Welcome February (my Macbeth month)with snow, ice and colder than a witches tit.

Four am on the 1st of February – and she is awake.  The snow is beginning to fall.  For me, snow is still the thrill of it all.  I love snow, will not complain … no, don’t complain, and revel in the silent whiteness.  I am standing at the window, transfixed on the flakes.  Silent gorgeousness. A few of us wake at this time, we work, we worry, we rise to babies, and we watch the snow beginning to fall.

It’s the beginning of the Macbeth month in London.  The shortest, and the bloodiest. Christmas joy pales, January sales lapsed … now to wait for the crocus and snowdrops.  To endure, only today was special … white magic came. Rising to give a tour of the hidden icons of London, daunting to say the least.  Having lived here for a decade has me well prepared, thanks to Uniglow 

Just call me the Michelin lass.  Can barely get the arms to meet with all the padding beneath.  Two pairs of socks, tights, more, more and more.  The black outer uniform, gloves, beanie and she is good to go. Oh, and the music – cannot live without the music and forever grateful for the present. It’s coffee before the tube, oat milk heaven.  Hope I don’t have to stand all the way to Victoria.  I do. I do not care, there is snow.

Son sends the picture of morning at Sandhurst. Landscape.

My clients are a mum and daughter team, mum’s first visit to London. How to make her fall in love with my city when the horizontal, ice rain whips at every turn? Coutours does not flail in frosty climes. Little giggy, get warm dance in Trafalgar Square and tea at St. Martin in the fields crypt. We are happy, we are learning from each other.  Great women.

But for me, rainy days are shopping days and I need to go to the department store.

Did I add that the umbrella flipped? Walking against the beast. Fingers frosted.  Time for comfort food and retail therapy.

It is most definitely a mash and mushy peas day. We have the finest restaurants and coffee shops in the world, but days like this, it’s the comfort food, comfort comments, ‘how are you love?’ followed by ‘oh darlin’ colder than a witches tit innit? For sure darlin’ – for sure.  And what is so special is all the learning I do on the tours – going back to what the winters were like in Shakespeare’s time.  God awful in the murky streets of London with little warmth, little work and literally no money.  No wonder gin had such a popular following!  A tot for a pence, would have begged for it – death by cold was not an attractive option when sober.

We have amazing stores.  John Lewis, Debenhams, Selfridges, Harrods – vast stores of goodies. Designer everything, choices like petals on the prettiest flower. I traced the fabrics with my fingers, pretend choose lamps for the pretend home.  Waved evening dresses before the mirror, decided on shoes I could not afford.  Spritzed the perfumes, smelt the cheese and decided, once more, to discard all I have and start again – when I have lost the pounds around my untoned sculpture of me. Do that everytime, don’t you?  Going to shed and start again, the mantra of my life.

Big stores remind me of happiness.  When I was a young girl, in a small town, twice a year, my mother and grandmother, would take us on the train to Johannesburg, for shopping.  Starting at John Orr’s, we would begin at the top with anchovy toast and tea and then the expedition began.  One floor at a time.  An entire day of lists to be ticked.  Home, clothes, luggage – costumes for the seaside.  Patient in the following with the reward of a toy at Lilliputs before going back to the station. We shared much on those days, those mother and daughter days. I loved my mother more when we went shopping together. She seemed so organised and in control. Just the girls. The tradition continues with my girls.

Rainy days on holidays were always for shopping. Greenacres, Stuttafords, ‘De Hup’ as my grandmother would say … to the stores when rain descends!

And it was a rainy, snowy day today.  A nostalgic trip to the department store. May they never disappear. mecca of offerings and sharing lipstick trials. Bought dumbbells (do not comment) , lingerie (love great lingerie) and a Barbour T-shirt – had to have the British injection on that one.

Going to be a long February. “What’s done, is done” Macbeth

Oh the snow, she intrigues me, oh the tour, she was wonderful. Oh, the shopping on a snowy day, she was exactly what I needed.

Be kind this February… be kind to this soul.

We have much to do.

 

Dry January is for sadists and the Instagram standard winter uniform.Standard stuff.

Let it be said, she tried. January 19th and she admits … wine before all. Hopeless and happy.

Imagine the day.  I do hear the birds early this morning.  Cannot see them in the dark, but they are there.  A day off work to view possible new dwellings lined up.  Tidied the flat, checked nothing on that should be possible result in burning down of flat and checked the usual.

Mobile phone. Check.  Backpack with computer, books, pencils and ink, check. Don the first layer of Uniglow gilet, the second  protector jacket (thin lined but devastatingly effective against cold) checked.  Long black coat post wrapping up of Lavin scarf, coat, gloves, winter beanie, house keys and she is set to go.  Movement will be slow but warmth is uppermost – it is four degrees and staying.

Optimism in the mornings wraps the soul.  Coffee at my usual joint, hello, hello, oat milk cuppa with no chocolate before the dash to the tube. This bunny is organised, down to her cotton socks over the standard black tights – I know it will be cold all day and will be in the cold all day. I am viewing new address.

