Sunday, August 23, 2009

Up on the Roof

Living in a townhouse in London has its ups and downs--literally. Our home there is on five levels, and if you count the terrace on the rooftop, it is actually 6 levels. Homes in London are often, built up, rather than out like our home in Houston. So, on any given day, we are up and down the stairs constantly. Imagine two flights of stairs to get a drink of water when tucked in your bed at night. That's when drinking out of the bathtub faucet crosses your mind. Or if one of us is in the computer room and the other is in the TV room, it's 2 and a half flights of stairs to ask a simple question. Our guests are often caught unawares that it's an aerobic workout to their room. Both guest rooms are on the top level, so I try to train them to bring everything down they need in the morning, to save having to go back up. It's that trip up three flights to retrieve a forgotten umbrella that tends to get to them.

Once you get to the top level, there is a surprise awaiting you. A magic door electrically drops down from the ceiling at the touch of a switch. It always reminds me of something from the ET movie the way it slithers open and down. Once down you can begin your ascent to the sky.

At the top of the stairs, you'll find yourself on a rooftop terrace. The top has opened to reveal a whole new world above the busy streets. There is a warning though: if it begins to rain, the top shuts down automatically to prevent rain entering the house. My husband and I have often wondered how much time we'd have to scurry down should that scenario present itself. We really don't have a back-up plan in case the door shuts on us and leaves us stranded on the rooftop.

So we just enjoy the rooftop when the sun is shining....

From the southwest corner of the terrace you get a view of the neighborhood. The buildings in this area were built in the late 19th century. These buildings are even taller than ours, and are often divided up into "flats" or apartments on a single level.

From the southeast corner of the rooftop, you can see Christ Church, the Anglican church just across the little square at our doorway

and the primary school run by the church. The children gather there on school days just before nine o'clock and then leave about 3 o'clock. It's quite an entertaining show to watch.

From the northwest corner, you can lean out and see the length of the street all the way to Kings Road at the end, a major shopping high street.

Standing at the northeast corner, you look out over a sea of chimneys.

And I'm always reminded of the song Chim, Chim Cheree from Mary Poppins.

I choose me bristles with pride, yes, I do
A broom for the shaft and a brush for the flute
Up where the smoke is all billered and curled
'Tween pavement and stars is the chimney sweep world
When there's 'ardly no day nor 'ardly no night
There's things 'alf in shadow and 'alfway in light
On the rooftops of London coo, what a sight!

And if you'd care to sing along....


  1. I get absolute chills when I read about London. I just love everything about it! Your home is beautiful. I thought and thought until I came up with a few advantages to living on so many levels. It was hard, but here they are...

    Great looking legs from the stair workout.
    Calories burned.

    Well...that's all I came up with! I would probably make my husband walk around with a 2-way radio strapped to his side. Oh, and how about a mini frig on each level...

    oops...there goes the calories saved!


  2. How about posting about Portabello Road. Have you been there?

    Then you could put up that song from Bedknobs and Broomsticks...remember?

    So cute.

  3. I was actually thinking of you and your 5 levels the other day when I was moving some furniture to our bottom level. Whew! I couldn't do five. Loved the view down the stairway.

  4. Thanks for a peak into your world!

  5. Okay, I'm ready to visit soon. What great descriptions and pictures.

  6. Wow, what fabulous views from so many vantage points.I can see why London beckons you. Your flat is awesome. You have your own personal stairmaster. I think I just added it to my bucket list. Thanks for sharing your travels with us because I have visited places and seen things I could never see in person. Your pictures are fabulous and your desciptions so inviting.