‘Spacious’ living

When I emailed my aunt and uncle to let them know that I was once again back in Londontown, my aunt cheekily asked whether I had returned to the ‘spacious’ flat where I had stayed for several months last year. They had visited the flat once — and brought along some incredibly delicious alphonso mangoes, which M and I politely enjoyed while we all had tea together, and which we both simply devoured when left to our own devices — and, like me, marveled at the efficiency of the one room abode. Theirs is a modest home in the outskirts of the city, ample for a couple with one child and the occasional guest, whose centerpiece is really the garden that is carefully and thoughtfully attended to by my aunt with the incredibly green thumb (and garden gloves to match!).

As it turns out, given the odd amount of time we’re staying this time (3 weeks) and the time of year (Wimbledon), and the fact that the original ‘spacious’ flat was already occupied, this UK visit is split between two main London locations, with a bit of conference travel thrown in for good measure. In my reply to my aunt’s question then I said the following of our two-flat stay:

“this first one is even more ‘spacious’ than the last…”

Let it never be said that the Brits do not know how to economize space. New Yorkers, and NY tv programs, love to highlight what someone can do with a few hundred square feet of space. But what would they say of the equivalent of a small hotel room equipped with kitchenette? Because that is where we find ourselves. Truth be told, however, it’s really perfect on all the measures that matter: location, amenities (including electric kettle & wifi), and cleanliness.

According to the American census, the average square footage of a Northeast US home in 2010 was 2613 sq feet. That number seems unreal to me, having spent all of my adult life in city dwellings that equal a fraction of that space. I first think, “I can barely keep my few hundred square feet in order, what would I do with twice/thrice that much?!” and then I also, almost immediately, appreciate the times when I’ve visited friends’ homes that more truly spacious (no quotes necessary) than all of mine combined, and yet retain a feeling of coziness and while eschewing ostentatiousness.

With more people, pets, and possessions arises the need for more space, but how much do we really need? I ask this with the fullest appreciation for having grown up with an ample yard surrounding our house in which to play, explore, run around, and gather with friends. But what was once idyllic memory can become an instrument of oppression if allowed to become immovable blueprint rather than aesthetic guide.

For now, I will enjoy my latest ‘spacious’ sublet quarters (quotes necessary) which gives me access to a place that continues to feel like home…

Below, a few pics from the first 24 hours, which has already included a nice 5.7 mile walk…. ahhh…..


A monument I had never seen before, on Whitehall St. walking in the direction of Trafalgar Square


Familiar view, from Blackfriars Bridge


View from our ‘spacious’ flat

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6 Responses to ‘Spacious’ living

  1. Veena says:

    Having spent my first academic conference in a freshman dorm in the middle of Wisconsin, I fully appreciate your sentiment about space. It’s amazing how quickly I adjusted to the small place that became home for one week. (I could however, go without the walk to the bathroom that required a shower caddy and keys). Also – I fully agree with your sentiment about the need for less vs. more. I can’t imagine having to maintain and keep up a big house, but more than that, I can’t imagine having to fill it, only have to clean it all out one day… Enjoy your stay πŸ™‚

  2. Oh, you’re in London! How FAB! I do hopr the weather holds for you. So far it’s muggy but dryish, and the light in your photographs is instantly recogniasable to me as home πŸ™‚ Hope you have a wonderful time. What plans have you?

    • sabonseine says:

      Thanks! It’s good to be back — I’m here for both work and play and the consumption of copious amounts of biscuits. (The US can’t seem to get it together to create a proper biscuit supply…!) And I love the (seemingly endless) light here in the summer.

  3. Suzy Victor says:

    I have to agree on the space, beginning to understand and able to create so much if I need the space… amazing how inventive we all become when it becomes a necessity.. I love the photos and specially the view from your ” spacious flat Windo” πŸ™‚ about biscuits.. YES I agree completely.. having grown up with British made biscuits I crave for them.. I do not like cookies..

    Enjoy have great fun.. πŸ™‚

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