Music in my ears, instagram checking, emails calling – my office is the moving train to Kew.  Fast forward to four viewings – can I live there, should I be made to live there, where is the sun, and the laughter and ok, it’s doable on a rental which would buy me a castle somewhere else.  Not fazed at all – the sun is out, my finger tips are Checovian winter, the electric aura in my hair enough to light a fire.

Always a thing in winter.  The more the sun shines, the colder it is.  Do I prefer the sun and freezing cold, or that endless cloud that sits on my shoulders and I know the sun lies above.  not sure.  Disappointing options.  But she carries on.  When do we not and what is the alternative? More coffee. loads and loads of more coffee.  Two agents stood me up, me pacing the sidewalk to keep warm.  Two came through and I say the inside of other’s homes and thought, dear God, do you actually live like this? One very positive option on the green with Kew garden alongside so yay, she is upbeat.

Train, bus, walk.  Train, bus, walk.  And forever in the uniform.  For all I think, I could be stark naked underneath – no one will know.  Why dress at all, if coat, gloves and beanie takes precedence?  Why dress at all?  I could be in the La Perla best, the Tam Tam gorgeous lingerie for the actual clothes, not witnessed at all.  And I thought of all those past photographs of me in the winter in London – the coat is all you see … the coat is all that shows.  I am the coat, the black coat.  Maybe I should wear a bikini tomorrow, under the coat and be awesome beneath the coat.  Who would be any the wiser, they only see coat, as I see the coats on the tube, on the way home.  We are wear coats, one glove, the other hand free for mobiles, the beanies ranging from rabbit ears to covering the eyes beanies.  We are in uniform. Standard stuff. Moving along, standing, fighting those silent wars for the seat thing – I am eyeing that seat madam, standing in the middle waiting to sit sort of thing. Someone gets up, I am ready for action and don’t even think about it. This is mine, I’ve got it sister … sitting and you stand. No prisoners this time, I earned it, got to the right spot and ready to lurch to sit.

Home. Heating switched on.  Begin the undress. Gloves off. Beanie off. Coat off. Uniglow jacket. Uniglow gilet. Hello clothes … forgot you were there. And then … mmm, another night of dry January – hell no. Hell, hell no!

Today I saw the best and the worst of other’s interiors. Spent the entire day outdoors in weather that I forgot existed and that without the vitamin D pills. Its was good though, productive, educating and despite the moaning, the tube delivers on stories of life I sometimes cannot believe I am part of – but then I think, it has been ten years of living like this so surely I should to be used to it? Be used to the winters, the coat brigade, the ants commuting, the exhilaration of urban life? Why do I still feel it is foreign in some way?

Home and thinking about the premise of  …. three worst things to happen in your life is death, divorce and moving. Have done that in abundance and the moving thing is happening again. Which is all possible, we are strong in our tribe of Silver Streeters, it is a doddle in all. But the uniform of the coat, beanies and gloves … not the best instagram option. So, let it end with the coming of Spring and I will be able to leave the flat, old and new, without the uniform and instead … that summer frock.

So, dry January is good. Really it is. I tried it and loved it with all the new years resolutions, but dear Lord, one picture of not the coat, the gloves and the beanie that covers my eyes so I can see properly again

The wine is sweet.  So sweet. Done the whole winter thing, survived it and now for the instagram of me with suntan, feeding grapes and no boots.

And the lesson is: Estate agents call for wine. Every time. Cheers to Dry January. I earned it.

Dry January only works if on a beach. Enough said.

Image: V and A.

 

So, how are those new year’s resolutions going?

 

 

In the illustrious words of Ebenezer Scrooge, all re-iterate, ‘Bah Humbug.’

All those New Year’s resolutions frosted and veiled in the post Christmas overload when the party food (all miniature of course), prosecco vapoured and jumper infused loathing has now come to the party,  A little late, but we do not judge.

Secretly I make them.  Never to vow or vocalise, for I am the breaker of so many rules.  Dry January is great for me, on every other night, the night post the morning of … ‘I am never going to do this again!, sort of night.  Gym, well I don’t like the guy, he does nothing for me and all attempts at liking have resulted in pools with clouds of chlorine and little ‘de-germing’ water puddles I have to step into, that is anything but. I have tried, dear Lord I have tried, but the idea of swimming with others in a pretend lane, watching nose plugs and swimming caps, pales to swimming in a pool on a sun kissed day. So lark it, leave it, Gym went down the plug hole. Swimming in a REAL swimming pool, outside, preferable naked, is still top of the list.

January is different.  We have all these … yeah, going to do it, re-invent myself and be amazon, is just lovely my lasses, but for me … this year’s resolution is … picking the year I loved the most about myself, be it a decade or decades ago … and whatever, going to do it again.  So what was your best year?  Apart from all the psychologists saying go back to when you were ten … which I loved by the way, running, jumping, halter neck tops and dreaming about all sorts of things, the simple life. my year of choice for this year is 47.

I loved myself at forty-seven and it is the year I will be again.  I don’t want to be younger, nothing like that, but be the fabulous I felt about myself then. I was fit (without the gym), drank copious amounts of wine, wrote endlessly and felt, well invincible. I was in the throes of lust and love. Like that very much. All still doable.

