Things I love and hate about my English house which may or may not be uniquely English but which I perceive as such since we are living here

27 Dec

It’s a working title.

I’ve already mentioned the keys Why?  WHY?  I truly hate that I need a different key to open every separate window and door in the house.  Not love.

Heated towel racks.  Love.  Love.  Love.  This is genius.  Every British person ever born should win a Nobel Prize for heated towel racks.  The joy of a warm towel to wrap up in after a shower on a cold dark morning … priceless.

The warming closet.  I don’t know what this closet ought to be called, but I love it.  It sits in the upstairs landing, a light turns on when you open the door, and a blast of super heated dry air engulfs you as you walk in.  It’s a perfect place to store blankets and towels.  On dark and damp days, sometimes I cuddle in there for a minute, just to warm myself up. Love.

Driveway of disaster.    I love having a driveway.  I love that more than one car can park in it.  I love that the kids can scooter or bike on it.  I value these features to the extreme.  But I hate that I cannot back up out of the driveway without risk to bushes, trees, fences, lightposts, small children, rubbish bins, and various wildlife.  Who takes what ought to be a straight shot from road to front door, and turns it in to an obstacle course? Love and hate.

Three refrigerators.  Okay, I realize that this is in fact not at all an English thing.  It’s not even an American thing.  I don’t know what kind of freaky thing it is but for whatever reason my house has three refrigerators.  One is fridge only, one freezer only, one half and half.  I think I love it, but it does take up a lot of space.  Unless I buy half a cow and have it stored in the freezer, I’m not sure I’ll need all the space.  Ever.

American sized washer and dryer.  Yeah, I love that.  I was all “whatever” about the state of British washing technology, until we spent three weeks in our temporary apartments trying to wash clothes for five in a  dollhouse sized washer that doesn’t dry.  No disrespect to the English.  In fact, nothing but respect.  You manage to look proper and clean, and you use one of those things?  Another Nobel Prize for you.

Pull switches in bathrooms.  Who knows what these are called?  When I asked the handyman why there were these crazy nooses hanging in the bathroom instead of light switches, I thought he’d have a heart attack.  It’s because you might electrocute yourself if you flipped a switch coming out of the shower.  Holy crap, America, you’re all going to die!  I wonder if English people come to the US and sit in dark bathrooms, because they are afraid to flip the switches.  Love? Hate?  Mostly seems silly, but the decorative pulls are pretty.

Roof windows.  I don’t know what to call these either.  They are like skylights, but at slightly above waist height. I am glad that they open, but slightly weirded out by the way it appears to open a hole in the  slanted roof.  When oldest child left the window slightly too ajar, rain poured down the window pane and all over the carpet.  That’s not normal.  But since the alternative is windows that don’t open or no windows at all:  love.

Radiators.  They work, but they take up the few free wall spaces where I would like to put up bookshelves.  A whole wall dedicated to a radiator — gaaaah!

Conservatory.   I don’t know what to call this either — basically I just stumble around England and point at things asking “Me learn English now? This is what?” — I’ve been told it’s a conservatory, a solarium, an orangerie (!!), and I want to call it a sun room but apparently that isn’t correct.  No matter:  I love it.  It’s cold in the winter and will probably be boiling in the summer but I.do.not.care.  It is made almost completely of glass (and keys), has a pointy sort of roof, lets in a ton of sun, and I can close off the rest of the house and sit in it like a queen in a winter palace.  At night with the lights out, I can see stars through the roof.  In the day when the clouds are away I can actually feel warmed by the sun.  It isn’t huge  but it is full of: Love.  Love.  Love.

(I’m in here now, and although it is gray outside I’m in a bubble of light … heaven.)

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13 Responses to “Things I love and hate about my English house which may or may not be uniquely English but which I perceive as such since we are living here”

  1. Tina December 27, 2011 at 2:09 pm #

    Monique…thanks for making me laugh and reminding me of all the funny things about England! That is definately a Conservatory and we always called the warming closet our airing cupboard! You know English people are always amazed that Americans have electric outlets IN the bathroom, never mind the switch on the wall.
    Have a great New Year!

    • Monique December 27, 2011 at 4:13 pm #

      lol that’s right, hair dryers blowing and light switches flapping, must be shocking. (Get it … shocking? groaaaaaan)

  2. Zazzy December 27, 2011 at 3:51 pm #

    I’ve always wanted a heated towel rack! If the English develop a heated toilet seat, however, then I will give them the Nobel Prize. I really like the solarium thing too. That driveway is really, really pretty. Sounds like it needs a turn around to make it practical, though. It just seems like such an adventure to live there!

