Summer is coming. It might be unseasonably hot (for the UK). Climate change. Meanwhile, Minneapolis has hair-static overload. Together these natural forces make shorter hair an attractive option. Like well sown fields, I’ve got a fresh crop. It’s got a swirly bit at my crown. Crown, how very British.
No hair dye. At 50yrs those are my natural silver streaks. Looks like I’ll have to wait at least another decade for the ‘arctic blonde’ look.
No-one should need to classify my gender in the process lf my purchasing an energy certificate for my home. How annoying. I won’t be using this service
I’ve been driven around different desirable areas in Minneapolis (thanks Peggy Pearl!) and will get some home choosing advice from a professional realtor. For now, these are the things influencing my likely choice of Wendy House in Minneapolis.
Warehouse conversion in downtown Minneapolis as a home because:
- Meeting neighbours. Making friends, in lifts, in corridors, in the shared facilities – garden, gym, swimming pool, garage, other social spaces
- Managing structural maintenance. Apartments have management companies. I won’t need to find, interview service providers and make arrangement to let them have secure access then check their work and follow-up if there are any problems.
- Size appropriateness: Not too big, not too small, not too many bathrooms to clean, no huge basement or loft to fill with stuff that I don’t need or use. Under the bed is enough space for unused stuff….
- No snow shovelling to get my car out. A warehouse apartment must come with some form of covered, maintained garage.
- In home Sampo care. Some apartments provide a service for caring for your pet while you’re away
- Walking places. The sidewalks downtown will allow me to walk to places (temperature permitting) like a range of restaurants, shops and galleries
- Bus services nearby. The Minneapolis bus services were pretty good, the city centre provides a central hub enabling me to get all over the place easily, not just use the ‘local’ route that goes through the village.
- More people like me. Single, no children living with them and elderly.
Arts and Craft’s house in a village style location in suburbia as a home because:
- Commute time and traffic. My work place is in a suburb with some very nice villages within easy distance with relatively light traffic (compared to Berkshire or Seattle)
- Can’t hear neighbours. I love living in a detached home, though I’ve had a lucky history in town homes (terraced housing)
- Garden for Sampo. Sampo has always been an indoor cat, but she does enjoy a wander in the current Wendy House garden and watching the other cats and birds play there
- Property space for the price. I can get more square footage for my dollar. Feels like more of an ‘investment’.
- Gardening. The relaxing pleasure of planning, planting, caring for, and watching my own garden grow
Have I missed anything that you think it’s important to consider? How would you rate the value of things. Not hearing the neighbours is a fairly weighty requirement…
I bought my first sofa aged 31 in 1994. At £899.00 it was a BIG purchase. Only the house and car cost more. We visited many sofa shops, we asked friends, we searched online. I saved up for a year and we used interest free credit for 3 years. It was a cast iron frame, hand made, sofa bed. I loved that sofa, it was so comfortable, in forest green, mustard and rust colours. The sofa moved several houses with me and eventually went to Seattle.
After 10 years of intensive use, in 2004, it looked its age. The arms had faded, the pattern was dated. It was still awesome to sit and sleep on, but I’d tired of it. I tried selling it on Craigslist as an imported, handmade classic British sofa. But even for $50.00, there were no takers. Eventually I got to a point where I was grateful that someone just took it away. It left to adorn a nice fellow’s mountain cabin porch where his Great Dane would enjoy lounging on it.
I’ve procrastinated on buying another sofa since then. 10 years of procrastinating, that deserves some kind of award. Close friends have pointed out that a front room without a comfortable sofa is not really good enough. I’ve got individual chairs, I’ve got a 17th century ‘Settle’, I’ve got a love seat. There are places to ‘sit’ comfortably. But a sofa seems a social necessity.
Since moving back to the UK I’ve been searching. I even have a Pinterest board dedicated to my search for a sofa. I’ve sat and bounced on sofa’s in stores, on my own and with friends. This has helped me to refine my awareness of my sofa purchase criteria to:
- Enough room for a cat to run underneath it
- Enough room for a vacuum cleaner to run underneath it
- Classic or innovative design
- A tight proportion of seat-space to sofa-size. No big arms or areas not used for sitting-on
- Plush, something that says ‘luxury’
- I can fall asleep on it (sat-upright and lying down)
- It can fit through my cottage front door and round the immediate hallway corner
- Must tone in with my golden and orange Persian rug
Finally I took my credit card to Bright of Nettlebed and commissioned a 2.5 seated Coleridge with claw and ball mahogany legs, feather seat cushions. The photograph was taken in the Nettlebed showroom. I’ve placed my choice of fabric over the back. The gold is a thick thread that has a delicate pattern as part of the weave using different textures. The orange thread is thick, like a dense chenille. It reminds me of the
- Designs of Charles Rene Macintosh
- Warmth of fire
- Symmetry of Japanese designs
- Gentle curves of nature.
