Text 5.

Our “Home Swap” this month concentrates on the Keane family from England, and the Miller family from South Carolina, USA. As usual our families had a two week holiday in each other’s houses, and we interviewed them at the end of the stay. So did they cope?

The Millers

George and Sandy Miller and their children, Helen (17) and Daniel (8), had a shock when they first saw the Keanes’ three-bedroom terraced house in Gloucester. “It’s so small!” said Sandy. Where will we all sleep?”

But inside, the house was more welcoming. “It’s bigger than it looks from the outside, and we were pleased to find that there were three bedrooms,” said George. But the kids weren’t impressed. “Mum and Dad’s room was OK, but our bedrooms were really small!” complained Daniel. The Millers found it difficult to live in a house with only one bathroom. At home they have two bathrooms and three toilets. And they have a study where they keep the computer, and a playroom in the basement. “In Gloucester we had all to stay in the living room together or go to our bedrooms,” said Helen. “Was there anything positive about the experience?” “The house was beautifully decorated,” said Sandy, “and it was very cosy. It was April when we stayed in the house, but the weather was terrible. We were very grateful for the carpets, the central heating and the real fire in the living room.” Another good point for George was the garden. “We were surprised by the large long garden at the back of the house. We couldn’t really enjoy it because of the weather, but it was obvious that the Keanes had put a lot of work into it. It was well designed and full of beautiful plants and flowers. Actually, I think British people have a bit of an obsession with houses and gardens – there are so many TV programmes about them!”

The Keanes

Tim and Kathy Keane and their children, Bethany (8), Charles (9) and Joe (16), couldn’t believe their luck when they arrived at Washington Drive, Greenville. “The houses were all enormous,” said Tom. “I expected to see film stars coming out of them!”

The Millers’ house has five bedrooms, a study, two bathrooms and an extra downstairs toilet. “Our bedroom was huge, and it was lovely to have an en-suite,” said Kathy. “It was like staying in a hotel!” “We didn’t see much of the children for two weeks!” says Tim. “They were either in the computer room, in the basement or outdoors.” The weather was fine for the Keanes’ visit to South Carolina, so they made good use of the Millers’ yard. The Millers have sports equipment and a permanent barbecue in the yard. “The children really enjoyed the yard,” said Kathy, “but I found it a bit dull. I like nice English gardens with lots of flowers. And all the Millers had were a few trees.” And Kathy didn’t think much of their décor, either. “It was all very smart and clean,” she said, “but it wasn’t very colourful. It’s obvious that Americans spend more time outdoors than the British! We had good weather, but luckily we didn’t need to use the air-conditioning systems. The Millers had lots of security systems and alarms that we had to deal with every night and morning – that was complicated enough!”

1. Read the article. Which house has got:

- other houses attached to it?

- the most bedrooms?

- small bedrooms?

- a room just for games?

- a feeling of warmth inside?

- lots of colours inside?

- a pretty garden?

- a lot of electronic systems?

2. Match the people with their opinions of the house they stayed in:

George Miller

a. “It was strange not having separate rooms for using the computer and playing games.” b. “I love playing and eating outdoors!” c. “the house was so big it looked like it belonged to a famous person.” d. “I was really impressed by the garden.” e. “Two of the bedrooms were small.” f. “The house was warm and colourful.” g. “I didn’t like the garden or the décor much.”

Sandy Miller

Helen Miller

Daniel Miller

Tim Keane

Kathy Keane

Bethany Keane

3. Look at the table of scores for the two houses. Which house scored the most in each category?

The Millers’ scores for The Keanes’ scores for

the Keanes’ house the Millers’ house

Space 8/10
Comfort 7/10
Decoration 6/10
Garden 5/10
TOTAL 26/40

Space 4/10
Comfort 6/10
Decoration 8/10
Garden 10/10
TOTAL 28/40

4. Share your impressions of the houses as if you were members of the Keane family and members of the Miller family. Fill in the tables and use them to help you.

The Millers’ / the Keanes’ impressions

Pleased with, delighted with Displeased with, disappointed with

5. Discussion points:

1. Which house seems nicer to you – the English house or the American one? Why? Compare the houses.

2. How much do the Millers’ and the Keanes’ houses differ from homes in your country?

3. Think about your ideal house. What would it look like? What would it have inside?