Home Sweet Home

London in the Autumn is mild and mellow. The morning air is a haze of mist, the late afternoon sunlight is rich and golden, the pavements are carpeted in gloriously crunchy piles of tawny coloured leaves, and a deliciously heady scent of woodsmoke mingled with damp, rich earth lingers in the air. Outside of my bedroom window is a large oak tree whose leaves are a beautiful mixture of green, gold and brown; it rustles softly throughout the night, and it fills my heart with a curious gladness as I lie in my new bedroom on a quiet, red brick Victorian side street in North London.
Autumn is my favourite season, as it heralds change and new beginnings. I have never stopped seeing September as the start of a new year, and I don’t think I ever will. This year change is afoot again; I’m in a new home, have a new job, and some exciting plans for the future are afoot. I feel on the cusp of a wonderful new phase in my life and I am full of delight every single day as I wend my way through the streets of London on my way to and from work.
Highgate is a glorious place to live; the streets are lined with beautiful, immaculate red brick Victorian terraces; there are magnificent views across London as it’s on such high ground; there are a plethora of beautiful parks to stroll in and rejoice in the beauty of Autumn; and there is a suburban peace and quiet that I love after having been regularly woken up at 3am by taxi drivers yelling and honking their horns at each other on the mean streets of Spanish Harlem.
In short, I’m glad to be back. I had a magnificent year in New York, but there’s no place like home. Victorian terraces, chimneypots, tea and crumpets, orderly queues, being told to ‘mind the gap’, cockney accents and black cabs: I love it all! Here’s to new adventures!


  1. What a wonderfully evocative post, Rachel! Autumn is also my favourite season – there’s something about it that stirs the soul! And I must admit you got me with your mention of “Victorian terraces, chimneypots, and tea and crumpets” – the essence of Englishness distilled into one short sentence… Good luck in your new life and enjoy!

    1. bookssnob says:

      Thanks Florence! I’m glad you enjoyed it. Autumn is such a special time, isn’t it? I don’t think anyone could fail to be inspired by it. Thank you so much! I intend on enjoying every minute!

  2. deopatriaeamicis says:

    It’s always good to go home, wherever that is.

    Also, gorgeous quilt. Is it an antique or heirloom of some kind?

    1. bookssnob says:

      Isn’t it just? Home is where the heart is!

      Thank you – I wish it were an heirloom! It’s a 1930’s feedsack quilt I picked up from Brooklyn Flea market for a song – I have restored it lovingly and I absolutely adore it. It’s really very beautiful.

  3. Joan Kyler says:

    After the heat and humidity induced lethargy of summer, I’m energized by autumn, too. I have the urge to buy back-to-school notebooks and pencils and pens (although I haven’t been to school for over forty years) and to start new projects, read ‘serious’ books, and take long walks.

    I’ll miss your posts from New York. I think you know New York better than a lot of natives. But London is my second favorite city, after Boston. I long to return to Boston, not my birth city but my home city.

    1. bookssnob says:

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who longs for stationery in September, Joan! No school for me either, but nothing beats the smell of pencil shavings and the crackle of new paper. I am also becoming obsessed with walking and am looking forward to tackling some doorstop Victorian novels – it just feels like the right time for it all.

      I will miss being in New York! But London has its charms too and I hope you will enjoy my posts from here. I long to return to Boston, too – such a beautiful place, and somewhere I would very much like to live one day.

  4. JoAnn says:

    There is definitely no place like home… especially during your favorite season. Quite a contrast to Spanish Harlem, eh?

    1. bookssnob says:

      Oh yes, indeed! I can’t believe I used to live there sometimes…my abiding memory is of oppressive heat and sirens…

  5. What a wonderful time of year to return home, and a beautiful new home to settle in, Rachel, with your new job and renewed enthusiasm and zeal for all that is familiar, the word “bravo” comes to mind for me.

    Your quilt is beautiful and see from above that you gave it new life. Such a wonderful thing to do.

    I, too, love Autumn, though I have had an urge to open up a new box of crayons and just smell its colors. tee hee

    1. bookssnob says:

      Thank you, Penny! I certainly feel very lucky! 🙂

      Oh crayons! I’d love to just be able to curl up and colour!

      1. Joan Kyler says:

        I once worked with a young woman who kept crayons and a coloring book under her bed. When life got too stressful, she colored! Seems like an inexpensive form of therapy!

  6. Darlene says:

    Your new home sounds absolutely wonderful and how lovely to have a tree to watch through the seasons. Stay in one place long enough and I’ll stop by with a cake!

    1. bookssnob says:

      Thanks Darlene! I will do my best to stay put for a while…I certainly would like to!

  7. m says:

    I also lived in Highgate in my early 20s and still kick myself sometimes for moving away. I love your quilt, Rachel. And have you tried that very girly Highgate teashop yet or are you still discovering bookshops?

    1. bookssnob says:

      I didn’t know that Mary! You should come back! Thanks – I love it too! No I haven’t – I haven’t even been up to the village yet! I am going to go and explore this weekend!

  8. Trenya says:

    Autumn is my favorite season, too! If I am ever fortunate enough to visit England, I’ll be certain to do it in the fall. It sounds magnificent.

