Friday, September 11, 2009

Inspirational Places

After twenty-odd minutes of wrestling with my ipod (Why must my podcasts randomly disappear? Why must my settings never do want I want them to do? Why must it freeze every time I try to play a newly downloaded podcast? Why is Apple so allergic to INSTRUCTIONS???) I figured I better take a teeny break.

I thought I'd go for a triumvirate of inspiration this week and write about inspirational places today.

I mentioned in Wednesday's post that I had been inspired in my current wip by some of England's beautiful cathedrals. Two of my favorites are York Minster and Bristol Cathedral. Both have some really ancient parts and tucked away, underground sanctuaries. I first toured Bristol's cathedral with my mother-in-law. Neither of us had been inside before, and while we were poking around a priest stopped by to welcome us. We asked him what his favorite part of the cathedral was, and before we knew it we were on a heartfelt personal tour.

He showed us a stained glass window dedicated to civilian forces during World War II, an underground chapel, a stone memorial placed in the 1990s (he was so proud that his church was continuing to change, continuing to honor people, and was not just a history piece). My favorite was the night stairs, the stairs monks used to travel down to say their prayers, day and night, every three hours. You can see their devotion wore down the stone.

For more pictures, visit the Cathedral's website.

Another favorite inspirational place I've discovered in England is Whitby. I was originally drawn to it because of its beauty, then later heard its ruined abbey and graveyard was the place where Bram Stoker was inspired to write DRACULA. And no wonder. I mean, LOOK. Not only is it gorgeous and right on the seaside, it is truly spooky too:

And you can climb all around the abbey. And Phil and I did. =)

I also find inspiration outdoors. Phil and my latest outdoorsy trip was to Inverness (yes, right alongside Loch Ness), which was much less touristy and much more beautiful than we had anticipated. It's where my sidebar picture comes from. I'm also rather fond of this one of the hills around Inverness (notice the complete lack of civilization!).

But I've also found inspiration in places very modern. London and Chicago are both dear to my heart. I find their bustle and their exuberance, even their ambivalence, very inspiring. It was Chicago which first got me interested in architecture. So on a recent trip to Glasgow, Phil and I stopped off at the Glasgow School of Art, designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, one of the most famous Scottish architects. His work reminds me a lot of Frank Lloyd Wright. Have you ever been inside a place a building where it just feels completely right and soothing, yet awe inspiring? That's what the Glasgow School of Art was like for me. And what a perfect location for a school! Here's a picture of the outside:

But follow this link to see the library!

Have I babbled enough about my favorite places? Actually, I suddenly find myself with so much more to say. Why are these places inspirational to me? Is it telling that the same places (like Whitby or London) have inspired multiple artists? What do these places say about me as a writer and person? What do these places say about humanity in general? And why just places; aren't people also inspiring? And music?

But I think this is plenty for today. However, I'd love to hear what places inspire you AND WHY, and not just for writing, but for any art, dance, photography, music, etc.


  1. Great pictures. I used to have a boyfriend who lived near Glasgow School of Art, such a great building.

  2. Thanks, Keren. Yes, I would happily move in if they'd have me!

  3. Another Anne here. I think I found your blog via the Blueboards, Anne, and have been following along since the summer. Maybe I missed it, but why exactly are you living in the UK these days? I have this fantasy that it's just because you can, but I keep thinking there's probably more to it beause you're able to work in the above-ground economy and go to school!

  4. Hi Anne! Yes, we are fellow Blueboarders. I really appreciate your following along.
    The short answer is that my husband is a scientist and is doing a post-doc for international research in the UK, so I came over as a dependant of his, with permission to work in the UK at any job that will have me. So... sorry to burst the bubble, but no, not nearly that romantic or adventurous a reason.
    Actually, though, your question prompted a lot of thinking. It would be fun to do a blog post on how I came over here and what it's like being an expat in the UK (the good, the bad and the ugly). So hopefully that will be forthcoming!


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