Friday, 26 March 2010

Our house! March 29, 2010

So, you want to hear about the house? Joe got the keys on our second day here. When he brought them to the hotel and pulled them out of his pocket my jaw dropped. They are skeleton keys. They are huge and remind me of keys that a jailer would have on a huge round circle! I said, "I thought this house was built in the 80's?" He just laughed and shook his head. I was wondering if we were moving into an old castle.

So anyway, off we went to see our new "home away from home". I pretty much knew what it looked like from pictures as I had found it online and Joe had looked at it on his last trip here. It is a very nice house in a nice neighborhood. Ours is probably one of the smallest houses on the street. The others being VERY large for UK standards. We are the second house from a dead end. You can't see it from the street as our driveway is a long long lane that goes way back to the house. Once you come around the corner at the end of the lane you see it. It is an attractive all brick house with a detached brick two car garage. BTW everything here is brick, stone or stucco. I have not seen any type of siding anywhere, in any neighborhood.They call this a bungalow because it is all one level (one of my prerequisites). It has cute window boxes along the windows in the front (my hands are just itching to get to them)!

We used the gigantic keys and went in. There is an alarm system, but thankfully it was turned off. There is a nice entryway when you come in and a large living room with double doors at the entrance of it and a set of double doors across the room leading to the dining room. There are two very big sets of sliding doors in the living room. Once set to the back yard and the other to the conservatory (glassed in porch). Very light and airy. The kitchen is also off the entryway and is fairly large with nice counter tops and ceramic tile. I even have a laundry room off the kitchen. (I'll explain later why I am lucky on that). Then down the hall (the other direction from the entryway) are three bedrooms and two and a half baths. One being an en suite which means master bath. Joe kept calling our bedroom an en suite until one of his coworkers told him that was the word for the master bathroom!

The yard is quite large and typical of English gardens (they aren't called yards here, if you have a front and/or back yard, you have front and/or back gardens). Both front and back are full of plants, trees, flower beds all over along with stone walkways here and there and a few large cement bird baths. The whole yard (front and back and down the lane) is surrounded by privacy fencing, which you can hardly see because of the hedges and large trees in front of it, and English Ivy growing over it. It is absolutely private, we can't see our neighbor's yards or houses (except for the tops) at all. But it has been neglected. Joe has tried to talk me into hiring someone to clean it up but I want to do it. It is a challenge and I can't wait to get started. Someone obviously put a lot of time and work into creating it and I want to clean it up and get it back to its glory. I've never planted a lot of perennials and there are things coming up all over the place! I just can't wait until everything is up so I can see what I have! I wish my friend Jill, my sister Debbie, or my brother in law Maury were here to help me!

Now about the decor...every single room is wallpapered floor to ceiling, including the ceiling. I don't know why, but they wallpaper the ceilings with white textured wallpaper! The living room has crown molding and wallpaper but everything else is wallpaper and borders. Two of the bathrooms are tiled all the way around. Also, there are custom made draperies in every room. BIG, formal looking ones, especially in the living room. Not exactly my style, but the colors aren't bad. With exception of the dining room curtains. They are dark green and beige with old colonial type scenes on them with tassels hanging from them! Yuck! Figures they are Joe's favorites! Could we be any more opposite?

I looked all through the house and then I REALLY looked through the house. It is extremely dusty, with some carpet stains and dirt marks on the wallpaper throughout. The curtains were really dusty. I'm not too worried about cleaning. Joe didn't want to say anything to his boss(from the states)as they are paying for the lease so we can at least clean it ourselves. They probably don't even know.

Then, upon further inspection in the kitchen, I realized that I had two dishwashers! But when we opened them we found that one was a refrigerator!! I KID YOU NOT! The refrigerator is under the counter just like the dishwasher and actually is SMALLER THAN THE DISHWASHER! Also, there was NO FREEZER in it! This did not seem possible. The guy from Joe's work was with us and he acted like all was normal. I said, "what do people do with ice cream"? He just kind of shrugged and said, "eat it". He said he has a freezer in his garage. Oh my gosh. I just wasn't getting this. I said, "We drink tons of milk, I buy it two gallons at a time. How do you have room for anything"? He just said, "we go to the store a lot". Man, I couldn't believe it.