You see, it’s not about the age, or the decade, but the attitude. For a long time, circumstances have made me feel, well old.  Others around me speak of this time as a great gift – you get free bus passes. You can wear purple hats, be silly, go to bed early, eat soup You can let the girdle go, instagram your breakfast and go grey. Not me … for goodness sake, if I make another year’s resolution, it is to still the ageing thing as a gift. Me and William Blake, we do not go gently into that dark night. We go …

The New Year’s resolution is a mind factor.  A time factor of a great year and working on feeling those same feelings, living the same vibe and just discounting the numbers, wrinkles and sagging muscles to throw all to caution and be bold and silly and romantic and lustful and curious and wanting more. Settling is not just about the New Year’s resolution of go to the gym or not drink or not dream.

At forty seven I was in a different place to now.  The skinny dipping will be difficult in the city and sure to be arrested if I try in the Hampstead Heath pools, but I am undeterred. The size ten may be elusive but the will to flaunt it does not die. Travelling is not going to be … oh have to get up early but darling, I am on my way. Full Brazilian wax still there. Hair done, no grey darling, not yet.  Paint those nails, wear the make-up, strut the stuff, kill this fluff.  That is my New Year’s resolution. Times change, working harder than ever before and that is good.  It’s all good – the balcony swan song is done.  The hideous gown when I get home is done. The lamenting is gone. Needed it, went through the valleys and all gone.

So, what am I saying?  If you are doing the January New Year’s resolution thing – pick the best year and take it forward. If there is one thing I have been guilty of is only looking back, and those were the sweet times, but now, in my Silver Street, I am going to be forty seven forever.

What it your ‘Good Year?’ See yourself there. Be there. I am sure it does not involve any settling.

Image: Urban matter, kut.org.

 

So it begins. Flat hunting in London. Give me strength she prays.

 

 

So it begins.  I know that I am allergic to morphine, but of late find myself allergic to Estate Agents as well. Who knew?  Not so much of late, have had to deal with them for some time, but lately, and especially since one cretin chose to play the underhanded game, I am not a fan. Yet, like morphine, there are times I need them and in the next two weeks I am going to have to rely on them even more.  Cue in the ‘Phantom of the Opera’ music.

As a result of the one who underhandedly led to the demise of my current home, I find myself having to enlist the help of others to find my new abode.  Today was the day.  It requires, as you know, endless, wasted time on the internet, looking at properties to rent within the said budget. I could be planning a trip to Barbados but no, I am looking a photos of properties to rent. In the winter, in grey light, in the mood of caved bear who wants to sleep and eat rather than engage.

There is something so wrong with this picture.  Rather than have to ask for a new address from college leavers, I should be smiling at the last mortgage payment on my home bought a few decades ago.  Not this gal, she is the ‘all over again’ kind of gal. And they think Dry January is a good thing.

Anyway, to the front I went today. To be fair, some were lovely, patronising and sweet. Others smelt of too much aftershave. My first visit resulted in the Estate agent, not pitching up. Ok, gave up a work day for this and rather than the coronary imminent, chose to Zen and move on.

Let’s talk about some of the properties seen shall we? First one. Could not see out of the windows.  The windows that were filmed with years of London pollution came twofold. Original windows of sash (pretty) did not keep out the cold and noise, so landlord put in other windows that resemble those of bus drivers, or the ones you find in the cockpit of planes – shift and small. No air here, but at least it cuts out the noise.  Dark blue walls, lovely for the winter months.  Depression acute guaranteed. The bedroom was that of a hamsters cage, but some may call it intimate. Bathroom – um, blinked and it was fuzzy and gone. The advantage of this place was the bus stop right outside – with the entire London traffic close behind.

Moving onto two.  Quaint, lovely outside. Quiet location and I thought, let this be the one. It was the one and only place I am sure long inhabited by mould.  Black along the window frames.  There were lovely remnants of past lives, on everything, even the picture outlines on the walls.  Imagine the rush hour on the tube and spaces between people – that was the size of the kitchen. Can I work with this I kept thinking, can I work with this as the boiler stared at me and the gas meter plonked under the sink, sneered at me. Oh my Lord … this would be punishment still.

Third.  Not even going there.

Fourth – already dark so the black bedroom doors, in the kitchen, did not appeal. Where is the taste I wondered? Where is the modicum of decent living, and at the price of a five bedroomed mansion of past living?

But in fairness, the agent was lovely. Thought I would be lovely, and I was, and when we parted, the nausea was kept at bay.

Not their fault on my budget. Perhaps if I move to the island of Orkney, I will find something suitable. But am not daunted, am resilient and have a million more viewings to do.

No more Dry January. Champagne is cheaper than these stupid options.

The search, as Alan Sugar says, continues.  Watch this space.

Image: Cartoon shock.

 

 

Colette – a quiet lesson to remind yourself to be yourself.

 

“Is that you there all alone under that ceiling, booming and vibrating under the feet of the dancers? Why are you there all alone? And why not somewhere else?” Yes, this is the dangerous, lucid hour. Now, whenever I despair, I no longer expect my end, but some bit of luck, some commonplace little miracle which, like a glittering link, will mend again the necklace of my days.

