Crossing a bridge to a wonderful new life over the river
My dear husband, Lawrence, passed away over two years ago, not long after we had ‘down-sized’ from our five-bedroom family home to a bijoux three-bedroom house on Cheyne Mews, just off the Embankment. Our children had left home years ago, so it was a perfect step for us for our ‘next stage’ with just enough room for them to visit with our two grandchildren. They live outside of London now, in Surrey. We loved that location between The King’s Road and the Thames, as it is so easy to get to our Club, Mosimann’s in Belgravia, nip to Claridge’s for tea or even Peking Duck at Min Jiang. However, Lawrence became unwell soon after we moved in, and sadly died not long after, so I had been living on Cheyne Mews on my own which is not what I has envisaged at all. I kept myself busy – and still do – with lots of overseas travel. I do love taking in the art and fashion in Paris and rather enjoy the odd cruise or two, too. I don’t drive either, so I nip around town in either a black cab, or an Addison Lee.
Despite the fact I was living on my own, my life continued to be full, and I’m in good health, so the idea of moving after Lawrence died didn’t really cross my mind until one evening when I returned home (having had a rather fabulous evening with my Book Club at the Chelsea Arts Club where we’d been discussing the latest book on Whistler). It was a series of little events from that moment that planted a seed in my mind. I turned the key in the lock and was struck by how dusty the place was so set myself to work with a feather duster and cloth. But at my age – I’m in my early 70’s – a two storey house can be pretty hard work to keep on top of and I soon tired of the onerous task. My friends had suggested that I hire some sort of domestic help, but I couldn’t face the arduous interview process, and besides our home contained a wealth of valuable items which always niggled at me when hiring new staff. I was already feeling a bit jaded by my house cleaning efforts the night before, so was frustrated when I was late to meet my friends the following morning. We had planned to meet up to see the Tiffany Exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery at 11am, but it was nigh on impossible to get a cab. When I eventually did, I was nearly 45 mins late! My mind was a little frazzled by this chain of events so when I got to the Bridge Club that evening – I do love my bridge – another seed was planted when the conversation turned to how our local area seemed to be changing, and not for the better. So many of those wonderful houses around us have been snapped up but remain empty for much of the year so the whole community feel has diminished somewhat. I was a little flattened by that conversation I must admit, and it was whirling around my mind when I returned home where I spotted a mailer from Battersea Place on the door mat. My interest was piqued, as I’d heard about it as it’s just over the bridge from Cheyne Mews and just across the road from the wonderful Battersea Park where I would often walk. Apparently it was London’s first luxury retirement community!. According to the mailer, the amenities are akin to a five-star hotel, and what is more, a huge sense of security would be lent by having a 24-hour concierge. I went to bed that night planning to give them a call to reserve a visit. The following morning, I stuck to my intentions and called Battersea Place to make an appointment. The lady on the other end of the phone could not have been more friendly; she was called Angela and took plenty of time chatting to me and by the end of the call she had reserved an appointment and lunch for me the following week. Just like that!
The day soon arrived – and I strolled over Albert Bridge and was at Battersea Place in five minutes, and what a gorgeous spot, overlooking my favourite park. A terribly friendly concierge chap called Sebastian met me on arrival and made me feel so welcome and comfortable despite my initial trepidation. The lovely Angela who I’d been chatting to on the phone then met me at reception – and we chatted further in the garden before she took me on a tour of the amenities and facilities. I must admit, I was totally bowled over by the quality of it all – the beautiful lounge and well-stocked library, as well as an indoor pool and gym. There was a craft room, a wonderful looking restaurant with an inviting looking outdoor terrace on such a sunny day. The cherry on the top was the private cinema with white leather chairs – Angela told me that this is where they screen the latest films, watch opera or even Wimbledon. I couldn’t help but peek at the activity board in the library where all my favourite pastimes happened to be outlined, gallery trips as well as visits to the theatre and the Royal Opera House! Angela then took me around a selection of apartments – every one of them were extremely contemporary and freshly decorated. I loved the ones overlooking the park with balconies. I mentioned that I don’t drive so it was reassuring to hear that there is a team of drivers on board – with my recent taxi experience still in mind, this was good to hear.
