"The number of times I have rowed on the River Nidd at Knaresborough with a beautiful woman, gliding beneath those arches that frame the panoramic excellence of the North Yorkshire skyline, broadly approximates the number of times I've 'fallen in love.'
How any man can share a boat for a full hour while looking into the eyes of a beautiful woman on a summer's day in Knaresborough and not fall in love with her before they dock, is simply beyond me. We may meet by fate and become friendly by choice, but as to 'falling in love,' this has always been beyond my control!
I'm a relatively intelligent man who knows that 'falling in love' and 'having a relationship' are two different things that should never be confused. As a general rule, I'm not easily taken for a fool when dealing with everyday matters and all manner of con men trying to sell me things I neither need nor want and have no earthly intention of buying, but........when it comes to 'falling in love', I'm afraid that my heart is often taken for a romantic ride.
The irony is that I know deep down what's really happening and am more understanding of that force that frequently takes me back to the River Nidd, the boats and bridges of Knaresborough. You see, whenever I'm not in love, I just need and want to be in love again. I want to feel that feeling where a woman I hardly know lovingly gazes into my eyes in a way that makes me seem to be the only man in her world, and makes her appear to be the only woman in mine who ever truly understood the real me. In my time, my heart has flown and fallen, has been boated and broken; it has swum deep and drowned, but on each occasion I've been fortunate to 'fall in love', I've always managed to survive it!
Let's face it; far far better to be in a boat at Knaresborough on a warm summer's day looking into the eyes of a beautiful woman who believes that you're the only one for her than..... anything else you could possibly think of......isn't it?
Before you answer that question of the heart let me tell you that it isn't! For me, 'falling in love' has always been a very real and desirable experience, and there was a time I used to shake my head when people talked about 'soul mates'. I considered them poor deluded individuals grasping at some supernatural ideal not intended for mere mortals, but which sounded pretty on the page of a romantic novel or in the verse of a poetry book. Then one day at the age of 68 years, I met Sheila, the woman of my dreams and everything in my life changed. We married on my 70th birthday in our village of Haworth. The cynic in me became the converted, the sceptic, an ardent zealot. I had at last found something supreme, a feeling that was better than 'falling in love'. I had discovered in the autumn of my years that 'falling in love' ran a poor second to that of 'being in love' and rowing the relationship boat in the same direction, together, beneath the bridges of Knaresborough." July 1st, 2015.