The rental bike is dead as a doornail - evidently the somethingsomething popped off the gearsomething and it's because it is a cheap piece of shit and the B&B guy says I should get my money back. More likely, they'll charge me for repairing it - they've got a 100 pound deposit. I hope this doesn't get ugly.

Further, the B&B guy refused when I asked if he'd get me and the bike as far as the station because evidently that would be too much trouble.  He demonstrated how I could scoot the bike along like a scooter. Thanks!

Then he and I got into one whale of a dispute because they keep the house at 16.5 celsius overnight (about 61 degrees). I had a thermostat for my radiator until they took it away. I had a room heater, but he decided that would cause a housefire. I have heard about the prior guest who caused a house fire about four times now. He told me that it was unhealthy to have the room warmer than 18 or so and that I had to keep the window of the bedroom open because I was making the room sick. He insisted on this. I am not shitting you. I have a terrible cold (probably from being so goddamn chilled all the time - my poor immune system is getting the short end of the sick when all my body heat is just going to staving off hypothermia) and he says I am going to make the room sick by not ventilating the air to the outside while I am sleeping. I said that there was no way that was happening and blocked him when he reached to open my bedroom windows. He had brought some kind of piece of wood with screws that would keep it open. NO WAY. The window stays shut. I told him that extreme cold - say for example a difference of more than 35 degrees Fahrenheit between your ambient temperature and your body temperature - stresses your thermoregulation significantly enough to impair your immune system and that this was a fact. If they get sick during the winter, they might want to think about keeping the house warmer. I told him that a) having the window open would not cause the virus to JUMP OUT OF THE WINDOW and that b) the ambient air would bear a very low virus load in any event unless I was constantly sneezing and coughing which I was not; and that c) it would be counter-productive to getting better to continue to stress the body with extreme cold. He protested and said not only was I making the room sick, I was making it damp by refusing to sleep with the windows open, and it was bad for the new carpet.

I indicated that English beliefs about condensation were against every law of physics and rational thought, and that they had it so cold in the house that it was harder for moisture to evaporate. Heat dries faster. Dry heat evaporates moisture. Bringing cold wet air to the inside? Damp and damper. The interior surfaces so cold that you can make your doorknob bead with condensation by breathing on it. RIDICULOUS! Opening the windows so more cold and damp could get in was quite silly, really, if you thought about it scientifically. But, I said generously, that it was totally understandable because every culture has its own beliefs about electrical appliances and air. I gave the example of Korea, where it is believed that a room fan steals oxygen and will suffocate you if you leave it on overnight, so they only sell room fans that are equipped with timers so your fan doesn't suffocate you in the middle of the night while you are sleeping. So you don't die of fan death!


Trans: “Do not use to generate a strong wind close to you in a sealed room. There is a high risk of death if used while sleeping."

His mouth dropped open. "What you think is just like that," I said. "There's no scientific basis for your beliefs about immunology or condensation at all. If you kept the house warm and dry by heating it and keeping the windows closed so the surface of the glass inside would be warmer, and the air next to the glass not so terribly cold, and it wouldn't happen. And if you kept the house warmer, you wouldn't spend the winters being so sick. Your bedsheets wouldn't always feel so cold and clammy, as they do here. It's really not necessary. In the States people think it's very strange to get more than a cold or two a year. More than that and we start looking at immune system problems as a possible culprit. Here, it's these interesting folkways!" He spluttered. He turned purple. He looked really mad. I smiled benignly, enjoying the magnanimity of sharing my imperializing wisdoms with the inferior culture. And a lot of passive-aggressive revenge-having, as I'd been feeling fairly vexed by how unhelpful and peremptory they've both been. I sallied off one last "Travel in Europe is so interesting because you get to find out about so many quaint Old World beliefs and customs! England is an especially interesting European country because our cultures seem so much alike in other ways! So little things like this are especially fun, aren't they!"  He did not seem to agree but was speechless. Oh well!

