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Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Room With A View


This is a view from my bedroom window.

We recently joined the masses of Londoners that enjoy loft living. Not in the American sense of the word; which possibly conjures up images of something trendy and cool, but rather in the sense of living in a slopey roofed, attic conversion.  That’s where my bedroom is now; in third floor clouds.  Apart from the extremes of temperature (either roasting hot or too cold) I am rather enjoying my bird's eye view of the world, it gives a different perspective, and I’ve noticed things I might have otherwise overlooked.

This is another view, from the same window.  


One window, two different perspectives. This is what I see when I sit breast feeding EB on my bed, at around 7pm.  I like this land of chimney pots way up high. I like watching the birds flit from one pot to another; the world up here changes slowly, in small increments; early evening sun to dusk and then gradually to dark. There’s something tranquil and reassuring in the solid, brick like permanence of it all.

There is a second window in my bedroom, a large one.  I won’t show you a picture of the view from that window, but instead, will describe the house I can see through it. A large, brick built, Victorian abode, with three storeys and a hat like roof, rather like those you see on dutch barns. The house intrigues me.  I can only see the back of it.  A private road separates the gardens of our properties; a physical divide, overgrown with brambles, as if to say; 'Do not cross here'.  Around the corner, where the house fronts onto the street, it guards it's privacy with 9ft high fences and a gate that is solid, like a door. It is impossible to see into it from this vantage point, but at the back, we overlook each other.  My bird's eye view allows me the privilege of seeing over and beyond fences. I’ve only ever seen glimpses of the people that live inside the house, but I feel that I know much about them. 

There is a room at the top, in the eaves.  In this room a woman paints.  I can see her easel, the edge of her canvas. Never the picture. Never her face. She stands in shadow, further back. I can see her silhouette, in side profile. Sometimes I see the movement of her arms as she moves her brush, or sometimes she runs her hand through curly hair.  She paints in the early evening. 

On the floor below, the first floor, there are two rooms at the back of the house. The one on the left has a sewing table with an old fashioned black and gold Singer machine placed in front of the window.  A reel of cream cotton balances on the top of the machine, reflecting  that this is not just an artefact of bygone times, but despite it's obvious age, is an item fulfilling it's intended purpose. Sometimes there is fabric on the table and then a day or two later, it is gone.  It is a room of industry; things move in and out quickly.  I sense that much gets done in that room.

The other room has french doors instead of windows - odd for a room on a first floor. They lead onto the roof of the ground floor bay window and the back extension. At one point, someone placed a bird table on top of the bay roof.  It looked odd, misplaced.  Inside there is a single bed against the wall, always covered with the same aztec patterned bedspread, in neutral colours of beige, brown and duck egg blues.  The curtains tonally match, but feature a large, heavy 70’s inspired pattern. There is a large angle poise light for reading. Broadsheet newspapers are often spread in sections on the bed, sometimes for one or two days at a time. It doesn't seem that this room is used for sleeping, the curtains are rarely closed.  

Only once have I ever seen a face in that house.  A small woman, or a nearly grown child, I could not tell, sitting on the edge of the bed, in the room with the aztec bedspread. I caught them staring down through the window, watching me in the garden, as I rocked EB in his seat. When I looked up again, they had gone. I find myself looking to that window often, to see if someone is there. I have the feeling of being watched, but when I glance up - there is no-one.


The inhabitants of the 'hat house' are a mystery to me. In idle hours, I wonder about them, their silent shadows and what life behind that high fence is like.

Do you have a room with a view that fascinates you?

15 comments:

  1. I was gripped reading that, like you, I'm such a people watcher - what is going on in this house indeed? Who ever lives there is some kind of artist perhaps.... and maybe the room with the bed that is never used is some kind of day/reading room (God I wish I had a room all to myself dedicated to reading and writing). There's a family of three across from where I live - and you can see into the kitchen from our kitchen window (in the attic) - she looks like an ex model - stunningly presented, and she's a model. And there's me in my scruffy get-up. Lovely, lovely post to read (as ever). XXX

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    1. ... such a jelly brain at the minute. I meant 'and she's a mother'.

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    2. Yes, I'd love a room dedicated to 'being creative' wouldn't that be fabulous?! One day...one day...x

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  2. Sounds intriguing! No fascinating views here! x

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  3. Isn't it strange that they are strangers? Your situation being temporary means they probably always will be? Fascinating for you all! A really charming post - but then yours always are! :)

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    1. Yes, they probably always will be strangers. Odd really.

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  4. Thanks for the lovely sneaky peek into the mystery house. Loved it! I agree, I love those kind of views over rooftops - all those clay chimney pots and slate tiles a bit skew-whiff are so romantic and, as you say, reassuringly solid, like they have always been there. Can't think of a room with a view from my house, but there is a fantastic and rather enormous Georgian pile in the small town I live in that I gaze in through the windows as I pass, dreaming of what it would be like to live there!

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    1. I love a bit of through the keyhole - in another life I'd have been an Estate Agent, merely for the fact I love looking around other people's houses.

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  5. I love people watching and am always curious about other people's lives. Opposite my apartment right now is a massive construction site where several traditional Swiss houses have been knocked down to make way for an über modern apartment building. While slightly disruptive, the whole thing is keeping the toddler highly entertained.

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    1. Yes, there is something almost magnetic about young boys and building sites - isn't there? Pip would love to live opposite a build like that.

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  6. I too love people watching! We live in a large apartment in an very old converted building and I adore our view! We have so many windows that I get to have many different views and love nothing more than curling up on our large window sills and watching the world pass by! I particularly love it in the rain or watching the snow fall! XXX

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    1. Oooh, your apartment sounds gorgeous. x

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  7. My flat living rule for London is always to take the top floor flat... a. because then you are the one annoying the downstairs neighbours whilst enjoying no noise from above and 2. because you get the best views. We live overlooking a big park in East London, am sitting people watching as I type, it's like a festival in there today, the sun is shining, what's not to love about looking out at London on a warm spring eve! Wishing you lots of happiness in your new abode!

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    1. Agree, best to take the top floor, I can't stand hearing footsteps overhead. Thanks for commenting.

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