Now I have experienced the alternative, it’s really hard coming back to our house in Glasgow. We have a car full of wet skiing gear with nowhere to dry it, a car full of tired, wet children and tired, wet adults, and only one cold bathroom to fight over, with a limited supply of hot water. The oven doesn’t work properly, there’s no dishwasher, and there’s a total of about 1m of work surface in the kitchen (and that’s totally clogged and cluttered with bowls of vegetables and fruit and boxes of odd bits and pieces I don’t really know what to do with). It’s all also a bit dark and depressing, and pretty cold, unless we put the woodburner on and huddle in the sitting room.
It didn’t really bother me before, it was just life, but now I have been forever spoiled by spending some time the new house. We’ve just had my family, my sister’s family (another 4) and my parents to stay (with Jake, who milled the internal wood for the house, and his two kids for one of the nights). For a three bedroom house that was obviously quite a squeeze but it coped formidably, but the total highlight for me has been the drying room.
Up until now it’s been called the utility room or, more appropriately, the plant room (since it is annoyingly almost totally taken up with two huge tanks for the heating system – one of which I didn’t even know I was getting until I saw the guys struggling to get it in through the front door) but now it is definitely the Drying Room. It helps that it is the warmest place in the house, and when you put the MVHR on boost, it’s more effective than any drying room I’ve been in (and I have spent more than my fair share of time trying to get sopping wet gear dry in hostel drying rooms over the past couple of decades). It was full of wet coats, boots, ski equipment, gloves, hats for four days in a row and got everything dry.
It has to be said that the house really does have everything that our current house lacks (except spare bedrooms). I had rather wondered about the extravagance of having three bathrooms while we were building the house but it is certainly useful when there’s eleven people staying. And, anyway, the one downstairs shower is absolutely non-negotiable, as its in the entrance area to the house which was always planned as the place to arrive muddy and wet from some Scottish outdoor adventure and derobe, shedding ones muddy clothes into the washing machine/drying room, and ones muddy self into the shower. It has already served its purpose admirably when I ignored everything I’d learned in cartoons about not sawing off the branch you are sitting on when making a woodshed.
The house is also mercifully free of clutter (which may be because we haven’t moved stuff there yet) and has acres of worksurfaces to clutter with cooking stuff and other bits and pieces. And loads of room for sous chefs/ armchair cooks to mill about. There are a few things that are annoying about the design – I need more fridge room, and it’s rather annoying to have to squeeze round the chairs to get to the other side of the dining table. (That’s one of the things that irritates me about my current house). There a whole other blog in what would be designed differently if I was starting again, to accompany all the blogs on how I would build it differently, but that will come later.
So the obvious question is, why on earth are you driving back to Glasgow with a car full of wet ski kit and wet children? Why leave behind Shanggrila when you have only just hacked it free from a jungle of self-imposed building balls-ups?
Well that would be a very sensible question. Why indeed?
Well I’ve been rather preoccupied with getting the house built while attempting to save nature for the RSPB in my day job and trying not to be a completely absent wife and mother. So I hadn’t really sat still long enough to think about the future. But I’ve just read through the very first blog I wrote which I think still stands. Back then, however, I couldn’t possibly have known how difficult it would be to leave the place now it’s pretty much finished.
However I have a plan. The kids might not want to leave the delights of Glasgow. But I’ve been working developing an exciting project in the area through work that might bear some fruit. And in the meantime, there’s always the weekends. And Mondays. And the odd day I need to be in the area for a child’s ski race, or work.
But it is really quite a long drive just to have a hot bath and dry your wet walking socks out.