For the last 14 years or so, I have been living in a basement flat -(i.e. apartment U.S.), at the heart of Notting Hill in London UK. Just made me realise that living in it have changed my mindset.
First of all, basements have their own weather systems. Nice summer’s day outside means 7-8 °C off in my place! That is actually quite a good thing -until winter comes when you spend your time making sure you do not end up having frostbite! Again, just like the rainforest, the levels of humidity is usually quite higher, encouraging damp, mould and peeling wallpapers. So, I have a dehumidifier in kitchen and toilet as it goes under the street. However, my main room is deprived of humidity that I need a humidifier. The toll on my skin and breathing sometimes could be quite impactful.
However, they are the quietest place to live in. It is also dark especially when the lights go out. Perfect for sleeping – up until you get up in the middle of the night, navigating blindly towards the toilet and sustaining some bruises in the morning. You usually get diminished road-driven noises from passing cars (or screeching teenagers!). Sounds exciting, until you find out that your flat is placed near the building’s boilers! So every time, someone uses hot water for their washing up, shower or laundry, it starts to rumble. Then, just to make the soup a bit more spicy, the flat above me has their sewer pipe going through the other side of my wall! So, every time something goes down the pipe, it feels like a stampede! Sometimes the boiler and the stampede just goes together. Then the humidity…feels like Jumanji! So imagine me on my first week in the flat! A spear on one hand and an umbrella just in case! Then when the cat moved in about 7 year ago, I had to teach him on how not to do a “Cirque du Soleil” every time the great flusher went!
Now, I do not have a garden but I have some steps leading to the pavement (i.e. sidewalk U.S.) which caters to my container-gardening. All sounds good but there’s one more thing I failed to mention – all the buildings’ rubbish bins (i.e. garbage U.S.) are just located opposite my nice big windows! I have a rubbish cavern. Although we have a very good rubbish collection from the Council, the stench during a heated day could be empowering. There are also some lazy unbothered residents who decide to do a hammer throw towards the bins sometimes. So everyday, I water the plants and tidy after these “athletes”. I am not kidding but I did witness a flying used prophylactic just thrown out from the 4th floor flat! I had to report it to the landlord with a giggle. He followed it up with a building memo not to let their excitement fly out of the window and/or flushed down. Good for me as it minimises the stampede. Either or, it would have affected me. To be fair, there are 3 basement flat-bin areas in the building. However, in comparison, my share seem to be always full. I did a survey (basically nosing someone using my bins) and she said that the steps leading to my area was always nice and inviting -and my cat always says hello on the steps! So, I maybe at fault in a way for causing all these rubbish!
So, how did living in this place help me? I looked at things differently. If I want to know the weather, I could not rely solely on “Alexa” (Amazon device) but would need to go check things outside before I get dressed. I have to desensitise myself to the thunderous pipes and the mild seismic activity of the boiler. Even the cat got used to it in the end. So when I am somewhere noisy, I could tolerate noise better than other people would and block people off deliberately. I became more creative, turning dingy areas into an oasis (and I’ll show this later on!). Also, embraced being Victorian in winter and somewhat dressed like Tarzan in a heatwave! All sexy!
So basically, you appreciate things more when you go out! Remember, I look at out on a white wall and just a foot of that, the bins! So, when you see me doing a Sound of Music in Hyde Park, you know why!
I do love my basement flat!
P.S. In the EU/UK, the Groundfloor is not the 1st floor. Anything lower than a basement, could be a cellar. Lower than that? Worrying.