Adventures.... at Gladstone's Library in North Wales

I spent two days working in the grand theology room at Gladstone’s Library.  I desperately needed some peace, quiet and rest after 10 strenuous months of motherhood. My mom and M looked after baby while I burrowed into hibernation in North Wales.

I set up my computer, my notebooks, and all my other resources (pens, paper) and hoped that both motivation and inspiration would be close at hand.  The library reminded me, nostalgically, of my studying days; sitting in the Warburg with piles of books, trying to sift through citations and notes to discover some clear ideas about art history.

Like panning for gold.

It felt similar being at Gladstone's Library. I wasn't actually there for the books, but for the "bookish" atmosphere.  I wanted to sit quietly in a place inspired by, and completely passionate about, books.

So there I was; with all my supplies; ready to work; but with no idea what I should be doing.

I revelled in the quiet, dusty smell of old books, with their tooled bindings and leather covers. I heard the hushed whispers of other studious folk. Their fingers tapped their computer keys (were they more inspired that I was?). They shuffled papers. Every so often quiet sighs of contentment or frustration echoed in the vaulted hall.

I sat in solitude and silence for 2 days, and this is what I learned...

  1. It’s so much easier to “want” to write a story than to actually write it. I could feel the emotions of the story running in an undercurrent, through me, like an invisible river. But I was having difficulty becoming quiet enough to plumb the depths. 
  2. You will be compulsively driven to work or read at Gladstone's Library... because there isn't much else to do. If you wanted to procrastinate: you could walk up the hill to Hawarden Castle and back; you could have a coffee at the Gallery Cafe or a glass of wine at one of the two local pubs; you could stare at photos of houses for sale in the windows at the two estate agents on the high street (so much more affordable than London!); or you could read the names of all the departed souls on the gravestones at St. Deiniol's chapel. That pretty much exhausted my (very creative) efforts at procrastination. And then I gratefully returned to the library, my stack of notebooks, and my thoughts. 
  3. Time stretches. And stretches. And stretches. Solitude and silence made each hour feel three times longer than at home. (There's a lesson in this about and nature of time and chronos vs kairos, but I'll think about that later...)
  4. I work best amidst a little commotion. The washing machine spin cycle; builders erecting scaffolding across the road; groceries being delivered; they all create a feeling of time being very precious. If I tell myself I have an hour before Little M wakes up from her morning nap and I need to finish "x," I often accomplish far more than I could have expected. This made me confident about returning home with a renewed sense of purpose and an enthusiasm to work in the midst of our busy household. 
  5. Gladstone's library is a bibliophile's dream. It is the only "residential" library in the UK; which means it is a simple hotel housed within an amazing library. It has a bar, a cafe serving very good food, a chapel, and books, books, books. The bedrooms are basic, but have everything you might need, except a TV (...which is in one of the lounges. The assumption is that you didn't come to the library in order to lie in bed and watch telly). And it is amazingly affordable! I would return in a heartbeat. It's the perfect place to both "get away from it all" and gain a bit of inspiration.  

My stay at Gladstone's library was everything I wanted it to be. I had solitude and rest in spades. I read. I wrote. I fleshed out the idea for a new story. I planned. I imagined. I daydreamed. 

In the end, I left refreshed and rejuvenated, and eager to return home and bury my head in Little M's curls.

Fancy your own quiet weekend amongst the books at Gladstone's Library?

Check out their website here

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See you next week!

{Heaven in the Library}

{The Bar}

{The Gorgeousness!}

{Time to Read}

{The view from the graveyard}

{The Library Garden}

{Classical music on the radio in my bedroom}