Former London Socialite Managing Life on a Budget and a Prayer

It Started With The Keys and Ended With the Police

Going into London for a Coffee with Friends

I had to go to London for a few days. The usual, see the doctor, sort my things out in the UK, look through my post, and this visit included a special treat of seeing old friends from America who were on holiday.

I was going back and forth as to whether or not I should go or not go. I tore my calf muscle a few weeks ago, so haven’t been doing much and it’s made me a bit grumpy, of course, I wouldn’t be me if I weren’t grumpy at least half of the time, being a Gemini, we usually spend half over the top happy and the other half down on the floor miserably.

There was a lot to consider. I didn’t have anyone to look after the kitties. My son was in the UK so he’d be in my little haven at the same time I’d be there, and we’ve never done that before, I don’t like leaving the horses. I am in the process of doing some work in the house and the garden; I’d have to stop that for a few days. The excuses were boundless. But, in the end, I decided to go. A friend said she could look after the kitties, so tick that box and she even said she’d water my plants so that I wouldn’t return home to a completely dead garden.

Now, it’s time to book the car, pack my things, prepare because I’m leaving tomorrow. Book the car, tick. Pack my things, tick. Switch handbags? Well, I can’t use the same purse in London that I’ve been schlepping around in Lisbon for the last three or four weeks even if it is a gorgeous Proenza Schouler bag! Which bag should  I go with on this trip? My beige Donna Karan bucket bag seemed like a safe choice; big enough to throw all my junk in for the plane ride, small enough not to get too heavy when running through the airport.

I decided not to sleep the night before the flight. I was getting picked up by my car service at 4.20am, and it was already 2.30am, and I was still packing my things. That was the plan. I was messaging with a friend while I was packing and he said to get some rest. Well, I was a bit tired, I’ll sit down and watch the news for a few minutes and then I’ll jump in the shower. Is that mistake number one or is just deciding to go on the trip full stop mistake number one? It’s irrelevant. I fell asleep and the next thing I know my car is here.

I’m not showered. I haven’t finished packing. The cats need feeding. One cat gets into the garage, and I can’t get him out, so spend 20 minutes of precious time trying to convince him I’m not going anywhere. He sees my bags; he’s not stupid. He knows the longer he hides under the car; his mummy can’t leave. I finally manage to get him out from the garage, jump in the shower, take my makeup with me, don’t dry my hair. I’m going to fly like I’m nobody’s child. I don’t care, it’s still early, but getting later and I’m worried I’ll miss my flight. My stomach is doing flip flops from my tablets that I’ve taken too late but still early in the morning, and I’m going to need a loo soon! My driver is cool; reassuring me we have plenty of time, telling me to breathe, slow breaths, close my eyes, and we’ll be there in 20 minutes; I can handle 20 minutes.

We approach the toll booths. Where are my phones? I can’t find my phones! Sorry, Mister Driver, but we need to go back to my house. I’ll have to miss my flight, I can’t live without my phones! Am I sure? Of course, I’m sure, they’re always in my handbag, they’re not there. Okay, I’ll check the other bag. Oh. Here they are. I do think at this point, my brain is simply broken beyond repair and I’ve made a mistake by deciding to go on this trip.

I arrive at the check-in and manage to have ten minutes to get to my gate. I rush through security, get to the gate, board the plane, and fall asleep until arrival in London. I made it.

I go to the rental car place. Oh, my car is manual. With my calf still a problem, a manual is not an option. The only vehicle that’s available in an automatic is the Mercedes. I’ll take it. I have no choice. Onwards I go. My bag seems exceptionally light as I arrive at my flat. Because my son is there, I don’t need my keys, but I reach for them anyway. Dread. My keys are not in my bag.

I ring the airport, the airline. I message the driver and nothing. Several hours later, I received a message from the driver that he does have my keys and he’ll make sure I get them when I return to Lisbon. Oh, my word! Someone has keys to my house, and I’m not there. I know he said he was a police officer, but how do I know he’s telling me the truth? I’m not going to sleep the entire time I’m in London.

It’s getting late, and I haven’t heard from my friend that’s looking after the cats. They were fed around 4.30am and it’s now well after 9.00pm; that’s a long time for my cats to be without company and food. I send her a few messages and she says she has to go a little late but will get there, don’t worry. I worry, anyway. She went around 11.00pm I think. I don’t even know. I know it was late. Mowgli has become a problematic eater, he takes his time and likes to be coaxed while he’s eating but because it was late, she couldn’t stay and make sure he ate. Peanut ate his food.

She went early the next day to feed them; that’s good…that means she’ll likely go later and spend some time with them because in the morning she was in a hurry. Mowgli still didn’t eat. Now I’m not happy and thinking I need to go back to Lisbon and feed Mowgli. Don’t worry, she says. So, I try. My flat smells of rising damp. As this was the first time I’m there with my son and I’ve wanted to move the furniture around to make the sitting room the bedroom and vice versa, we decided to do that on Saturday. As soon as we took the mattress off the new-ish bedframe, I could see the bedframe had mould on it, and the bed was starting to get it as well. We moved a few more things, they smell and my furniture is all turning mouldy.

The mould is a huge problem. We called our agent; thankfully, we are renting. My son explained the situation and said it was a matter of urgency because of my transplant. Mould is like an instant killer for me; perhaps not immediately, but it’s not right. We get an answer back from them two days later telling us we need to take better precautions not to let the flat get so much condensation in it…ummm…no…this is a rising damp problem from the floor and has nothing to do with furniture placement. The storage room has black mould, and my clothes are starting to have fungus on them.

