S & M Files, Part V

Distribution Permission

This version of S & M Files is freely distributable provided that the copyright notice remains intact. All material in the Annals, unless otherwise stipulated, is copyrighted (1999-2006) to Michelle A. Hoyle & Stephen B. Dodd.

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 shrubberies.

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.

[Michelle's Mind]

S & M Files
Ep. 1 (I) | Ep. 2 (II) | Ep. 3 (III) | Ep. 4 (IV) | Ep. 5 (V) | Ep. 6 (VI) | Ep. 7 (VII) |
Ep. 8 (VIII) | Ep. 9 (IX) | Ep. 10 (X) | Ep. 11 (XI) | Ep. 12 (XII) | Ep. 13 (XIII) | Ep. 14 (XIV) |
Ep. 15 (XIV) | Ep. 16 (XIV)