There are times, following a hard day working, flat hunting and generally that phew moment, that you just … well … don’t want to go home.  The city is bustling with after office hours catching up, lots of options on offer.  So I found myself thinking … rather than crack open a furtive bottle of wine in Dry January, I shall to the movies.

Right now, on my office balcony, the singing of post work drinking revelry is in force on the sidewalk below. I have come home to download the hauntingly beautiful soundtrack of ‘Colette’ by Thomas Adas.  I am post wonderful film scenario.  It stays with me still.

‘Colette’ was exceptional.  The story, the film locations (oh the house in the country), the music – all was strong, so strong. I learnt something new – never knowing about the tale of Colette: a young woman from the country, married and ghost writing for her husband – encouraged to engage in different relationships for his, and perhaps her growth, to the point where she realises that it is her story for which credit is absent. Words of her childhood, her nuances, her thoughts … she has instead gifted her husband her tale and he takes credit, urging her to write, for him, until she cannot stay in the shadows any longer and despite financial hardship, she takes control of her own life.

Literally takes control, engages in a relationship (which was then still frowned upon) and risks all to live life on her own terms. Bring in the fantastic score.  Would we fare better in our own stories if we had the most enchanting music to accompany it?

What was it about the film that made such an impact?

What did I learn tonight?

We go to the movies to escape, to pause on our own realities, and also to be empowered through someone else’s ideas – the written work, the notes, the ideal of it all. We are transported to what can be, what was, what others have experienced and come out there, in the dark, winter’s London night and think, hey, I have a story too. May not have the brilliant collages and film locations but have the story nonetheless.

Why not be glad for it? Inspired by it? Add to the necklace of our lives and be proud? Sometimes we need to relate to the stories of others to remind ourselves that we too have deep, rich and meaningful lives to lead.

Be yourself.  Others may not like it, judge but it’s ok.  It is your life. Be so very proud of it.

Think of the necklace of your days.  Add the pearls. I put the Fengal in my bath (my mother’s favourite), poured the wine (don’t tell anyone) and thought … this movie has been great for me.

We need heroines to champion the kindle of our own heroism. Mentors and music to get the juices flowing, the sparkling of an idea,  alight.  We need examples of struggle to muster our own.

And the music is hauntingly beautiful.  The idea of Paris is there for me.  Popcorn gone, and hour and somewhat blissfully born and so I shall tell you, watch this film – I even googled the film locations for the country home and thought, this is where I shall go and write, buy a little property and be amongst the wheat fields and poplars, to the city of lights and endless romance – to find it was filmed largely in Budapest (where I have not been) but no matter …. I continue to dream of how it touched me.

And I have the music to write by.

Images: The Guardian, pintrest

 

 

 

 

 

Another Silver Street interesting day …

The day was extraordinary, by past standards.  Totally unreal for the little of me.  For all experiences now, surreal, right here … who would have thought…

Like many of you on the Silver Street, mornings are the best times.  The nights are fraught with ghosts of swirling, but the mornings are the music of bold and new beginnings.  This morning, the sun greets. That in itself, for this one, is a gift.

Last night, I decided to decide.  For too long it has been the surviving of it all … the Camille on the couch.  Forever wanting what was, lamenting what might be and just going, oh, what the the hell … and hitting the stop button on the alarm long before the sun rises.  Another day at the office. I have many offices . The Travel office, the cafe office, the tour guide office, the other office …

Today the cafe.  For those who are new to this scenario, working in a cafe in a glorious part of London has been a total joy.  Two years she thinks, has it been two years already?  My sort of ‘Mary Poppins’ job and yup, she is still my crush.  The walk from Putney Bridge along Hurlingham Avenue is one of fine suburbia.  Dogs, children skipping to school, uniforms of gingham and velvet trimmed collars. London Planes symmetrically tall to shadow elegant homes.  ‘Tis London pretty in the city. The locals returning from their Christmas holidays.

‘Hello!.  Happy New Year.’  Catching up, sensing the world sway to the equilibrium – got the coffee orders down, catching up and pushing all doubts and fears to the back of my mind regarding my next address.  I learn from each one, look into their stories, there for their updates and as they rightly see me behind the counter, realise they know nothing of mine.  But it is good. Checking for messages, doing the social media thing … a normal day at the ‘office.’ Planning. Am I always planning? When does it get to the … this is it and not … what is it to be, she thinks.

Before my shift ended, the dream celebrity comes for a while .  Now in London, celebrities are taken as the norm, we see them often, unlike the early days when my mouth dropped open. my throat dry, visions of ‘I saw you in this movie’ etc.  We just let them be.  And in letting them be, like Mr. H who came in today, I sometimes find myself deliberately ignoring, hoping the indifference signifies a respect for privacy.  Even that is odd – chatting to everyone else and then causally distant to him seems out of place, it may mean I am really not that good with celebrities. How can I not look at him?  Pretend he is not there, other than the ‘is everything alright’ or ‘here is your tea’?  This is new for me. Fumbled quick chat about juices (shall rue my twittering answer) So we chatted briefly, me wishing I was not in the apron, with the oh, so unsexy, practical shoes. Mr. H, I am not always in these awful shoes, wearing an apron … God help me, I do have a life outside of the picture I present. He was sweet, I uncool and left, mentioning perhaps a little too loud that I was working again on …. Sweet, this would not have happened a few years ago.

