Thursday, October 15, 2009

Adventures in England, Part 05

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Today we woke up to a warm flat. With hot water. I decided to take a shower— something I missed yesterday – and to wash my hair.

It was not to be. There’s a gadget on the shower wall that heats up the water and we know about that type of thing because we have it in Greece. However, on this model we could find no on/off switch.

Neither could we find any control to cause the water to come out the shower head instead of the two spigots at the bottom. The only lever in sight, when flipped, loosened the shower head so it slid down the pole. We pulled it back up and flipped the lever the other way to clamp the shower head in place.

And guess what? There are no instructions!

There is a long cord hanging from some alien gadget on the bathroom ceiling on the other side from the tub and shower. Well, when you don’t know how to do “A”, and you see an unknown gizmo “B”, you figure there’s a fair chance thingamabob “B” is the thing you need for accomplishing task “A”, right? Well, maybe. We looked at that long cord with some trepidation, as there is a large, red indicator light that goes on if you pull the cord. “I hope this won’t bring the police or an ambulance,” I said, as I pulled it.

If that’s what it is supposed to do, we’re in trouble, because no police or ambulance came. In fact, we couldn’t tell what had happened. Something must have, but it was indiscernible to us. So I pulled the cord again, turning off the red light and causing a green “OFF” tab to appear.

Flashback: Mr. Ram Bashal, from Nepal, arrived in Minneapolis to help found a Montessori School there and checked into a big hotel. He observed someone drinking from a water fountain, but didn’t observe all that closely, so when he wanted some water himself, he was completely baffled as to how you got the stuff to come out. Finally, he had to ask, as we shall probably have to ask some neighbor. He felt quite foolish, as we no doubt also shall.

This was the same fellow who told us his father was very rich; he owned a whole herd of elephants. I was amazed. I asked, “How do you acquire enough hay and peanuts, day after day, to feed a whole herd of elephants?”

“Hay and peanuts?”

“That’s what elephants eat, don’t they? I’ve seen them eat that in the zoo.”

“Ah, in the zoo! Perhaps there, but in Nepal, the elephants are turned out into the forest in the mornings, where they spend the day grazing on plants full of laxative. Then we bring them home in the evening.”

I couldn’t say a word, picturing a whole herd of elephants brought home after gorging on laxatives all day long.

No doubt Mr. Bashal meant to say, “lactose,” as in some sort of milkweed…

Anyway, like him, we shall have to ask how to get the water to come out where we want it to.

“Oh, well, I’ll just take a bath then,” I said, cheerfully.

It was while I was shampooing my head I realized the implications of two spigots. One was for hot water and the other for cold. How to rinse your hair? We don’t own a pitcher. So I had Demetrios bring me the square plastic washbasin Mrs. Williams had kindly put under the kitchen sink for us, and I used that.

Later, we ventured out into the gray and very blowy day to find some groceries. We came upon Morrison’s, a huge supermarket, and they were in the final day of a big sale, so in we went. And there I found what I was looking for: clotted cream! I was beginning to think people here didn’t eat it. I also found scones and crumpets (English Muffins, we call them). I’ll freeze them until Tuesday, and then warm them in the oven and serve them piping hot. Okay, so my first tea won’t feature anything homemade. It’ll be quite untraditional, I’m afraid, but no matter. We’ll do a better job another time, and meanwhile, we shall all enjoy one another’s company, which is the object of the exercise anyway.

Home for lunch and a nap.

Demetrios went out again later; I elected to stay home because it was such an uninviting evening, dark, wet, cold, and windy. He came home with two bottles of wine and a toaster, raising the comfort level in our flat two more notches.

We took out the trash together and deciphered (we trust) how the trash works.

Things we still haven’t deciphered include what the keys with the orange dots on them are for. (Mrs. Williams kindly color-coded all the keys for us.)


elizabeth said...

wow. lots of things to get used to.

margaret said...

It's Britain, you can't expect a warm flat AND warm water on the same day! That's just so VERY American of you ;) :p In my Dad's house the on/off/timer thingie for the hot water was on the kitchen wall, in one flat I had it was under the kitchen sink and in another it was in the same cupboard/closet as the hot water tank. These things are like gas meters - all too often located in places no normal human being ever goes. Good luck, anyway. And a word of warning re electricity - all the electric companies here like to cut back on costs by sending estimated bills which are estimates based on estimates based on estimates (they will estimate your usage based on Mrs Williams!), imo, it's a shabby way of forcing you to pay in advance so locate the electricity meter and keep a note of the readings.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Margaret, you were helpful in more than one way. The USB modem, for one, and advising us to bring warm clothing, for another...

Thank you!

Thanks, too for the warning re meters. Mrs. Williams said the same thing. We did read the meters just before we departed and have since telephoned them in to the water and electric companies. I also mentioned that I do not expect the readings to change between now and June.