The Interiors Project: Carrie Shaw in London, England

Welcome to the 12th issue of The Interiors Project.

In the spring of 2000 I arrived in Monterrey, Mexico to work at my second international school. I was beginning part way through the school year and was quite nervous about my new gig. The Principal picked me up at the airport and dropped me off at the apartment that I would be sharing with a complete stranger for the next few months. Most of the teachers were still enjoying their Easter vacation but Carrie Shaw had been recruited to take me to dinner on my first night in Mexico. Fortunately for me, Carrie lived in the apartment across the hall from me and, from that very first day in Monterrey, I knew that I could count on her. Carrie is warm and outgoing by nature and her irrepressible optimism is contagious. This post – and her home – reflect both her warmth and creativity. I invite you to make yourself a cup of tea and enjoy your visit with Carrie.

16 Years On…

I am in London, England.
While the wind rattles the windows
Typing up my thoughts
As I sit on a pillow
Made in India
Purchased in the Netherlands.

Hmmmmm.

40 years and 4 months ago, I was born in London, Ontario, Canada.
My first weeks of life were reported upon in the Free Press because triplets in the 70’s were big news. I had arrived 2 months premature and it’s incredible to think where I am now.

I thought it fitting to join this project designed by the creative and compassionate Monna since this has been a momentous year – not only did I turn 40 but I have earned SETTLEMENT status also known as the ‘right to remain in the UK’.

London
London, England has been my ‘home’ for the past 6 years. I moved into a first floor flat of a Victorian terrace house in July, 2006. The owners shared that their recently converted home was “a happy home” and wished the same for me.

It certainly has been a happy place full of light, love, laughter, and learning too.

My flat
My flat is approximately 400 square feet or 37 square meters.

What I love about this old Victorian flat are the high ceilings, many windows, and colours. I remember being thrilled that the curtains in the living room coordinated perfectly with my furniture! I am very grateful to have space to entertain and while I don’t have access to a garden, I am a few minutes away from the lovely Queens Park.

I found this flat with the help of Nicky LaLonde (ASFM family is fierce!) as the LaLonde’s lived one block away and knew the owners. I had viewed 13 other flats over 2 days (while staying at their ground floor flat) and was really discouraged by the spaces listed for 500 pounds per week. Timing was everything as Tom and Claude were moving to Dubai, and I was lucky as a personal connection helped me negotiate the rent and secure a rental agreement!

Home
I would define home as a positive feeling in a space – a place full of energy where I feel content alone or with others. Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote: “Where we love is home – home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.”
I agree with him, too!

The Life of an International Educator
16 years ago I accepted a job offer at Queen’s Job Fair to teach internationally.

I have lived and worked in:
*Medellin, Colombia teaching Kindergarten @ The Columbus School
*Monterrey, Mexico teaching Grade One @ ASFM
*Leiden, Netherlands teaching Grade Two @ ASH
*Prague, Czech Republic teaching Grade One @ ISP
*London, England teaching Grade Four and Grade One @ ASL

As an adult I have traversed continents and climates.

These are a few of my favourite things…
Thinking back to all of the moves, there are a few commonalities.
I always bring artifacts from my previous homes with me and thus, I have a lot of artwork and textiles too. I am definitely a collector of things…

Here is a list of my favourite things ☺

Colombia – a Santa made out of a gourd

Mexico – telavera dishes, thick glassware, and a framed print of Ricardo Alarcon doorways

Holland – a watercolour of Steenschuur (my street/canal in Leiden) and a photo screen

Prague – an oil painting of a historic town in Czech Republic and a crystal vase

At home in London
I recall a time when I had said I couldn’t see myself living in London for more than a few years. But then what exactly keeps me here, you ask?

It’s the reality that London continues to surprise me. I have yet to see all of it and as I venture out and about I know it’s constantly changing. I have experienced moments of history – from the Royal Wedding, to the moving of the Kings Troop, to the Olympic preparations to last week’s dramatic Boat Race. The arts scene is truly unbelievable (free museums!) and there are numerous green spaces nearby including Hampstead Heath and Regents Park. It is also full of people with interesting stories of their own.

Market Culture
I continue to be charmed by the market culture in Europe. Every Sunday, there is an organic market in my hood. It has grown in recent years but has maintained a small-community feel – perhaps I am also enamoured by the fact that it’s located on the local elementary school grounds. I have my favourite stalls where I buy produce, bread, and puddings.

My travel tales
I haven’t ever counted how many countries I have travelled to but I have filled several passports.