Tick why I love London.

To Soho.  Meeting my boss (at my other job) at Soho house.  Why did I not think of this concept?  A members club where people can work, have meetings and find their ‘space’ in this busy city? Brilliant concept.  Now multinational with places all around the world, I land in a cloud of conversations about filming. marketing, business and finance – the most interesting people, all entrepreneurs, doing what they believe is exciting and different.  I cannot help listening to all the chatting around me, all the while thinking … this is so foreign to crumply, unsexy, practical shoes, me. We plan, we strategise. we throw the resolutions out the window as we order wine and discuss wonderful ideas. And I cannot help thinking … how far from the realm is this that I know? It is a new sphere, but let’s face it I have just served Mr. H his smoothie, am now in Soho so what is not to like?

As I leave … walking through China Town, towards the tube, Soho is vibrant.  The restaurants are full, the streets seething with hopefuls and those looking for a good night out.  London life never stops – we simply throw on more coats – it is busy, bustling.  I pass shops offering Peking duck, wraps with wasabi, grocery stores with ingredients I have never heard of. An orchestra of music emanating from all the different offerings.  I walk, I pass buskers, lookers for love, tourists and locals. Am I the only one going home? The night is young and I believe, I am the only one going home.

 Earls Court told me different. Lining up on the platform with many doing the same. Three rows deep.  It is now past eight and for all of us, the journey home is only beginning.  To repeat in the morning, hardly time to be with family and having some down time. I stand all the way to Southfields.  Exiting, it is past Michael, the Chippy Man I have known for nine years … walking home in the dark and then the gremlins come. It is a long walk of wondering about the sunny shores, the garden, the veranda and swimming pool. Community of friends forged forever. All seems so terribly lonely, as if it is all tinsel rather than tree, but  I had to admit, today was so very different … so alive and brimming with possibilities … so totally interesting. How many experiences in one day … how magical it all was.

I saw my Mr. H.  Was part of a community who does not judge. Planned a future. Broke all the New Years resolutions. Found myself in China in London.  Always safe. Not what I imagined.

All I can say is, if this is what I experience on a Silver Street day, what can you do to make your day interesting? Maybe no celebrities, maybe no Soho, maybe you are in a different place .. but the point is… learning.  I am learning … and the decision time will come, but in the meantime, take every experience and the wonderful knowledge you gain, who you are and add it to the list.  And then decide …

Been surfing the city for nearly ten years.

The wind is changing … is Mary coming?

 

 

 

My favourite perfumes and why I need to add to them. Or do I?

Can you remember when you first began to wear perfume?  Which are the ones that personify you best?  Memories are bottled with the scent and for me, when things are a little ‘untoward’ which seems to have been for a pretty long time … it’s my favourite perfumes that transport me from feeble fairy to fabulous self.  Perfume, music, candles and wine … and a great love.

It’s five thirty and I know there will be days like this, but the pain of black outside is not a good sign.  So, let’s deal with it.  Christmas packed up, trees wilting on the side walk, done.  Bye, bye sugar.

It’s summer on my mind.  In all the packing, one thing staying close is my ‘Beach‘ perfume by Bobbi Brown.  Alas, no longer making it and you should have seen the reaction to the news.  ‘Beach’ brings back so many of the loving things:

  • Summer.  Of course.
  • The beach.  Holidays and permanent cozzie time.
  • Smell of sand and sea – you know what I mean.
  • Thick beach towels to wrap the body after a swim, and you nestle.
  • Pool games.  ‘Marco … Polo.’
  • Watermelon
  • Barbecues in the evenings.
  • Cold wine (when I was much more grown.  And still now. With ice)
  • Dogs swimming with you.
  • Mermaid parties with mom’s garden furniture at the bottom of the pool.  Not impressed.
  • Cooking oil when sunscreen was done.  Sure, we did it.
  • Keeping the LP’s from melting outdoors.
  • Melting ice-cream.
  • Walks on the promenade with my parents, and now my children.

One scent can take me to all these special places.  So I nurture her like a wilting rose, hoping to prolong the feeling I get for as long as possible. And find again.

A little spray and I am immersed in the scent of summer.  A true love.

If you can’t be where you want to be, find something that gives you joy and reminds you of it and make  a commitment to be there again. Some more of my favourites.

Angel by Thierry Mugler. My sister introduced me to this one and since then, fascinated by the chocolate note.  Back in the nineties, this was the going out to dinner choice, the evening wear choice and still today my children associate me as a mum and Angel.  Face it, we all need angels in our lives and even though this scent may be a little passé, she is still a go to when I want to feel angelic. With chocolate and vanilla.

 

  • Young mum with her gorgeous brood
  • Loving my husband and when we went out for dinner
  • A lazy evening on the veranda, good wine, just us and the stars
  • Baking and birthday parties
  • Dinner parties
  • Packing to leave on a family holiday
  • Planting annuals in the garden
  • Trips to the farm
  • Christmas eve in the summer
  • My home

I think my first perfume love had to be Babe by Fabergé.  Think my sister had it first and followed everything she loved.  Huge crush on Margeaux Hemmingway, the idyllic 70’s model. Strong, bold scent, made me feel all grown up.

