This blog post is way overdue (excuse the pun) but I’m still so excited to share with you my solo trip to Gladstone’s library, last October.
First up, this is a paid-for trip. A birthday gift from my husband. A weekend away, by myself, meals cooked for me, allergies catered for, as many books as I can read, silence if I wanted it, conversation with interesting strangers if I wanted it. Literally, one of the best birthday gifts ever.
At around 45 minutes from my door to library reception, this library where you can sleep is something I wished I’d tried sooner. Just outside of Chester, tucked away in the village of Hawarden, it is so much closer than I’d thought.
I discovered, The Good Life Experience Festival is based here, which is run by the descendants of William Gladstone and the current Gladstone family live across the way from the library, splitting their time between the Hawarden castle estate, Scotland and London.
It’s in London where they run another business I’ve known about for a while but hadn’t realised the connections; vintage. Pedlar’s Market and Cafe to be exact. When I discovered all this information it made me feel like my path had always meant to bring me to this library.
I have to say I had a magical two nights at Gladstone’s. My room was on the ground floor and large, with the obligatory bookish wallpaper, desk and reading lamps. Situated just moments walk from the cafe area which caters brilliantly for every diet you can think of. From the windows in my room, I could see the nearby church and when the bells rang on the Sunday before I left, I knew that I would return.
The library itself is vast and there is a huge collection of books. With 26 desks you can choose to sit and read or work on something. There are a lot of writers here, from all walks of life. There are set meal times and this is when the opportunity arises to share a table and chat with strangers.
Whilst there, I got chatting with a couple who were hosting their annual writers group get together. I also had fascinating conversations with members of the clergy and with people from all over the world; if you are looking for character inspiration, random conversations make a great starting point!
So what did I do there?
- I planned another novel.
- I read lots.
- I finished another read-through and mark-up of my own novel on my Kindle, amazing how a different screen and method of reading helps you see the tiny mistakes.
- I wandered the graveyard and the village of Hawarden.
On the way home, I called in at Hawarden Castle Estate shop, I was blown away by the vast choice and quality of the stuff on sale. The cafe even had vegan cake, which of course I had to try. Highly recommend a visit if you are staying at Gladstone’s.
Guess what I got for Christmas? Another weekend away at Gladstone’s, I cant wait!