London weekend

When people ask me where I’m from, I just say England. I’m not English of course, I’m half-Swedish, half-Italian, living in Abu Dhabi and with a house in France. But no one really wants to know all that. Added to which, England is where I feel most at home.
Rupert, Leonardo and I just got back from London yesterday. We flew in on Wednesday and en route to the friends we were staying with drove up Redcliffe Gardens, the first place I lived in when I moved to London aged 16. Actually it wasn’t strictly the first place. Prior to that I had lived in a bedsit in Maida Vale, which was utterly dingy but I loved it. There was an old Greek man who lived downstairs and used to feed me Moussaka. And I worked at what was then Hennes, now H&M in Oxford Street.
I suppose what struck me so much driving up Redcliffe Gardens was how little it has changed in 20 years. I am a totally different creature, with children and published books and an unhealthy obsession with Chelsea football club. But London is almost identical. Maybe that is one of the reasons I feel so at home there.
We started our visit at Stamford Bridge, where we watched Newcastle beat Chelsea, funnily enough with a great friend of mine from the time I lived in Redcliffe Gardens. Leo and I spent Friday morning on the Stamford Bridge tour, and Saturday at the FA Cup Final. In between we shopped (Peter Jones, another example of how London remains the same), saw friends and went to the National Gallery and the Freud exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. An ideal five days. Leo was weeping when we left and asking how soon we can go back. I have booked him into the Chelsea Soccer School in July, so we will be there then at least. But if I can sneak in a visit back home beforehand, I will.

Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2012

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