Archive for the 'housing' Category

News from across the pond

No, still no hard news on if we are moving or not, only to say that as of yesterday we’ve confirmed it is still a possibility. To cut the pain of uncertainty I’ve enjoyed reading the British news lately – my favorite (no suprise here) is the very liberal Guardian.

So, since we have no news ON England, how about some cultural commentary FROM England?

Apparently it isn’t just the United States that suffers from puritanical ideals when it comes to breastfeeding.  A woman was told to leave a restaurant when she was inconspicuously breastfeeding her child because, according to the cafe owner,  “I can’t have someone breastfeeding while another table is next to them eating.”  What, you can’t have someone EATING next to other people EATING?  In that case, sir, it’s time to close your doors.

Slate has a hilarious essay up on nursery school admissions in London to which I can totally relate. Of course I was looking for schools in the lazy, hazy countryside of Somerset, which although I like to play off as a low maintenance gal, apparently I’m even more high-strung on some things than most Americans. Oy.

This explains some things about the British diet. My problem besides the lack of items on any given menu and almost complete lack of restaurants can be summed up in four words: where are the veggies? And no, potatoes do not count. I suppose I’m a veggie nut and am not typical but I’d love to have a fresh greens salad that wasn’t drowned by a mayonnaise-like substance or a meal that wasn’t primarily light brown. Before you rail on me, keep in mind, again, I was in Somerset, where things are generally much more traditional. In my experience London itself has amazingly delicious dining options which rivals any I’ve ever tasted. By the way, articles like this with references to shops, brands and other British cultural self-evident assumptions that go completely over my head is part of the reason that I feel like a fish out of water “over there”. I’m even more of a dork in England than in my own country, which says a lot.

And a little insight on why housing is so darned expensive in England. Even in Somerset.


Tour of a modern English home

The other day I had the chance to go through a 3 bedroom, brand new house on my own and I used the chance to snap a few pictures for you all.  What follows is a quick photo walk through of a typical, brand new, modern British home.

Some interesting general points I’ve found about British housing:

  • almost all homes are covered entirely with brick
  • although housing design is period from the outside, in the inside usually homes are furnished in a very modern way (think IKEA) which is absolutely gorgeous
  • most are attached on one or both sides to another home, especially if you live in a town
  • houses are much smaller than they look from the photos.  This house, for instance, comes out to around 1000 square feet – which is fairly typical and not at all small
  • but if you live in a period home (and pay for it), you can find very large estates with plenty of room
  • a stove is called a hob in England
  • appliances are usually much smaller than what we are used to
  • but kitchens are very beautiful and modern
  • the washing machine is usually in the kitchen
  • you must pay a tax if you have a telly (to support the government’s television channels such as the BBC)
  • the road you live in is probably very narrow; perhaps so narrow that only one car can fit down it at a time
  • if you have a garage, almost always it is a one car garage and often is not attached to the house
  • your yard is called the garden, even if it is only grass
  • you might have a conservatory, which is a glass-enclosed patio sitting room
  • if the bathroom has a shower, it is often electric
  • hot water is expensive and people often turn off the water several times during a shower to conserve energy
  • often, master bedrooms do not have a master, or en-suite bath and you share one bathroom with the rest of the family
  • Oh, and your bathroom is not called a bathroom at all.  If you need to go to the bathroom, you ask for the toilet or loo
  • bedrooms are usually just big enough for a bed and a dresser
  • usually in a three-bedroom house, one of the bedrooms is a single, meaning that only a single bed will fit

Overall, the British style is both period and modern, and very beautiful.  Enjoy the tour!


Kitchen, originally uploaded by american_mum.

Let’s walk through the front door. To the right is the kitchen – very beautiful isn’t it?

Dining Room

Dining Room, originally uploaded by american_mum.

You can see the kitchen counter there in the lower right corner

Living room

Living room, originally uploaded by american_mum.

There is probably only space in the living room for one sofa and perhaps another chair


Garden, originally uploaded by american_mum.

Most of the homes I’ve seen have a stone wall instead of a wooden fence. This happens to be an exception. Zeroscaping is getting popular in England I’m finding, so you don’t have to mow the grass – though this garden has some lawn

Up the stairway

Up the stairway, originally uploaded by american_mum.

The stairs started at the front door. Almost all homes have two stories

Hello, you!

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