The sofa will arrive in August… …when they’ve made it.
We’re aiming at 5KG so still some way to go this year.
I love her cuddliness.
Seeing her get perky, running around more often, as a slimmer cat is really pleasing for both of us.
Here she’s parading around the recently pressure washed patio of the Wendy House, soaking the sunshine in the warm inviting garden.
The watch I wear has a fixed-length strap. The watch tells me the time and fluctuations in my size. Since starting my new job in July 2013, I’ve lost weight. The watch used to be a tight fit, now it swivels around my wrist and slides over the nobbly bit of bone at the base of my humerus
In my previous job I’d gradually grown pudgy and the watch had tightened on my wrist. It didn’t move, the strap left pink patterns indented on my skin at the end lf the day
Dad left two watches when he died. One, a beautiful Longines watch that mumsie had secretly saved for from her meagre housekeeping budget, a birthday surprise for dad. The second an almost identical visual design, a Tissot, that he wore on a daily basis. It’s a little scratched, battered. I remember it and can see it on his wrists in photographs
When I was a child mumsie gave me t-shirt with the word “Tissot” on it. I didn’t know what it meant, but the word was on the fast cars in the formula 1 racing that we watched on the TV every weekend. It was an adult size t-shirt, much to big for my gangly teenage body, I wore that t-shirt to school, proudly. It meant nothing to my friends. To me it was a present from mum, something special to her and dad
After dad passed, Mum gave the Tissot watch to me. I love that watch way beyond it’s aesthetic or monetary value. I get very attached to things
6 months after dad’s death and I’m no longer spontaneously crying. I wonder about mum…
Aloud sounds like Allowed
Permission to be noisey can be such good fun!
Estate Agent #1
- This is the only other coach house on sale in the area, one more bedroom but no garden or off-road parking
- Buyers can find out what you paid for this house, and when you bought it
- I had to explain to my Indian client what a coach house was, he just didn’t understand
- Someone will walk into the garden and fall in love with this place before they’ve even got through the door (Indeed, that’s what happened to me)
- Oh! That bath…
- We’ve never had a problem showing houses to people with cat allergies, we did have one client bitten by an owner’s dog. The dog had been locked in the garden and the client was told not to go into the garden
- I’m from Bristol
Estate agent #2
- This is the most desirable area in Reading
- Double off-road parking is worth around 20K
- We don’t get many character properties like this downtown
- I’m from Bristol
Estate agent #3
- I can tell you what the other agents said (he did, and he was wrong)
- Fantastic (repeatedly, like a carbon copy of his colleague that I spoke to on the phone)
- What a fantastic kitchen
- Our website is new and really good, it’s got pictures of the founding partners on it
- We’ll do a TV presentation for a character property like this one.
I didn’t get the impression that any of them offered anything that would add any real value over the property details and access to buyers that have been pre-screened for a mortgage. None of them really told me about their access to the type of people that would like to buy the Wendy house. I suggested excluding:
- couples planning to start a family – dangerous staircase, downstairs bathroom
- elderly people or planning for this to be a last, retirement, home – dangerous staircase, downstairs bathroom
- people over 5″8 – low beam crossing the dangerous staircase
- people that love to cook – tiny kitchen separated from the dining area by the hallway
Estate agent #1 was the least offensive, arrogant. She listened and related to me as a person most effectively. Maybe I’ll have to make my own promotional materials pack – showing related documentation from my purchase, guarantees on work done, local service professionals etc
Mumzie just phoned to find out what TV programme I was watching and suggest that I change channels. Then she hung up. Do I need to get a life? Or is there something strangely comforting about the informality and brevity of the conversation, as-if mum had just called me from another room. Yes, I like that call from a virtual room emotionally nearby
No key card.
