We had just moved to England.
We had travelled 7,573 kilometres from Vancouver, British Columbia to London Heathrow. We were tired, we were jet-lagged, and we were experiencing the “Oh S#@* Moment” I wrote about a few weeks ago.
We can’t be held responsible for the decisions we made.
We were staying at a friend’s house, but we needed to find a permanent residence ASAP (as soon as possible), so that we could get on with the whole “living in England” thing.
We were out strolling in the English countryside (as you do) when we came across a lovely little (wee) village called Bray.
Bray is literally one of the most charming villages you’ll ever set eyes on. In fact, it was once named the most charming village in England, which is 100% accurate, because it is extremely charming.
Bray is also home to celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal’s restaurant The Fat Duck, which was voted the best restaurant in the world in 2005, which is saying something because there are quite a few restaurants in this extremely large world of ours.
So, we’re strolling through Bray and we see The Fat Duck (the famous restaurant, not an overweight aquatic bird), and then we see this adorable little cottage two doors down with a “To Let” sign in the window.
(Note: “To Let” means pretty much the same thing as “To Rent”, except it’s different, because it’s British.)
The adorable little cottage was really too adorable, with frilly little curtains, and brick walls, and a tiny little front door. It was almost sickening how adorable it was…
As we were peeking into the front window to have a better look, Heston Blumenthal strolled by and said “hello”. So then I said, “hello”. He asked us if we were going to “let” the cottage, and I said, “yes,” we were going to let the cottage. And then he said we’d be neighbours and then I said, “yes” again. And then I took a picture with my soon-to-be-neighbor Heston Blumenthal.
We immediately called the estate agent, and “let” the cottage.
We were going to live the fairytale life, in a fairytale little cottage, in a fairytale little village, next to one of the best restaurants in the world… because that’s what you do when you move to England.
Sometimes it seems like a really great idea to live in a 500 year old cottage in a tiny little village in Berkshire, England.
Sometimes the reality of living in a 500 year old cottage is much, much different than what you anticipated…
The draughts (the British spelling of “draft”). In every room, at all times.
The moist. Everything, all the time, always.
The damp. Not quite the same as “moist”, but equally terrible, and cold, and miserable.
The mould (British spelling of “mold”). Black, smelly, toxic to all creatures.
The slugs. Because the house was 500 freaking years old, the doors and windows didn’t seal, and those suckers can slip through the tiniest of cracks. The first morning living in the “fairytale little cottage”, I came downstairs to find approximately ten slugs crawling around the front room. As I started chucking them back outside, the mailman came by and offered to help, so the two of us chucked all the slugs out (but of course, they returned the next morning).
The very, very low ceilings and doorways. Apparently people were much shorter in the 1500s.
The kitchen. It was outside, in another building, a short walk from the cottage (I have no idea why anyone thought this was a good idea). Because when I cook, I want to have to put on a raincoat, boots, hat and gloves on and then walk a short distance, and then cook something, and then bring it back inside the house to eat it, and take off my raincoat, boots, hat and gloves, and then eat the meal that I made, and then put back on my raincoat, boots, hat and gloves and walk the short distance back to the kitchen to do the washing up.
The lack of hot water. Because nothing works in a house that old.
We lived the “fairytale” life, in a “fairytale” little cottage, in a “fairytale” little village, next to one of the best restaurants in the world… for approximately three weeks.
We came away from the experience a little bit older (three weeks older), and a little bit wiser (three weeks wiser).
Fairytales are a f#@*ing lie.