Olly Writes

Woodwork, writing, walks, DIY and more!

My New Flat

I’m sorry it’s been so very long since I last wrote on this blog. While it’s not an excuse or reason for this absence, I’ve gone through the process of moving home, over the past month. In this post, I’m going to share with you some views of my new home.

To provide you with a brief back story: I spent the past five-years or so living close to Bristol Airport in North Somerset. I haven’t left the county. But I have finally moved on from what was a spacious (difficult to heat) one-bedroom property, prone to damp issues, with high ceilings, no insulation (stomp, stomp, stomp…) and a lack of parking spaces. Plus, ignorant neighbours used to nick my green recycling bins.

Now, I’m living on the edge of Weston-super-Mare. A town but I’m away from the busy centre. Close to countryside but lacking in immediate hills and woodland to roam. I have friends near by and it doesn’t affect the journey time to and from my current place of work. I’m closer to amenities. Now living on the top floor of a purpose-built block of flats, with a maintenance contract in place to look after the building. It is much, much smaller inside. But easier to heat. I even have my own parking space!

Let’s start this tour off in the kitchen, where CHAOS is the order of every day:

It’s a big enough size for one person. I’m struggling with the reduced number of wall units (two, versus the five I had previously) but I have gained base cabinets and drawers (I don’t like bending down too much, as a tall person). Generally speaking, the work surfaces are never clear or too well organised. I may adapt to these restrictions in time. I may not…

One effort I have made is to purchase a pair (thanks, Lidl) of dry food storage containers. One holds my cereal and porridge oats go in the other. I think it is an acceptable choice to have these on display… It’s only a shame the twin-pack on offer contained a product with a whopping three litres of capacity that I will never fill.

I have it in mind to keep this breakfast bar/island surface clear. I see it as a potential surface for food preparation (or even just the dirty dishes). Right now, it’s holding on to anything and everything… As most horizontal surfaces do! I’ve decided to sell my halogen oven (although no-one’s come in for it), as it demands a lot of worktop space and downsizing is one ambition I have in having moved to such a small property. I also happen to like the fan oven, here.

I could probably be more efficient with my fruit storage. In my last flat, I made ‘storage cubes’ that could be stacked up to to make shelving units that sit on a surface. Something similar may help, here. It’s almost a shame I binned those when clearing out my old home.

I do have more drawers…

…But this one may get used less frequently!

Shortly after moving in, I treated myself to a proper washing machine, the Russel Hobbs RH612WM1W (also, my ‘portable’ washer/dryer died the week before I handed my old keys back, when I was using my empty flat as a launderette). I managed to get this for only £170 on eBay, as a ‘B Grade’ reconditioned model. It comes with a warranty, the two delivery guys (albeit mis-matched in age, fitness and capabilities) were quite happy to shift it up two flights of stairs and in to my kitchen – without any form of wheels! I purchased a foam mat from Screwfix to sit underneath. This allows me to slide it in and out more easily and also, it should dampen some of the noise and vibrations to my neighbours beneath and behind.

(I spent the previous fifteen years living underneath other people. I do sympathise!)

Across from the kitchen, we have the living room… Which is hopefully less of a work-in-progress! It is a very small space. When I viewed this property, it was my only concern. I do now believe that I can make it work but I also intend to downsize and declutter further.

My one sticking issue is going to be, what to do with the arm chair I made in 2010… It won’t be going to the tip(!). I have no space to store it elsewhere and it won’t fit through my loft hatch (yes, a perk of climbing two flights of stairs every day).

I find it useful to remind myself that I live here alone. This is not a show-home. I have no intention of sharing this space with anyone on a permanent basis, regardless of whatever happens in my private life. I do appreciate the amount of natural light that floods this space, in contrast to my previous home. Being an east-facing property, I wake up to a sunrise, most mornings.

All of the appliances are electric. There’s no gas supply so, I have night storage heaters in the living room and in the hallway. They’re enough for a space of this size, although the previous tenant chose not to use them… I’ve also since discovered that someone previously has set this on to the wrong energy tariff (I should be on Economy 7 or similar), so no power is being sent to the storage heaters over night. I aim to get this resolved soon but at least it’s not the middle of winter.

There’s also a plastic drawer unit that I’ve had since my teens. It’s now held together with a few metres of Gorilla Tape. I’d like to either replace it with something substantial or find away to live without it altogether.

