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This sort of layering is essentially my winter look here in the UK. More so than usual now as I have these funny heaters in my flat called storage heaters. They’re meant to be very economical and I have found them to be however I have also spent most of the winter being rather chilly.

Storage heaters – for those of you who live in reasonable countries where people have realised that consistent heating throughout the day is the best way forward – are funny old things. You flip the switch before you go to bed at night and they store up all the electricity at night, when it’s cheapest, and then over the course of the next day, they emit heating until their store of electricity runs out. At least, that’s how they’ve been explained to me. Which all sounds fine until you want to have heating at 7pm when you’re home, not 11am when you’re at work. And then there’s the not so small inconvenience of being unable to come home, decide the flat could do with a bit of warming up, only to find that you can’t put the heating on because storage heaters don’t work that way. And me being incredibly forgetful, turning the switch on before bed… well, it’s tricky to remember.

So most of the winter I spent with a toque on inside the flat, two jumpers, and a quilt thrown over my legs. There was a brief period of a couple of weeks where I just put the stupid things on and then forgot to switch them off – which was quite nice until I got my electricity bill.

Have I mentioned that we here in the UK pay infinitely more than everyone else for electricity? We do. I pay the same to heat my small draft-ridden flat as The Mom does to heat her four-bedroom house. I suppose it would help if I had double glazing on my windows, but I don’t. I have patio doors that overlook the river, which is gorgeous in nice weather, but during the winter storms, the gales rip down the river and even when the doors are shut and locked, my curtains have been known to blow in the breeze.

All of which is to say that normally this kind of situation is reversed: normally it’s me in the nutty get-up and The Mom in her traditional black turtleneck and hoodie combo.

I have to admit, when the Mom finally confessed as to how bloody cold it had been in the house I was quite shocked – shocked to hear she’d put up with it for that long. But then it occurred to me that perhaps this is where I get my approach to DIY and general home repairs. Mostly I ignore them until it becomes impossible to do otherwise.

Recently, all the lights in my kitchen, and the light in my bathroom had gone out. I emailed the landlord to say as much and then waited as nothing much happened. I showered in the dark – with the door open and the hall light on which was fine really. I mean, it’s showering. Me seeing my legs isn’t going to make them a damn bit cleaner. And there’s a mirror in the hall so if I’m feeling fancy, I can see my reflection there if I want to brush my hair. Which I never do, so it’s not an issue. And I don’t wear makeup so really, having no bathroom light was a minor inconvenience. It only became a problem when I had houseguests.

But I got on the landlord and he sent someone round to fix it – which was a small embarrassment, I mean, who can not figure out how to change a simple lightbulb? Turns out the housing for the light was broken. Thank goodness.

Anyhow, all of this is to say that my approach to sorting things like this out is largely similar to The Mom’s, in that if it’s at all possible I will ignore the problem. L’il Sis and I did that quite well when we shared an apartment in Toronto. Kitchen lights went out and they were really expensive to replace: so we went to IKEA bought a few $5 lamps and cooked by lamplight. Much easier than buying $25 bulbs if you ask me.

I’m glad though that the heating issue has now been solved chez The Mom’s, because heating also means A/C and I will be home again in the summer. Since I’m not used to the lovely hot summers anymore I’m glad that my needs have been considered.

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