Sorry but… RANT RANT RANT; Thoughts on the etiquette of shared living.

The words “Sorry but…” should be banned from the English language. No one has ever said “Sorry but…” with a shred of remorse.

“Sorry but… RANT RANT RANT.” was the opening line of a text on a WhatsApp message from one of my new house mates with whom I have barely exchanged 30 words with since moving in last week. As far as I can tell a WhatsApp group between adults who share a house is the 2017 version of passive aggressive post it notes on milk cartons in uni halls.

You know who no one ever likes? The person who put post-its on their milk.

Unfortunately, I really thought I was past this kind of stuff. Two years ago Phil and I decided to get our own place and not to share but seeing as we want to be able to afford a mortgage before we die, we have since realised that shared accommodation while living in London actually makes a lot of sense economically.

So here’s the thing. I put stuff in the wrong bin. But in my defence, I put them in the bins as they were labelled. They were just incorrectly labelled. Also, it’s been a week, I don’t know the weird arbitrary rules a house has come to agree upon before I move in. As a first offence, I feel like the response from new house mate is quite unwarranted.

So here are my seven five rules for shared living.

Don’t be a dick

I feel like this is self-explanatory. If you are horrible to the people you live chances are home is going to feel like a pretty rotten place. The thing is this is easily avoided. Usually through the use of standard conversations through the usual social conventions.

Don’t sweat the small stuff.

This on is a difficult one for me. Sweating the small stuff is a key skill of teaching year 2, but my home is not my work place and some things are worth having a go over.

Like a single prosecco wrapper being left out. That’s not passive aggressive note thing. It’s a “oh I’ll be a good person and pop that in the <del>general waste?</del> bin for you” thing.

Here’s a list of things that I didn’t write texts about today;

-someone finished the toilet paper and didn’t replace it.

-someone put all my utensils in their cupboard.

-someone left bits of food in the sink.

-someone spilt something on the floor and didn’t clean it up properly.

I didn’t write a text about any of these things. I just fixed them and didn’t feel any kind of resentment about them. Mainly because I don’t think they warrant a scolding.

Don’t exaggerate. 

So here’s a story that is kind of ridiculous. Last Thursday my best friend came to the house to celebrate her engagement. We were excited, there was prosecco. We were passed out in bed by 11.30. Wild.

Then our landlord called Phil and said “so… I heard you had a party?”. Party? On what planet is having a friend over even remotely comparable to having a party? I understand that there was probably a lot of high pitched noises and loud laughter, but 3 people do not a party make.

Don’t abuse the WhatsApp Group.

It’s not just me who found this tirade insane. Some house mates stayed out of it, as I did myself. Some told others to take it easy. Most of those forty messages came from just two individuals.  Who in the name of a Generic Messianic Figurehead had time to bitch about bins over 40 text messages?

Top hits included

  • lambasting a non-native speaker of English for her terrible English.
  • Some strange and inappropriate public flirting between two of the house mates.
  • leading me the conclusion that Phil and I should change our names to New Tenant 1 and New Tenant 2.
  • a scolding from the landlord for not being very mature with social media.

Talk about it.

It’s funny that this is a cliche at this point and yet people still need to be reminded that communication is key. If you want to tell me something, tell me. If you think I’m only worthy of texts/notes I will respond in the most unhelpful manner I can possibly dream up.

 

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Brooklyn

The first book of my summer reads was chosen mainly because I had actually seen this movie first and liked. The book was first published in 2009 by the celebrated Irish author Colm Tóibín. I got finished in three days and I wish I had taken longer to savour it, second readings never having the same thrill.

Tóibín captures the idiosyncratic language of rural Ireland, through the dialogue of the characters, that reminded me of listening to my own older relations discussing the humdrum events of a small town. The Hibernian English and the poetically awkward phrasing kept the sense of provincial Irishness about this story set in 1950s Brooklyn present.

The story begins with Eilis and her depleted family in Enniscorthy, County Wexford facing the challenges of the “wasted years” when Ireland struggled in vain against emigration and unemployment while it desperately tried to find its role in the post war era as an independent state. In a situation similar to many young people of Ireland over the last few years, Eilis’s sister Rose suggests and organises for Eilis to go to Brooklyn, New York to find a better life than that available at home.

The story follows her voyage across the Atlantic and her settlement into the Irish community in Brooklyn, still heavily tied to the Catholic conservatism and community connections that emerged in the group of immigrants. <del>Ireland has only ever really had three degrees of separation.</del>  She suffers from home sickness and longs to go home to Enniscorthy, and so the parish priest along with her boss and landlady encourage her to keep busy with various pursuits.

At a local parish dance (the exact kind of dance I think my Nana believed I was going to every time she saw me heading out on a Saturday – it wasn’t the same, she never really grasped that) she meets a boy called Tony, the son of Italian immigrants. The story follows their budding romance which is abruptly interrupted by a death which calls Eilis home.

On her return to Ireland, Eilis notices many differences in how she is perceived by the people of Enniscorthy and she realises that her original reason for leaving Ireland, the lack of opportunities financially and romantically no longer exist. She questions her decisions and which future she really wants, a life in Brooklyn with Tony or a life as the wife of a respectable gentleman in Enniscorthy, close to her mother and working as a book keeper.

The characters are brilliantly written, calling up images of characters familiar to anyone who has lived in a small town in Ireland.

