Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Sir K. & Lady Doocot at Hawthornden Castle

A friend called it a homey castle, never mind that a hundred people could fit into the drawing room.  Thanks to Drew Heinz, of the ketchup fortune, five writers at time are invited to live at Hawthornden for a month, expenses paid.  Drew Heinz owns the place.  

I loved being there.  At breakfast K, one of the writers, would read us snippets from the newspaper--a woman was found wandering confused in Torquey.  When asked what the trouble was, she said she had asked for directions to the airport for the plane to Turkey. I wonder if K. made up the story.

One day, K. and I went sight-seeing and came upon a doocot (dovecot).  After taking a picture of me in front of this charming building, he nick-named me, Lady Miriam of the Doocot.  Now he just calls me Lady or Lady Doocot.  I call him Sir.  He's from Brooklyn; I'm from Paterson, New Jersey--land of the untitled.  

Sir K. was a wonderful traveling companion.  If I hesitated to spend money, he urged me on.  He turned out to be right.  John is still praising a sweater I would never have bought for him if it weren't for Sir K.

On our last night at the castle, we decorated ourselves with lapel pins we made from ketchup packets we had taken from a pub.  Not a drop of ketchup was ever served in the castle.

I remember the views from the windows into the green glen, the sound of the loch, the taste of sherry in the little orange-painted garden room, the wood fires, the cool air, the thrilling absurdity of Sir K. of Brooklyn and Lady Doocot of Paterson living in a castle.  Did I get any lasting work done?  I don't know.  But back home I'm still living on some of those cool green days at Hawthornden.  This morning I heard from Sir K.  He was back from more travel, and eager to tell Lady all about it.       



  1. Nice anecdote.

    I like the photo you are using as a masthead. I see it as a metaphor for the blogging experenice. Can you say something about it?

  2. Thanks, Bluedog! I'm glad you like the photo, "The Window of My Atelier," by Josef Sudek, a Czech photographer. Blogging and an open window seem to go together. Your comment has given me the idea for my next blog: Sudek and his work. I don't think he's much known or appreciated in this country, but I may be wrong.

  3. I looked again at the Sudek photo and noticed the window is closed, but there is such a view out.

  4. Hi Miriam, lovely to meet a fellow Fellow! So glad you had a great time there. I was last there in 2005. :-)

  5. I loved my stay at Hawthornden. It was so perfect I thought I would never go back but I'm considering re-applying in a year or two. I have never felt such peace in my life. I was there in spring so I think I might try to experience a different season of the year although I suppose winter would be rather limiting insofar as walking and excursions. I used to write in Drummond's Cave! I got so much writing done there that I am still drawing on it.