Thursday 10 March 2016

Things I have recently learned...

... since moving back to the UK.

1.  How to bleed a radiator.

This is no small thing when you're living in an older house with an antique heating system, I can assure you.  Waiting for your managing company (we're renting) to send over a handyman to do the job for you gets old pretty quickly - especially when you realise you can buy the tool to do it yourself (a brass radiator key, approx. £2.50 from your local hardware store) just down the road.  OK, so there might have been a slight issue with dirty water squirting out from one of radiators, but what the landlady doesn't see (evidence of) won't hurt her.

And at least now your children - acclimatised to tropical indoor temperatures after 6 years in properly insulated and heated houses in Russia - won't have to sleep under two sets of duvets.

I am Woman with Brass Radiator Key - hear me roar...

2.  How to change a light bulb

Bear with me here.  I DO know how to do this, obviously.  But after 6 years as a cosseted expat in Russia, where - according to our tenancy contract - I wasn't supposed to (I had to call The Management to send over a workman to do it), I must admit to being surprised by the frequency with which it's necessary.  Again, old houses and their suspect wiring, I suppose.

I mean, I DID change light bulbs in Russia, of course I did.  Especially since the alternative in Moscow was waiting at home for a frequently chain-smoking workman to arrive whenever he deemed it appropriate (after finishing his lunch / afternoon tea / morning coffee / not at all), watch him as he took his boots off at the front door, put on his battered tapichki (slippers to you and I), listen to him mutter to himself as he wheezed his way through the house with his plastic bag full of an assortment of different lightbulbs for different light fittings, and endure his rattling smokers cough throughout.

OK, that was just the first guy who used to come, replaced after a couple of years by Ivan Version 2.0 - less wheezy and much more jocular - but the memory of Ivan Version 1.0 lingers, much like the scent of stale cigarettes and B-O that he so generously left behind.

So, on reflection, then and now, much better to do it myself.

3.  How to deal with Husband's misguided assumption that the garden in our new house is my responsibility.

Actually, this one was quite simple.  We recently visited Amsterdam, and passed the flower market.

Husband:  "Shall we buy some bulbs to plant out the back?"

Me:  "I didn't know you like gardening!"

Job done.