Here is a photo montage of the places I have been over the past year.

Travels within the UK

Whitstable

Canterbury

Folkestone

Bath

Oxshott

Hadrians Wall (Roman Wall) Northumberland

Hampton Court

Richmond

Travels outside of the UK

Barcelona

Doha

NYC

Montenegro

Kotor

Cinque Terre

Rome

Honfleur

Florida

Summer Travels
I am off to Folkestone in May and then Barcelona and Toronto in July. I am sure there will be many more flights booked in coming months but these places have high interest: South Africa, Indonesia, Vietnam, Holland, and Spain.

A Top Tip from Carrie Shaw
Plan several “reunion trips” a year with friends that you wish lived next door! You will have the best time as they show you their home while creating quality memories to last until the next time you see them.

I am in London.
Sharing my home
With my twin sister, her husband and her baby.
Introducing my London family
To Sherrie, Shawn, and Aurelie.
Our parallel lives have come together
For 16 days.

And a closing thought, that is timeless.

Please leave your love notes for Carrie in the comments section below.

13 comments

  1. Delightful! Although we’ve never met, I feel as though I know you… first hearing about you from Monna in my first years here at ASFM, and now here I am living right across the street from the Lalondes, and there you are working with my cousin (Ana Balka) and a former neighbor of mine (Jen Phillips) at ASL. Perhaps one day our paths will actually cross. :) Fun to see your travel photos especially… lovely!

  2. Hello Carrie! Long time, no see!!!!! How are you? You look well and seem to be enjoying London. Fab! We’ll have to meet when I’m next home….
    Your place is gorgeous – really cosy and homely. I love it! It was such a lovely surprise to see your smiley face when I opened this:)
    If you ever fancy doing a flat swap with us here in Vienna you would be more than welcome. My sister lives in London, but she has cats and my man has a dreadful cat allergy, so we can’t ever stay at her place!
    Hope to meet up soon,
    Hugs and love,
    Mandy

    1. Hey Mandy – I had no idea you were so close! I would be interested in a flat swap for sure and no I wasn’t in Doha for a conference. Went past Spring Break to visit the Boudreaus and Trevor. I had an incredible time – who knew Qatar could be such fun for 5 days. Hope summer vacation is going well!

  3. Hi Carrie, Nice job! I am Debbie from last week. I also taught in London, are you at ASL too? Say hi to Julie Ryan for me if you are. Your place looks great,and Queen’s Park is a good neighborhood. I lived in Mapesbury Rd. in the then “good” part of Kilburn. Now, it is all changing so much. I get back to London almost every summer, even a few winter breaks here and there. I miss it. Let me know if you ever want to house swap.

    1. Hi Debbie – I just realized I have all of these messages to reply too. Oops – sorry!
      I would definitely be interested in a flat swap! And when I am back at work in a few weeks will pass on your hellos to Julie – did you hear she is retiring this year? Hard to believe!!! Wow – mapesbury – that’s seriously close. I do love my ‘hood’ – am missing the sunday market but not the weather -as am in sunny Ontario. Loved your post too btw. C

  4. Carrie- I just read your story and it has made me miss you and all the girls from Colombia! It looks like you are really happy and doing well, I am so glad. I hope that we can have our own reunion one of these days! If you are ever on the west coast of Canada you are welcome!!! Love Candice xo

  5. Carrie, dear, I loved this way to share your life with us! Thanks for making me feel part of your story and thanks for keeping in touch! You are very lucky to be able to travel and get to see all this beauty in the world! And we are grateful for you sharing your photos and stories! It´s like travelling with you!!! I send you lots of kisses and hugs and we hope to visit you some day soon!!! Vicente, Julen and David send you hugs too! Aupa Carrie!!!

  6. . What a lovely story, with beautiful pictures. I’m so happy that our paths crossed – in Leiden and London – and feel privileged and proud to call you my friend, Carrie! I can’t wait for you to come visit me, to show around my new old hood, and to create even more happy memories together.
    Happy Travels and Happy Reunions!
    Groetjes van Gera

  7. Hi Carrie! Thanks for sharing your lovely home –I smiled when I saw the red couch we need to start a club or something! I also loved the ending to your post -where was that taken?

    1. Hi April – so where are you these days?! I love how Monna has brought us all together again – writing this was so good – purposeful reflection, you know?! That carved message was taken from the wall of a little town down the coast from Folkestone- on the Channel – it was quite a town during the War – lots of history. Wish I could quickly recall the name…

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