After walking back home, I went through my mail, including a card from the local estate agent proclaiming to have sold a property in my area and that they were keen for more stock – another seed planted. What is more, the latest utility bill in that pile revealed that my bill had gone up by 54% from last year – and I live on my own! With all this in mind, I decided I needed to visit Battersea Place again. Emma, the general manager, met me this time, accompanied by her gorgeous little dog Bella – who I found adorable. After a spot of lunch, I had a look at a lovely one-bed apartment with Angela. Despite being a lot smaller than my Cheyne Mews house, it felt so spacious, and I adored the view over the park and could imagine waking up to that view every morning with a spring in my step. And Angela made a very valid point too – in such a community, your home is not limited to your immediate apartment, it extends to all the wonderful facilities and amenities in the village. In my previous life I had been a PA to very successful Managing Director at ICI, and therefore have a thorough attention to detail and I like to be clear on the facts which is why I was so impressed to hear how transparent the financial terms were, as explained by Angela. The final seed was planted! I decided then and there to make a reservation on the apartment I’d just seen; I was falling in love with Battersea Place.
I placed my house on the market, and as that agent card had predicted, I received an offer very quickly and the sale went through incredibly smoothly. I had been so struck by the clean and contemporary style of the apartment at Battersea Place, that I decided I didn’t want to keep a stick of my old furniture, so I popped off to Chelsea Design Harbour for inspiration! Six months from that first viewing, my life was taking on new and exciting chapter!
Marisa, the Lifestyle Manager, welcomed me so warmly on arrival – there was even a wonderful welcome basket and a beautiful flower arrangement waiting for me in my new apartment from the whole Battersea Place team. What a thoughtful gesture which really made me feel so welcome. The warm welcome didn’t stop there either! So many of the other residents were quick to say hello and one kind lady even invited me to join her for dinner in the restaurant on my first night so I didn’t have to dine alone. I was very touched. The next morning Jason, who is part of the management team, popped over to help me settle in further and went into detail on how all the meters and electrics worked – which was another hugely appreciated detail. Later that week my family came up from Surrey for a visit and this time there was no sheet-changing etc. for me to undertake as they were all put up in the guest suite. We spent a wonderful afternoon exploring Battersea Place where the children especially loved swimming in the on-site pool, followed by a yummy lunch in the restaurant. We wandered over the road for a spin around Battersea Park and even the children’s zoo there.
By week two, I felt brave enough to dip my toe into the social scene Battersea Place and booked myself onto the planned trip to the Serpentine Gallery. I hadn’t been there in years! I also enrolled myself in the Opera Supper Club as I’ve always been such a huge fan of the opera and put my name down for visit to Cadogan Hall the following week. And on I whirled! At the end of that week, I even invited my Book Club over for supper in the private dining room which is attached to the main restaurant. I even found myself putting up my hand to give a talk on ‘Life in 60’s London’ to the other residents there – it was daunting at first, but they are such a friendly bunch, I already feel like I’ve known them for years. Not long after moving in, I had lunch off Sloane Square with an old friend who admitted to me that she felt a little over-awed by her property now that she was on her own too, just as I had been. I suggested to her that she look at Battersea Place and said, “Just Google Battersea Place and you’ll see why I moved in!”.
Note: Patricia Walton is a fictional character, but her story is based on genuine residents’ experiences and feedback as told to the Battersea Place team. If you’re seeking more from the next chapter in your life and would like to find out more about our offering and how we can enhance the ‘every day’ please call T. 0800 009 6950. For those who are unable to visit in person, we are also able to offer virtual tours of our communities at your convenience.
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