Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Time to Pause

Hardwick Hall  - Maria A Smith 

Sometimes, when the words won't come, or you're feeling exhausted, it may be that you need to get away and take time out from your usual routine. A day, or even a few hours can be enough to fill your creative well back up again, and it will also give you time to pause.

Visit an art gallery, see a show, listen to a concert, or walk around a stately home. Soak in the colours, the sounds and the atmosphere. Slow down, wander around and take it easy. Even better go alone, then you can do exactly what you want to do at your own pace. It's amazing how a few hours away from the desk will energise you and make things feel so much better. Ideas will pop into your head to take your writing forward, perhaps not immediately, but they will come to you later.

Last Saturday, I felt restless and fed up, so decided to get out regardless of the fact that it looked as if it was about to tip it down with rain. And it did of course. Those who read my blog regularly will know I love the National Trust  and I'm lucky enough to have a few within an hour from home.

I set off to Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire, and after initially having to take refuge from the rain, in the cafe with tea and a slice of chocolate and beetroot cake, I set off with my camera.
Going around the park or gardens wasn't an option so I went into the house. It was busy, as everybody had the same idea.

I strolled at my leisure, snapping away, (without flash so the quality of my images aren't the best) and thought about the people who'd lived here over the years. How they had lived. How they'd worked, and what they'd done for fun. There is always the story of who built and lived at the hall, in this case it was the formidable Bess of Hardwick, but I wasn't thinking about her. I wanted to know who worked in the kitchens, the gardens, or who built the house and what were their stories. Before long my brain was running wild with ideas. As I took my pictures, I thought about who owned that hairbrush? Who were the children in those pictures, and did they really wear those clothes?

It can't be, can it?  - Maria A Smith

My mind skipped back to Bess, and I wondered how it must feel to have eight children in six years! And from the age of 14 too. And then I was so wrapped up in it all, imagine my surprise when at the far end of a long hall, I spotted an Elizabethan figure coming towards me. It looked so wrong in a room full of modern day visitors, all of us a little bedraggled from the showers. Of course my writers mind went into over drive, and a story idea came to me in a flash, involving the ghost of Bess, and well, I'm not going to tell you anymore for now, because that would be telling wouldn't it...

Whose trousers are those laid out on the bed?  - Maria A Smith

Who owned that brush? Was she happy at Hardwick? - Maria A Smith
I was only at Hardwick for a few hours, but my mind was calm and happy, and I was glad I'd stepped out into the rain because even on the dullest afternoons it's possible to feed your curious mind, and fill your creative well.


  1. Hi Maria - I want to visit Hardwick Hall sometime ... and you've enlightened me of a few things ... who did those trousers belong to?! As you say the dressing table is full of wondrous items ... and now you have your story to write ... have a peaceful weekend ...cheers Hilary

  2. What a stunning place to go and get away from it all for a while. An artist acquaintance of mine knows quite a bit about Bess of Hardwick and in fact has painted her recently. Lovely to see Hardwick Hall and picture how it would have been. Hope you have a good weekend and bank holiday. CJ xx

  3. I'm an NT fan as well - the result of my husband & being given a joint life membership by his parents many years ago. Have been to Hardwick several times - glad you enjoyed it!

  4. Thank you for sharing this. I love visiting old homes, which is why I love travelling in Europe. We tend to tear down and rebuild in America. I just watched a show on the manners of Downtown Abbey. Fascinating to have the whole ritual explained. Too bad about the rain and having to eat chocolate cake. My sympathies.

  5. ahhhh, kudos to filling the creative well.

  6. It sounds lovely, Maria - very inspiring!

  7. What's an outing without a bit of rain :) Helps wash away the cobwebs. I love to visit stately homes and relish is its history. Glad you had a lovely day out, Maria. Thank you for sharing.

  8. What a great day out, Maria, and I so agree that it's often good to go and do something interesting.


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