Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Today we'll discuss dirty laundry and what to do about it.

The Scottish clothes dryer is not a white box resembling a washing machine without all the knobs. Houses here are generally too small to accommodate a mechanical dryer, and operating one is expensive. In most cases the dryer is a plastic coated line that you string between a couple of trees. If you're cooped up in one of the four story Aberdeen row houses, you use your upstairs balcony or dangle the line from your windows. Everyone sees your laundry, dirty or otherwise. You'd think that you can't dry wet clothes outside, as water drips constantly from the sky. But folk gather their pile of dirty laundry for washing day, that morning when they spot a patch of blue in the gray skies, and decide whether they'll get a few hours of sunlight, or at least cloudy weather with a good breeze and none of the dripping stuff.

Just as in the States you stuff the washing machine. Though washing machines look like the boxes with knobs we have in the States, their resemblance ends there. The number of dials and knobs with cryptic labels send you quickly to the instruction manual. After half an hour with the manual and not much wiser, you hit a few knobs at random -- and water comes into the machine. The engine revves up. Or so it seems. The machine stops and starts and waits. That's its normal cycle, and it goes on for a couple of hours at least with the stop and start thing to convince you that something is wrong and you need to pull the plug on the monster. Except that the door is locked. The machine has got you my friend and will decide when and whether you get your clothes. You're about to hit it when it does stop, and lets you open it.

Amber did not want me to string our clothesline across our driveway. We don't want visitors to stare at our laundry and comment on our wardrobe's lack of stylishness. Or at the brand of underwear we use. So we settled for a drying room, a place every Scottish house has to use during days of endless rain that keep postponing washing day. It may be a disused closet, attic space or your bathroom -- just above your bathtub. Ours is the upstairs boiler room (BTW boiler = water heater in the US), larger than a closet with the boiler in one corner but enough space to string a couple of clothes lines. At the Aberdeen DIY hole in the wall I find the clothes line, wooden pegs, hooks and strong wall anchors. The line will have to support quite a weight. Before long I have two strands in place, after I had drilled a couple of ¾ inch holes in the wrong place. Not very useful but they add extra character to the wall.

Our laundry may not come out as wrinkle free as tumble dried clothes, but it will smell fresher. Besides, we're Scottish and get a high every time we save some money. We need it to pay for the cheese Amber buys at I.J. Mellis (our local Whole Foods).

I can hardly wait to experience laundry day .
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?