Tuesday, August 26, 2014
You know in sitcoms when a kinda normalish character has a totally ridiculous view of the city and you just kind of roll your eyes and think uh-huh honey, whatever. Well, this past week, we were cat-sitting in London and the flat we were staying in has exactly one of those views. It was the kind of perspective that makes walking up five floors totally worth it (even when you’re carrying a typewriter and a bottle or two of wine!). It’s a pinch-yourself-each-morning kinda view, and when you hear Big Ben ring every hour, you definitely feel blessed.
(For all ya’ll who are shrugging your shoulders, here’s another photo. Yep, that’s Westminster, Big Ben, Parliament and The London Eye and The Shard. All places I like a helluva lot better from up above than I do walking by on the ground.)
Tuesday morning was rainy and grey and cold. In typical English fashion, we all obsessed over the weather and I kept stating that it definitely feels like autumn whilst sitting in the cocoon I made out of a duvet on the sofa (I’m so good at being British, you guys). Liam, on the other hand, was a total trooper. He poured himself a hot cup of a coffee, put on a
sweater jumper, and just got to work.
I really love homes that have an eclectic, lived-in feel. Every object in the flat we were staying in had a story– from the mid-century modern furniture to their paintings and their mugs– which were all Disney mugs. And boy, did they have a lot of Disney mugs! But the 101 Dalmatians mug was my favourite.
When it comes to homes, natural light is #1 on my must-have list and I especially like homes that have an open plan with windows on both sides (or, better yet, all sides!) of the space. This flat had the previously pictured fantastic tourist trap view and then a beautiful view of Vincent Square on the other side. Since the flat was nestled in the eaves of the building, it was almost like we were floating above the neighbourhood, secluded and private in our white-washed oasis. I absolutely loved it!
Speaking of white-washed, how ’bout this beautiful marble table?! I don’t know who they paid to carry it up five flights of stairs but whoever it was, I hope they got paid some major cash money, as opposed to my “movers” who are really my friends and who I pay in pizza and beer.
Even though I’ve been working for myself for a while now, I still feel guilty about spending my time planning, creating, and editing posts for our Gradient blog during business hours. I’m always like This is fun! Surely I shouldn’t be doing this right now. But then I give myself a grown-ass lady talk and remind myself that I am my own marketing and business development department. Then I feel better about doing things to promote myself. In this instance, I was getting my
ducks books in a row for this month’s Gradient Reads post, which took me two days to get around to actually shooting because I kept thinking Oh, I’ll just do that later after I do some real work. Ugh. When will I learn?!
One of my favourite things about London are all the secret gardens. The city is full of green spaces that must of us will never see or ever even know are there. Green spaces like this. Sure, it’s not a forest or anything, but it’s still mighty fine.
Two things that I think make a home really great are lots of books and original art (it doesn’t have to be expensive art!). This flat had plenty of both, which is why I think we all felt immediately comfortable upon walking in. It helps, too, that the flat also had a charming and beautiful cat. I’d like to say that no home is complete without a cat but I do know of a few cat-free homes that I’ll happily retreat to, thereby disproving this rule. But a cat helps. Usually a lot.
Nick fell hard for this beautiful (and oh-so-comfy) Saarinen Womb Chair. Funny enough, as we were watching Legally Blonde later that evening, we realised that Elle had the same chair in her dorm! We always knew Nick had good taste, we just didn’t know how good.
After it stopped raining (finally), I rallied the troops (Liam and Nick) and we set out on a very important mission. A coffee mission! We were out of our usual Perk & Pearl roast, so we trekked to the nearest Workshop– my London favourite– for some beans and a flat white. Not only does Workshop do killer coffee, their shops are wonderfully inviting and unique to boot. Their shops are more than just another café, they’re coffee experiences. And I think that’s really important.
Once the coffee was finished, it was time for a cocktail! Together, we headed to my current favourite bar in London, Berners Tavern in The London Edition hotel. Whilst sitting at the bar, Liam realised that he used to work right next door to what is now the restaurant before he moved to Tunbridge Wells. “What was it before it was a hotel and restaurant?” we asked. He didn’t know. Whatever it was, they had some pretty great ceilings!
