Friday, October 9, 2009

Flintshire Idyll

Even the prospect of going to stay at St Deiniols residential library, ten minutes beyond Chester as so just in Flintshire, focuses my mind and makes work more exciting. I'm coming to the end of five days here; I drove up before dawn even cracked on Monday morning, and leave around five this afternoon. It is a unique place: dedicated to devout learning, but happy to accept those who are devoted to learning - or writing - or simply shepherding their thoughts and spinning dreams. Much as I love - am addicted to - domesticity, it is wonderful to be looked after: a fresh, simply furnished room, meals at regular intervals, home-made rolls for breakfast and homemade cookies for elevenses and tea, early nights, early morning walks among the ancient trees of Gladstone's Park. Everyone respects each other's endeavours, gently encourages. We talk as warmly together at meal-times as strangers on trains once used to do, then leave each other to our own devices and desires. The galleried library, endowed by Gladstone because he had so many thousands of books that deserved readers, and knew his country was full of would-be readers who deserved access to books, is its especial treasure. Delving as I am into the minds of fifteenth century people, I find it endlessly useful, and you can go and get the books yourself within minutes. Peace is what it is renowned for, but to that I would add its capacity to inspire. Unhurried, we sit at our desks, flanked on all sides by books, entranced. Its red sandstone Victorian Gothic grandeur  is specially suited to Alice because after a few days I am so in character that I prowl around its passages peering out of the medieval-style casements imagining possible developments in Ewelme Palace.

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