Tag Archives: mood

Of Hargate Hall

-Rather than of the wedding D and I attended, which was full of light and bustle and food and good cheer, this post is about the venue itself. About the feeling it carried, subtle, overwhelmed by the good mood of our party (70 odd souls and three dogs).

 

Hargate Hall, Friday, early evening. That white tent is a marquee.

Hargate Hall, Friday, early evening. That white tent is a marquee.

 

You could say it was the perfect setting for hush, for suspense. For reading at the windows, looking out across the stumbling, black-tree garden. Hargate Hall was built (so a photograph in the entrance-way told us) in 1899, so not very old by the standards of English Country Houses. In little over 15 years after its construction, the facade of the aristocracy would begin to crack with the onset of World War One.

 

Nowadays it’s a collection of self-catering apartments adjoining a fantastic central hall replete with stained glass windows with pseudo-heraldry, and a spiked candelabra hanging from the ceiling. We stayed in a low mezzanine, located up a steep wooden ladder and overhanging a small central room. It was like staying in a cosier treehouse.

 

On that first evening, D and I walked the grounds through the soft wet mist as it grew darker.

 

the flash reflecting off the white mist, just outside our kitchen.

the flash reflecting off the white mist, just outside our kitchen.

 

The garden path curves both up and down. We followed the downward path first, by the marquee and into the thin woodland.

 

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we found this little...house? It is used for wedding ceremonies in warmer weather. Here it stared at us mournful, open mouthed

we found this little…house? It is used for wedding ceremonies in warmer weather. Here it stared at us mournful, open mouthed

 

 

This ghostly gate marked the edge of Hargate Hall's lands. Beyond was a farm reeking of the cows.

This ghostly gate marked the edge of Hargate Hall’s lands. Beyond was a farm reeking of the cows.

 

The light was beginning to go, and my poor wee camera struggled to keep up. It’s hard to capture the atmosphere under such conditions. It wasn’t eerie – I have been in eerie places – but was instead still. Stoic.

 

The farm, the drystane walls shelving the fields off into the close horizon

The farm, the drystane walls shelving the fields off into the close horizon

 

hargate hall 4

 

We wandered round along the main road and towards the gates of the hall. I’d like to say I had time then to read The Secret History (it would I think have been a perfect choice – second only to The Little Stranger) but there was far too much to do and far too many people to meet. The same of course was true of Saturday, the day of the wedding itself. But the evening of the second day brought snow, and our last morning saw Hargate Hall and the farmlands covered white.

 

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One last shot of the hall itself. We had to take a taxi and then a five hour train ride back north. It’s funny though, on the ride to Buxton train station, the driver referred to us coming ‘up’ to the Peak District, though he had already asked where we were from. Perhaps he misspoke, or perhaps it was something to do with where he felt situated – Northern, already. It always strikes me strangely, to hear of ‘the North’ on the BBC weather forecasts, when there’s so much more north. It reinforces the idea that Scotland is, to those who live below it, a different country, though they might in other respects (and irksomely to those who believe otherwise) refer to Scotland as a region. A region North of Thule, I suppose.

 

From the train we watched the snow storm follow us into the North, skittering the higher lands and leaving the valleys green and then, further, the tufty brown of semi-moorland, then green once again. I began The Secret History, but still have much to go. It seems so far like a slip of caramel over a big white plate – flavourful, but. More coherence (possibly) later. Thanks to all who wished us a good trip. It was.

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An Interior Mood

figure moving through a door

Thinking today of: inner spaces, dim lighting, blurring motion.

Inside the National Museum of Scotland

Of golden light, the hum of voices, or silence bound within walls, bound from an exterior that extends into unfathomed space.

Sign in the Subway, NYC

Of what constitutes interior space, of the void between the character and the fictional world, the reader and the character. How to measure and chart this distance.

Plant in the window of our flat

Also asking, how to write solitude, without making the character static. How to use both the silence and the chittering of thoughts to good effect. That and making up a music the character listens to, shoring herself against sorrow, or feeling at all. But further -

D with a sparkler

how to bring the warmth of living into such a text, to entrance, to transmit, to speak of the fleeting and the enduring. Getting the measure right.

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Filed under consolations of writing, Edinburgh, New York, Scotland, The Millenial, The Now