02 March 2008

All's well that ends in Muswell

Yesterday we traveled to Muswell Hill to pay the remainder of our deposit, and because I wanted to see the place we’re moving to in less than a month. When we saw it being advertised, we felt it was better for Bruce to go and see it immediately (my job’s pretty inflexible) than risk losing it to somebody else. A few days later, he was so unsure of his decision that I was beginning to worry that we'd be living in a very posh broom closet.

The current tenants - a couple maybe five years older than us – were still home when we showed up, but they put to rest any doubts he might have had as they described the hydrangeas, lavender and honeysuckles that would begin to bloom in spring, extolled the virtues of the area and expressed their contentment with the flat overall. The only reason they’re leaving is because they can’t afford to actually buy property there. And who could? A flat like ours would cost a quarter of a million pounds (we looked it up).

The flat is smaller than the one we live in currently, but it’s chock-full of character and is nested in a grandiose house on a very pretty street. We had a walk around the commercial district, situated within a five minute walk from our front door, and were blown away by what we saw – specialty food and clothing shops, dozens of different types of restaurants, cafes, charity shops, pubs, book stores (one just for children), patisseries, three banks (one of them ours), a pet shop, two hairdressers, two cathedrals, two upper-crust grocers and a small first-run cinema. And that was only one arm (there are three, maybe four roads radiating from its center).

The youth there do not walk on their toes, their necks craning to see who or what might be stalking them from the shadows; instead, blushing young boys carried bouquets of flowers for their mothers (it’s Mother’s Day today), young couples strolled with prams and without, and every single person had an expression approximating ecstasy, though possibly I was projecting.

It all reminds me of the area I lived in before I left home, except vaster and more quaint, resembling certain parts of Vancouver as well (call it the hills and the chilled-out Starbucks-goers). There are even a few unexpected delights: a pub inside a converted stone cathedral and a breathtaking view from one of the spokes off Muswell Hill Broadway.

We had an early dinner at La Porchetta (situated minutes from where we’ll be living) and saw something we’d never seen before: diners jumped out of their seats as orchestral-sized music was suddenly piped from the speakers. Around the corner came four staff members - one playing a trumpet, one hiding a candlelit bowl of ice cream behind a menu and one singing happy birthday to a ten-year-old girl with black hair. The forth man twirled a massive disc of thin pizza dough, which he dropped resolutely on the girl’s head, where it fainted, sticking to her face, hair and neck.

And I revised my plans for Bruce’s thirty-seventh birthday.

Overall, it was a very good decision, and I owe Bruce my eternal happiness yet again. As do his family – they are now no more than a 45 minute drive away, which means we can see them more often. They didn’t really believe us when we said our visits would technically be longer if we moved to Canada, and I guess we didn’t really believe it either. They’re good people, and I’m happy for the chance to get to know them even better.

Speaking of family, I should really call my parents. They’re moving to a different apartment at the end of the month too, and probably still feeling a bit sad about our decision to stay here. Ironically, though, my family never feels closer than when we are furthest from one another.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

La Porchetta is the best place in the world. It has the best pizza outside of Italy. It is my one regret in moving South that we are no long er up the road from it's bountiful pizzaness. Sigh.

Congrats on the house, but dude that sucks you're moving! We've never taken advantage of our close proximity.