Without my key card I can’t get into the safe, secure, place that is ‘work’. An hour searching the finite, small, tidied through previous searching, Wendy House, didn’t uncover the key card. Sigh. I’ll have to cancel this one and arrange a replacement. A photograph of my looking harassed and bedraggled will adorn my key card until the next time I lose it. Why can’t I put my favourite selfie on my key card? Resigned to the dull, administrative, overhead, I wander out to Thomas and open his door
On the drivers seat is my key card
Between then and my clean, sparkling-self dressing it appeared to have vanished of the face of the earth. I spent an hour searching the small finite spaces of the Wendy House, but nothing. Sigh. My watch has great sentimental value. Easy to replace at a functional level, but this loss left me saddened as I faced my daily jungle trek
After an outstandingly enjoyable jungle trek, de-robing for bed, I noticed my watch wrapped around my right wrist, not it’s usual left wrist
Seeing the winter tree skeletons defined against a soft canvas of white. Hearing the laughter and chatter of children as the emerge, ghostly forms made real, from the fog. I love the mystery of the fog
I’m not so keen on the smog
My wood burning stove uses special filters to reduce the pollution possible from wood smoke. I took this photograph thinking it was fog. Later published pollution levels imply this picture is actually of pollution. People were warned to stay indoors, mot exercise… …so sad…
Soon after moving home in 1968 Dad started to make this Marquetry games box. On one side is a chess board, on the other is a Mills board. The box has 2 drawers on each side to store the game pieces.
When dad got home from work, in the evening, and at the weekends, he’d either be using his Stanley knife to carefully cut and place the thin pieces of wood, glue or varnish them. I don’t know how long it took him, but I remember being fascinated by the process and watching the box slowly take shape.
Once the box was finished dad taught me, age 5, to play chess and mills. I loved it, quality time with Dad, the look on his face when he won or I made a good move – equally pleased. His pleasure in such things was inspiring and made learning fun. I’ve never lost the desire to learn something new, look for a strategy and ‘have a go’. A special box with special memories. Mum found it when tidying out the old games cupboard which included over 5 different chess sets. I only had 1 set, now I have 2. Both precious well beyond their financial value.
Wendy: I’d like to book my car in for a service
Service Engineer: What’s the registration number?
Wendy: (cited registration)
Service Engineer: Mr. House…
Wendy: I’ve not had a sex reassignment, to my knowledge
Service Engineer: It says here the owner is Mr. House
Wendy: When I bought the car from your dealership 5 years ago I was a Female and I still am
Service Engineer: Can I check the registration again?
Wendy: (recites the registration which like my sex, hasn’t changed)
Service Engineer: I’m sorry, I’ll get that changed
I wonder whether he’ll do the mundanely common thing of deciding to marry me off to someone when he changes the gender without having first asked what title to use. Applying another common stereotype in a prejudicial way.
Those lanes that are only wide enough for one car.
Driving slowly towards a corner because ‘oncoming traffic’ is in the middle of the road. There’s no sign to tell you this, its obvious.
Having to reverse until you find the entrance to a field, pulling into the mud to let an oncoming car pass.
I’m not well travelled, but this experience seems quintessentially English to me. It’s heart warming. It’s time consuming and poor usability, but something special that I treasure.
My mother lives further down this lane.
A last-minute trip arranged to Geneva, do I need Euros? No, Swiss Francs. Rumania and I couldn’t use my Euros, USA and I couldn’t use my Euro’s, now Switzerland and I can’t use my Euros. Grumble, grumble, currencies, exchange rates, coins and stuff. World, stop making my life complicated!
The hotel I stayed in, outside Geneva, was approved (recommended), by my employer. It was in France. Yay! I can use my Euro’s. I speak a little pigeon French, left over from a CSE French course in the mid 1970’s. To call my French ‘rusty’ is more than generous. I try, at the GVA airport information desk. The information person talks fluently and fast in French. My eyebrows raise and meet above my not insubstantial nose as I try to repeat my understanding of the tyrannical stream of words he’s just blown at me. It seems I’ve understood him about where to get a Taxi, how much it should cost and what I should have done to travel cheaply if I’d been shrewd like I should have been. I feel pathetic and inadequate. It shows, he smiles at me but doesn’t wander from his native French language.
The taxi driver spews French at me. I raise my eyebrows to join in the middle “Je ne parle Francais” He looks at me with pity and continues talking in French. The ride from GVA to the French town of Dionne-la-bain was smooth, comfortable, and silent. I suspect silent is not the natural way for this Taxi driver.
In the Hotel foyer a large, elegant, elderly British woman is talking in a very raised tone with a plummy accent. Wealthy lady. She’s hurling a range of dissatisfaction at the receptionist. I don’t really hear what she’s saying but I hear the very strong pain in her tone. After a while I can bear it no longer.
