Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Lady of Notting Hill

Hey! I'm home from two weeks in London. Will post some more pics soon!!

I have jet lag right now. I've been up since about 5:30 a.m. doing laundry and talking to my mom (who's also an early riser) about a mile a minute.  It was such an amazing trip. All the flowers and trees are in bloom - and I mean, full bloom. The whole city seems to be bursting with lilacs and cherry blossoms. It was so depressing to come back to poor Toronto, still gray and yellow after this long winter.

Anyway - lots of stories (no shortage of drinking connections in the U.K. btw), but there's one I have to share asap.

So we rented a flat from a place called Home From Home. Totally recommend their service btw. They had a driver come to pick us up so there were no worries there. Very professional booking with them. They rent the empty flats of Londoners while they're away. We booked the trip pretty late so there wasn't much choice, but somehow or other we ended up with this awesome one-bedroom in Notting Hill.

The place was a fourth-floor flat in a row of pale limestone townhouses dating back to at least the 1830s. It was fashionably decorated, if a little on the girly side (i.e. the Turkish carpet was faded to pink). There were also lots of framed pics of the owner and her girlfriends on the walls. Lovely, slim 20-something women sunning on beaches, smiling at weddings, dressed up at costume parties or trekking through exotic countries. And nothing in the place was Ikea, if you know what I mean. Literally every stick of furniture was a unique and artful antique. Including the bed -- which was a little short for the hubs, btw.

There was real art on the walls too - not Monet exactly - but also not framed prints from the local poster shop. Lovely dishes. Lots of great books on the shelves. The hubs was poking through them and pulled out a slim volume written in the 1950s. When he mentioned the name of the writer, I perked up. "Wait a second," I said. "There are some paintings here by that fellow. She must know him."

After some researching and Googling, comparing painter's names and writer's names against the litter of mail on the floor in the hallway downstairs, turns out the owner of our flat is a baroness!! She comes from a long line of English barons and parliamentarians. It made me laugh. I guess if the too-short bed is good enough for Lady Lucy (I think I can divulge that much info without sacrificing her privacy!), then it's good enough for us.

Anyway, there were two copies of another book on the shelf. More than one copy of a book usually means some kind of personal connection. Again, I'm not sure I should mention the title without Lady Lucy's consent. But - believe it or not - it was about alcohol addiction and was written by Lady Lucy's father. It talked about how, despite his lineage, he ended up penniless in the 90s with everything he owned fitting into a single car. He's sober now, btw. Or at least was when the book was published.

I couldn't believe it. Of all the thousands of flats we could've rented in London, naturally I'd end up with an owner who had an alcoholic dad. I looked at Lady Lucy's lovely pictures differently after that, wondering what sort of sadness she might be hiding behind that pretty smile of hers. Because it doesn't matter if you're poor from a mining town like me - or a titled noble from London like Lady Lucy - alcoholism can affect anyone's life.

btw ... my cleanse starts this week!! Um ... after two weeks in the pub capital of the world, I could use it. ;)

And here's the OTHER lady from Notting Hill. The movie that is. ;) Miss Julia Roberts.