Bidding farewell to Jackie’s Morning Glory, after she delivered me to Southampton I boarded the train for Waterloo for a last weekend’s packing before the final removal from Sutherland Place. Not a journey you want to make on a hot Saturday morning. Had a woman, who was leaving the train in a few minutes at Winchester, not offered me her seat, I would have had to stand all the way. I had already walked through several carriages, struggling past assorted standing passengers and luggage blocking the aisles. Shortly after this the guard made an announcement telling people with bicycles not in the cycle racks that they would have to leave the train; and another informing customers that they could sit in first class for a £5 supplement.
From Waterloo I took the tube to Queensway and walked the rest of the way. Roger, the gardener brought me the keys and I set to work whilst waiting for Anne, home in England from Athens for a few days, who had generously offered to come and help me. It is always good to see our friend whom I have known for many years. She is not often in England now, so I consider myself most fortunate that she was free today, for she was indispensable. An expert packer, she aptly took over Jackie’s role as the practical one. First she drove me to Safestore where I bought more storage boxes and bubble wrap. There was a slight problem driving into the forecourt as the road was blocked by two old red London buses having been hired for a wedding reception.
After this Anne displayed great skill in safely packing china and glasses whilst I got on with the books. She, as a globetrotter, had clearly done this many times before. When we ran out of bubble wrap we used my ancient finance files, more than six years old and therefore no longer likely to be required by Inland Revenue. It was amusing to see invoices and receipts providing a crinkly shell for wine and sherry containers. Our friend spent all afternoon tackling this task in an impressively methodical way. She didn’t break anything, but in my one attempt to help her I managed to snap a stem. I left it to her after that.
I had been warned that a prospective new tenant was to visit this afternoon. A young family came to view with the estate agent.
Shortly before I left Sutherland Place three years ago I watched an elegant middle-aged woman painstakingly renovate and redecorate the outside of a shopfront in Chepstow Road, just around the corner from Westbourne Grove, that had suffered some neglect. This was soon to re-open as Otto, a pizza house providing cornmeal crust products. Jackie and I enjoyed it so much that we visited it several times in the last days here. The woman was the mother of the very personable new owner. When I visited it this evening, I was asked if I had eaten there before. I was happy to relate this story and to congratulate their success. It is now a very vibrant eating place to be highly recommended to anyone finding themselves in the area in search of a meal. This evening I enjoyed a pizza with extra jalapeno, a crisp, dressed, side salad, and a glass of excellent Rioja. The establishment was buzzing. Their third birthday party is on the 18th September. We are invited. I regret that we are unlikely to attend.