    • Monique December 27, 2011 at 4:14 pm #

      It is and I don’t really ‘hate’ anything about it … every day is an everyday adventure. =)

  3. Karen McCully December 27, 2011 at 4:10 pm #

    We used to have a wooden toilet seat which although wasn’t heated, it was never ice cold.

    We call our closet with the water heater an “airing cupboard”. Radiators are amazing for when you come in out of the cold and you can lean on them to warm your bottom. I do miss forced air though, we have no air circulation and I swear we just keep recycling our germs.

    I think you missed chocolate off your love list

    Hope you had a great Christmas, great to live in a chocolate box village at Christmas time just need the snow now.

    • Monique December 27, 2011 at 6:59 pm #

      Hee hee hee, I had not discovered the joy of radiators and warm bottoms … thank you for that!!

      I *do* love chocolate but it is not a feature of the house … although I think that’s a great idea … could I install a chocolate fountain by the front door, maybe?

      After the blizzard we had back home last year I am perfectly content to have a winter with no snow. Rain is fine. lol

  4. competentmom December 27, 2011 at 4:49 pm #

    I loved switched outlets – being able to simply turn off all power to an outlet, better than our surge protectors. Of course, when the power is 220 volt, it’s that much more important to protect against shocks!

    Conservatories too, particularly the light 🙂

    Thank you for reminding us of the quirks, both good & bad.

    • Monique December 27, 2011 at 7:01 pm #

      =) That’s true, the switches on the outlets are handy, and I try not to think about the voltage because it freaks me out just a leeeetle bit.

  5. gia December 27, 2011 at 11:44 pm #

    hahaha so funny/./. three fridges is def english…. however, more and more they are embracing the big american fridge…the airing cupboard.. brilliant until you realise that the reason they invented them is that you’re currently living in the dampest, wettest country in the universe….

    i think that there are alot of of annoying electric things like the no switches in bathrooms because england decided to live off 240V instead of 110V . . . .

    and conservatories… you’re exactly right about the winter.. .but unless you’re english and unable to regulate your body temp if it’s above an outside temp of 70 deg you’ll still LOVE it in the summer when its august, 60deg and raining…. oh so much fun in store for you!!!!

    very funny post…. my biggest what the? when i moved here was that the English have not discovered self-defrosting freezers and fridges…unless you want to spend a billion dollars and buy a german one… i was like thank God for sears and roebuck..
    happy holidays!

    • Monique December 29, 2011 at 10:23 am #

      Oh, hahaha, I didn’t realize the English had adapted to the weather on a biological level! I do miss an automatic icemaker and have noticed that ice is like a delicacy — one or two in a glass at most! The “airing cupboard” sounds so sweet and antique — I do love having warm blankets.

  6. Tesni December 28, 2011 at 2:33 pm #

    Aw this post made me chuckle!

    We call it an airing cupboard. It’s lovely to pull out warm sheets and towels from there! Also our house has cats, they are often found asleep on the towels in the airing cupboard…little minxes.

    We don’t have a conservatory but I wish we did, they are so cosy most of the year, obviously a bit redundant in the winter. They are great if the sun’s out but there is a chilly wind or the air temp outside isn’t that high, as the sun warms the room up, and you can feel like your outside admiring your garden but instead of being blown by a cold wind, you can sit in the warm.

    No idea why your house has so many keys…. we have the same one for all the windows.

    We still call those roof windows skylights…or velux windows, though technically velux is a brand so not all of them are velux but it’s like calling tissues kleenex (though we don’t in England)

    Do you not have radiators in the US? How do you heat the house? :S

    • Monique December 29, 2011 at 10:29 am #

      Are you teasing with the question about the radiators? 🙂 Central heat! Little vents in the wall or floor blowing out heat, not these great big rectangles on the wall — although I’ve been informed English radiators are great for warming bottoms. 😉

      There is a small heater in our conservatory, tho I haven’t quite worked it out yet. I love it out here!

  7. greatscott3 January 2, 2012 at 1:53 pm #

    Love the wall radiators for towels too – and am SERIOUSLY envious of that drying closet. WOW! I would be in there cuddling too! haha!

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