As I write this, I’ve been back in the UK for two weeks. It’s half a month! Less than three until I go home! The jubilation is short lived, however, when I think of all I have before me. Despite loving the jobs I came back early for, the last couple of weeks have been hard. Most nights I would come home, wanting to make a nice meal and collapse onto a warm couch, only to find my room icy cold and the kitchen depressingly bare.
Getting settled hasn’t been easy and I grossly underestimated what a process it would be. I’ve done this before, I thought. Twice in England and once in Italy. Arranging the room I’d never seen before in a house with the people I’d only barely met would be a challenge, but not a big one. Just another blip, a weekend, if that much.
My room is in the basement, the bathroom terrifies me, the kitchen was littered with half-assembled furniture when I arrived and I didn’t want to deal with any of it. Luckily, after buying a chevron striped rug at Urban Outiftters, planning an Ikea trip with some friends and figuring out why the internet wasn’t working, things are all starting to feel a little more home-life. Just in time, barely, for the start of term on Monday.
The washing machine still scares me. Wait, scratch that; I’m terrified that anything I put in there will never quite dry in the chilly, damp environment a south west England basement. That’s how, two weeks after my return to Bristol, I found myself sitting in a café/laundromat on Cheltenham road, my sheets spinning around in a dryer.
The café/laundromat concept wasn’t shockingly new to me. When I was researching brunches in Copenhagen, I heard about The Laundromat Café that lets you grab a coffee and do your washing at the same time. A few days ago, when watching a video about the Danish concept of hygge, I was reminded of the coffee shop and began to pine for a similar place in Bristol. Then, in a completely unrelated search for laundromats, I discovered that a couple laundromat/cafés a brisk walk away, I knew exactly what I would be doing on Thursday morning.
@thewell on Cheltenham road would most definitely be described as hygge if it was Danish. It’s tucked into an alcove storefront that faces onto a relatively gloomy street. Inside, however, the colors are light yellows, greens and blues. The lighting is bright and cozy, the chairs comfortable and there’s even some blankets strewn about should you get chilly. It’s like Cath Kidston’s less-girly country cottage.
The café was empty when I walked in, with one washer going round. At first glance, you might not even realize that there are washing machines as they’re tucked away into a corner. I asked for directions and the woman working behind the counter quickly explained to me how everything works.
A basic load of laundry costs £3.50 in their large washing machine. If you’ve forgotten your washing powder at home, you can buy some there for about 80p. They have quite a few options, which might be helpful if you’re picky about how you wash your clothes. If you want to use the dryers, it costs 50p for ten minutes. They recommend either 30-40 minutes. I found 30 worked perfectly.
Their coffee menu is basic but lovely. They offer two different coffees brewed on a french press accompanied with a little timer to ensure the proper brew time. I chose then Kenyan, which was delightfully fruity and slightly tart. The washing is slightly expensive, but the coffee is a fantastic bargain. A large mug costs only £1.70. I got comfortable on the couch with my cup and my laptop, making good use of the free wifi. Why can’t all laundromats be like this?
Settling in to a new house may not be easy, but it’s in the difficult moments that the best stories emerge. Had I been provided with the perfect house with the perfect people, it’s safe to say that I wouldn’t have tried doing my laundry in a cafe. I wouldn’t have dragged a suitcase through street thronged with Freshers, nor would I have carried a bag with a lamp sticking precariously out of the top at the same top. I most certainly wouldn’t have been as determined to find everything hygge England has to offer. And that, I think, is a pretty good trade-off.
How do you deal with the chaos of moving? Would you try a laundry/cafe?