“My dear home swap friend, Bea, has written an amazing article about life in Finland which brought to mind the fascinating differences we face in our everyday lives when we live in someone else's home. For instance, while staying in Bea's wonderful apartment I had to send her a message one day because the washing machine had suddenly stopped. It seems that in Switzerland the machines are programmed to switch off during the lunchtime power surge. How clever is that? Just as wonderful was the post bus which came on time almost to the minute. We are used to clogged London streets where we don't even bother to consider the bus timetables.
This got me to thinking about all the different ways we have of getting rid of our refuse and recycling. At Kas' and Bea's home we simply had to pop it in huge containers in the private car park next to the house. In Barcelona our swap partner told us to take it to the car park built under the flats but it took us ages to locate the bins. In Warwick our host had obviously got used to returning home to find that visitors had done mad things with the recycling and the instructions he left were just to leave it all in the garage. We stayed in a block of flats in Dorset where we just left the bag outside the door and a caretaker collected it. That felt very posh.
In Nice, in apartments on the Promenade des Anglais, the bins tend to be in the basements. These basements are fascinating places resplendent with the fittings of a bygone age intended to make a trip to the beach more comfortable, such as showers and changing cubicles. Sometimes you see someone arrive who is employed to bring out the bins and hose them out. What I couldn't stand on a long term basis is the fact that the rubbish is collected so late at night and the noise is tremendous.
We've stayed in many places where there is no door to door collection and people wander round the town with their rubbish bags. We even got on the boat from Como Town one day and a lady next to me said, 'Oh no. I forgot to get rid of my rubbish!'
In Venice the whole business of day to day life is fascinating to watch: deliveries to shops; old washing machines being removed from high floors of ancient buildings; people trundling around with their shopping...nearly everyone, even smartly dressed business folk, has a trolley. So much is done from the water. There are boats with all sorts of heavy machinery attached.
We stayed this September on the Zattere, a wide and beautiful 'walkway' on the Giudecca Canal, and were told to put our rubbish out between 6.00 and 8.00 am. This horrified me as on earlier trips and in a different apartment we'd been allowed to secure it to railings the previous evening as long as it was high enough from the ground. Who wants to be up that early on holiday? But I loved those quiet dark mornings, no-one about, lights on the water, the odd boat chugging along.
And Bea, you may favour the economy of the hand shower next to the loo but Paul still marvels about your toilet and talks about it to this day!" - Sandra Newnham, London
Sandra and her husband, Paul, are very experienced home swappers - both to nearby destinations in the UK and further afield in Europe. See the couple's home swap offer in London.
*Read 'Finland Impressions', Bea's recent article on the blog