Babe represented the teenager into twenties years.

  • Seventeen magazine
  • Best friends talking on the corner of the street
  • School and University
  • Boys
  • My first car
  • My first job
  • Endless notes in the diary
  • Dreaming of becoming an actress
  • Dreaming of my wedding dress
  • Dreaming

There was a time when in the later twenties, that heavier perfumes such as Cinnabar and Opium were the objects of desire.  Heady stuff, very distinctive.  Think it may have been to laden for me at the time but what did I know – all about feeling even more grown up and must have doused myself in them. Estee Lauder was more about Karen Graham, another iconic model than the actual scents for me.

Mademoiselle Chanel – a gift from a lover one and loved still. Always special that first gift.

Monsieur Hermes – and Paris.

Love all Hermes perfumes. Hard to choose just one, but the personification of Grace Kelly, and Paris.

24 faubourg Saint Honoré.  

 

Passionately in love with Paris.  24 Faubourg Saint Honoré is in a street I walk along with stars in my eyes and love in my heart.  Parisienne chic, deep romance and longing for the beautiful in the world.  The scent reminds me of that love, the passion of art, of fine dining, of architecture and fashion. Elegant desire.

  • Taking the Eurostar
  • Gard du Nord
  • D’Orsay and the Impressionists
  • Coffee and croissants
  • Classical hotels
  • Divine restaurants
  • Luxumbourg Gardens
  • The left bank and Ernest Hemingway
  • The lights reflected in the Seine
  • Pretending to understand the French music I’m listening to
  • Pretending I can afford anything in Printemps
  • Bittersweet good-buys

This is my adult perfume.  The choices I made and life I have now perfume.  More mature, wiser and when love is deep and satisfying even if life is far too layered now. This is the personification of me at this moment and Paris beckons.

Perhaps it is time for a new perfume du jour?  Perhaps.  Have tried many of the new scents and maybe  it is this time of my life, but the memories associated with my lovelies is what I want right now, to compress a life well lived, not only in photographs but in the smells and scents of the perfumes that travelled in my suitcase.  If I did choose something new, what do you think it should be?

Oh, and a little admission here.  I never fall asleep without a spritz of Kiehl’s Musk

Heaven.

Images:  cafleurbon, hermes, babe, Thierry Mugler

The scariest time of the year, is here …

I warn people well in advance.  Stay away to be safe, to be sure, for the week between Christmas and the New Year is a dangerous time to be near me.  I hate it.  Loathe it.  It’s like the dark ages, Medieval times – a time of fog and brooding thoughts.

For someone who likes routine, life and business, the enforced public holidays, nothing happening, dark afternoons and endless nights bodes ill in my home.  Totally forget what day of the week it is, literally, what is today? Oh, it seemed as long and lifeless as yesterday.  Little, if anything happens, if you discount the madness of zombies packing Oxford Street for the sales and returning of gifts given in love and swopped with disregard to the giver.  ‘Didn’t like them socks, or them jumpers … gonna swop them for somefink more suitable.  For when we go to Ibiza and me holidays.’ Christmas cheer seems to disappear into bustling and jolting on the high street – ugh, note to self … do not seek life in the midst of post Christmas retuners of gifts.  Discarded Christmas trees all around. So depressing.

While some may revel in the lethargy of the week, I brood.  Don’t want to watch another Christmas movie, post Christmas, fat and flabby from the festive fare, hating the lack of sunshine and totally unmotivated.  This is when the gremlins come. The pixies of self doubt, another year looming and what are you going to do that is different, how to change the things you don’t like in your life, what will the new spiffing diary hold?  That is if you can actually read the diary in the half light.  Lack of Vitamin D.

This sunshine girl is all too aware of the sun shining somewhere else.  True, the weather has been the mildest Christmas I can recall, but when will the evening be later that four in the afternoon I beg – I plead, I have done the duty, been super positive, so please, please let the world begin again.

It is a dangerous time.  Despite feeling like a monk in a half lit seminary most of the time, it is a time coming close to the ending of the year and why I do not know, but for me, a time to look back and see the loss, the mistakes, the ‘God what happened to my life’ and being so very lonely in the fogginess of post Christmas, not quite New Year and the ghosts in-between. My ghosts don’t come at Christmas, I love Christmas, but descend around now, with the little to do, idle hands, idle thoughts and idle memories.  Am I alone in this?  Maybe if I could go snorkelling, or lie on a beach it would be different but London, love you as I do, you are stale post Christmas until the New Year starts.

All however is not lost. Though I feel loss more acutely at this time, danger is a good thing.  It is a motivator, a sifting of sorts.  The lull of this time is a motivation of self.  For one, I am packed. Still not sure where this one is going, but packed.  Moving on. Acceptance of the situation is at hand.  It is a driving time of saying ‘where am I at right now.’  ‘Where will I be going?’ ‘What will suit me when the bells chime on the brink of a New Year?’ ‘Will I be ready for the change in my life?’ And I will.

