Have you visited a lavender farm recently? If not, chances are, if you use Instagram, you’ll have seen at least one beautiful photo of someone standing in a field of lavender.
Last summer I decided it would be fun to get some photos of me, in a lavender field, to use on this website. Yorkshire Lavender is about an hour and half away, so I persuaded the family it would be a fun day out (the promise of a pizza afterwards, at Pizza Express, was certainly not bribery…)
We didn’t have the best day for it, it was a dull and overcast, not ideal for the idyllic photos I had in mind, but hey … filters, right?
When we arrived the place was heaving. Who knew lavender fields were such a popular destination? Well, according to this article from the BBC, they’re doing a booming trade these days, thanks to instagram!
At Yorkshire Lavender there are terraced rows of lavender, with reasonably wide paths between them. It’s not the classic field full of flowers, like this one, that you might imagine seeing in France. So not such a wildly romantic photo op, but the paths make for easy access without damaging the plants, and there’s something appealing about the idea of walking down a lavender edged path. I imagined the heady aroma, wafting across, relaxing me as I enjoyed watching the flower stalks sway gently in the breeze…
Can you sense the but?
Before I start this little tale, I need you to understand something: I adore bees, I really do. But…..
Bees. Bees love lavender – I know this. I’ve planted it many times, to help save the bees. There’s some incredibly delicious lavender honey out there, that goes perfectly in a honey and lavender ice cream. I know all of this! But when I was thinking about standing for a photo in a field of lavender, bees were nowhere in my imaginings!
Have you seen the Michael McIntyre sketch about wasps and bees? If not, here you go, you might want to make sure your pelvic floor muscles are in full working order before hitting play.
My friend sent me the link because she recognised my type. She’s a wafter. I am a panicker! (Perhaps this should be a question in the Sensory Types Quiz..?)
Now before you imagine me running screaming through the lavender, I can assure you, I managed to contain myself. Bees I can just about cope with, wasps are what bring out the panicker in me.
No, the problem was something I couldn’t have anticipated.
It was the sound! I love the hum of bees, always have. But what I’ve never experienced before was walking down a bee runway!
The sound of humming surrounded me. It was incredibly loud, to the extent that I could feel it as a vibration.
It reminded me of the feeling of being on a ferry when the engine starts up.
Because the sound was constantly moving, it messed with my (very sensitive) sense of balance (vestibular system) even though I was on solid ground. It was the weirdest sensation, and I hated it!
Added to this was the fact that there were bees flying all around me as they moved from one row to another. I was desperately trying to control my panicker tendencies whilst feeling thoroughly discombobulated, which all added up to something that was pretty close to sensory hell! You may be able to detect some of that angst from the only photo that came out of the trip!
And to add insult to injury, the filters couldn’t magic away the effect of the dull skies. Hey ho. You live and learn.
I couldn’t have foreseen any of this, and to be honest, even if someone had told me it was a possibility, I probably wouldn’t have believed it could be so overwhelming.
Would it put me off visiting another lavender field? Probably not. Forewarned is forearmed after all. Having had the experience once, I’d be able to anticipate it, so wouldn’t be caught off guard. I could put some coping mechanisms in place, and go on a day when my sensory equilibrium was working in my favour. With all of those things in place, who knows, I might even ENJOY the experience!
Whilst I was disappointed that the experience hadn’t been the one I’d imagined, I didn’t beat myself up about it. I didn’t wonder what was wrong with me. I didn’t berate myself for days on end about ‘not being normal’ as I have countless times in the past. This time I just laughed, and chose to see it as another piece of the puzzle. That’s the gift that understanding my sensory sensitivities has given me, and my hope is that it’s the gift, as The Sensory Coach, I can give you too.