Saturday, July 30, 2011

Happiness Is Home-Grown

One of the unexpected challenges of traveling to England has been dealing with laundry. It started with the trip here which took four days. We had packed an extra set of clothes on our carry-on luggage. We didn't have two other sets, so we did laundry en route in New York City.

Arriving here, we were reunited with the rest of our luggage and were able to wear some different items. But not too many. Then we had to deal with the washer/dryer combo machine we had heard about before coming. It was alright for washing, but rubbish for drying. So we'd hang clothes around the apartment and set the oscillating fan on high, hoping for dry clothes by morning.

Since my wife's work would pay for laundry service while we were between homes, we thought we'd try a laundry service. We picked a national chain that looked reputable and dropped off three quarters of our clothes. The lady behind the counter said it would be two loads and gave me a price. Then we had a chat about when it would be ready. I dropped it off on a Tuesday afternoon and it wouldn't be ready till Friday afternoon. It seemed like a long time, but we were desperate.

We were even more desperate when we ran out of clothes again on Thursday! We managed to squeak by with slightly used clothes. We ordered take away [Editor's note: that's "take out" for you Americans] Chinese for dinner to avoid going out. We were pretty happy Friday afternoon.

We dropped off another load on Monday at a different location of the same company (in walking distance of the apartment). Our hopes for less than a three day turnaround were dashed, however. Then I hit on a brilliant idea. Why not drop off a new load of dirty clothes when I picked up the clean ones? I started a cycle of Tuesday and Friday visits to the laundry place, which saved some trips.

Then we got kicked out of the apartment and wound up in the charming cabin in the middle of the countryside. It too had a washer/"dryer" combo machine that did about as well. We started hanging clothes around the cabin, especially on the radiators. We used the radiators quite a bit for heat, so why not drying too?

Finally we have moved into our regular home. The house didn't have a washer or dryer but we were able to get a three-year loaner set. After they were hooked up and ready to go, I embarked on an eight-hour odyssey of washing and drying clothes. The washer works fairly normally. The dryer is ventless but is sensible enough to have a reservoir to collect the water from the clothes. In addition to cleaning out the lint filter, we have to dump out the reservoir after every load (or before a new load). Clothes magically come out dry!

Is it sad that I feel so great having clean and dry clothes in less than 24 hours? Maybe in hindsight it will seem pathetic to me, but now it seems totally awesome.

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