The lesson:  My dear friends keep saying ‘you are always like this betwixt Christmas and the New Year.  True. Am a Greek tragedy at this time, every, single year. Ever nostalgic for life before divorce, change in living circumstances, children all grown up and doing their own thing. Still lamenting parents gone – do we ever recover from it – and now, when the sun is missing and a longing for Spring deep, I am not going to succumb to the bleakness this time, in my little office on the balcony, but resolve to do the dangerous thing, in the dangerous time of this betwixt it all – I am going to change, absolutely everything. For good. Change the way I depend, rely and look for affirmation. And it is exciting.

The other day a friend asked me why I write about the not so great things. Most blogs are about yay, uppity and beautiful aspects in life, or alternatively about the down side of it, but I write about it all.  Times of just living, seeking, wondering, fretting, fearing and being so very part of the Silver Street part of our lives.  The changes – the not being the centre of a family anymore, the finding your children wanting to take charge at times, the not being the one to come to, admitting that sometimes, no I don’t know the latest technology and what is happening right now – but also, the one who knows what it was like, how lovely it was, how you meant the world.  And the change.  We have to adapt to the change. Life changes.  Parents die, children leave, relationships change.

And this is the dangerous time when it all comes home to roost because I have only my thoughts and the days fall from one into the other, the weather is close and dark and the calendar in flux with what to do until 2019.  The dangerous time. 

So, thanks for the invites for New Year celebrations, I am working.  On better and greater and what I shall become in the New Year.  Hope you are too …

We are going to take this time, this foggy time between Christmas and New Year to plan and deliver.

Dangerous for me … great for me. And for you.

Images Flick

 

 

Did Chanel have a toaster?

‘Pardon Mademoiselle Chanel, avez-vous une grille-pain?

Before you think there were no toasters around back then, there were, developed in the late 1890’s in fact.  And I stood here with my toaster a few minutes ago, thinking … do I really need you anymore?  Such is the packing of self – in more ways than one.

When one is about to box up your life, once again in my case, and relegate it to storage, which is a costly endeavour, one tends to scrutinise every item in terms of ‘do I really need this?’ We all know about the accumulation monster – mine is intrepid and has no limit.  Where did all this stuff come from!

The life gets smaller and smaller.  Has nothing to do with age – I am not one of those who goes ‘ah getting older etc, etc’ I loathe the giving in to age simply because another candle has appeared.  In many ways, it gets more exciting, exact.  Handbag has gone from the ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ and all the maybe’s you need when children are small, to the functional cross-over from Guess that contains the wallet, diary and keys.  Liberating and far less cause for harassing fellow passengers on the tube.

So to the packing.  I am going to discard all that no longer serves the new life I am planning, which could well be directionless at present, but easy to store and recover when needed.  So what to pack, and why Chanel?

More like a changing of attitudes.  I was of one order, from one origin and so the collectables suited.  Work hard at school, get a degree, get married, have children and the proverbial picket fence home.  Had everything that went with it.  Boom came next.  For years I continued to carry the Albatross of past life along; the memories of dinner services, old Christmas trees, enough framed photographs to cover every surface, coffee table books, medicine in case and of course the clothes that one day, on a dream day, I would still fit into.  Oceans of luggage.  

Also, oceans of thinking everyone else was doing the same. Can I say that I wondered at those women who chose never to marry, or have children?  Women that worked since they were fifteen and do so still?  Some never other than renting, never owning a car, being on the PTA or holidaying at the beach?  It was coming to London, and Europe that all these gorgeous women became part of my world, opened my mind to individuals other than me … and, how to put this, now that my world is more akin to theirs, the stuff of past life needs clipping.

So I thought of Chanel.  I refer to her on a tour I give.  Success after a severe beginning.  Basics grew to belief. It’s wonderful that she could re-create from nothing, and an inspiration.

‘My life did not please me, so I created my life.’

At present, my life does not please me.  So I am creating a new one.

And the toaster does not fit the brief.  As a child, no vegetables but loaves of bread. No longer.  Sugar too. Don’t do the dinner parties anymore, so why hang onto the ice bucket and tablecloths, baking trays (can count a dozen) only taking up space.  Unused martini glasses in case James Bond popped in. Mouldy Christmas tree in the damp garage.  Mother’s clothes packed in grief, to hold and talk to.  Coffee table books, outdated cookbooks and enough silverware to please a Medieval feast? Know what I am doing?

Photographs of all above when used and enjoyed are enough. Tables groaning with food, friends around tables, children decorating – have them all and so the actual articles no longer suffice. Good times still, just going to do it a little differently.  Going to acquire new memories, with a slender inventory and a new resolve.

And so the lady thinks again …

 

Style does not need a million pots and pans.  True living no longer requires post Christmas cards, twenty unused note pads, linen from era dot and cookie jars without cookies (re no sugar).  Thank goodness for charity shops around here, they are on the receiving end of a gorgeous time.

What will I keep?  A single, something Silver Streeter, will need only the photograph albums, some pretty cups and saucers, excellent wine glasses and a multitude of pencils.  These are for drawing and setting up the new enterprise.  Don’t need medicine, or a recipe for jam. dog bowls (no more dogs) or that Jenni Button suit circa 2007. Actually, may keep the suit, just in case the lack of bread and sugar will get me back into it sometime…

So that is what goes. And what next?

