I wake up at a family friend of a friend’s house in a small court, nestled deep into Elephant and Castle, London. Thin strings of early morning light filter through the white curtains of my fifth-floor bedroom, hitting the wood paneling on the walls. There’s a cozy warmth in this room, yet I can sense a light rainfall outside. I know that four floors below me, in the basement kitchen, sits a small breakfast that had been laid out for me: tangerines, corn flakes, milk, and tea. It’s a nice way to wake up.
I push aside the heavy blue and white floral duvet of my bed and step up to the window. This house, a classic London townhome, faces a tiny square garden, lined by a large, black wire fence and accompanied by willowy trees with empty Spring branches. A few streets away are the Borough Market and Shakespeare Globe Theatre, which I frequent often. When I’ve gotten my daily fill of Covent Garden, Oxford Circus, and all the free museums, I enjoy wandering the stone alleyways of Southwark and the southern bank-side of the River Thames.
As London is one of the cities that I know without a doubt I will one day live in, I like to fantasize about what sort of home I’d like. Quite frankly, I would like an exact replica of this home that I’d been a guest at for a short week.
The patriarch of the house has a cramped, iconic study; a manifestation of everything I’ve ever wanted. There’s a large painting that he had commissioned, which contains a scene of every one of Shakespeare’s 37 plays. The painter had even placed my host himself (who, by the way, has a Shakespearean quote for every possible situation) in one of the scenes. It’s one of those paintings that you can only fully absorb after attentively studying it for twenty minutes.
Placed in antique wooden shelves all throughout the small den were massive leather books, that had to have been written hundreds of years before. Sifting through a few of them, I found illustrations of mandrakes, creatures that I had previously thought to be exclusive to the Harry Potter novels. A few of those dusty, heavy books, as well as a few of from his smaller paperback collection, were off-limits. Although my curiosity was peaked, I respected his rules.
Besides those select books, I was given full access to his study, as well as their selection of teas and porcelain teacups. At the end of the day, having walked eight or so miles around the English capital, I liked to sit there with one of my books, a cup of English breakfast tea on the end table next to me, sinking into one of the three plush armchairs.
I think to myself: this is amazing.
Photos From A March In London
Disclaimer: As this is a true account of my time in London, I’ve redacted some of the personal information of my generous hosts.