Sunday, 9 August 2015

The greenhouse effect

There are a great many trappings of modern life that people aspire to having - things that are seen as essential to show others just how successful you are and how wonderful your life is. In other words, unnecessary bullshit.
We all know someone who considers it to be the height of importance that their house is as large as possible and located in the most 'desirable' postcode. Someone who wouldn't dream of there being a car that isn't an Audi or BMW sitting on the drive.
The family dog must be a pedigree labradoodle (the sort of thing we used to call a mongrel before the snobs got into dogs), vacations must be in the Bahamas, and handbags can be as ugly and garish as you like as long as the price tag exceeds a thousand pounds.
These are people for whom outward appearances are everything, and failure to comply with all the requirements of this morally bankrupt sector of society will lead to being shunned at the local golf club or the weekly wife-swapping parties.

For many years, before they became a more commonplace item, conservatories were one thing on this list of snobbish 'lifestyle' essentials.
Nowadays it seems every other house has one, and the filthy rich either have a conservatory the size of a tennis court that cost more than the average house or they simply bought a bigger mansion.
Regardless of any reflection on social standing though, I'm still hard pushed to understand why anyone would pay to have such a thing fitted to their house.
I have one that was already installed when we bought the place, even though I'd been insistent that I wasn't going to buy a house with one because of my reluctance to be associated with the sort of person who would actually want one.
After living with the damn thing for ten years now, I'm still mystified at the popularity of conservatories. I daresay people have them because it's a relatively inexpensive (compared to buying a bigger house or having a proper extension) way of gaining a bit of indoor space, but the reality is that a conservatory is only of use for about four months of the year at best.
During the Winter it's too cold to spend time in it, unless you're prepared to spend a fortune on heating something with all the thermal retention qualities of asbestos. You may as well sit in the garden throwing fivers on a bonfire.
When Spring rolls around, you enter a brief period where it can be a nice place to sit and eat your breakfast, but this is assuming it isn't raining because as soon as the heavens open you're going to be deafened.
This situation doesn't last long, because before you know it Summer is here and your little bolt-on UPVC box is transformed into a kiln. Even a moderately sunny day makes a conservatory uninhabitable, to the point that even cacti struggle to survive. If you were to install some sort of humidifying system it might make a good place to grow weed or some other useful tropical plant, but a superheated greenhouse is definitely not a desirable place to spend your time.
Luckily, Autumn isn't far away, bringing with it a bit of respite from the intolerable heat and the occasional opportunity to be able to actually spend time in the conservatory before Winter starts to dig it's claws in once again, whereupon you switch on the heating and close the door on the conservatory for the next four months or so.

So why have one at all?
A number of times we've considered having ours demolished and using the space for a nice patio area instead, which would allow us a much better view of the garden and let far more light into the living room. Unfortunately now that it's there, the cost of having such work done would be prohibitive.
I've know people who have talked excitedly about getting a conservatory and how wonderful it was going to be. I've done my best to piss on their fire by pointing out the problems in the hope that they'll see sense and save themselves many thousands of pounds by not buying a glass and plastic folly.
The words fall on deaf ears, they go ahead with their plans, and when a year has gone by they're moaning about it being too cold in the Winter, too hot in Summer, and if they'd known what a waste of money it would be they wouldn't have bought it. Sigh......

The only reliable use for a conservatory is as a dumping ground for bits of furniture that aren't good enough to have in the house, drying clothes on an airer in a place where you're not constantly having to sidle past it, and storing random bits of crap that aren't needed very often but you can't be arsed to put them up in the attic.