So as I sat down to write yesterday's post, I didn't realise nearly everything "different" about our new home in Ireland involved heating water. It's amazing to me this one small thing affects so much of our every day life. I know it's a perk of the first world and I am always overflowing (get it?) with thankfulness that we have easy access to hot water. Many of my friends living in other parts of the world do not have the same luxury.
Now how about the quirks I love?
The electric shower.
Most Irish master bedrooms have an en suite bathroom. Ours is tiny, but now that it's painted dragonfly blue I love it 100 times more than I did last week in its dark butter incarnation. Most Irish homes will have an electric shower outfitted, either in the en suite (like ours) or the "family bath." The electric shower insures maximum, heated water pressure. A must. But in most houses, it's not on all the time. Next to your shower you may find a pullcord dangling from the ceiling. You pull it before starting your shower; then once in the shower, there's a square-shaped attachment on the wall consisting of - you guessed it - more dials. Turn one dial and the shower starts and allows you to control the heat output (ours goes to 11), turn another and the water pressure changes. Bathing is always an adventure here, and though the loud whirring of the electric shower may scare a child or two, I'm not sure I could survive without it!
The electric kettle.
Oh how we missed our electric kettle when we were away. This handy thing boils your water in about a minute or less, and in a culture where tea is your constant companion, the value of this cannot be overrated! Every Irish house, apartment, office and shop has an electric kettle and we use ours multiple times a day (for tea, warming mugs, warming baths, diluting stock, etc). Electric kettles can be found in the States, but I've found them to be much more expensive, and the truth is: we just don't drink tea there like we do here. Usually the minute one opens his or her door, you'll hear: "Do you want some tea? I'll put the kettle on." There's no use denying it. You do want tea here.
The integrated kitchen.
This is probably the most noticeably different thing about Irish and other European homes (apart from their size). An integrated kitchen is one in which every appliance (apart from the stove/oven/hob) is camouflaged by the same door. In our current kitchen we have beautiful solid pine cabinet doors covering our cupboards, our refrigerator and our dishwasher. Many homes also have the washing machine in the kitchen, and that can be hidden behind the same door. I love how tidy this makes everything look, even though I do miss decorating our fridge with magnets. :)
I could go on about all the little differences between homes here and in the States... closed plan vs. open plan (most rooms are enclosed, to keep in the heat), how your front door opens directly onto your driveway, the semi-detached vs. detached/bungalow vs. terraced homes (ours is semi-detached, kind of like an american duplex), the close proximity to other houses balanced with high fenced-in back yards/gardens...
The truth is, while it may seem foreign at first, once it becomes yours, it becomes home.
So, did I miss anything? Have any questions on how some of this stuff works? Are you convinced of your need for an electric kettle? What is your home like in your part of the world?