Eilis is likeable and sympathetic but is revealed to be more perturbed as the book goes on. She is flighty and inconsistent; traits I usually find irritating in main characters. However, she fits into the image of a young woman from 1950s Ireland I have built up in my mind growing up with vastly different expectations and ideas about the world than I can truly relate to, due to parochial and conservative ideas that permeated rural Ireland at that time.

Her mother and sister on the surface have a close relationship, but we become aware through the story that Rose is manoeuvring to prevent Eilis from having that stereotypical image of the youngest child in an Irish house hold, to whom the responsibility of caring for an elderly, widowed mother falls to.

Tóibín’s writing is subtle, funny and focuses on the emotional and personal weight of scenes rather than the action, which builds up the characters in a beautifully realistic way.

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Farewell 7a

So yesterday Phil and I cleaned out and locked up the first flat we lived in together for the last time. The amount of dust that had accumulated in cupboards and presses was impressive.

Despite it being the smallest flat on the earth, I will miss the privacy and comfort of having our own place to live. A friend told me a few years ago “this is what you do in London, first, you live somewhere alone and then you live somewhere nicer, but you have to give something up; privacy, location, price… something has to go.”

So we have given up privacy but the new location is about the same, and the price is excellent. Also, our new place definitely has more room, but then that would not have been hard to achieve.


Once we had scrubbed, scoured, dusted, swept, mopped, packed and moved we spent a bit of time exploring our new local area. I have always for the last two years thought that this area was not that nice, however, so far we have located the local hipster bar, complete with craft beers, a gin menu, gourmet burgers and pizzas with unusual toppings.

Yesterday we found another local pub which brought on a wave of nostalgia for Sunday pub grub in McCarthy’s of Fethard, with tartan upholstery, worn pink carpet and shades of green that have never been viewed as particularly attractive. The food, however, was delicious, the service was friendly and the vibe was pleasantly local, the kind of place families take their kids when they also want to meet other adults.

I curled up with a pint and a book. All in all a well spent Sunday.

Here’s Phil, learning about beer.

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Summer’s here.

After a year of SATs related stress, the summer is finally here. I’ve embraced this by dying my hair lavender, buying a stack of new books and moving house.

My new house feels very London. Phil and I bring the total number of people in the house to nine, but luckily the house is enormous and we have our own living room attached to our very cute attic bedroom. We still have our own space which is considerably larger than in our previous microscopic flat in West Ealing.

Holidays back to Ireland are looming and I’m looking forward to a few weeks of Tipperary flavored chill and catching up with family and friends.

The next few days, however, are going to consist mainly of relaxing, reading and exploring while trying to find free things in London.

And yoga… once I have finished unpacking and have some actual floor space.

 

Today’s simple pleasure. Lemon and lavender cake is incredible.

Starting off my summer reading.

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Chocolate pots

This delicious treat is gluten and dairy free, paleo, and full of good fats and antioxidants.

Cacao has loads of benefits including having loads of iron, magnesium and calcium. It’s also a natural mood enhancer because it contains anandamide a compound nicknamed the bliss molecule. It delivers the feel-good kick of chocolate without all that extra processed and refined sugar. Cacao can take a bit of getting used to, while it has the same scent of dark chocolate it’s quite bitter and needs to be balanced in recipes.chocolate pot for blog

 

The overripe banana is key to this recipe as most of the sweetness to counterbalance the cacao comes from the sugars in the fruit. If you can’t get your hands on a banana that’s past its best you may need to adjust the honey to account for it.

Serves 2-3

Ingredients

1 medium ripe avocado

1 overripe banana

1 tbsp of raw organic cacao nibs

2 tbsps of raw organic cacao powder

2 tbsps of honey

1 tsp of maca powder (optional)

50 ml of hazelnut milk

1 tbsp of chia seeds

 

Method

Chuck all the ingredients into a blender and whizz until smooth. Taste and adjust: if it’s too bitter add honey, if too sweet or the banana flavour is too strong add a half a teaspoon of cacao whizz and repeat.

Once you’re happy with the flavour divide the mixture between 3 ramekin dishes and pop them into the fridge for a few hours.

 

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Grey-friar Gardens, our class trip.

I’m halfway through my first week in CCCU, and it has been pretty good so far.  Lectures are more or less the same stuff I was doing last year so I’m not worried yet.  Today my class went to Grey-Friar gardens in Canterbury to bond and to partly to get everyone to loosen up and start acting a bit more child like.  So we spent two hours or so running around this place trying to imagine how children would react.
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This is possibly the best keep off the grass sign I’ve ever seen;
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Inevitably we started climbing trees, because that’s what children do.IMG_1015 IMG_1013

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And I found a bumblebee…
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Canterbury

So it’s nearly the end of my first week here, and in spite of being rather uneventful I’ve been having a lot of fun exploring the medieval parts of the town, chilling out in the park, finding out where the good pubs are and wandering around the markets (there seems to be a different kind of market on everyday).

The Cathedral is pretty amazing and I’m hoping to get some photos of it soon but for now I’ll make do with one or two of the gates, and some other old buildings.

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So far my favorite part of the city is definitely the park and the walk way along the city walls, parts of which have been the since 270 A.D. (which is delightful to the history nerd in me).  Walking along here you have the park on one side, and the main road and industrial parts of the town on the other, which look like they should be miles away from each other. As well as that there is a fantastic view of the city and the Cathedral.

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