I once did a course in eighteenth century French philosophy. It sounds lofty but it was nothing short of a nightmare. No matter how hard I tried I could not make head nor tail of Diderot and Rousseau (I just about worked out what Voltaire was driving at) and I floundered horribly. This was when I was at university in Bristol and living in freezing cold flat in a beautiful Georgian house, and I thought that contact with the intellectual life of the eighteenth century would improve me.
In the end I went back to where I was most comfortable and took refuge in the nineteenth and twentieth century, and I haven't budged since. However, my domestic fantasies are still lodged firmly in earlier times and I have not yet given up hope of living in a Georgian house again.
One of the best things about the flat I shared in Bristol was the sheer size of it; it had huge rooms with high ceilings and my room had the most amazing tall sash-windows. In the summer I revised by a window with my legs sticking out into the warm air, having taken the precaution of placing a couple of enormous dictionaries in the frame just in case the cords snapped and my legs were guillotined.
In my memory the rooms always smells of lilac because a boyfriend once brought me what could only be described as a lilac bush after I'd told him how much I loved lilac. (He'd tried to snap a small branch off a bush on the way over but it seems more came away than he was expecting - I still don't know how he cycled with it without crashing/being arrested). What impressed me was the way the room accommodated the lilac; the flowers and the room were in perfect proportion to one another and I was struck by the fact that the floral grand geste did not look over-the-top in my grandly proportioned Georgian room.
I thought this was the ultimate in stylish, if very cold, living and have since looked longingly at the wonderful proportions of Georgian architecture, often wishing I could live in some of the best examples in Bloomsbury, Bath, Bristol and Edinburgh. This window belongs to a house in Islington; it's on Cross Street, just a few doors down from Loop in one direction and Ottolenghi in the other. I saw it once again yesterday (it's been on my places-to-live wish-list for a while) and admired the simplicity, the lines, the feeling of sheer taste. And it is just the right distance from yarn and great food to make a perfectly proportioned life.
[In an effort to re-educate myself about the C18 I have been reading Behind Closed Doors by Amanda Vickery which makes me instantly want to acquire 'taste' for myself ie a five-storey Georgian townhouse on a lovely crescent somewhere, and fill it with decoupage and expensive wallpaper.]