni tomorrow for the first time in months. It’ll be nice to have a change of environment and far fewer distractions. I might even get some work done! The highlight was going to Blackstone Edge though. The views were breathtaking and I hope my photos do them justice. I had so much to take in and the weather seemed to change every 5 minutes altering the view and changing your perception of what was around you, light became dark and dark became light, clouds came and went as did the sun and the rain. Today was a day of art, creativity and passion for me. I hope that comes across in this blog.

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