(That sounds like the name of an angsty American novel to me!) Well, today has been quite a day. We’ve had the solicitor (estate agent), the photographer and the surveyor here today. The house has been very unnaturally tidy – the Dafter says “it looks like someone’s died” – but I thought I would take the opportunity to show you around, and to explain the phenomenon of what in Aberdeen is called a “double-upper”. It’s a flat that has two floors (double) and is above another flat (upper). UK readers, you can tell me if this nickname is an Aberdonian phenomenon, or if double-uppers exist in other places here.
So if you’d like a tour, pour yourself a cup of tea, and if not, I do quite understand! Here then is what you see when you come in our front gate – in the month of May:
The house that our flat is in is unusual, because we have a very long shared front garden and also garden at the back. Most properties in Aberdeen sit much closer to the street than we do. I know from checking the Post office registers that the flats were built in 1884. Some people assume it used to be one house, but it’s always been two. It’s made of good old Aberdeen granite. The upper bay window is our living room window. The door is on the side of the building, to the right.
When you come in the door, you find yourself at the bottom of a curving staircase, with a very typical red and blue stained-glass hall window:
There used to be beautiful plasterwork on the walls of the entryway – I’ve seen its twin on the flat on the other side of our house. But someone ripped the plasterwork out at some point. Michael redecorated using textured paper, which I think looks great. As you turn the bend of the stairs, you see the door into the main floor of our flat:
Photos of my Grampa, and a cross-stitched (by the Dafter) “Welcome” sign greet you as you come up. Once inside, you might feel a bit disoriented by finding yourself in a hallway with no less than five doors leading off of it!
Let’s go through to the kitchen, where Michael, bless him, is making us lunch. For more on the history of the kitchen, see my post about the Granny Nook.
You can see the door open through to the utility room; to the left, the white door is of what’s called an “Aberdeen press” – a cupboard built into the wall where we store crockery. I find it interesting that they say “press” as cupboard in this context only – Michael’s Irish relatives call any cupboard a press.
Through the kitchen you will come into our lovely utility room. Before the kitchen was put into the old sitting room, this room would have been a galley kitchen:
Let me quickly reassure you that the utility room never, ever actually looks this tidy and empty. Normally it is full of laundry drying on the lines, laundry waiting to be washed, plant pots drying beside the sink or more likely, waiting and waiting to be washed.
When we first moved into our flat in 2002, our property ended at the wall where the washing machine is. The room beyond was a drying loft belonging to the lower flat, and accessible by a ramsay ladder. We exchanged our share of land outside their back door for the room, and made it into Michael’s study. For a very limited time only, Michael’s study looked like this today:
Normally most of the floor is covered by papers – to the extent that a friend who came while we were on holiday to visit Tilly thought we’d been burgled! Luckily he realised that’s just how Michael works before he called the police.
Coming back through to the Hall of Many Doors, let’s go into the living room. Its best feature is the large bay window, which faces south. (The poor Dafter has had a dreadful day and has pretty much been on the sofa all day long, with various visits from us and foot massages.)
And look, the Dutch iris I planted came out! Don’t they look pretty next to the chair? You can see the front gate from here – a good lookout when visitors are expected.
Here’s the view from the bay window on a summer’s day. Our half of the garden is the half with the trees. The previous owner told me that the birch tree came from Glen Tanar. Notice how the setting sun (in the Northwest in June) makes a shadow line cast by the top of our roof:
Back inside, the other good feature of the living room is the fireplace. It’s not the original one, but it’s a nice reproduction. We burn coal and wood, and in the plastic bags to the left are many papers that need a good burn-up!
Next to the living room is one of the best rooms in the house, and a luxury I will probably never have again – my study. In the days when I was able to focus on my creative writing in a serious way, I spent many happy hours at the desk looking out the window and into worlds of my imagination. It’s also been a general overflow room for winter boots / presents to be wrapped / stuff there’s no place else for, etc. But the desk and window have remained a constant. I particularly love the curtains, which I made myself. I didn’t have enough money for the yellow print to extend the full width and length, so added some other fabric at the sides. The rocking chair was my Granny’s.
The last room on the main floor was Our Son’s bedroom. The previous owners had put in a customised desk at one end. It looks out over the back garden.
Upstairs now, if you have bothered to come this far! Halfway up the stairs, there is a tiny but lovely bathroom:
When the house was first built, this was a coat closet and there were no indoor bathrooms. Also, the staircase was for the servants to reach their quarters. No servants live here nowadays, but Tilly is accompanying us up to the top floor. In this photo you can see the light switch of the mezzanine landing bathroom, to the right of the door.
Upstairs there are two large bedrooms and a shower room under the eaves. First on your left is an L-shaped room, which is the Dafter’s:
The room continues around to the left, and has a window in the gable wall, and a wee window to the North. The main window you see here faces south.
Across the hall from the Dafter’s room is a shower room we had installed:
I have no idea where the blue light in the window is coming from! Perhaps it is a holy visitation during this important time for our family? This room faces North and can be very cold, so we painted it in warm colours. I remember going to pick up the tiles and overhearing a woman exclaim, “What hideous colours! Who on earth would want that in their bathroom?” Well, us, actually.
And next door is our room, with a large window also facing south:
The trunk was my Great Granny May’s; the top quilt I made, and the starry quilt below it was made by Margery Golden, a friend of our family’s. There is a very little bit of storage space under the eaves of the house, perhaps twice the size of May’s trunk. Our only other storage, besides some space in the sheds outside, is the boxroom, which as you can see is built into the corner of the room. It also has the cold water and the hot water tanks.
The fact that we have no loft means that we haven’t had a huge clearout to do – only a medium one!
Here’s the back garden, in the summer. You can see Our Son’s bedroom window on the left of the 1st floor, our kitchen window on the right, and the window of Michael’s study over the neighbour’s extension. We also own the two sheds with white doors (Bike Shed and Other Shed), and the greenhouse. The drying green is shared between us and the neighbour; the long strip of garden on the left belongs entirely to them; and we own the bit of land between the greenhouse and their garage, as well as the square patch you see the corner of here. The neighbour and I also created a bit of shared garden between their extension and the drying lines.
So that’s our house, but we hope it will soon be bought by a lovely family who will enjoy living here as much as we have. (Oh and did I mention it’s a twenty-minute walk into town?) I leave you with this morning’s beautiful sunrise. Karen was asking about the cast-iron roof ornament. It sits on top of the pointed bit of the roof over the bay window:
I hope you’re all having a very good week. I will let you know how things unfold on this end, and I do hope I get a bit more time to come visit your blogs very soon!