Except it’s not one room, y’all. It’s SIX. And two bathrooms. Boom!
The lease started on Wednesday and so far it’s been all good, settling in. My brother (who is no longer The Kid) came down to Oxford with me on the day and helped enormously with suitcases and the faffery of the check-in. Moreover, he didn’t seem to mind sleeping on the sofa. Our inaugural dinner, at the massive antique scrubbed-wood table, was a six-egg omelette with red pepper, chopped ham and onions, and half a bottle of red wine each, on which we got rather merry.
It’s a much nicer house than 52 Cowley, although I still feel nostalgia for that house and probably always will. It was my first proper home away from my parents. It was the place I first learned to cook and pay bills and ring the council when the bins hadn’t been taken away for two weeks (yes indeed). It was the first place in my adult life where I sat at a table full of friends who were eating, drinking and making merry, and thought, “I am happy. Everything is good. This is how it should be.” That said, 52 Cowley was also dark, cramped and extremely difficult to keep clean (not that we tried very hard). Our new house is a tremendous improvement. It’s a townhouse; somehow, it’s been constructed at an angle such that both sides seem to receive light throughout the day; all of the rooms have double beds, which is a huge advantage; and my room is simply enormous. The kitchen is infinitely better arranged, and larger; we have a dishwasher, and the wall has been knocked through so that, beside the table, there’s a space with a sofa, coffee/TV table and armchair–all our entertaining can be done in one place!
We tested this out with a visit from Hawkeye and Casanova on the second night. The Duchess had come down for the night as well, and my brother was still with me, so we had five people sitting down to dinner. I made chicken jalfrezi with a jar of curry paste from the store cupboard, a couple of chicken thigh fillets, and some red and green peppers. Being able to cook without having to ask some of your guests to perch on the table or flatten themselves against the wall to give you more space is a pretty delightful perk of the new kitchen. (Also, the curry seemed to go down rather well. The Duchess, who is a notorious epicure, gave it a Seal of Great Approval. This pleased me very much.)
I spent most of yesterday, after delivering my brother to the station, unpacking my things, which had been driven up from their temporary summer storage in Bournemouth by Lovely Uncle. Excepting a pile of winter clothes and cocktail dresses, and two boxes of books which Bunter kindly took for the month, I’m nearly all moved in! I relieved the tedium of unpacking, and the sudden loneliness which sometimes descends when you’re suddenly the only person in the house, with a playlist of my brother’s which is mostly a medley of Spanish rap and upbeat ‘70s classics. It worked terrifically, both lifting my mood and making me rather more efficient…