being tourists

-- November 29th, 2015 --
carbuncle st paul's

I can’t believe it’s two weeks since I last had a chance to write.  It turns out: it’s exhaust­ing being a tourist, even in my own home town.  Lon­don has changed for us!

SE1 is so dif­fer­ent from SW13 that it’s not really liv­ing in the same city, at all.  We have left a house on four floors, with a garden.

last mow

We’ve left a quiet, vil­lage life where I passed friends and neigh­bors in the leafy streets every day, and the sight of an empty black cab was note­wor­thy for its rar­ity.  The river was peo­pled by row­ers from St Paul’s boys’ and girls’ schools, being urged on by coaches with mega­phones.  Even more fre­quently, the river was empty and com­pletely peace­ful.  And it was a day­time view, for us, because noth­ing much hap­pened at night.

barnes river

What we’ve got in exchange is a glassy, glossy, dra­matic flat high above the street, with door­men who wel­come us with smiles and parcels when we come in, tourists walk by with necks craned at the vision of the Tate Mod­ern, lines of taxis are curled around the block.  This sec­tion of the Thames is filled with the HMS Belfast, police boats, tour boats.  Our nightly post-supper walk brings us within min­utes to another St Paul’s, this time the Cathe­dral, loom­ing out of the dark river.

st paul's night view

Even our part­ner desk, so much a part of our lives in all our homes, has taken on a new cool­ness, as has John, sit­ting behind it.

cool john

Our new home sways gen­tly in the wind, emit­ting slightly alarm­ing creak­ing sounds as it does so.  John assures me this is per­fectly nor­mal, and that our even­tual dream home will do the same.  It takes some get­ting used to!

The days have been filled with adven­tures each day, really: things we could eas­ily have done all the time we’ve lived in Lon­don, but never both­ered to do because our lives in SW something-or-other were so absorb­ing, cen­tered on Avery’s school life, all these past ten years.  Now the whole city seems to have opened up to us, with treats around every cor­ner.  Isn’t it funny to have replaced one St Paul’s with another?

St paul's between buildings

The Cathe­dral dom­i­nates the view across the river as the icon it is, but the truly cool thing is to approach it from the ground, and see how the city has grown up around it.  Last Sun­day, we hap­pened upon the bells ring­ing before ser­vices (as always, don’t click on this link if you have a sleep­ing baby beside…