This Old House

So in its final… er, um good riddance… our adorable rental house has decided to fall apart on us, starting  a few weeks ago with the roof.

It was the first time it had rained (and I mean REALLY rained) in several weeks and water was coming through the roof,  into the attic space on the third floor, and down, down, down along the wall into our bedroom below.

I called the property management company as soon the  “drip…. drip… drip” drove me out of my warm, cozy bed. Since it was Saturday, I didn’t expect a whole lot of help and approached it from the attitude of…

“Look, I know London is hundreds and thousands of years old and it rains A LOT, so I’m not sure if a leaky roof is necessarily a BIG DEAL around here. In my world, it is so I figured I’d report it anyway and let YOU decide how to handle it…”

(Read: This isn’t my house, I’m leaving in a month, and I don’t care. Besides, the leak hasn’t actually affected our daily life. Just the paint on the walls…)

bucketI received a call back sometime later. I hoped it was a repair person, but instead it was the property manager again.

She says, “I’ve been sitting here for the past 45 minutes thinking about your issue with the roof and trying to decided whether or not it’s an emergency…”

(If you have to spend 45 minutes deciding whether or not to do something, it’s probably easier to just do it…)

“… and I decided that it is an emergency. I’ll have the engineer pop ’round at 1pm, yeah?”

(oh phew… I was hoping they wouldn’t let wood rot and mold win this round!)

So when the engineer finally arrived at… ahem 3:45, he determined that the roof was indeed  leaking. (Duh!) He put in a temporary fix (bubble gum?), advised us to keep a bucket around for a “rainy day”, and promised to return with tools on Monday.

That was about a month ago and there’s still no word. Of course, it also hasn’t rained much since then… and oh yes, it’s still not my house and I still don’t care.

After that, the shower door started leaking again. The exterior doors and windows stopped closing properly, and we found gaps where there really ought to be weather stripping.

The doorbell, which has been out of order since the day we moved in, mysteriously started working again at Christmas, then promptly stopped.

A light socket burned out, more paint started chipping, and last week, in its final encore, the oven stopped working for no particular reason…

A very jolly repairman looked at it and after an hour of disassembling the whole thing  and some very colorful British phrases, he couldn’t figure it out either.

Instead, he learned that whoever put together our kitchen did it wrong. The oven was installed first with the cabinets and counters built around it. Now, the only person small enough to reach for the oven’s plug underneath and behind the cabinets is…well, Avery and umm, NO!

In spite of all of these quirks, I still think we lucked out in terms of London housing First of all, we were fortunate to have found a  house and NOT a flat.

We may not live in the liveliest part of town, but we are in London proper with easy access to transport and a high street, a park across the street, a back garden, and best of all, no upstairs-downstairs neighbors to irritate.

That and I’ve seen a whole lot worse. Can you say “out-house style bathroom”?

For all this, I’m willing to overlook certain things. That is, until I have to explain them to other people… like say, visiting relatives…

All right. So we get hot water all the time in the kitchen, but only twice a day in the bathroom… and only for an hour each time. If you need to take a shower any other time, you have to open this rickety cabinet, reach past the water heater, and press this button that says “boost”.

“Boost” will give you more hot water, but only for one shower and you have to wait at least half an hour for it to heat up… Oh and it makes this scary churning noise anytime any water in running, cold or hot. Got it?

I also had to explain that insulation and clothes dryers don’t come standard in homes and any technology beyond wood burning stoves qualifies as “central heating”.

While our radiators do a crap job at warming the house, they have proven to be a useful place to dry laundry…


… provided you only wash five articles of clothing at a time.

We’re going to miss you, you crazy, frigid, old house.




Filed under Daily Life, Family, Room and Board

6 responses to “This Old House

  1. Great post! It was great to sneak-a-peak into the workings of the house you’ve been living in. I have to admit I miss steam radiators since we moved into “modern” places with central air. I had to learn things like DH and DD need humidifiers with the dry heat in the wintertime that weren’t a problem with steam radiators. Plus, I miss putting my bath towel on the one in the bathroom while I shower. Mmmmmm – toasty!

  2. That is amazing. You just don’t know how good it is here until you’re somewhere else. Good luck with your remaining days in ‘this old house.’ Bob Vila and Norm would be in heaven.

  3. Bec

    Are you sure you live in London?? This post about your house sounds almost identical to the house I lived in Manchester! The indoor water feature we had in the entrance way each time someone had a shower in the bathroom above was a particular favourite!
    Thanks once again for making me smile, reminicing about all things British – especially when I am almost set to move back in March.
    Good luck with your move – you’ll find you miss the strangest things!
    Oh, and please keep blogging…!

  4. Kevin

    It’s a day late and a buck short, but Homebase has these groovy radiator racks that allow you to fit even more clothes on your radiator…

  5. Until reading your post, I had no idea what that “boost” button did in our shower; after hearing the whirring noise the first time I pushed it, I was afraid to try it again 🙂

    I laughed at your pic of hanging laundry on the radiators…glad we’re not the only ones!

  6. LOL…the laundry on radiators…with 3 kids our house looked like a Turkish bazaar. I was never so happy to see a regular dryer again in my life. I actually like doing laundry again so I can feel the nice warm fluffy towels.
    When we lived in Alaska we had hot water directly off the boiler…so five minutes of hot, then ten of ice cold until the boiler kicked in. Made doing laundry, dishes and bathing interesting. And we had a water holding tank…yep, haul your own water every week. I only ran out once.
    The quirks of living off the grid.

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