It was a fruitful trip to Wallington last weekend. Huifang and I paid a visit to David and Elizabeth in Wallington, and we had a good feel of English life here.
Wallington is in Zone 5 of London, and it took 45 minutes of train journey from the Victoria station. When we arrived at the station, David was already waiting to pick us up. On our way to their home, I saw the christmas decoration on the street lights that resembled Lavender, and David told us that this area used to be planted full with lavender. Looking at the stretch of houses that we passed by, we were lost in our thoughts about the purple lavender and its beautiful fragance.
Walking into their house brought a similar feeling of many other houses I have been inside in UK. We were then told that this is a common structure of 1930's post-war architecture for middle class houses - 2 rooms on ground floor, 3 rooms on the first floor, narrow staircase, a garage and a backyard. Such design is common throughout England, as the government standardized the housing structure for easier town planning. No wonder most of the houses we saw are so similar!
Being in the house made me feel like an infant - everything in the house is so old! David and Elizabeth told us the stories of their furniture, inherited from different people, each having its own story. There was a three-legged tea table which has elephant head carvings on its legs, and a carving of an Indian god on the table top. There was a few other pieces of furniture like shelves and chairs that were inherited from Elizabeth's late aunt, each having an age more than 100 years!
There is a fireplace in the living room, and I was intrigued by the two cute statues standing at each side of the fireplace. David excitedly told us about their origins - they got these two fellas (more than 100 years old, again!) quite some time ago, and never knew where to put them. They once displayed them above a shelves, but it didnt feel right. Only at one time when they watched a TV show, they discovered that these fellas are fireplace watches, and when they finally put them beside the fireplace, it seems perfectly right. They belong there.
Beside the fireplace sat an old TV box, which contained an old fashioned TV. And in front of the TV there is a little brown bear, which according to Elizabeth, is from her late aunt. Her aunt loved this bear so much; during her aunt's last days, she keeped wanting to see 'Bear', so they put the bear by her hospital bed, and she would pat the bear lovingly everyday...
The more we looked around the place, the more memories seemed to sprung alive.
They were enthusiastic to share with us how they went through all sorts of challenges to get a house, and how they inherited the furniture, piece by piece, from different people, and build their home and memories piece by piece. From nothing, they now have a sweet house, packed with lots of furniture, lots of memories, and lots of love from family and friends.
I realized that British people have quite a lot of meals in a day too. Not too long after we had our lunch, Elizabeth was preparing afternoon tea. I was still trying to digest my lunch! haha... While having the tea, Elizabeth showed us her collections of small ornaments, and we were pleasantly surprised to find many Chinese items such as the 文房四宝, some tiny woodern carvings of 18 Lohans (十八罗汉) and 8 Taoism Gods (八仙), and other beautifully carven ornaments. She also inherited a 'trick box' (in picture) from her mum. This trick box cannot be opened unless we trigger some secret latch inside. We spent a fun time trying to figure out the way!
Just when we thought we have had enough food, it was time for a supper! But this time I welcomed the supper, because there's my favourite ribena (only this time it is served hot), and egg on toast! The picture below shows David, Huifang and Elizabeth during the supper. Daivd was in bow and shirt, as he would be singing in a church choir concert which we would go later.
And then we were off for the choir concert! It was held in a local church, and there were 60 people in the choir singing 12 christmas carols, starting with "Once in Royal David's City" and ending with "Ring out wild bells". They sang "Away in the manger" in a different melody, and had a Japanese woman singing "Silent Night"in Japanese, and they certainly entertained the audience with the light-tuned "Past 3 o' clock". We enjoyed the performance, and we enjoyed more the atmosphere of christmas - the love, the friendship, the tradition!
Christmas is in the air, my friends!