One of the unsung advantages of divorce is, of course, the occasional bit of free babysitting done by the ex. But, as I now have stepchildren as well, and as the TWO exes schedules are hard to juggle (yes, that’s a euphemism), we rarely find ourselves with child-free time. Except this week!
Obviously, we miss all the children terribly. But it is very nice not having to finish my crusts when we have a sandwich. Setting a good example at all times would be tiring if I were perfect. Guess what? I’m not. I do enjoy these little windows of freedom to behave like a kidult again. Not to mention taking a bottle of prosecco to bed now and then, something the teenagers (tremendously censorious over my behaviour, undoubtedly less so with their own) would frown at horribly.
We could have shot off for a glamorous week away – but we’ve only just had a holiday, as far as time with four children of wildly different ages, habits and expectations can be called a holiday. And I couldn’t leave the cats again so soon. So we’re having a London staycation. We’re moseying around, visiting things we haven’t seen before.
So far, that’s been Sir John Soane’s house, which I’d managed never to pop into before, despite having one friend who lived round the corner and another who was involved in the museum’s restoration. What an amazing place. I felt very sorry for Lady Soane, though. She must have dreaded her husband coming back with yet another chunk of plaster or set of volumes on architecture. I don’t suppose she had to do her own dusting, but still. The most amazing thing of all was the sarcophagus of Seti I down in the basement. A huge, white tomb, once covered with tiny blue hieroglyphs, which have faded to white, inside it is the greatest treasure of all, a beautiful depiction of the goddess Nut. If ever a name did not suit, it is this one. Her sublime beauty is captured in one flowing line. Truly lovely.
Then yesterday we were off to the Ranger’s House in Blackheath. I hadn’t realised that the Sussex Collection of Jacobean portraits which used to glower from the walls here had been moved to Kenwood House over the other side of the city. Instead, you can now see the Wernher Collection, which used to be at Luton Hoo. I actually did see this collection way back when it was in its original home. The beautiful, curving white staircase with the snogging angel statue at the bottom was amazing, as were the fabulous Faberge eggs. Time moves on. After the tragic suicide of the house’s heir, the Faberge eggs were stolen and the rest of the collection ended up in the care of English Heritage. Thanks to a lovely guide at the Ranger’s House, we got to hear the full story of the snogging angel – he fell in love with the mortal he is kissing, and she persuaded him to tell her the password to get back to heaven. She used it, and he was left down with us below, broken-hearted I should imagine. Nevertheless, as TL said, it looked as though she was worth it.