11 September 2013

Oh, Shanty!

Happy Independence Day, Catalunya (and thanks for the reminder, K!).

Talking of which...I’ve been merrily shacked up in my Penthouse bachelorette pad aka the Penthouse Shed aka BCN Shanty aka my stupid little tin shed on the roof, for six months now. It’s love.

I’ve likened my little Shanty to an elderly relative. Absolutely adorable, but my god, at times does she test my patience.


 Stupid little tin shed on the roof: exhibit a


Nothing works here. Nothing. Works. Here.

The walls are crumbling. My shower has one setting: drip. The oven threatens to erupt gas. I have to resuscitate my washing machine (which is outside), on a regular basis. The drains stink when it's too hot. My plants frazzled in the heat (ok, I may have forgotten to water them once or twice.) The ceiling leaks. There are holes in my floor - yes, ACTUAL HOLES. In the floor. My Internet speeds are a joke - I quote my friend Sophie, who lives in Afghanistan - "We have faster internet in Kabul!" Oh, and when you enter the building, to pass dead cockroaches, flat out on their back, is fairly standard. There are 500+ stairs.

Sounds like some sort of dark, netherworldly existence, doesn’t it? Why on god’s green earth would anyone ever want to live in this 25m greenhouse/ice-box…..?

I’ll tell you why. I have a roof terrace – a private roof terrace – twice the size of the apartment that graces me with crimson sunrises, views of the Sagrada Familia and enough sky to see entire flights of swallows and gently quacking ducks emigrating back to the Med. I look out of the window and see a slither of civilization. The rest is pure space, sky and light. I’m closer to heaven here.



Yes, it’s a constant battle against encroaching insects. But up here, I am in their territory.  (cut to scenes of "NOT TODAY, SUCKERRR!!” as I douse trails of ants in highly toxic floor-cleaner before returning to chopping vegetables on the same surface.) But I love it all. Every single last ridiculous new encounter.

There was a live mouse on the stairwell outside my flat the other day, but that story is for another time…I constantly wonder what Shanty’s going to throw up for me next. But when something new breaks down, I just roll my eyes knowingly, think "Oh, Shanty!" and shrug it off. I love her so much. 

I'm willing to live in these conditions. No. In exchange for coming home during my lunch-break and sunbathing outside in the nude while I eat lunch, or sleeping beneath the stars when the heat is unbearable inside, I RELISH living here. The terrace has seen some serious action this summer – again, stories for another day.



Shanty is utterly disinhibited. She has a flagrant disregard for norms and everyday social constraints, which are of no use to her. Shanty knows you will LOVE her anyway. It’s true. Why on earth would anyone ever want a normal shower when you can have a drip-drip shower with a giant window that lets you read the time from a clock-tower on the horizon?! Why would you ever have a normal washing machine indoors when you can open the door, drain excess water (and possibly electrocute yourself just a little bit) straight onto the roof terrace, before hanging your clothes less than a meter away to dry in the breeze? She is completely off her head and utterly bonkers, but I forgive all of her sins. Maybe we're meant for each other.

Through the tribulations of caring for my dear old Shanty, ensuring she is as comfortable and as happy one can be when they reach that age and trying my best to spruce her up as best I can, she’s taught me a lot. She garnishes our time together with morsels of crone-like wisdom that I never would have learnt if I’d moved in to a fancy, new fangled place. She helps me regain my balance in the world and understand the things are actually important so I can disregard the superfluous. 

Fancy bathrooms and shiny kitchens? Maybe one day I’ll have it all, but for now you can keep them. I’m with Shanty.

Check out my Instagram account (I love new followers :D) for regularly updated Shanty tidbits.

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