“Are you alright? You seem to be having some troubles here”
Her son comes up “let me deal with this” he hugs his mother who appears to ignore him but turns to me
“Yes, I don’t speak much French and this is my first trip to Switzerland, it’s quite overwhelming”
“My husband’s in Hospital, he’s dying…”
We’re near Switzerland, an English woman’s husband is in Hospital dying. I immediately think Euthanasia, and all the awfully difficult decisions and actions that lead to that pathway. No wonder she’s so upset, no wonder her adult son is with her. I wish the receptionist had the insight to treat her emotions and not the content of her words, she wasn’t really criticising him she was showing all the pain of having to fly her husband here to get a dignified death after what’s probably been a terribly painful illness. I wanted to hug her. I suspect she knew. With hindsight I wish I’d asked for her permission to give her a hug.
I thought of Dad and how lucky my family has been by not having to deal with a painful illness towards the end of his life.
Bus driver: where do you want to go?
He explained that for $1.75 I could travel anywhere in the city for 2.5hrs. Brilliant. I can get on and off any bus I want to. Luxury. I wanted to spend a day travelling on the busses but instead focussed on the more socially acceptable activity of going to a local art gallery.
The bus driver reminded me when I got to the stop I needed to get off at. He was very helpful. We met again on my return trip and he remembered me, greeting me with a warm smile hello. The bus drivers that I met were all very helpful and friendly. Very impressive.
I was able to explore some artsy stuff on a Sunday during my recent Minneapolis visit. The Walker Art Centre was a real pleasure. I found myself enjoying the building almost as much as the exhibits. First, they had a brushed-suede alcove for watching film exhibits.
Next, for visitors suffering from Museum fatigue they’d provided plenty of comfortable seating with views of the local scenery rather than the thought provoking exhibits. I watched children sledding down the hillside. Apart from myself the seats were…
Each corner that I walked around provided a new and interesting view of the architecture. There appeared to me more docents in the museum than visitors. I felt guilty looking at, and photographing, the building. There will be another post on the fabulous exhibits, to compensate for my guilt. The corridors were….
Normally I have to wait, twist, and stretch to find a view of a building without people messing up the view. Not in the Walker Art Centre on a Sunday in March. It’s a place where you can be alone.
Maybe even lonely.
Minneapolis airport had a surprise for me at gate G4. Tables with IPads, even outside the bars, everywhere people using their own or the airport’s computers. I slid up to a nearby bar and found the menu.
Kid’s under 12? I can eat them? Cool. I found myself a large glass of red wine and paid using the swipe-card slot on the bar. The bar staff talked to me about the system. She liked it, the customers liked it, I liked it. Sounds like an all around win.
I’ll go straight to the gate next time I’m at Minneapolis airport. No need to unpack my surface, no need to find a power socket or go through connecting to the airport WiFi. Just use the local iPad which even supplies flight information for the anxious passenger. That wasn’t me, I’m not the anxious passenger. I’m the one who’s snoozing after a large glass of wine….
Some good reading for my long flight home from Minneapolis, courtesy of the talented Peggy Pearl who gave me an exciting tour of the snow-bound city.
I’m now full and cultured.
The cars develop their own icicles while they’re waiting for the owners to return. These icicles took about 2hrs to form on a warm day. Things happen fast and frostily here in Minneapolis.
So much stuff.
Mourning is exhausting, relentlessly rolling, invisible to the people around who’s daily lives bring temporary relief.
The hangover tiredness hasn’t lifted 3 months after his leaving.
By the end of the year this room will look like a guest bedroom; shelves removed, walls papered and painted, new carpet. Dad’s stuff long since reorganised and prioritised. It’s this removal that hurts the most. I can understand why people keep rooms untouched as memorials to their past owners.
Based on a light weight trend analysis, I suspect I might be moving home this year.
- 86-93 home in Loughborough (including a year living in Edinburgh with my Mortgage, weekend place, in Loughborough).
- 93-20 home in Hampshire (Southsea then Warblington).
- 00-07 home in Seattle (Redmond, I meant to move downtown but somehow never got round to it).
- 07 -14 home in Reading town (intending to stay here for a while yet, but the trend suggests otherwise).
Andrea (English girl’s name) does not sound like Andrea (Italian boy’s name)
Why I love England #20: parks with wrought iron railings
The gentle sunlight, mist and frost make it all sparkly good.
Day 7: October 27th
The beauty of the flat Texan grasslands was awe Inspiring. A mystical beauty. I stopped the car and stood in the wind watching the clouds gently roll around the huge canvas above. The peace in such a place is invigorating. To be able to walk and live with these skies must make it easier to feel close to a god. It’s the sort of place I close my eyes and think of when I’m seeking peace and sleep after a crowded day in a busy world. Slow down, smell the grass, feel the breeze, see the clouds. I had some unexpectedly wonderful times alone on the road. This photograph captures one of them.