I left the office at about 7pm today and headed back to Charterhouse Square – a delicious 20 minutes walk away.
As I walked across the uneven cobbles of the square I looked up at my building and felt an intense pleasure at being back again after a weekend away.
This fondness for my central London pad has taken me completely by surprise. I expected to hate it – and was only driven to it by extreme stress at work and the fear I would become seriously ill (OK die) if I didn’t do something about it immediately. And it worked – after we made the decision that I would rent a flat and stay there during the week, I went out and found one the very next day, and my life was transformed.
But it is not simply because the flat is so convenient – though I can walk to both the Law School and the Business School in about 20 minutes – I simply love the flat and the building. It is a 1930’s block, in the art deco style which is one of my absolutely favourite time periods for architecture. It has a curved symmetry at the front, big windows, and lots of lovely details like curved ironwork on the banisters, art deco font on all the signs and lovely steps. I even love the way it smells – especially my corridor.
The flat itself is seriously tiny – about 12 foot by 9 foot and even that has a chunk out of it – though it does have a separate kitchen, bathroom and hallway. I have no doubt Dad would think it unliveable. But it has a big window, a black and white tiled 1930s looking bathroom (full size bath and decent shower pressure), it overlooks a quiet courtyard and not a busy street, and it is on the first floor so it is both safe and I don’t have to take the lift.
And then there are the facilities – there is a very well maintained laundry – but far more exciting is the roof terrace – 10 floors up, full of plants and tables and chairs and a wonderful view over London. I can see the Gherkin, the London Eye and St Paul’s from there. And best of all in the basement there is a small but adequate gym, a sauna, a spa bath and a beautiful pool with a good size seating area full of wicker tables and chairs. The pool room is gorgeous – all art deco with moulded ceilings and lovely stone and marble in soft pinks and yellows.
Best of all – it is the building in which Hercules Poirot lives in the Agatha Christie movies starring David Suchet (exterior shots only, his flat is far too big to fit into this building!!). Not that I knew this when I moved in – honest.
So during the week this is where I now come – walking to and from work, sometimes spending part of the work day here as it is so peaceful, catching no public transport, talking to G in the evenings, playing my guitar or going for a swim, listening to radio 4 (I have decided not to have a TV) and reading.
And that feeling of intense pleasure – almost as intense as the feeling when I return home to Farnham on a Friday night.