Juan had, until recently, been sniffing continually for about two years. No matter how deeply we cleaned the flat (not very, tbh…), or how many times we washed his clothes, or how often he swallowed anti-histamines, he appeared to constantly have a cold on its way in or out. I was convinced, however, that it wasnâ€™t a cold, and finally managed to persuade him to see a doctor, who diagnosed him with chronic rhinitis and suggested he try an anti-allergy pillow. A few weeks ago, I got around to ordering some â€“ and while I was at it, I treated us to our first new duvet in our 10-year relationship (and my first new duvet – I think – ever).
All I can say is that the nights I spent huddling down under a stodgy, lumpen, cheapo duvet now seem like a lifetime ago â€“ my impulse duvet purchase created a watershed moment in our lives. It is a joy to go to bed these days â€“ if I close my eyes I can imagine I am in a boutique hotel. Sure, it was a Â£160 outlay that we could have done without â€“ but if we keep it for as long as we soldiered on with the last sorry specimen, that breaks down to just Â£16 a year. In other words, a complete bargain â€“ and thatâ€™s disregarding the positive impact the anti-allergy stuffing is already having on Juanâ€™s well-being.
It got me thinking about all the other home comforts that I make do with or without. For example, I spent the whole of last year driving Juan mad by swapping my worn-out woolly socks for his sturdier slippers any time I was the first person to arrive back at the flat. Then, in the sales, I found the perfect pair of Toms slippers â€“ a shearling-lined shoe with a hard base and an appealing man-repeller design â€“ and now the act of sliding them onto my feet as soon as I get home is one of my most eagerly anticipated daily pleasures. Why did I deny myself (or rather, Juan :0) that feeling for a whole year?
Now, Iâ€™m starting to cast around our flat for other possessions that we could upgrade. Our sofa is lovely to look at but (quite literally) a pain to sit or sleep on â€“ are its days numbered as well, or will I insist on using Juan as an armrest substitute for the next decade or two? Iâ€™ve never bought anything other than value loo roll. Would a deluxe version enhance our lives? And I still own some of the kitchen equipment I bought for my first year at uni: a tiny plastic chopping board; some neon-pink supermarket knives that are almost better travelled than I am; and a battery of lidless pans with wobbly handles. How much more will I enjoy cooking if I treat myself to some decent stuff? Probably a lot: I know that the thick towels, high-thread-count sheets and solid cookware we received as wedding gifts still thrill me five years on.
I donâ€™t want to become a spendthrift for the sake of it â€“ I canâ€™t afford too much luxury! But I am trying to change my old habits now that I have the option to splurge a bit more â€“ after all, these were habits forged when I rented a different flat each year and used it as a crashpad. These days, considering how much time I spend at home, it makes sense to invest in as many creature comforts as I can.
What do you think? What have you made do with for years? And which luxuries would you struggle to do without?