And moths! We have a moth infestation. Why my son can’t see some of these things, I will never know. But, I said we have a big problem with moths. No, no…they’re not so bad. Yes, yes, they are. I have a lot of cashmere here; it’s where I keep my winter clothes. You don’t need those in Portugal. I picked up my lovely grey cashmere bathrobe, and it has more holes in it than a proper Swiss cheese wheel! Oh, he says. I guess they are bad — moth catchers to the rescue. We hope.

We go to the grocery and get a few things; on the way back, I decided I wanted a Costa Frostino. We don’t have Costa in Portugal and only a few Starbucks, as well. So, they’re a real treat. As I was pulling into my parking space at the flat, I picked up my cup and the lid came off, dumping half of my Frostino in my lap and all over the steering wheel of the car. This really is turning into a trip full of woes. Can it get worse? I really didn’t think so, but read on my friends, read on.

Time to go visit my friends again for dinner. We decided to go to Butler’s Wharf Chop House. It’s casual, comfortable to get to by train and I’m ready for a little snooze on the train ride there and back. What do the trains look like? Three hours to get there?! From Greenwich, it was almost two. I think I could walk it in less time than that! So, driving into London it is. Not what I wanted to do because I know after a full belly I’ll want to fall asleep in the car, but I can’t miss my friends.

Dinner was good, of course, the views are always amazing, and it was a very relaxing night with them. I turned my thoughts off for those few hours and didn’t think about my keys, the house, the mould…okay, maybe I thought about the mould and the cats, but I didn’t let it ruin the evening. We had a lot of laughs and catching up.

Back to reality. The following morning we both needed to see the doctor. Mine was for the original reason for the visit; a nagging mole on my back that I had only seen a few months before but didn’t look right and as it was not there previously and I’m more susceptible to skin cancer, etc., I finally went after a few months of my friends telling me to go, go, go…I went, went, went…and it was fine. Something about ageing: but, there was another mole, which I didn’t even know I had that wasn’t so fine. I have to go back in one month for that one. Any other moles? Yes, one more on my leg. That’s not a mole, and it’s the pigmentation of the skin. Oh. Nevermind.

Let’s see. Have I got everything? The keys, the mould, the cats…oh, no…because I didn’t have my keys and another chore of my trip was to visit my storage unit and finally get that cleaned out and the things moved to Portugal, we went there, but no keys. So, I had to have the lock taken off with bolt cutters and buy a new lock. Of course. We spent a few hours, trolling through some of the old boxes; I actually had tax returns from 1997 in there. Don’t think I need those anymore. We emptied a bit, through what I want to sell in the car, went to the local tip and saw an old enemy. Of course, I did. She looked after my horse for me last year and turned him from a fully functioning and still competing beautiful boy to skin and bones in a few months time of all the people and of all the places. Neither of us lives anywhere near that tip, that we passed each other walking to our respective dumping areas was somehow just appropriate.

Right, it’s the last morning I’m in the UK. I didn’t think that one more thing could go wrong. I was wrong quite a bit on this trip of mine! We were running a few minutes late to the airport so we already decided going to fill up the rental was not an option. The phone rings. It’s my alarm company in Portugal. The garage door is open and the alarm has been sounded. They don’t see any images of anyone so likely the sun, but, MY GARAGE DOOR IS OPEN! Which means my house is open. My car is open. My things, my cats, my life is open to anyone who wants to walk right in.

The police are called. I ring my new cat sitter; I decided that my friend, who is so lovely, is working her socks off at the moment and it is unfair of me to burden her with the cats, so I called in the reserves on Saturday night to help. She arrived on Sunday afternoon and spent a few hours with the kitties. Mowgli had a few bites to eat, not much, but he was, at least looking to be social. Maybe she went to the house in the morning and opened the garage and set the alarm off by mistake.

No. She hadn’t been there since the day before. The fob for the gate/garage door wasn’t working on the gate even though she was pressing the button over and over again….aha! She was opening and closing the garage door, not the gate! So, my house was open from the day before! Thankfully I live in a gated area. At least. But, she met the police and they looked around and she closed the garage door on her way out.

Now, that’s it…I think…the driver picked us up at the airport; our bags were last on the belt, of course. He said I needed to visit one of the Brazilian witches that they have here in Portugal to get rid of my bad energy!

I say, what you give to the universe, you get back. I didn’t want to go on this trip, I felt it was doomed from the start and that’s exactly what I got back. Doom and gloom; one bad thing after another. Next time, even if I don’t want to do something I’m going to think I want to do it nonetheless so I save myself the headache of all that bad ju-ju.

Ah, yes, I also think ended my relationship via WhatsApp. I was such a stinker that I just had to push away the one man in my life that was actually a kind and lovely guy (and not bad looking either) because I didn’t want him to put up with someone with cancer and that had the worst luck in the world…he deserved better, but what I wrote was you’re not spending enough time with me and you work too much and let’s just be friends. What a wanker I really am. I really did get what I asked for.

Next time you think that the power of positive thinking doesn’t work; remember this story from my last few days and think positive; you do bring to you what you send out to the universe!

I’m just happy to be home. Today is my son’s 23rd birthday and despite one other small thing that popped up on the trip (a ticket that some arse got when driving my car in France has been sent to me again after my appeal, so have been appealing again), I’m going to have a good day. With baked cinnamon rolls for him for breakfast, it’s time to bake his cake and go out for sushi tonight. I stay clear of the sushi, but he loves it so may the celebrating begin.

As always, thanks for stopping by!


B x

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