New House / New Bike
It’s sunny today so I thought I’d do a blog post that shines and shimmers with optimism and Good Things.
We’ve moved in to the new house and it’s great. Admittedly our stuff is still scattered to the four corners of the East, but soon we’ll have all of our things in one place and we can begin to work out what we need to keep and what we need to burn as a sacrificial offering to our favourite pagan gods. Or give to the charity shop.
We live in the top floor of the house. Our bedroom is up in the eaves, has wooden floors and a nice skylight from which we can see the stars. Canary Wharf twinkles in the mid-distance like a crap Manhattan. We bought a nice new bed and the previous owners left us a large clothes * of the kind I’ve only seen in the houses of fashion students, where they would be festooned with feather boas, fancy dress, and paper mache horses heads. We’ve used it to hang up our jumpers. Running along the side of the room behind some doors is enough storage space for at least seven dwarves.
Down some stairs is the next bit of our quarters: a little WC, and a study. Mogran got a desk and chair from a website where Japanese people flog off their belongings cheap before they leave the country forever. So we have that. There is enough room for a sofa, and bookshelves, and other things, should we find ourselves in possession of them.
Downstairs are our two housemates’ rooms, and a bathroom with a freestanding bath and the most riduculous power shower I have ever experienced. It is mighty. It washes away all dirt and doubt.
Downstairs again, is the living room, with enormous TV and our assorted video game systems already connected, and a dining room table surrounded by bikes, some of which belong to me. Downstairs again is a massive kitchen with five-ring hob – I have never seen the like, this goes against everything I have come to understand about hobs – and a kitchen table. Outside is a garden which, I am told, features the occasional hedgehog.
Downstairs again is a cellar, featuring lots of storage space and a nice picture of a dog.
The housemates are really lovely: friendly, and both more than willing to come to the pub and almost win the quiz. Winningly, they display no obvious signs of imminent mental or psychological breakdown. I’ve been cycling into work every morning with one, who knows a pretty, twisting back-streets route that I still can’t quite get the hang of.
Finally, I love the area. It’s easy to cycle, and there are lots of interesting cafes, pubs and restaurants. Also, for the first time since people started fleeing New Malden I’ve started bumping into people I know, which does wonders for one’s sense of community and well-being. Whenever I move to a new area my brain does a complicated geographical calculation of where I now am in comparison to the people I know and like to hang out with, and what the most likely route to those places and people is. Now I’m going to have people nearby. On Saturday I went for a cup of tea and a chat with someone on the high street. I even had a cheeky scone. It was amazing.
And finally again, I love my new bike. When you get a bike the mental map of London entirely changes, because you’re no longer thinking about tubes or buses, but how it only takes, say, half an hour to get to the river. Your range increases. It’s nice.
I got the bike last Saturday from London Fields Cycles, in amusing fashion. I’d rung up the day before asking after a particular bike, the only one I could find that suited my requirements: not a fixie, not a boring mountain bike, not a fancy racer, not a fold-up, good for bimbling around town and probably fine for a country amble, green. The shop had one – one! – left in stock from last year’s models. It was hanging from the ceiling and they put a tag with my name on it.
When I walked in on Saturday lunchtime, I was faced with a young, tall Italian woman trying out my bike while her hipster boyfriend looked on. The member of staff was enthusing about how well the bike suited her. I circled awkwardly, fumbling for my glasses and trying to get close enough to read the tag on the handlebars.
Sure enough. There was my name. So I interrupted:
“Excuse me, sorry to interrupt, but I think that’s my bike.”
Cue extreme awkwardness. What made the whole thing worse is the couple were RIDICULOUSLY NICE about it. We had a fairly long conversation about how great the bike was. The bike that I was going to have and that they weren’t. Then I took it out for a test spin while the shop showed them some pictures of a bike in a brochure. When I got back, the couple had gone – thwarted – and the assistant was apologetic.
“Really sorry about that – I saw the tag but assumed it was out of date,” he said. How we laughed. The shop, and the staff, were both brilliant with a pathologically-fearful-of-shops-especially-bike-shops person such as myself, and I can’t recommend them highly enough.
And out I cycled, back up to my new hood, giggling to myself as I went. It felt like Christmas morning.
P.S. Am thinking of setting up yet another new blog, specifically about my local area, as that’s how I started blogging and that’s the kind of blogging I feel most comfortable with. I like it to have a geographical hook. Dear reader(s), what do you think?