The laundry room was next. I knew to have one was a huge luxury, as the washers are usually located, where else? Under the counter in the kitchen! Except, there was no washing machine in the laundry room. I was actually relieved. See, I had been briefed by the wife of the last American who worked here for United. She said that laundry was a nightmare. It almost made her lose her mind (and she is a very easy going person). She said they have these machines that are a washer and dryer in one. You put the clothes in, turn it on and it goes through the wash, then the dry cycle and you can't open it until its done. She said using those machines, there is no such thing as permanent press, nothing ever seems to get very clean and clothes take forever to dry. Her example was one bath towel would take approximately 90 minutes to dry! She was convinced that is why people wear black and other dark colors here, so they don't have to do wash so often! I was anticipating that this might be a issue. Some of you may know that laundry is my favorite chore to do. I have always liked it and am very particular about my laundry. So, I was relieved to see that I would be picking out my own washer.

We were through with our first visit here and were ready to get started supplying things for the house. We spent 5 days in the hotel before we moved in. During those 5 days we bought furniture, appliances, a couple of towels, linens, a few scarce dishes, pots and silverware. See, the stuff we shipped ahead of time is still on its way. Actually by now it is at the dock but for some reason still takes up to two weeks to get here. So we are living with the bare necessities right now. I just hate buying things that I know are in my shipment.

All this involved many trips made to shopping areas that were naturally unfamiliar. A guy from Joe's work took us out the first day and then we were on our own (with our handy GPS). So just like before we had to figure out where to go and enter it into our friendly machine. One thing that's kind of neat here is that every house, store, restaurant, establishment has an address of course. Like our zip code they have a post code. Except unlike our zip code they're post code takes you to the front door! So all you have to do is enter their post code into the GPS and it takes you right there. The next part, following the GPS is another story altogether. Like I said earlier, it is extremely challenging. We are now to the point when we hear the wench's robotic voice saying, "re-cal-cu-lat-ing" we both throw our heads back against the head rests and say bad words.

The next in the UK.


  1. The yards sound wonderful. Do you think you'll be able to take pictures and post when the plants start to bloom? I believe you can post pictures to your blog. Thanks for sharing. I come back each night before I go to bed to see if you've added a new post. Glad you wrote again. Take Care, Tamara

  2. Ha ha, Betty junior...Imagine laundry being your favorite chore! Don't end up like grandma measuring suds and cutting up dryer sheets :) The house sounds fun, glad to get some details!

  3. Hey Kathie - Can't imagine you in that "bungalow" after living in that mansion in Poolesville!! No freezer, pint sized refrigerator and a washer and dryer all in one!! Sounds like you guys are adjusting well - what a difference! Make sure you stock white wine in the fridge (maybe miniatures?) for me when I come! It sounds like you really enjoy writing and it's fun for your fans!! Keep it up!

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. I thought your coment about wallpapered ceilings was funny. Are you sure they really are wallpapered? Only in the u.k. builders tend to like to texture the ceilings of rooms. They does this by using Artex which is a type of plaster and use tools to form patterns in it as they apply it. I’ve googled to find some examples. Do you ceilings look like any of these?
    Oh and the big sliding doors you mention are called French windows or patio doors in the u.k. The laundry room is called a utility room. I found it interesting that you only had a fridge. Did it not even have a freezer compartment at the top? We’re starting to get a lot bigger fridges and freezers in the U.K. more in keeping with the ones you have in the U.S. but as you probably can see space is at a premium in English properties so we don’t really have the space for human height fridges!
    I can agree with you relief at not having a washer drier. I had one of those in my student digs and it was awful it never got clothes clean or dry and kept breaking down!

    Vicky (postsecret fan)

    p.s. apologies for the deleted comment I forgot to add the hyperlinks!