Yesterday I went to the Aberdeen University Library because I was on holiday. I didn't take my camera so this is the photo I took last year when I did the same. If holidays are about relaxing, finding space, being intrigued, discovering new things, having fun, ignoring the watch, then some hours in a book depository does it for me, every time.
No it's not the same as being where it's sunny and warm, and where new cultural experiences, sights and sounds are all around, where food is different and reliably good, and where there is enough distance to feel the ties that bind slacken enough to give freedom from work, relaxing of usual circumstance and some reduction of the pressures of what we misleadingly call "life".
But then again - what worlds there are in a library; what new vistas to be opened up standing surrounded by thousands of books and free to open any one of them. It's a place of reflective silence, of respected space, of generous extravagance and freedom of movement, of deliberately created opportunity to think, and feel, and wonder. You can sit and read in the sun - as I did yesterday from Floor 6 looking out over the North Sea.
It so happened I was looking for paintings and sculpture - pictures thereof. So I was in early Northern Renaisance Netherlands, then Southern Renaissance Venice, then 19th Century Arles in France, before a flying visit to Victorian England. With a visit to Amsterdam looming I wanted to check on what I absolutely must see in the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum. But I got waylaid at the end by the Pre-Raphaelite section as well.
I've had several holidays in this same place, this green glass intellectual travel agency where the only limit on destination is imagination, thought and curiosity. Poetry, theology, philosophy, and art tend to my usual intellectual resorts, but with unscheduled trips to other, stranger subject areas. I'll be back, and long before next year....