I was a lot younger the last time I resided in London. I hate to date myself, but it was not long after the “summer of love” made history in San Francisco. Carnaby Street was in full swing and bell bottom trousers were de rigeur. When I lived in London, the Beatles did a jam session from the roof of their Apple HQ and the Rolling Stones rocked Hyde Park with a free concert. London was really “up itself,” as Aussies like to say. I was overwhelmed by the frenetic pace and felt like I was doing a high wire act trying to keep up. Londoners were busy reinventing fashion, music, comedy and filmmaking. It was as if everything in the past had just been too dull, too slow, too old-fashioned.

I’m guessing that Londoners are a bit more relaxed now, more secure in their place in the world. The Beatles broke up, Thatcher crushed the labour unions, the “people’s princess” died and life went on. However, the financial crunch that is beginning to take hold here may have a lasting effect on this generation’s sense of security. People are losing well-paying jobs in great numbers.

As soon as we learned that we were London bound, my wife scoured the web for a place to live. We were lucky. We have been in some difficult places to find accommodation, but this city may take the prize. The flat she found is on Kensington Church Street, a stone’s throw from Kensington Palace. From here, one can saunter into Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park and on into the Green Park. The High Street has four supermarkets within walking distance, including the largest “Whole Foods” in the City. Many of the shops are aimed at an upscale population; not a few are out of our reach.

This has been a posh neighborhood for a long time. William III and Mary Stuart moved their court to Nottingham House (now Kensington Palace) in 1690. Kensington Church Street was the site of a violent demonstration in the summer of 1821, when an unruly crowd demonstrated against King George 1V, seizing upon the funeral cortege of Queen Caroline to express their displeasure.


Despite the fact that we are living atop a patisserie, the main attraction for us are the Kensington Gardens, with their extensive walking paths, frisky dogs, decorative birds and stunning, gaudy Albert memorial. The movie “Young Victoria” did not hint at the empire she would preside over or the monument she would have constructed to honor her young consort.

We are fortunate to be here to experience the fascinating installations by Anish Kapoor. You can check them out at http://www.serpentinegallery.org/2010/09/anish_kapoorturning_the_world_2.html.

I’ve only just got settled in. Check back soon for more thoughts and pictures from this spectacular city.