Sunday, November 2, 2014

London Calls Again

Following my trip to Washington I was home for less than 48 hours before leaving for London to visit my sister, Irene. I wouldn't normally plan travel like that, but Irene asked me late last summer if I would come over to help her make some decorating decisions and this was the window that worked for us both. We only see each other a few times a year and I relish the days we get to spend together.

We were blessed with good weather and a few bright and sunny, un-London-like days. (In Hyde Park near the sunken garden pond.)

A few hours were devoted to visiting the Chelsea Harbour Design Centre where I always stop in at Nordic Style to admire their displays.

Irene is an art historian (on account of her Ph.D. she is actually Dr. Irene) so a visit to The National Gallery to see the current Rembrandt exhibit was required. I was a little fixated on the architecture which almost rivals the collection.

We spent the weekend in Wiltshire enjoying long walks in the countryside. Evidently the literary agent for one of my favorite (deceased) English authors lives here.

Back in London I did what I could to help with the children's routine as Irene needed to finish some writing. I love doing the school run - the English uniforms kill me and my niece, if you could hear the way she calls me 'Aunt Philly' - well, I can be counted on to indulge things Mummy does not allow.

On my last day I spent some time before school pick-up exploring Notting Hill where some streets have a distinctly bohemian feel very different from other London neighborhoods. And Portobello Road is a lot of fun for both the antique shops and the boutiques.

Irene (below with Spaniel pup Lily) is eight years younger than I am. At dinner one night she mentioned to our companion that when she was two-years-old I saved her from drowning in our swimming pool. While it is not something I've thought about in a long time, it is my most vivid childhood memory. My movements leading up to and following the incident play like a movie in my head. It was no less than a miracle I showed up at the moment I did and for much of my young life I felt acutely responsible for her. Now firmly in middle age, however, it seems roles are reversing and Irene has begun to feel responsible for my well-being because whenever we are together in London she drags me to her gym (admittedly very luxurious and spa-like) and insists I drink green juices.

I want to tell you - probably because another birthday is fast approaching - that despite the age difference and the fact that, given a choice, I would always take wine over kale juice, we were mistaken for twins more than once.