Wednesday, June 21, 2017

What I'm not Looking Forward to in England #1

I'm sitting here in my Chicago house with the AC blasting. (Do I need to learn to say "air con" btw?) Anyhoo, as well as being ridiculously cold in the winter, Chicago gets pretty hot and steamy in the summer. AC is a must. Side note- when I was pregnant with the huge College boy in 1995, it was one of the hottest summers on record and over 600 people died of heat-related causes. That's how bad it can get and you can imagine how tough that pregnancy was. But back to the subject..... 

So yes, you need AC. Many people have it built in, with air being pumped through air ducts that are hidden in the walls. (They also pump the heat out in the winter and it's called "central air".) If you don't have it built in, you can buy window units and attach them firmly onto the outside of the window. That makes for some interesting dog walks in our neighborhood as some of those units are four floors high and look a bit "loose" to say the least. They also drip water which can be a shock when it hits you on the back of the neck as you pass by. 

You don't walk under anything that looks like this. 

But what's all this fuss from my friends and family across the Pond? It can't be that hot, surely? It's England for crying out loud. Wait a minute! It's actually hotter than Chicago at the moment, and I'm moving to a house with no AC? "Nooooooo," she says, in her best American accent. And I've heard that all the portable air conditioning units have already disappeared off the shelves. God forbid that B&Q anticipate a growing trend and actually have some in stock. 

Actually, I'm more worried about the whining that will ensure from American husband and American-raised son. The things is with Americans in England, if you open all the windows they have a fit because there are no screens to keep the dastardly FLIES out. You know, those flesh-eating beasts that will surely bring death and destruction? You should see the Ball & Chain if one gets into the house. So trying to get a cool "cross breeze" through a hot house will be a battle if there are flies and bees in the near vicinity. 

The long term forecast is predicting that this current heat wave will have abated by the end of June, so here's hoping.  England, you're on a promise. 

Monday, June 5, 2017

What I'm Looking Forward to in England #1 - A Draining Board

As part of my American husband's visa application, we had to have accommodation set up at the time he applied rather than at the time of our arrival. (That is to say, it had to be all organized rather than actually be rented/bought, although try getting someone to rent you something three months off.) So we have already been to our new house and had a good look round.

It's a nice townhouse in a community full of international families which will be a great landing point for us, and particularly for the Boy (now 14, and taller than me). Most of the rooms are a good size and the kitchen has a large fridge, which brought a sigh of relief. For me however, it was the draining board that's built into the sink unit. Oh yes! While the Ball & Chain was checking out the size of the closets and looking in vain for the air conditioning thermostat, I remained entranced, staring out of the kitchen window, and running my hand lovingly along that oh-so-missed stainless steel work of art. It's the little things.

It's very unusual in the US to have a draining board at all. In my old house I had Corian counter tops installed almost purely because they can carve a draining board and sink all out of the same piece of material. Seamless drainage! If you find a built-in draining board in the USA at all, it'll look something like this, rather than the one that comes with the sink unit itself. 

Or this, which was a bit like mine. 

 For the most part in the US, when installing kitchens, the workers install the counter top, cut a big hole where the sink is going, and drop the sink unit into the hole. The sink unit, however, usually involves a minimum of two sinks and that's it. No draining board. There's not a lot of hand-washing that goes on, to be honest, but when it does it's purgatory for those of us brought up with proper draining boards.

Often, people will hand wash and rinse items, place a towel of some sort on the counter top then lie the wet pots or dishes on top. If, like for me, that's just plain irritating, you can purchase something like this -
Actually, that's a fairly posh one. Mine looks more like this -
And because they're not the prettiest of things, and take up room, they are supposed to be stored away under the sink when not in use. You think that ever happens?

So yes, my built in draining board will be one of those things that most people take for granted, but not me. At least for a while. 

Friday, June 2, 2017

When the White House Houses a Bully

Just took a little time off from writing about moving, to reflect on the Orange Man in the White House. Here's a piece on Huffington Post UK. 

Enjoy. Or cry.

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