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Changing Places: Josephine Borg on Bivouac in the Yorkshire Dales

Rainbow over The Bivouac


I first set foot upon Bivouac's hilltop on a wet and windy November afternoon. I was meeting with its founders, Beth and Sam Hardwick, amidst the foundations of their new business to offer the bones of mine.

I'd taken a leap of faith to Yorkshire, leaving behind a stable income, dearest friends and a city I loved, to build a home with my partner and create a company doing what I loved. Naturally, I'd anticipated a period of resettlement; I just hadn't reckoned on grief. I was confronted with a side of myself that appalled me - raw and clinging.

The work I felt such an affinity to became a horrible joke on me - what position was I in to offer support to others? And, whilst I strongly identified with being a massage therapist, the thought of working in a clinical setting for a conveyor-belt of clients, left me cold. I desired connection and service. I longed for creative expression. I craved being in nature and to feel utterly alive.

The sunset framed in my rear-view mirror that evening is etched on my memory. Pink and orange blazed across a wide charcoal sky. Driving home I felt a shift, like surfing a wave. An unmistakeable, exhilarating lift and surge forwards. My internal voice, whose steady mantra for the past eighteen months had been 'I'm lost and scared' had found the voice for a new message: 'I'm excited to be home'. I understood I no longer needed to compromise the essential parts of myself. I could create the opportunities I needed rather than walking well-trodden paths that didn't serve me.

Three seasons on, my compass is still set towards the Dales. I've enjoyed dustings of snow, driving rain, dazzling sunshine and been blessed by double rainbows. Stepping out of my massage appointments, looking over the valley, I can hear curlews calling, feel wind and rain on my skin, take in deep lungfuls of air and taste woodsmoke and forest. The sky never fails to make me catch my breath.

I've learnt to watch for themes emerging in the dreams I’ve had for myself and always feel for that sense of coming home. Each visit to Bivouac reminds me to have the courage to grow a business that nurtures me so that, in turn, I may nurture others.



Jo is a soother of muscles, minds and spirits (I’ll testify to that!).  She offers wondrous, Hawaiian Lomi Lomi massage in Leeds, West Yorkshire and near Ripon, North Yorkshire.  Check out her beautiful website to find out more.

The Bivouac is a collection of sustainable and rustic shacks and yurts (plus a bunk barn) located on the Swinton Park Estate.

Changing Places is a guest post series about the power of place to change us.  You can find more stories in the series here.  If you’d like to share your own story, please contact me  for submission details.

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