I started writing this before, thanks to the virus deciding to throw us a curveball by mutating, Christmas was cancelled. I may as well still post it: Lightopia was literally a bit of light in the darkness. Tiers for Fears, eh? “Going nowhere, going nowhere …. hide my head, I wanna drown in sorrow.” OK, there’s an Enya Christmas song which, in this instance, works better than Tears for Fears. “When tears are in your eyes, it’s time to look inside, your heart can find another way.” Hopefully, the vaccine is the light at the end of the tunnel. I was going to say “the light that never goes out”, but I’m not sure that this is quite the time to be quoting Morrissey. And, hey, at least it’s not 1940 and we’re not living through the Christmas Blitz. There’ve been worse times. There will be better times.
This has been a rotten, rotten year. The Great Outdoors has been one of the few saving graces. I’m eternally grateful that I was able to spend a week in the Lake District in August, and I’m very glad of the National Trust places that I’ve been able to visit. And I’m extremely glad that I live within walking distance of Heaton Park, the biggest municipal park in Manchester: I’ve been going there since before I can remember, but I’ve never spent as much time there as I have this year. The staff in the cafes (takeaway only, the “joys” of Tier 3) there now know me so well that they put skimmed milk in my tea without my even having to ask 🙂 . And, at the moment, it’s hosting a Lightopia Festival, which I was fortunate enough to go to on Thursday night.
With the Christmas market and the pantomime cancelled, and not being allowed to go to football matches, it was particularly joyful that Lightopia was still able to go ahead. It really was lovely, not just the pretty light installations and the very impressive lights show over the lake, but the whole atmosphere – Christmas music playing, stalls selling hot chocolate, (sadly, alcohol free!) mulled wine, mince pies and other treats. Everyone (apart from the odd yowling child) had a big smile on their face. There is still some festive cheer out there! And, hooray, there were no dogs! The one thing that spoils the Great Outdoors is that there are dogs everywhere – but, thank goodness, not at Lightopia! It was just a lovely evening. It’s the first time for ages that I’ve actually been out in the evening, except to go to Mum and Dad’s for tea in the support bubble!
Thank you to the people who organised this event. Thank you to the people who keep the National Trust and English Heritage sites going. Thank you to the people running the cafes in parks and beauty spots, especially The Olive and Pickle at Hollingworth Lake. Yes, I know that none of them are reading this, but never mind! And let’s just hope that 2021 will be a better year. Meanwhile, it was good to see some light in the darkness. Literally to see some light in the darkness!