I'm an ugly, ugly American. I was pretty sure that calling England "a European country" would be like "wound, meet salt! salt, meet wound!"

But HAHAHAHA! That's what you get for being a jerk! I will mock you openly under the guise of being nothing more than an intolerable pedant. 

If I could have found a hotel that I could afford with openings for the rest of the week, I'd pack all my shit up and call some insane expensive country taxi to take my ass to the train station tomorrow.


From: [identity profile] morganlf.livejournal.com


It wasn't until I lived in England for three months that I realized the VAST cultural differences between 'us' and 'them.' You should tell him you have CHILLBLAINS from being so cold. ;-)

From: [identity profile] arcana-mundi.livejournal.com


Chillblains? For real? God. I just googled it and discovered that though rare in the US they're common in the UK. I'm not even that surprised. Word.

From: [identity profile] morganlf.livejournal.com


Yeah, chilblains are one of the gifts Seattle gave me this winter. They're lovely.

From: [identity profile] arcana-mundi.livejournal.com


They sound perfectly miserable.

I know they're dreadful, but seriously: Uggs. I live in mine all winter now. There are cute models. The sheepskin, YUM.
owlfish: (Default)

From: [personal profile] owlfish


I mostly had chillblains in Toronto. I'm SO GLAD I don't have them often here. In runs in my family, apparently. :(

From: [identity profile] double0hilly.livejournal.com


After three months in Manchester, I managed to wheedle the dorm managers into giving me two extra heaters. Being cold is the worst.

That place sure sounds like a shithole.

From: [identity profile] arcana-mundi.livejournal.com


This place is pretty much a shithole. The kitchen is gross. The bedroom is newly remodeled so it's OK. The rest of the house looks OK. Bog standard middle class English home. It's mostly that I have never before, and will NEVER, EVER AGAIN stay in a place like this, which is to say rooms let out in a semi-detached which is semi-attached to the owner's residence. Too much opportunity for crazy, invasive, unprofessional, unhotelly bullshit.

Of course, on the up side, I'm no longer doing considerate things and don't feel at all guilty about it.

From: [identity profile] double0hilly.livejournal.com


Oh you poor thing. Do you want me to send you anything? A gun? Cold medicine? Foot warmers?

I totally will.

From: [identity profile] arcana-mundi.livejournal.com


You are my hillyangel! I am out of here in a couple of nights so no worries. And my mom is coming next Friday bearing all but the firepower! I would have taken you up on all three otherwise.

I made sure to book a nice hotel in Lincoln (next stop)!

From: [identity profile] la-anah.livejournal.com


Yikes. Your traveling is sounding a bit less glamorous these days.

From: [identity profile] arcana-mundi.livejournal.com


I am pretty extensively not loving the British hotel system, which is mostly owner-operated B&Bs (for stays under $100 a night) or hotels (for stays over $100 a night). Since I have to keep things pretty modest (otherwise I'd spend about $3000 a month - which is to say, about $10,0000 total just on hotels on this trip) I'm priced out of the nice places. It was great for a weekend, but I do miss my privacy and not having to fight about the heat.
owlfish: (Default)

From: [personal profile] owlfish


I've stayed at friends' houses like that - SO COLD. Although, having today received the electricity & gas bill for the last three months, I have somewhat more sympathy for them than I would have yesterday.

From: [identity profile] arcana-mundi.livejournal.com


And you probably have double-paned glass and everything! I'm sure the heating bills are extraordinary here - the fact that these lunatics insist on sleeping with the windows open *year-round* and even when the heat is on (or room heaters are on) just boggles the mind.
owlfish: (Default)

From: [personal profile] owlfish


No double-glazed windows. Yet. We're planning on installing them at the front of the house at very least, especially now that we know we can get double-glazed sash windows and keep the look of the house. More curtains on the single-glazed windows will also help. But we do have a very efficient radiator system (thank goodness). (The back of the house has fewer and smaller windows, plus doesn't face vaguely towards the pub which plays its music a little too loud on weekend evenings.)

