ALEXANDRA SHULMAN: Meghan Markle is not being kept awake by the bus like I was in the first flat I bought!
So Harry and Meghan went to their own home for the first time in their lives.
It’s a life-changing event, knowing that the place in Montecito, California – unlike poor neglected Frogmore – is actually yours and you can do exactly what you want with it. You don’t have to feel responsible to anyone else.
I doubt anyone will forget the excitement of that first night in a house they own. Mine howled until daylight. The bedroom window was on the ground floor and overlooked a major road to West London, with bus stop # 52 10 feet from my bed.
I was so excited about the opportunity to own this one bedroom apartment with a small kitchen and a piece of bathroom that I hadn’t thought about what the traffic would sound like, which would soar all night long.
I didn’t sleep a wink, convinced that my entire future, with its 95 percent mortgage, was doomed to insomnia. Of course, within days I was completely deaf to the noise and could instead focus my fear on the plywood kitchen floor already showing damp patches.
Despite all its flaws, it was mine nonetheless and I’m sure the Sussexes are just as enthusiastic about theirs, even though it has 16 bathrooms.
My Montecito source, aka my cousin James, who works as a real estate agent in that precise spot, says their spending on the prime property scale is relatively modest due to the £ 15 million discount they got on the £ 26 million being early three years ago.
So Harry and Meghan went to their own home for the first time in their lives
At £ 11 million, it’s a small beer compared to the most expensive home sale in the area – £ 57.5 million – while even the average house price is still a whopping £ 2.45 million. Montecito agents are used to viewing flight routes and availability of private jet landings in the same way that our agents tell us about street parking.
It’s the details that make a house a home. Theirs is a private road with gates, but they will no doubt consider what color they want the front door to be once it is finally in sight. Is black chic or too threatening? Are they going for the rusty Spanish atmosphere of the area?
Considering that Meghan is meant to be an avid cook, she may be as obsessed as I am about kitchen decorating. I knew I was a home owner when all of a sudden I was more interested in buying a John Lewis cookware set than a new dress.
Buying a home means that this much-traveled family is finally taking root. They will be able to work in the garden (although they have not spent much time in the thickets of new trees they have installed at Frogmore), and soon Archie will be benefiting from Montecito’s famous good schools, paid for from the hefty holdings of the area taxes.
A warning to Boris and Carrie heading north for their stay. It’s been a bad year for wasps. Make sure to stock up on the Jungle Formula
With the Sussex’s determination to be considered inclusive, it will be fascinating to see if they are the first Royals to send their child to a non-paying school to interact with the locals.
Most celebrities and very wealthy residents consider the Santa Barbara area to be a wonderful place for a vacation home, but the tiniest bit too boring to live there your entire life.
Will Harry crave a little more action? And will the very first home of the Sussexes eventually turn out to be a second home?
A walk on the wild side is lost to me
For the past week we have been to Scotland to indulge in rural activities. Sandwich picnics in the valley, swims in an icy fire.
There is little in the world that can rival the Scottish countryside in terms of sheer beauty – the drifting walls of purple heather, the expanses of Scots pine forests and glittering lakes. That is until you get lost in it.
“Just follow the river,” our host said, pointing out what was supposed to be a short walk after a picnic lunch.
A little concerned that we couldn’t really see the river we did what good people would and went downhill and were soon rewarded with the sound of running water. The only problem was there was no way to walk by.
No path of any kind, just a steep slope covered with nettle and thistle, the steep side of which is alternately mud, brambles and barbed wire. The river below was no longer an attractive proposition, but darkly treacherous.
There was also no phone signal to point out our dilemma to anyone.
Hours later, we finally emerged, blinking and battered in the daylight, our phones filled with missed calls from an increasingly concerned host. Walks … I take Hyde Park in London every day.
Office life? It has never been so delicious
One of the reasons for being in Scotland was to hold a meeting. YEP. A good meeting with a team I joined during the lockdown.
This was the first time I’d met any of them in person rather than in Zoom’s table world, and was hoping for surprises before. For example, would one of them turn out to be a giant?
But unfortunately they all looked exactly as I guessed on their screen characters. Still, what a pleasure to sit at a table and listen to them about their boss and the merits of pizza over salad, and to exchange information about kids before getting started.
While so many offices still keep their staff at home, this look back at office life confirmed to me that you can’t physically beat working together.
Get the stinger out of your hole, Boris
A warning to Boris and Carrie heading north for their stay. It’s been a bad year for wasps. Make sure to stock up on the Jungle Formula.
Alexandra Shulman published Clothes … And Other Things That Matter shortly after the lockdown started
My book disaster had a happy ending
When I published my book Clothes … and Other Things That Matter, shortly after we shut down, I thought the end of the world had come.
All that work and suddenly no bookstores, no festivals, no places to spread the word.
Now I learn that so many other books have been withheld that 600 will be published in the first week of September.
Talk about competition! Obviously I had a very happy escape.