• [Food, Furnishing, and Freezing]

    S&M Files, Episode 5: December 12, 1999
    Perish the Thought

    Food must either go bad faster here, or we North Americans are
    used to rancid. The roast chicken is labelled EAT WITHIN 24
    HOURS. It’s good for up to an hour unrefrigerated. My grapes
    almost expired by the time I got home. :)

    On the plus side, food seems to be less Americanized here.
    That is, the ingredient list does not take up two panels of the
    cookie box. There is also a lot more organic and vegetarian food
    readily available. Well, readily if you are readily rich. Grapes
    are $6 a pound. It’s cheaper to fly to Spain for $125 and pick
    your own.

    Our fridge is small. You might know this, but you do not
    understand this. It is SMALL. We have two (2) shelves. Neither is
    big enough to fit a 2- litre carton of milk at any angle. The
    crisper is the size of a very large hamster. I would kill for the
    bar fridge at the office.

    In a way, it’s very much like camping out. You carefully pack
    and unpack your food each time you need some, taking care not to
    create empty pockets. You light your stove with a match. You wear
    multiple layers of clothing. It’s the West Coast Trail X 2.5.

    Our Beautiful Mews

    We live in a mews. It’s much better than living above a fish
    and chips shop. It has heat (mostly).

    A mews is a converted stable. Our house is a little cottage
    (room upstairs, room downstairs) connected to a mews down some
    steps. The mews has a very high ceiling but little light because
    the only windows face northwest onto a sunken, walled garden.

    The obvious solution to this is to put the most outlandish
    wallpaper you can imagine up your one-and-a-half-storey walls.
    Say, solid metallic silver with deep blue vines and giant yellow
    tulips the size of your head. The agent had listed it as
    “unusually decorated.”

    Actually, the end effect works surprisingly well. It’s like
    being a cat crouched in deep grass.

    The mews itself contains a kitchen, dining nook and reading
    nook plus glass french doors leading out onto a garden. The
    kitchen is wide enough for two people stand if they intend to get
    very intimate. The garden is big enough to stand with your arms
    out and spin if it were not full of shrubberies. It is full of

    Each room is heated by a little wall heater that is
    reminiscent of a fireplace. We’ve taken to heating just one room
    of the house at a time. At the fish and chips shop, our favourite
    saying to anyone who got uppity about the lack of heat was “Put
    on another jumper!” To which the standard reply was “I’m already
    wearing all my jumpers!”

    The English don’t actually believe in insulation. Their
    concept of insulation is to build your house smack against your
    neighbours’ to steal their heat, those rich coal-hogging
    bastards! Hence, our house is surrounded on three sides by our
    neighbours sucking our hard-won heat, you coal-hogging bastards! :)

    I think part of our ceiling is someone else’s floor. It’s hard
    to tell in urban jungles like this.

    The entrance to the house is past a very tall gate and into a
    little courtyard, a couple of feet wide and the length of the
    “cottage”, filled with plants, stone and shrubberies. At the end
    of this, there is a drop into the tiny mews’ garden and a look
    into the french doors. When we first arrived, Michelle looked
    ahead at the mews and then to the “cottage” on our left and said
    “Who lives there?” To which I replied, “You will, Love.”

    We live on a dead end back alley lane just a half block from
    the main road that runs along the sea wall. Heading few hundred
    feet down the sea wall and across another road and an acre of
    small stones brings you to the crashing surf! I bounce in my head
    every time I think of this.

    The whole house is pre-furnished. This is good, because
    unfurnished houses are often missing things like carpets, fridges
    and stoves.

    Cozy is an apt description. Everywhere, there are rugs and
    carpets. Rugs on the walls, sofas with cushions, pictures of old
    time scenes. Little notes are scattered throughout making the
    whole experience seem very much like playing a game of Myst –
    exploring someone else’s world.

    Despite having minimal light, the place is very lovely and
    charming. This is exactly the character-rich kind of house that
    one needs in order to know where they truly are.


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