One of the problems with double-glazed windows, however, is mildew. Windows, such as our Victorian ones, with loose frames, breathe, in effect, keeping the air in circulation around the edges and keeping the house colder, but not mildewy. We had SO much problem with mildew back at Limehouse. I don't even know it was double-glazed, but the seals were tight around the edges of the windows, and condensation constantly built up as a result of the system being poorly designed to cope with it. Mildew around the windows - ick. Ick. Ick. And it's a risk of installing double-glazing and tight seals in this house. A good set of curtains are not to be underrated!

Last night, sitting outside around the fire in the fire pit, I was bundled up with sweater and medium-heavy coat. C. was sitting around in a short-sleeved shirt. So I told him about you being freezy cold and Korean fan death and it finally got him to thinking about it as a cultural thing. So thank you! He keeps thinking of it as a me thing, since I am much more cold-sensitive than he is. At least his version of nighttime is to turn off the heat at bedtime, NOT heat + open window!

(Wow, there's a subject I have lots of opinions on and don't get to talk about often!)
owlfish: (Default)

From: [personal profile] owlfish


Actually, the mildew thing would partially explain windows open + heat. Most of our neighbors had small windows cracked open all winter to avoid mildew build-up, since they all have double-glazing. I'm certain they had their heat on at the same time.

(Obviously, there are other ways to design the system in the first place; perhaps, because these are later additions, and the whole property not designed consistently for air/heat efficiency, the problem arises?)

From: [identity profile] zcat-abroad.livejournal.com


Oh MAN! I am SO sorry you're having such a shitty time with the B&B! I can't believe it - we were cooked in our beds at night, and when we sneaked a window open, so as not to suffocate, it was closed while we were out the next day. So we opened it in the evening, and closed it in the morning.

And no, I didn't have half as much trouble with the owner, perhaps because she was overwhelmed by the GORGEOUSness of my boyfriend/husband. We had a much nicer stay there, obviously, or I would not have recommended them. But I did find it strange how little they would help as far as transport. We had two big packs, two back-packs and two laptops, and had to get across to the other side of Cambridge for the rental car. They excalimed over the fact we spent a day scouting ahead, to find out where the place was, and how to get there, but didn't offer to drop us off anywhere...

From: [identity profile] arcana-mundi.livejournal.com


They are really,really horrid that way. My parents told me that in all the (many) trips they've taken to the UK during which they've always stayed in B&Bs, they've never run into people who wouldn't give you a lift back and forth to the train station. I swear, it's just meanspirited, their willful ignorance about deciding to not bother knowing *anything* about the public transportation - not when the train comes and goes to Cambridge, nor ANYTHING about the bus, nor if there are bike rentals in the village (instead of Cambridge) - they positively delight in being COMPLETELY UNHELPFUL with information, minor courtesies, etc. They're astonished when someone manages to get around, but what the hell? Everyone has to sort it out for themselves because the owners are assholes.

From: [identity profile] zcat-abroad.livejournal.com


Right: It's time to start writing a feedback/review for the B&B-finders online. A useful form of venting!

From: [identity profile] arcana-mundi.livejournal.com


AND they didn't even know about TAXI service - they told me I had to call a Cambridge cab! LIES! There is a Shelford taxi service and it's quite inexpensive! They offered to transpo the bike!

These people. Awful. If you're going to refuse to do the minimum, at least have on hand the information people need so they don't show up to your house in the middle of nowhere to find no help of any sort, not even the most minor, e.g., knowing the number of a taxi service or the bus number.

And don't even get me started on the wife, who I overheard talking shitty about me to, of all people, the guy from the bike company who came to pick it up in the end!

HATE.

From: [identity profile] arcana-mundi.livejournal.com


How did you find them? what's this site you're talking about?
.