Showing posts with label Dulwich. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dulwich. Show all posts

Monday, 22 January 2018

Going Back

Sitting on a commuter train from London Bridge last autumn on my way to visit family, I was musing about how, sometimes, I find myself coming full circle. It might be a book I am re-reading and find it is set in a place I know well now but which was completely unknown to me originally, or as in this case, a place where I once lived, which was familiar to me on an everyday basis but which I have long left behind.

As we passed through the familiar stations, I was transported back through the years to a younger version of myself, a girl new to London who regularly travelled on this commuter line in another life. A life I rarely even think about now as the present is so all-consuming.

The next day, I was curious to revisit the life I had so many years ago, to bridge the gap between the girl I was then, and the woman I am today. I would never wish to revisit my early twenties, sometimes a painful and disconnected time of life, when family and childhood are left behind and the life you will build for yourself is still in the future, but still it was interesting to be back in the place where I made that transition and reflect on that transient and unsettled time.

So I took the train back to Dulwich and walked into the pretty village, much more vibrant and fashionable than the sleepy village I knew then, but still a lovely place to spend time with its beautiful, spacious houses and wide tree-lined streets.

Autumn Trees in Dulwich Village
I stopped off at Gail’s Bakery, sitting outside in the autumn sunshine and watching the world go by, sipping a cappuccino and eating a delicious fruit scone, amused by the woman telling her daughter regretfully that they didn’t have almond milk, only soya!

Later I walked into the Park, admiring the trees and remembering other times I walked here long ago; then I wandered into the stunning Picture Gallery with its permanent collection which includes my favourite Rembrandt, 'Girl at a Window'.  I had a poster pinned to the walls of my flat in London for years till it fell apart.  I bought another to frame and keep as a memento, a link across the decades.

Dulwich Park
Walking back through the village, I passed the newly refurbished Crown and Greyhound pub, once my local and always known as ‘The Dog’.  Almost unrecognisable now as the scene of so many informal social gatherings, including my first date with my first husband.

Lots of water under the bridge, many ephemeral relationships that have vanished into the ether, but what endures for me is solid and strong and it was good to be back in that place and to be the woman I am now.