The photos above are from a blog called Tier 1London. Unfortunately, when we were there it was before digital, so all my beautiful photos are buried somewhere in storage.
Here is part one of my story that really does have something to do with textiles in the end! but you will have to check in for part 2....
By the middle of May the weather was still off and on with rain and sunshine. Some days were wet and stormy and others held the promise of summer and heat. After being forced out of our flat so the landlady’s son could move in and live rent free, we had moved into a quaint but small Victorian conversion flat. It was on a nice street that was mercifully closer to the girls’ school but it was actually smaller and darker than our old cube-shaped apartment. We were only going to be there for two months before we heading out to Ireland and then home, so we didn’t even unpack all of our boxes. It hardly seemed worth the trouble but it did make the apartment seem unsettled. The space was cramped and torturous acoustically due to high ceilings, thin walls and wooden floors. Because of this we could hear all the noises the neighbors made, our own voices floated and bounced around the rooms, and worst of all, the girls had to refrain from shouting and jumping around. Unfortunately, this is exactly what they felt like doing after being cooped up for so many rainy months.
The winter had been long and difficult and the unwelcome move had left us all a little more fragile. My older daughter, Mira, who was normally quiet and sweet, had been crying and whining a lot. She wanted to be with me all the time and did not want to go to school. I was a little worried because after their initial settling in, both girls had loved their school. The teachers, students and administrators at Highgate Primary had provided friendship, encouragement and a sense of belonging. At this point however, the instability of our living situation compounded by the fact that her beloved teacher had taken ill and been replaced by a substitute, had made Mira shy and unhappy.
I decided that I would take her out of school one day, and the two of us would go on a relaxing and rejuvenating outing to Hampton Court. David agreed to stay home from the office and watch Valerie so Mira and I could have one on one time. We planned to go on a Thursday to avoid the weekend crowds. Unfortunately (and typically) it happened on that day to be pouring and gusting wildly. The girls were crying and David and I were arguing about what to do. We had had our hearts set on it, the girls had missed the start of the school day, and I had the travel logistics all planned out. Staying in the gray, little flat was too grim an option so we decided to charge on. David would stay home and bake cookies and do art projects with Valerie and Mira and I would face the challenge of the weather with our heads down and our hearts high.
The hardest part was bundling up and stepping out the door, running two blocks to the bus stop. We went on the bus to the Archway tube station, again running out of the bus, pushing our umbrellas into the wind and rain, and down the steps to the Underground. We took the tube to the spacious and beautiful Victoria Station where we got the overland train to Hampton Court. On the train, we felt exhilarated and proud that we were on our way and only a little damp for the wear. The train took us to the edge of the city and into the suburbs past Wimbledon. The last leg of the journey was a short walk from the train station to the castle gates.
Even though the area was quiet and uncrowded, we huddled together and ran shrieking as the gusts shifted and almost turned our umbrellas inside out. We were literally loosing our footing and Mira’s hat almost blew into the Thames. At the entrance to the palace grounds, we laughed and screamed down the wide empty pathways and our voices were carried away on the wind. The weather seemed to have kept away the typically large crowds so we were able to get in quickly and move about freely. After about an hour and a half of travel, we almost felt as if we had discovered some out of the way castle.