! We stand back together and admire our seemingly brand-new kitchen, where cute little Delfts-blauw style figures now cling to the tiles. Lovely. What's more, 6 euros in Xenos is guaranteed not only for quality, but quantity and there are some tile stickers left in the pack, so I trot off enthusiastically to the bathroom to add some more Dutch-style displays to the tiles around the mirror. Exhausted from two and a half minutes of hard-core DIY, I slump down on the couch with a broad grin on my face, seriously chuffed (and not a little surprised) at how insightful my interior decorating skills are.
At the weekend, we continued with this home improvement effort with a sightly more expensive but no less appreciated purchase: an ironing board. No longer will I have to try to balance my clothes on the edge of the coffee table, on top of an empty pillow-case to try to get the creases out of them in the mornings. From now on, I can iron whole trouser-legs in one go and can do so without getting neck cramp. OK, so I am still using a teeny-tiny travel iron, but this is a significant step forward so you will hear no complaints from me there!
However, this morning as I was heading for the shower, I glanced outside to check the weather and discovered that I still have much to learn in the home improvement trade. For there, directly opposite our apartment was some who had clearly taken things to the next level. Sure, I had decorated the inside of our flat with cheerful symbols that were at the same time a reminder of home, but was this enough? There must be more I could do to stamp my identity on the place? For across the road, hanging from the railings of an apartment's balcony, were some serious pieces of decoration. Not one, not two, but THREE large flags of England! Yes, indeed, that is another way to make yourself feel at home ;-)
Back in Beirut, I excitedly pull out a small plastic bag from our suitcase as we unpack our things again. In the bag is 6 euros worth of pure genious, even if I do say so myself. I am convinced that this purchase from Xenos (of all places!) is going to generate serious added value for our apartment, even if that added value is only in terms of cheesy cheerfulness. I unwrap my purchase and rip open the packages. With no patience to follow the instructions properly, I grab a cloth, give one of the kitchen tiles a very cursory wipe down, peal the backing off the thin, clear square of plastic in my hand and push it up against the tile, before rubbing vigorously against it to chase away any air pockets. I repeat the exercise a dozen times and before my very eyes, the kitchen comes to life and the once dull, dreary and rather depressing kitchen wall now smiles happily back at me. Even Mark, initially highly doubtful that any good could come of spending 6 euros on home improvement supplies at Xenos, is impressed