The best thing about being in London this week was being able to take advantage of the wealth of ethnic food the city has to offer. We at Turkish, Mexican, Indian and, in this case, Korean. (We also ate lots and lots of gourmet pizza. You know how I roll.) Thanks to an old friend who was gracious enough to be my Korean culinary guide whilst I was in college, I fell hard for Korean cuisine and consider many Korean dishes amongst my all-time favourite meals. Lo and behold, Tunbridge Wells doesn’t have any Korean restaurants, so hitting up Bibimbop in Soho was a rare treat. And a pretty delicious treat, too!
With full bellies, we meandered toward home but stopped outside Daks to plan our AW2014 wardrobes, which we’ll wear when we go fox hunting with Her Majesty The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh, and The Prince of Wales, of course.
After we made it back to Pimlico, the boys went home and I wandered the square and the surrounding streets to a) find wine, and b) talk to David on the phone. One of the things I loved to do when I lived in Boston was aimlessly wander the streets at night whilst talking to the phone. I’d chat to whomever (my parents, mostly) and ogle the beautiful interiors (I saw lots of crown moulding and chandeliers) of the stately homes in Beacon Hill, Brookeline, and along Comm Ave whilst laughing and sharing stories with the voice on the other end of the line.
Since moving to the UK, I don’t talk on the phone much and I don’t speak to my friends and family in The States the way I used to– spontaneously. The time difference dictates that our communication is something that needs to go on the To-Do list– To Do: Text Mom to Arrange Skype Call– rather than the comfortable and easy hello that it used to be. Instead of daily catch-ups full of hum-drum tidbits that I happily listened to and shared as I circled city streets, we now keep our catch-ups limited to just the big events.
Okay, I’m actually getting weepy writing about this right now. Ugh. Anyway! TUESDAY: So on Tuesday night, as I walked through Pimlico and looked through every residential window I could, I called and talked to David. We didn’t speak for long as we had only been apart for one day, but in that short time that we spoke, I was reminded of those streets in Boston and the way we fell in love in the city. I remembered telling my mom about David for the first time whilst I walked through Brookline. I stopped at a park and was sitting on a bench when I did the whole “I met someone” thing, the scent of summer roses heavy in the air. I could hear her breathing on the other side of the phone as I told her more. I watched a family walk past as I spoke and imagined their daughter calling and saying the same thing I was saying to my mother to her own mother, who had curly hair and a stern mouth. It’s nice talking to someone on the phone when you’re outside in the city– it reminds you that the things you’re saying aren’t the only things that matter. That we all have stuff to say, people we love, people we’ll hurt and disappoint, and people we’ll pass in the night and never know. Cities are cool like that.
Back in Pimlico, the square was quiet as I said goodbye to David. A man with a dog confidently walking lead-free beside him passed me and I could see a woman in a bathrobe flip channels as she stood in the window of her third floor flat. I felt alone but totally connected to so much that was happening around me. Alone, but electric. When Big Ben told me it was 9 o’clock, I pointed my lens between the railings of the fence surrounding the green and took this picture. My heart was aching with nostalgia.
Back in the flat, we enjoyed some wine and decided to watch Legally Blonde, which is when Nick had his realisation that his beloved chair was actually Elle’s chair which temporarily gave him mixed feelings about it.
Because taking a photo of the movie would be BORING, I decided to take a picture of our vacant hosts’ art books on their bookcase, which spanned the entire wall. I was so jealous of their books and their massive bookcase, which is basically everything I ever dreamed of. David and I are already planning to make (ahem: buy) a copy-cat bookcase of our own because it was just so simple and good and perfect. It literally made me feel the same way Belle’s bookcase in the Beast’s
house palace? made me feel when I was six years old, which was a pretty amazing feeling of desire and aspiration.
When the evening came to a close, I went to bed alone. But I wasn’t really alone because the eye is always watching!!!!!!!!
And that was my Tuesday, friends. What did you get up to? I want to know everything. (No, seriously I do.)