1) Massive wardrobes in the master bedroom. I loved shoving everything inside and closing the doors, and I loved having separate spaces for Andy and me so his (burgeoning) fancy shirt collection didn’t threaten my (dwindling) skirt collection.
2) Kitchen storage. We had this great big pantry cupboard on rollers so I could access and view every bit. No more forgotten half-bags of rice or inaccessible spices!
3) Wall-to-wall carpet. No really! Oatmeal brown, cozy underfoot, and a great sound muffler on rowdy indoor play days.
4) Sunny kitchen with a cheery garden view. Well actually, our cheery garden was tiny, but it still looked lovely through the big, over-the-sink windows, and we got to enjoy little blue tits flying about, great big wood pigeons cooing on the fence in the morning, and a psychotic female blackbird who kept attacking herself in the garden mirror. And of course I had a great view of our hanging laundry as well so I could scurry out to retrieve it when the rain came…
5) Long history. I wonder who lived here in 1880 when this street full of villas was first built — back when the now-decorative fireplaces burned coal in every room and the main garden feature was a privy! Did children leave those pock marks on the kitchen’s big wooden floorboards? What did the residents do to pay the rent? Perhaps they worked in the castle, cleaned chimneys, or sold drinks to barracks soldiers at one of the (numerous) local pubs. It was fun to imagine all the people who came before us!
6) The Viceroy for Indian take-away just around the corner, and Windsor General nearby for last-minute milk and biscuit purchases (as well as updates from our favorite clerk on all the latest rugby and cricket scores).
7) Towel warmers in the bathroom. A great feature in a house with hot water radiators, providing a place to warm the towels and dry the laundry too when rain forced us to bring it back inside…
8) Great big windows in the second floor (here called the first floor) master bedroom. We could look across to everyone else’s great big windows on the other side of the street. Managing curtains is a social ritual in this culture of dense housing and politely reserved people!
9) Location location location. We were within walking distance of so many destinations: grocery store (ah, my beloved Waitrose!), playgrounds, library, schools, church, train station, leisure centre, castle, river, shops.
10) Our attic “aerie.” Tucked under the eaves, this room offered cheery skylights with a glimpse of the castle and provided a cosy refuge for guests or for children’s games.
11) Neighbors. Without porches or front yards on our street, people don’t hang out. But we found our neighbors friendly once we ran into them a few times setting out the rubbish on a Thursday morning. Like New Zealander Sarah and her frizzy-haired two-year old daughter Jessica who showed up with a tin of freshly-baked ANZAC biscuits one day; Joanne across the street who overheard Andy muttering about Tess’s bike brake adjustment and came over with a box of wrenches; and elderly June two doors down who always had a pleasant comment about the weather as she waited outside her house for a taxi ride to the store.
Of course even as we’re packing up our belongings and feeling nostalgic about our sweet little Windsor home, I can still admit there were a few drawbacks. So to be fair, here are 6 Things I’ll Gladly Leave Behind:
1) Rubbish clothes washer and dryer. The washer’s failure to get clothes clean was perfectly matched by the dryer’s failure to dry them. Ack!
2) Planes bound for nearby Heathrow Airport flying loudly overhead — one every minute! — on wind-from-the-east days.
3) Crazy parking on narrow streets. I know I know, these streets were made for horses, not Hondas, but navigating the twisted maze of one-way streets and two-way streets with one car’s width of driving space was maddening. Add on a busy construction season (skips everywhere!) and road work to repair the Victorian era water mains, and even our beloved little Honda Jazz was a challenge to park on many days.
4) British plumbing. Sinks here seem to have two options: no water coming out or a massive whoosh of water all over your shirt. Have aerators not made it across the Atlantic yet?!
5) Tiny dining room table. Lovely for reaching the lemon curd for your crumpet, but lousy for entertaining.
6) Fickle freezer. The freezer (like the fridge) was discreetly and cleverly tucked inside a cupboard but for some reason the door kept popping open. Bad news for a family in the ice cream business!