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A Lazy Day in Londontown

A Lazy Day in Londontown

I had a lazy day in Londontown today.  I did laundry and put my feet up so I’ll be ready for my big trip to Bath tomorrow.  Washing laundry is not to be taken lightly at Teak Close.  Doing two small loads can literally take most of the day.  The average cycle on the washing machine here takes just under TWO HOURS to complete.  Some settings take a whopping 2 hours and 40 minutes!  I tried the “faster wash” setting.  It cut the time down to an hour and 10 minutes.  That’s still almost twice as long as it takes at home.

Another tricky things about the washing machine here is the temperature settings.  At home I have three choices: cold, warm, or hot water.  Here, I have a choice of temperatures ranging from 30 to 90 degrees Celsius.  Does 60 degrees qualify as warm or hot water?  Who knows.  I can’t even answer that question in Fahrenheit!

It turns out that there is a dryer at Teak Close, even though I was told there wouldn’t be.  Friends assure me I’m lucky to have one.  Apparently rentals in London often have washers but not dryers.  I’m not sure I’m all that lucky though, because the dryer takes even longer to dry the clothes than the washing machine takes to wash them.  It goes through a continuous cycle of tumble, rest, tumble, rest, over and over again.  I don’t know why.  Is it more energy efficient?  Is it gentler on clothes?  It’s certainly not more effective.  After an hour in the dryer, the clothes are almost as wet as they were when I put them in.  It can take almost three hours before they’re completely dry!

Lest you think these quirks are unique to Teak Close, I can assure you I’ve met other Americans who’ve had similar experiences.  Rather than resenting how long it takes, I use laundry day as a time to rest my feet.  They definitely need it.  They’re taking a real beating from all the walking I’m doing here.  That’s why I think of laundry day as a lazy day in Londontown.

The stove is another surprising appliance.  Not only are stoves generally smaller than in the U.S., but many of them have fans that run when they’re turned on.  It confused the heck out of me the first time I used it.  I couldn’t figure out what the strange noise was!  Apparently ovens with fans cook faster.

But that’s enough about the mysteries of English appliances.  Let’s turn our thoughts to more pleasant topics.  It’s almost 6 pm as I’m writing this, and there are more than a dozen kids playing just outside my window.  They’ve been running up and down the Close all afternoon, riding their bikes and scooters and climbing the scrawny trees.  There’s nothing organized about it.  They’re just running around having a good time.

There are kids playing out in the Close almost every afternoon.  Some of them don’t even take the time to change out of their uniforms when they get home from school.  You can tell which kids go to Redriff Primary School.  They wear black or gray skirts and pants, white shirts, and red cardigans.  It seems to me that kids in London spend more time playing outside and less time in front of the TV than the American kids I know.  Maybe they’re simply not as interested in television and video games.  My sons would find that hard to believe!

Scooters are extremely popular here.  I’ve seen kids riding them in parks all over London, as well as in grocery stores, shopping malls, and Tube stations.  There are scooters in the U.S. too, but I don’t remember them being so popular.

Looking out the window just now reminded me that several of my neighbors are cab drivers.  They park their iconic black cabs in the Close when they’re not working.  London cabbies are famous for knowing every street in the city.  They have to pass an encyclopedic test of London geography called “the knowledge” before they can get a license.  The cabs come in a wide variety of colors these days.  Some are even covered in advertisements.  But regardless of color or pattern, they’re still referred to as black cabs.  I haven’t taken a cab ride yet on this trip.  They’re expensive, and my London Transport pass gets me everywhere I want to go.  It is an iconic London experience though, so maybe we’ll ride in one when my family is here after Christmas.

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