Sexy, new linen to slide into.

Fresh, hedonistic towels.

Totally new make up and beauty products.

Holiday planner.

New lingerie to suit the no sugar, no carbs, new body.

New business, finally, to suit the needs of this woman.

New playlist. Face it, I need music to live by, to strut and be empowered by. Think I will keep some of the old songs … they are what I am. They are the ones I love forever …

Keeping the things that I love the most.  Letting go of things I love but no longer fit the new brand.  Letting go of things that don’t fit anymore but acquire those that fit the new experience.  And Chanel, if you could have the fabulous life, perhaps without the toaster, I am converted.

So, what are you going to let go of, to create the new, fabulous life before you? Let me know.

Images: red on line, biography

 

 

 

 

 

Three degrees on a Saturday. Sunset 15.51 pm. Wonderful.

‘The constant rendezvous for men of Business, as well as the idle people, so that a man is sooner asked about his coffee house, than his lodgings.’ Samuel Johnson.

If there was ever a need for a coffee house, a warm place, a sanctuary in the midst of winter, I am sitting in one.  The London day of many seasons: bitter with sun, bitter with rain:  bitter with sleet and … well bitter.  

Waiting to take a tour in the bitter outdoors.  ‘The history of London in 4 drinks.’  And it is wonderful, for it is history, and learning, and learning some more.  Two and a half hours of meeting interesting people, being the drama queen, in and out of that doing I love – cold outdoors to warmth indoors – why do I love that so much? and when all is done,  clients wooed and won, to early dinner with friends in Sloane (the place of blue Christmas lights and true selling of steaming chestnuts) to family.  Grayson is leaving on a skiing trip to Austria – a first in many ways.

Some may feel sorry  for me deep in the European gray, and as I know, I feel dreadfully sorry for myself most of the time in the living quarters scenario part of my life, but today I am witnessing a hundred different stories, and I can only say, I feel blessed.  The morning tube ride began with the kindred Christmas spirit of wrapped up children and wrapped up canines, chatting, barking and breaking the normally austere silence of the carriage.  The ‘day out’ thrill was tangible and I do so love seeing little people with fashionable clothes: he is country squire right down to the beret and she in French Rachel Rileyesque prettiness.

Alighting at Temple and a short walk to Somerset House, Christmas well entrenched. Contemplating a skating session (has the hesitation something to do with the fear of falling?) but veer towards Fortnum and Mason’s Christmas – 18th century particular for Tea and Marmalade.  The combination of Wooden floors, fireplaces, baubles and truffles ideally suited to mood setting for the walk up fleet Street.

Have to remind myself that so much of London was bombed.  Between the new edifice of the city lies so many buildings of old, of history with stories I plan to tell on the tour.  If you take the small alleyways, turn the unknown corners, you will find them.  One being St. Brides.

Built by Sir Christopher Wren, the three tired spire was the inspiration for a local baker to create … the three tired wedding cake.  Truth, we get the idea from there.  Close by, the Old Bell, a pub Sir Wren encouraged his workers to frequent to save time on going somewhere else and he could keep an eye on them.  There still.  St Brides was badly bomed, leaving only … the spiral. Restoration was to the original plan but also revealed so much more: an ancient Roman road and Saxon walls, which tells me this church has so many layers to her heyday stature.  She has survived centuries of life.  More poignant, the church is a homage to journalists – alone in her sanctum, I stood before an alter to all those of recent loss, kidnapping, giving their lives to tell the world what was happening.  Haunting photographs of all, including Marie Colvin and now, Jamal Kashoggi. I light candles and think of their parents, their children, their loved ones. Life … oh what diaries we can create about her.

The tour today is about the history of London in four drinks. No, not wine.  Wine is not quintessentially about London – if you think about it, mostly imported.  It is about the history of coffee houses, afternoon tea, beer rather than the disgusting water from the Thames back then, and Gin.  The mother’s ruin.  About poor Judith Dufour.  Pelting rain, gale winds that mock my umbrella, hidden pubs and secret squares. The black cat secret, pineapples and St. Pauls and all goes well.  Interesting guests and new friendships, but I am soaked down to the woollen gloves and soggy socks. 

Suitably sitting in warmth with gin – Sir Christopher Wren gin – I bid them adieu and leave for the tube.  Still raining.  Night.  And I am Bridget Jones on the line, for home.  It is the lights I see as the tube moves through the city, the Christmas lights that needs the dark to dance, on the river, in the puddles and sidewalks trodden by generations before me.  One with it all, with my own story, and it is good.  Christmas is ‘Love Actually’. Love shared in this season, with the bending to offer kindness to the homeless outside Waitrose, the carrying of Pointsettias on the bus.  Passing those dragging the Christmas tree bought, the Father Christmas hats, flashing headbands, the patient faithful.  Jingling songs, choirs in the station and the majesty of spirit at this time.

An ordinary day?  I think not.  An extraordinary day – I call it a London day. Missing the life past, the sun and sea, the easy life, but if I had to be anywhere to feel truly alive, I am there. 

So why do Mince Pies have no mince? Well …