When my husband was a young history major in college, he wrote a thesis on William Gladstone (1808-1898), a British prime minister with a long and storied career. Over the years he has told me a lot about Gladstone’s politics. Was he a liberal? A conservative? I couldn’t tell you…For some reason, the only thing I can ever remember is that Gladstone had a somewhat suspect penchant for finding prostitutes on the street to “rescue,” and that he would engage in self-flagellation afterwards…each incident faithfully recorded with a drawing of a whip in his daily diary. On our trip to the U.K., the ghost of Gladstone kept dogging our steps.
In Wales, we drove through Hawarden and past the grand Hawarden Castle, the estate where Gladstone lived . My husband pointed out Gladstone’s Library, where he had spent a summer doing research for his thesis. Towards the end of our trip, we decamped for a few days to Penmaenmawr, a seaside resort town that became popular when Gladstone began spending time there. The Airbnb flat we rented happened to be in what was once Gladstone’s summer villa:
The view from our balcony was stunning from morning till night…On our first evening there, we took a short drive and had a lovely after-dinner stroll to Aber Falls:
Shortly after this picture was taken, the heavens opened and it started raining and thundering. Fortunately, we made it back to the car just in time!