    1. bookssnob says:

      Autumn is the perfect time of year to visit England – you must come!

  9. What a beautiful scene you paint with your words and pictures. I love Autumn and agree that it is a great time to be home under a cozy quilt. Right now Autumn is my favorite season, but that always changes with the change in weather. When I see the first snow, my favorite will be winter and then when the first flowers appear, it will be spring. I love summer on those beautiful warm days as I sit by a lake or a pond.

    1. bookssnob says:

      Thank you, Janet! I think all soulful people love Autumn…such a special time of year. Autumn is definitely my favourite time of year, but each season is beautiful in its own way…I think Autumn is the most temperate in England which is why I like it so much!

  10. Jo says:

    As the leaves fall everything is growing for you. Lovely quilt, escape under with a good book whilst the seasons change through the window.

    1. bookssnob says:

      It’s true! I do feel like I am flourishing – it’s wonderful! I am so excited to watch the seasons change under my quilt!

  11. EllenB says:

    It looks wonderful, and can that Highgate gate be your view? What a great find that quilt is I really should go out to the Brooklyn Flea but I am sticking to my vow to deaccesson rather than acquire.

    1. bookssnob says:

      No, not my view, sadly! It’s in Waterlow park, just up the hill from my house. It’s so lovely up there – you can see all of London, it’s so high.

      I got lucky at the flea – most of the time it’s just junk and stuff you wouldn’t like. I went back twice afterwards and didn’t see any quilts at all! So really I got super lucky, though I did have to do a LOT of repair work – the stuffing was falling out and there were holes everywhere. So that should discourage you!

  12. Marilyn Ritter says:

    what a charming picture you painted with words about your love for the place you call home. you made me want to be there too. the quilt is gorgeous and what stories it could tell about the people whom it has warmed.

    1. bookssnob says:

      Thank you Marilyn! Maybe one day you’ll get to see this part of London for yourself! Thank you – I just love it and often think about who made it and how it came to be sold. It was beautifully and thoughtfully made, so someone obviously spend a lot of time over it. It’s sad that the history of these things so often gets lost.

  13. Jenny says:

    Miss you lady! I’m glad you’re having a pleasant autumn. The leaves haven’t totally decided whether they’re going to change here yet, so I’m waiting for them to make up their minds so I can have my First Proper Autumn ™.

    1. bookssnob says:

      i miss you too!! It takes SO LONG for the leaves in New York to change…I hope you get a beautiful Autumn and can enjoy nice walks in Prospect Park – go crunch some leaves just as soon as you can! And then send me pictures!

  14. We just returned from a September visit to London. It was glorious. I loved being there in autumn. I can see why you are happy to be back. There is so much to do in London. Samuel Johnson said, “if a man is tired of London, he must be tired of life.” (quoting loosely here) After spending five glorious days in London I would have to agree. Try to see “The Tempest” at the Royal Haymarket Theatre. Raplp Fiennes stars as Prospero. It was a highlight of our trip!

    1. bookssnob says:

      How wonderful – I’m glad you had such a lovely time! You chose the perfect month to visit! I would agree too – London is endlessly beautiful and distracting! I will try – I bet tickets are tricky to get though!

  15. Sorry, I meant Ralph Fiennes!

  16. Nan says:

    It makes me so happy that you have found the joy and beauty and contentment in your London. There’s a whole world of us who would choose it over NYC if the option was there. :<)

    1. bookssnob says:

      Thank you Nan! I hope you can come and see London in the Autumn one day soon!

  17. Rose says:

    Loved this post – and isn’t it great to be in London at the moment! I’m loving the blue sky, warm sun but there’s a different kind of light and a coolness in the air that just makes the autumn so special. I’m at the top of Greenwich Hill and just looking forward to heading out for a stroll, a bit of a blow and hopefully some stomping through leaves…

    Are you using some fancy iphone app to take your photos? They look great.

    1. bookssnob says:

      Thanks Rose! Yes it is – it’s the perfect time of year and I love the crisp mornings and the golden afternoons…enjoy it!!

      Yes – I just discovered ‘hipstamatic’ – if you have to take photos of boring things in bad light, it really jazzes them up to make them look special!

  18. Yep, its Bop says:

    “being told to ‘mind the gap”

    Oh R, that did make me laugh.

    So evocative.

    So summary.

    So resonant.

    Here it is, for your puzzled US buddies –

    [audio src="http://www.emmaclarke.com/media/7008/mind-the-gap.mp3" /]

    [audio src="http://www.emmaclarke.com/media/6886/please-note-that-this-train-will-not-stop-at-the-next-station.mp3" /]

    – indeed.

    1. bookssnob says:

      Thanks Bop! You always make me laugh!

  19. A Bookish Space says:

    What a lovely post. I look forwards to reading more about your new adventures. Can I ask, what did you use to create your vintage looking photos – they look wonderful!

    1. bookssnob says:

      Thank you! Yes of course – it’s the hipstamatic app on the iphone – just download it onto your iphone and then use it to take photos – it comes out amazing when all you’re doing is photographing your bedspread!!

  20. sayantika says:

    I haven’t ever been to London, but the way you wrote this brought the image right in front of my mind. And I agree, there’s no place ever better than home.

    Thanks, Sayantika

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