My DVD collection quickly outgrew the pair of racks I was kindly given in 2015. They were never a long term option but they do not demonstrate the most efficient use of physical space. I’d like to make or find something that’ll sit mostly under the window cill and hold most of my one hundred-plus DVDs… Parting with the unwanted ones is hard, as recycling services are very hard to find and people are unwilling to buy them, even for a low price.

With DVDs mentioned, I am working on a plan to rid my living space of my CD collection. This means copying everything in to MP3, boxing up those I want to keep and getting rid of the rack. I never listen to actual CDs. Every I choose is already available electronically.

In each of my previous homes, I was happy using my Henry hoover. But here now, in this smaller space, I dislike the ideal of pulling something around tight corners and with no room to swing. It’s still sitting in my car boot. Photos have been taken, in preparation for a trip to Gumtree…

I bought this Makita DCL180Z 18v LXT vacuum a few months ago. It was only £30 with a voucher from Screwfix and I already had the batteries and charger to suit. It’s been impressive and I’ve always liked the idea of cordless ‘stick’ vacuums. This is my current go-to for weekly carpet cleaning. It’s only a shame it doesn’t come with some form of a collection bag.

In to the bedroom and there was just enough room to fit my double bed frame (again, I live alone). I’d presume this building was designed to house Hermit types (and that all twelve flats are identical inside).

That is my clothes airer. I cannot afford floorspace for your average model, so I bought this over-the-bath variant for only £10 in Homebase. It’s only sat on the bed because I took a shower before taking these photos. I’m also thinking about buying an over-the-door model, which don’t appear to offer as much hanging space.

I still have the chest of drawers that I bought off someone in Bristol for £25. While my “poor man’s wardrobe” also remains. Even with a single bed, I feel it would all be a squeeze.

This is not a storage heater but a convection-type heater with a built-in timer and two output settings. I’ve yet to determine how cost-efficient it may be, which is why I keep the halogen heater closer by and prefer to use that for immediate warmth in this small room. But I can’t imagine running it all day (especially on full). Winter could be interesting. I don’t quite see why you wouldn’t have a third storage heater in here.

A brief view of the second storage heater in the hallway, which points directly in to the bathroom.

It’s hard to take photos with the limited angles available (perhaps this is why there were no interior shots available when the property was advertised). There’s an electric shower sitting over the bath. My personal preference would always be for a shower cubicle… I have a water meter, here. Which means I pay for as much water as I use and not a fixed-rate. In short: I won’t be taking any baths!

There’s a dimly-lit cupboard space in the bathroom, providing access to the large water storage tank and heater (not pictured). I store (most of) my walking and camping gear, here. I may look at replacing the shelving unit with one less deep. I assume the storage tank is here because of the bath… Otherwise, I’m sure an under-the-sink electric water heater (which worked very well in my last flat) would’ve done a better job.

In most homes, you would normally find these tanks up in the loft space (remember, I do have one of those). They rely on gravity to determine the flow rate of the water… In the words of the maintenance man who came to have a look, the water pressure from the hot tap in my kitchen sink is “piss poor”. I wonder why the tank wasn’t installed in the roof space.

Above the main door as you walk in to the flat, there is a hatch-entrance for the loft space. Without sharing any dim images [dimages?], it is quite spacious and mostly boarded out. There is no loft ladder. Instead, a wooden stepladder lives in the bathroom storage cupboard. Currently, I think I only have two boxes up there, plus wrapping paper, which is a good achievement. I’m reluctant to throw ‘everything and anything’ up there or to hold on to things ‘for the sake of it’. Along with my CDs, I could probably find one more (small) box to live up there.

To the left is my entrance door. Ahead is another, shallow storage cupboard with room for a few coats and shoes.

Outside, the council have provided our building with black wheelie bins… The kind that are designed to hold ‘non-recyclable’ or general waste. For some reason, there are no green boxes (for recyclable waste) provided for any one of the twelve flats in this building. Each of our neighbours has them (mostly houses). I can forgive throwing food waste in to the bin and I can recycle paper and cardboard at the nearest supermarket. But I’m still holding on to my plastic and searching for a solution that doesn’t involve regular trips to the tip. I’m also waiting for a response from North Somerset Council.

I hope to stay here for a couple of years and settle in better over time. I do hope you’ve found this to be interesting.

Thanks for reading.

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