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.
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.