Category Archives: Notting Hill

Landlady Quotes

I wrote some of the best ones down, for posterity. (As Andrea will attest to, Mary also has many incredible stories, and she is hysterically funny when sharing them.) Along with those stories, she spouts out some great quotables:

(After I’d taken a picture a little too early)
“Oops! Premature ejaculation!”

“Equestrians just like to have something between their legs.”

“I sometimes think I went into the wrong profession. I should’ve been a hooker.”

“Sometimes I wonder when I’ll go into grandma mode, where I retire and start putting photos into albums.”
“But then you wouldn’t be Mary anymore.”
“Oh, you’re damn right.”

(Hanging out with her and her friend, laughing and drinking wine)
“As you can tell, we really haven’t gained all that much wisdom. Being wise is overrated anyway. I’d rather be funny.”

“There are not enough songs about middle-aged women. I’m going to start a pop group and call it Menopausal Mommas.”

I miss her already, as if you couldn’t tell.


A Sweet Farewell

I’ve spent the last few days walking the same streets I groggily dragged through on my first day in London. Now, in addition to the grime and dirt and charming age of Notting Hill and its surroundings, imprinted in its intangible geography are my memories, particularly of those first few days.

I remember the aching, worrying feeling that caused a week-long loss of appetite upon my arrival, and the compounding fear that I’d caught a new British-made food-borne illness. After all, I do not lose my appetite. My self-control, maybe, my mind, definitely, but never my appetite.

I remember my dad emailing me to say that he and my mom had left me a confidence-boosting note in my suitcase, and the resulting desperate search through every crevice of my luggage with all the hysterical fervor of a girl who just needed some hope.

I remember the tears cooling painfully down my cheeks in the winter air as I ventured out of my lonely, tobacco-scented hotel room to secure a cellphone and some reassurance that I’d soon have contacts to add to it.

I remember watching snow flurries illuminated by street lamps through my window as I listened to the meteorologist on television apologize for his faulty predictions and analysts discuss how weather predictions could be made more accurately, a la America. (At this, I remember laughing.)

I most vividly remember moving into my Notting Hill house a few days later, carefully arranging my bookshelf with family photographs and scoping out the kitchen for the ultimate implements of happiness and acclimation: mixing bowls and baking dishes.

And tonight, in honor of those latter kitchen discoveries, I baked my last London dessert–a peach cobbler for my still-southern-at-heart landlady.

It’s her I will remember fondly as the person who transformed this experience from bittersweet to just-peachy.

Miss America: Series Finale

I miss:

Do you remember that awful song “How Do I Feel” by Hoku that came out in 5th grade? Well, I hope not, and I won’t punish you by posting a link to the music video, either. (Let’s just say it was also known as “The Burrito Song,” which is a more apt description. At first it seems like a good idea, but then you just end up with indigestion and anger at yourself for partaking.) To be fair, she also sang that song “Perfect Day” featured in the beginning of Legally Blonde, so I kind of love her despite myself.

Anyway, Hoku states at one point that “the thing that I miss the most is missing you.” Truer words have ne’er been spoken, particularly by peroxide blondes riding on the coattails of daddy’s fame. She doesn’t miss her ill-advised summer boy toy, and I don’t miss the United States. Sorry, America. I miss the three Fs: family, friends, and food, but not so much the f***ed up nation. Pardon my language.

My mother feared that this day would come, that I would someday abandon all hope of reforming my home country and expatriate faster than you can say “Sarah Palin 2012.” Well, mom, I promise I’ll return home, ’cause home remains where my heart is. And I promise to try my hardest to bring about the changes I most admire about Europe. As much as I will miss this place, the worst thing I could do would be to miss out on an opportunity to redefine my home place.

I don’t miss:

see above.

More Tar Heel Love

I just spent a glorious day with Rachel Namm, who decided to stay in a hotel only five minutes from mine to ensure maximum bonding time. She is such a sweet, thoughtful lady and we shared quite a few enlightening conversations. Rachel is an expert on the health care reform bill (she would modestly argue otherwise, but she really is), so I learned even more about the good policy decision made by a little over half of our government.

We also share a mutual love of food, but let’s be honest–I’m only friends with perpetually hungry people. London has also been pretending to have nice weather; today was shockingly sunny, hence the sunglasses and the uber-European shorts-and-tights combination. I only have two more months to look this ridiculous. I’ll just be posting pictures ’cause I’m tuckered out and must sleep in preparation for an all-nighter at Stansted Airport on Tuesday night.

