Monday, 28 May 2012

Location, Location, and, oh yes, Location!




Yesterday I sat in a train, heading for London.
It was a glorious day, with a clear blue sky, and wonderful fresh greenery everywhere.
I thought London was not the best idea in such idyllic weather, but I was going to see people I love, so of course I would go.
I would go in rain or fog or snow to see them in their new apartment. Of course I would go.

At every station more and more people packed themselves into this little three-coach train.
Many of them had giant cool-boxes, and all of them were dressed for hot weather. There were acres of flesh and some shorts and skimpy tops which revealed a great deal too much, especially when their occupants slumped asleep.
I sat disapprovingly, feeling and possibly looking, like Edith Sitwell. People who really live in hot places cover themselves up, not strip off.

Further down the line and more people clambered in, tripping over the cool-boxes and finding nowhere to put their own immense bags but balanced on the seat-backs beside other passengers' heads.
Suddenly there were faces painted in red and white. There was a group of women, dressed in union jacks, there was bunting and red,white and blue ribbons.
The couple beside me explained that there were two BIG matches that afternoon, one at Wembley, one at Twickenham.
Oh!

Luckily, at Oxford another three-coach train was connected and some of the cool boxes and giant bags were transferred.
We arrived, all of us, at one of the major London stations. It took a little while to get out, but my son was there, waiting. He's very tall. I could see him over all the face-paint and banners and cool-boxes, but I was still thinking that London was possibly not the best place to be.

Within minutes we were in the new apartment, protected from road noise by tall trees, a sense of coolness and filtered light, tall windows, high ceilings.
Within a few more minutes we could walk away from noise and busy-ness, down beside the canals. A choice of restaurants and cafes, a selection of shops, chemist, dry-cleaners, small supermarkets neatly tucked into a grassy amphitheatre.
Then we could walk, in shade and breeze and flickering sunlight along a choice of canal paths that cut through the centre of the city. A fascinating walk beside houseboats and narrow boats, with people strolling and jogging and pedalling along on 'Boris Bikes',  There are boats painted with 'roses and castles', with complete gardens on their roofs. There are waterside pubs, and leafy green community gardens. You can walk along to the London Zoo, or see 'Lord Snowdon's Aviary' for free from the tow path.

You can be at a major rail and underground terminus in minutes and Heathrow in half an hour. You could be in any of the great  museums or art galleries, or any of the famous shops in the same sort of time. You could stroll along to the major parks, or sit by the Thames, or go along the Mall and see what's occurring at the Palace.
And then you could get away from it all again in a tree-lined street or beside a leafy canal.

I now understand, completely, why an apartment in this area costs about three times as much as my family-sized place in Middle England.

16 comments:

Zhoen said...

Sounds marvelous. Makes me miss Boston something awful.

Jenny Woolf said...

Yes, being fairly central is worth it for me. But sometimes I do wish I had a peaceful country retreat to escape to. Most of us can't afford both! :)

marigold jam said...

Sounds ideal to me - I wonder if that is near Little Venice where we did a lovely walk along the canal some years ago past the houseboats all with geraniums in pots and painted roses etc

Relatively Retiring said...

Zhoen: I've never done city living - apart from Riyadh, which we probably agree doesn't quite count (not for women, anyway!).

Jenny: Yes, some people still need their mothers for the country retreat!

Marigold: you've got it - that's where the photograph was taken.

Ali Honey said...

Thanks, I enjoyed your visit into the city. Last year I visited that big place for the first time ( from New Zealand ) and well remember the train travel on hot days. As my hair is grey I got offered a seat when standing on several occasions. I declined but was impressed with the younger ones ( mostly dark skinned) polite manners. So much more to see and do in London than we had time for unfortunately.

We found a similar spot in Paris beside a canal.

Mrs A said...

Looks like you had a lovely day with your son, we too have our son in the city and he comes home for his country retreat! Will be in your part of the world very soon now!

Relatively Retiring said...

Ali Honey: I'm so pleased to hear that you met some polite people in London. Yes, being beside water gives a special feeling to a city.

Mrs. A: they are lucky sons, to have both city and country homes. I hope you will have a wonderful time when you come here.The flags are out already!

Anne said...

A really exciting read for me, since in September Jerry and I are going to travel from Oxford to London in the narrow boat my daughter lives in. You gave me a picture -- such a lovely picture -- of what is in store for us.

Jee said...

The only thing I miss about our South London home is that you could be at Victoria station in 15mins almost anytime of the day you chose. Having spent half my childhood in a large city and the other half in rural Essex, I'd really like to have a place in both - not likely to happen at the moment though.

Relatively Retiring said...

Ann: Oh, that will be lovely for you. The canals are magical routes, taking you peacefully into the heart of most of the major cities. Thank goodness that so many are now restored and navigable, after many years of neglect.I hope you have a wonderful time.

Jee: Some friends in my age group have retired to the depths of the countryside. For me it would make far more sense to move into a city, but ideally, of course, to have access to both - oh, and a bit of coast as well!

Leslee said...

Wow, that does sound like a wonderful location! City living can be lovely in the right location. My bf lucked into a great spot in Boston that's unusually cheap because he's been renting there so long and the landlord never raised the rent. We're keeping our fingers crossed it lasts. Buying (or renting) there is otherwise exorbitant.

Relatively Retiring said...

Leslee: yes, if certainly needs the right location. I hope the luck holds for you and yours.

Isabelle said...

Which is why my architect daughter, married to her aspiring-actor (penniless) husband, is living in a one-bedroom rented flat somewhere not so nice. And I loathe London for taking her away from us.

It's easier to blame the city than the man.

Relatively Retiring said...

Isabelle: that sounds so sad. I do hope you can find some enjoyment in what is really a fascinating place.

turue sona said...

It is SO fun to draw and paint! I just started to draw faces this year! :) and I hope I'll never stop.. I have to paint or draw or both, every day..
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Relatively Retiring said...

Turue Sona: Yes, I draw every day, too. It's a lovely thing to do, and I'm glad you enjoy it as much as I do.