No, sadly that does not mean that I’ve developed a gym habit, or changed my diet to include 10 portions of fruit and veg. It’s just that over the past few months a few new things have appeared in my world, which make it a little bit more pleasant and fun.
Here they are:
- While I was away on my summer holiday, my landlord replaced the floor in my living room. When I moved into the house 10 years ago it had carpet which had become a bit wavy from previous tenants’ clumsy cleaning efforts. I didn’t mind, the carpet was good otherwise, but my landlady insisted on replacing it, and so after about a year a new carpet was laid. It had a much darker colour, but a nice one. Unfortunately, though, whoever laid this carpet took away the underlay and stuck it straight onto the concrete. This lowered my floor by about an inch and made it quite cold and damp from below. Over time large dark patches appeared on the carpet even though I never stepped on it with my shoes on. It wasn’t dirt, it was the damp creeping up from underneath. So finally this year my landlord decided to replace that as well. Now my floor has been restored to its previous height, and I have beautiful light oak floorboards, with plastic underneath to keep off the damp. True, the floor bulges a bit in places – you can feel it go down when you step on it. “It’s a bit springy,” my landlord says, and that gives it a whole new range of cracking and creaking noises, particularly when the heating is on. But I don’t mind, I think it’s a vast improvement! I was going to buy a couple of runners to protect the wood, but haven’t done so yet.
- A couple of weeks ago my landlord executed step 2* in his home improvement plan: secondary glazing! My house is Victorian, and the two street-facing windows are historic wood-framed single glazing sash windows. Nice to look at, but not very insulating. Now, however, I have what is basically a second window sitting behind the original one, thus preserving the historic look but giving me better insulation. Just in time for winter! I like it a lot. The only drawback is that the new window takes up some space of the window sill, and it is now to narrow for my plant pots. I have three massive cacti, which will now have to be moved elsewhere. But that’s a fair trade-off for what I hope will be more warmth this winter.
*if I count differently this is actually step 3, because last summer I got a new front door as well.
- A few weeks ago I bought a new alarm clock. Yes, I know, not very exciting, but it’s little fun things like that which spice up your life. This clock has a light that gradually comes on in the morning (you can choose how quickly and how bright), and then the waking noise kicks in. You can have the radio or a horrible beeping sound, but you can also choose between a variety of other sounds: birdsong, rain (not sure about that, I have that “live” far too often), harbour (with those clinky-clanky sounds and gulls, so you can pretend to wake up in your romantic cottage in a Cornish fishing village), babbling brook, ocean waves, or city (traffic noises, so you can pretend to wake up in your chic Manhattan loft apartment). It also has a nightlight function with changing colours. And you can play around with the settings and change them every day if you like. Fun!
- The most exciting: last week I bought a new car! I last bought a car 8 years ago. It was a tiny red Ford, 5 years old at the time, which makes it, yes you’re right, 13 years old now. It didn’t break down, and there was nothing particularly wrong with it, but it had developed a few worrying…niggles, shall we say? Just a bit more rattling and clanking than I used to hear. Not to mention that I now needed two or three attempts to start it. Once it was running it was fine, but with the cold season approaching, I was thinking “what if one frosty morning it won’t start at all?” There was also the matter of rust. At the last MOT in spring, rust was noted on the undercarriage. It wasn’t considered excessive, and it passed the MOT, but I was warned that next year it might be a different story. So I thought, before I get into trouble and run up massive repair bills, maybe it’s better to replace it with a new one? I started looking. I only had a few criteria: a small car, five years old, not too many miles, with full service history, and I expected to pay around £3,500. I wasn’t looking for a particular make or colour. Very soon a suitable car appeared at a dealership conveniently situated round the corner from my house. A tiny red Suzuki. It fit all the criteria, so, long story short, I had a closer look, took it for a test drive, decided I liked it and bought it. The dealer took my old car in part exchange, although he only gave me a handful of peanuts for it. But anyway, it was what I wanted, for the price I expected to pay, and I like the colour! And it has a CD player – luxury, the old car had a radio cassette! Bonus: the emissions of this car are lower, so I pay £0 road tax! I picked it up on Saturday, and today I drove it to work for the first time! I feel comfortable driving it, but it is different from the old car, so there will be a period of getting used to it. Also the dealer had put a bubblegum flavoured air “freshener” in it, so it will take some time for the stench to dissipate. But I won’t have to worry about it not starting or the rusty floor dropping out.
So there you are, those are all the shiny new things in my life. Now, about that gym habit…