Roaming Readers: Ella Jolly Heads North

Ella Jolly is Reader in Residence at Bibby Line Group, where she is bringing great writing to group employees all over the country. Here she muses on her travels and makes plans for a reading outpost in the frozen north. Ella has also started a blog to support her work at Bibby Line and you can find it here.

I find the further north I roam the more compelling the landscape. The epic hills seem to put my own transient physicality into perspective, and I have a stronger sense of myself in comparison to the vastness of the world. The undulating fields rise above me, setting heights in their hearts. The earth here seems more alive, more full of vitality, than the infinitely flat fields which surround my home in Warwickshire.

Glimpsing the lakes, I recall some of the greatest writers and their work. My head is filled with dreams of Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit, Arthur Ransome and his swallows and amazons, William Wordsworth and those daffodils.

This window seat in the train carriage proves brilliant for surveying these magnificent vistas. The hopscotching rivers, the evergreen firs (which are always naked Christmas trees in my mind), the Scottish air itself – all is tantalisingly close. And yet it remains utterly inaccessible to me, locked as I am in a train which flashes red through this verdant Eden.

My journey today takes me as far as Edinburgh where I meet a group in the Bibby Financial Services office. Together we read Frank Cottrell Boyce’s short story Accelerate and enjoy William Henry Davies’ poem Leisure. We listen to a lilting Scottish accent sound out those simple and very satisfying rhyming couplets (care/stare, boughs/cows, pass/grass, light/night, glance/dance, can/began, care/stare) and take comfort in the repetition of that line ‘we have no time to stand and stare’. Some in the group are moved profoundly. ‘My dad died last month,’ says one, ‘And there’s just never enough time, is there?’

Time is a concept which haunts my working life at present. Journeys seem to encompass too much time, destinations too little. It is ironic then, that I often feel strangely wistful for halted journeys, especially journeys north. Later this week I shall be in Aberdeen and an oil storage platform unit in the North Sea, and next week I visit Glasgow. I expect to feel a yearning to go more north, and north again. Like the proverbial moth, I am overwhelmingly drawn to the lights: the possibility of the aurora borealis, the promise of twenty-four whole hours of sunshine.

If only Bibby Line Group had an office in the Arctic Circle.

Posted by Ella Jolly

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