Despite the creaky floors and lack of space, the wobbly furniture and impossible to clean windows, I love my little flat and all its quirks. Like the way you have to lift the door up slightly to unlock the latch in the bathroom, or how the light switches in the hall are the wrong way round and no one ever remembers which one is which. I like that there are holes in the floorboards, which are now home to an unrivaled collection of kirby grips. I like that there’s a fake blood stain on the wall from three Halloweens ago, hastily covered up by a postcard which has remained there ever since. The way it smells like vanilla when I come back after a fortnight away, because of the candles that have been perched on the mantlepiece since the day I moved in.
I also like that it’s old; I’ve never lived in a new house and I really can’t imagine doing so. With my historical Nancy Drew skills, I’ve discovered my tenement was built in 1868, and apart from some redecorating and new plumbing, it’s more or less the same. Sometimes, when flagging during essay research, I’d search the archive of The Scotsman to try and find my flat mentioned in the obituaries and classifieds. In 1911 the rent was only £20, if only that was the case now. I often wonder how many people have lived here during the last 150 years. How many have walked on the same loose floorboard as me, how many have also waited for the satisfying slam of the front door once they’re halfway down the stairs? The stone steps in the stairwell, all three flights of them, have a dip in the middle where hundreds of feet have walked before me, making their way to their flat.
Even though I love my flat, and I’ll be very sad to say goodbye whenever that day comes, it’s really all the things inside it that make it mine. The perils of renting are many and varied, let me tell you, but it’s going to be a long, long time before I can afford my own little place; I’ve been successfully hoarding anything and everything over the last four-and-a-bit years to change it from “a flat” to “my flat”. There are trinkets and toys littered over every surface. There’s mismatched furniture and second-hand books and scraps of paper with some almost-forgotten significance absolutely everywhere.
The latest additions to my overflowing shelves are some beautiful gifts from Not On The High Street. I fell in love with these Bespoke Wooden Map Letters* as soon as I saw them. My Edinburgh tenement flat wouldn’t be complete without a little nod to my favourite city – and, of course, things are always better with your initials on them. Next, I chose The Great Gatsby Book Page Quote* with my favourite line from my favourite novel. I love the old pages, with their familiar smell, soft and musty and just like a rainy afternoon. I finished off my new collection of things with this Set of Three Bottle Vases*. I couldn’t resist these tiny little milk bottles, perfect for keeping a flower or two on the windowsill. Nothing beats some fresh flowers to brighten up a room, especially when you live on the second floor and don’t have a proper garden.
I had ordered a couple of gifts from Not On The High Street before but never anything for myself. I was so impressed with everything they had to offer (literally took me DAYS to decide which items I wanted to pick!), and the delivery service was quick too. One of the parcels even came wrapped in a map, the cutest.