• Handpicked Harrogate

Stop looking, begin listening!

I walked a little later this morning but it was still dark, quiet and beautiful out there. I enjoy the silence, no earphones, time to think or not, time to be still, time to sense the beginnings of a new day. The stunning house that overlooks the Stray, this morning seemed less sparkly as the Christmas lights that outlined the box hedge and bay trees had been put away for another year. Some houses still twinkled, holding out for the full twelve days of Christmas.

Then it happened! The bells, the church bells rang out the new hour. How is it that I have I never heard the church bells before? They were splendid in their dominance of Harrogate for the seven chimes that rang out. I felt that they were delivered just for me, because it was so still and no one else was about. As I don’t usually spend time thinking about bells, this became a trigger for me. What a delightful way to be woken up, no Alexa, I-phone, or radio alarm clock, but bells!

For centuries bells, church bells have rung out in celebration – weddings, Christmas, New Year, Easter, Harvest, the bells ring out to invite us all to come, join in, worship, celebrate. Bells are rung at funerals but in a different, muffled, respectful manner. From pottery to metal ones, bells have been ringing since 1000BC. I am in awe!

So, here is the thinking! When I stopped looking, I began to listen. How is it that I have I not heard the bells before? Now Julian Treasure, a Listening Expert, will have his own theories about this – it’s his area of expertise. But today I listened to the church bells.

Big Ben at Westminster made headline news in 2017 as the bells were to be silenced whilst repair works were carried out. Even those bells had to be activated for certain occasions, such is their national importance. The House of Commons decreed that they would ring out for Remembrance Day, Christmas and New Year ahead of their repair completion in 2021. Who knew that bells mattered so much in our culture?

What else do we not listen to? What else do we miss as we live the day in a similar way to yesterday? How exciting to think that this year there are many new sounds waiting to be listened to and be embraced, new experiences waiting for us to enable us to learn and grow.

The bells, however, are here to stay and this delights me. Some trendy, new way to celebrate or mark an occasion is sure to be developed this year and make a mighty profit for somebody. It may well be like a shooting star – over and gone in a season. But it probably won’t have the appeal and permanence of a ring of bells.

1000BC – now that’s a long time ago!

Happy New Year!


Sally Roberts, Fun Training For Results

07432 545692