While in London recently I spent a night at the home of a family in Brentford. This is a town about halfway between the city and the airport. It looks a lot like the rest of the London suburbs. A place that I would never have visited on my own. But it turned out to be a lot of fun and a nice glimpse into the lives of some Londoners.
I recently wrote about my last minute home exchange arrangement: I only needed lodging for one night. And it happened to be the night before Easter. So I feel lucky that someone was willing to host me. It turned out this family had recently joined the Love Home Swap home exchange network after hearing about it for years from a friend. They have already planned their first trip with this network, traveling with their three children to Bali. As a result they’ve already spent all the points they earned for signing up. So my timing was good as they were looking to earn some more points. And the only way to earn points is to host people.
I showed up at the house just before 8pm. It was only a short walk from the subway station (the same line that goes all the way to Heathrow airport). I was greeted with offers of food and drink. After dropping my bag in the master bedroom that they had vacated for the night for my use, we all settled in downstairs to have some wine. My hosts had invited a few friends over so I ended up spending several hours chatting with a small group of longtime Brentford residents about everything from politics to travel to running. I had a really lovely time, didn’t even notice the time until it was almost midnight.
In the morning they offered me breakfast and then a lift to the train station for my short ride to the airport.
I often enjoy the simplicity of home exchanges that don’t involve interaction with my hosts. I can come and go as I please and not worry about being social. But this hosted stay reminded me why it’s sometimes nice to have the company of locals.