For the past month we have been on holiday back in the UK, staying with family in the south of England and Scotland. We have spent some glorious summer days exploring and sightseeing, but I must admit that after four weeks away, I am beginning to miss our little family home in Dubai. Don’t get me wrong, I have loved spending time with our families, catching up with friends and being spoiled rotten by our enthusiastic mums. It’s just that I am a self-confessed homebody, and no matter how fun the holiday, there comes a time when I just want to get back to my own home and do my own thing. With a long list of new organising projects.
You see, whilst visiting some of the country’s finest castles, of which we have seen quite a few this holiday, I have been inspired by our ancestors’ organisational skills. Castles in particular – centres of local government and bustling centres of activity – started me thinking about the lessons that we can learn to organise our somewhat smaller homes today.
Typically, a castle would house a community of hundreds, from the noble family itself, to the servants and soldiers that worked for them, led by teams of professionals such as cooks, gardeners, priests and accountants. Organisation was key to making a castle run smoothly, and I started thinking about some examples that we can carry forward to our own lives today.
A place for everything and everything in its place: With so many people living and working in a castle’s close quarters, there was no room for clutter. Everything had a place, and in many of the castles that we visited this summer, we could still see remnants of shelving and alcoves.
If you can’t stand the heat… In all the castles we visited, I was particularly fascinated by the vast kitchens. As well as the actual room where the food was prepared, there are typically two other rooms on either side of a castle kitchen. The pantry (from the French “pain” – bread) was were the food was stored, and the buttery where the bottles, barrels (“butts”) of wine and beer were kept, under the watchful eye of the butler. In the days before refrigeration, this kept the food and drink cool and away from the fires and ranges of the kitchen, and helped to organise the provisions so that nothing was wasted. All three rooms were typically placed side by side, across from the Great Hall – the perfect layout for providing for a castle full of people and their guests.
Fold it away: Centuries before Marie Kondo encouraged us to fold our T-shirts into neat drawers, our ancestors were storing their clothing in chests. It was only later on, in the homes of nobility, that rooms were given over to the storing of clothes and the modern garderobe or wardrobe (to guard or ward robes) was born. We can take a note of both the clothing chest and Marie Kondo ourselves, and look for items of clothing that can be better stored in drawers and baskets to free up valuable hanging space in our own closets!
The time has come to leave the castles of the UK behind, as we begin our journey home to Dubai. I am excited to get back and start planning some more organising projects, taking on board some of the things that we have learned in our summer adventures. We may only live in a modest rental, but my home is definitely my castle, and I can’t wait to get back to it!