Kensington Gardens, where Princess Diana used to roam


The memorial fountain for Princess Diana

The Serpentine in Hyde Park

Finally! Platform 9 and 3/4, a la Harry Potter.

Obligatory food porn

Brick Lane on a Sunday is a food lover's paradise, we learned.

This moment was captured after we ate a sandwich and a cupcake, but before we ate spring rolls, a samosa, a bagel with lox, juice drinks, and bizarre Indian sweets.

This drink was unnervingly green, but refreshing nonetheless. Kiwi!

My Happy Place

My cozy study nook

My personalized & adorned bookshelf

My absolute happiest place--those are my new pillowcases

Happy Easter

Today was my first grown-up Easter. I’m not saying it was boring or incredibly religious, just different from the confectionary celebrations “of my youth.”

I went to church with my landlady this morning and think I’ll continue to go there on my remaining Sundays in London. Seriously. The service was that good. And the people there were so friendly, so welcoming. And there’s also the fact that the church is over 150 years old, which significantly contributes to its overall charm. And the refreshments served before and after helped, too.

Best of all, the service is heavily geared towards children. As I’ve previously established, I possess limited knowledge of Christianity. Thus, the props the Vicar used to simplify his explanations really aided in my understanding of his sermon. Oh, that golden egg represents that which money can’t buy? Now I get it. I promise I’ll appreciate the intangibles from now on.

They also pass out musical instruments at the beginning of the service for the children and children-at-heart to bang on when the inspiration hit them during the especially moving songs. One old woman behind us was feeling particularly passionate, thudding on her tambourine mercilessly. As you can imagine, it was difficult to ignore.

“She’s this big black lady,” my landlady said in retelling the story to our visitor this evening. “But unlike most black people, she has absolutely no rhthym!”

The Vicar then sent the children on a little Easter egg hunt during the sermon to demonstrate a point about searching for the obvious, dividing the kids into teams: boys versus girls. The number of girls considerably overwhelmed the boys.

“That’s life,” my landlady said during this process. “There’s never enough men to go around.”

I also want to note that with communion, they offered chocolate eggs. This place does not mess around in the food-n-fun department. I didn’t go up because communion always makes me feel super awkward and slightly cannibalistic, but fear not, ’cause they passed out more eggs after the service ended.

I suppose this Sunday has only been my most mature due to the lack of Easter egg hunt and the epic basket search that continues to occur in my house every year, despite all of us being at least 7 years past the Easter bunny phase. I certainly haven’t eaten enough chocolate, either.

Fortunately, my landlady and I made up for those deficits this evening by having dinner with her friend Michael. They are flirtatious and hilarious and entirely inappropriate. So I suppose my day wasn’t so grown-up, after all. It’s important to note that both of them are in their 70s as I plan to relay several parts of their gin-and-tonic-and-wine-fueled conversation. Some highlights include:

Mary: “You have lovely hair.”
Michael: “You may stroke it whenever you like.”

Mary: “I don’t hate dogs–In fact, I love animals.”
Michael: “Of course you do, that’s why all of your lovers have been failures.”

Michael: “She doesn’t want to wank with a Yank, she wants a baby.”

Michael telling a story about his old landlady: “She told me that only two men had ever called her a ‘damn British nanny.’ An Englishman she once worked for and Rasputin.”

As in, his former landlady used to be the nanny of the Romanov family. The one with Anastasia. Do you realize that there are now four degrees of separation between me and Rasputin?! Even in all my youthful Anastasia fascination, I never thought I’d see the day.

I would love to post some pictures displaying the church, etc., but the downside of this Mac is its inability to recognize my digital camera. So the nostalgia fest continues.

Hoping to recreate this image in the next few days...

Miss America: Part 13

Yowza. I’ve been in London for exactly 3 months today. I will write only 9 more of these posts. I have 65 days left in Notting Hill, minus my three spring break trips. So many numbers, but so few left to count down. (While we’re at it, my dad pointed out that I’ve lived in North Carolina for 16 years this week. Incredible.) Anyway…

I miss:

springtime at UNC, where everything is blooming and everyone lounges around the quad between classes and the temperature fluctuates between 60 and 80 degrees. I can only dream of such things here.

I don’t miss:

exam time conveniently coinciding with the glorious weather. ‘Cause that’s just mean.