This morning, Richard, Lee, and Ross from Kitchen Makers arrived on time and began taking apart our old kitchen.

Richard concentrated on the sink area, and on contemplation,

while the younger men chipped off old tiling, dismantled the cupboards, and carried the rubbish outside, ready to take it all away. Everything was cleared up as they went along.

When Richard adopted his contemplative pose concerning the floor, his colleagues claimed that this was his customary position on the job.

Light catcher and Ross

Anyone who has received a Pauline King light catcher will appreciate that she kept her eye on the proceedings.

Soon after midday we left them to it and joined Giles and Jean for lunch at Monsoori Heights in Milford on Sea. My main meal was king prawn vindaloo.  Jackie’s was paneer tika. We shared lemon rice, a plain paratha, and onion bahji. Jackie drank coffee and I drank Kingfisher.

Before The Makeover 1


Oven Pride deep cleaner carton captions claim: ‘Cleans first time’, ‘Unbeatable results’, and ‘No scrubbing required’. Now, this is probably true if you care to clean regularly. If you give the appliance a real bashing over Christmas and New Year, and don’t pay it any attention until it starts smoking, I can assure you that it would be unfair to hold the suppliers to account charged with misrepresentation.

Today, we continued the cleansing process Jackie had begun yesterday. She had applied the soaking solution which we now scrubbed with Brillo pads. Given the corrosive nature of this preparation, the Maintenance Department forced me to wear thick rubber gloves. Declining the pinny, I rolled up my sleeves.

Here, Jackie cleans the front surface before allowing me to photograph it.

Oven corner 1

This unshielded oven provides a good example of the impracticality of the kitchen we originally purchased. In fact, because it had never before been used it was most unusual, in that it was clean, with its paperwork inside. Designed to stand under the hobs it was in fact seated above the storage cupboards, all low on the floor. There is no storage at a higher level, except for the pull-out larder on the right. There was no case for the oven, which was not even attached to the electricity supply. When trying to obtain one we learned that these Moben kitchens were no longer available. The oven, of course, greatly reduces the limited working surface, more of which is taken up by the microwave on stilts, and the fan required by the creating Culinary Queen. Readers will not be surprised to spot an empty Hoegaarden bottle waiting to be put out for recycling.

Wine rack corner

The fitted pull-out is only 50% accessible because of the wine rack to its right. The blue-grey tiling matches neither the brickwork of the former fireplace on the right of the picture nor other, different, tiling around the sink, itself far away from the cooking area.

This evening, in this kitchen, Jackie produced flavoursome cottage pie with savoury gravy, and firm carrots. Brussels sprouts, and manges touts with which I drank more of the Malbec.


Woman’s Mastery Over Machine

Grass needing cutting

When I intimated yesterday that I might cut the grass I didn’t imagine that was all I would do, nor that the task would take me all day.

I would like to tell the tale of this man’s mastery over a machine. Unfortunately, like George Washington, on this occasion, ‘I cannot tell a lie’. At least that fledgling U.S. President had successfully cut down a cherry tree. My job had to have been easier than that.

First I had to take the Bosch Strimmer out of its box. As I feared, there was a certain amount of assembly required. I managed, to a rather insecure extent, to do this , found the extension lead, plugged the machine’s cable into it and set sail. I cut a couple of blades of grass and the nylon cutting line broke. After rereading and following the instructions I was able  to extend another piece the required 9 centimetres and have another go. Same again. Except that this time there was no line visible and neither Jackie nor I was able to decipher how to undo the holder. Clearly the cutting device had difficulty coping with our macho grass nurtured on the soak away area from the septic tank. Apparently our excreta leaches through the walls of the tank into the soil at this particular point, producing a very healthy crop. There are lots of alliums in the garden. I wonder whether their rather pungent aroma serves a masking purpose.

Grass and shearsIt is not really a good idea to leave me to my own devices in such matters, but Jackie had no option because she was still trying to turn the terrible overlapping and chopped up tiling squares on the bathroom floor into a reasonably level and complete surface. Reflecting on the fact that she was grappling with a botch upstairs whilst I was doing the same with a Bosch in the garden, I gave up.

I conceded victory to the Strimmer, but I did not give up on the grass. I abandoned modern technology for a trusty, albeit rusty, pair of garden shears. It was down on my knees again. The kneeler was in service upstairs.

I had made considerable progress by lunchtime. Enough to give me confidence to continue afterwards.

My lady carried on upstairs until she had finished her job. She then came down and began to cook the dinner. Observing me snipping away outside, she thought: ‘I can’t leave him’. Thus taking pity on me she sat on the bench and put her mind to working out the problem with the machine. She realised I was using the wrong line and used more brute force than I had been confident to employ to remove the holder and replace the line. Jackie strimmingShe was soon on her feet strimming away. Naturally I got to my feet too.

Well how was I to know that when Herr Bosch says his product comes with extra strong line that that is not the one fitted in the holder, but one kept at the back of the handle?Jackie & grass cut

Jackie did allow me to have a go at strimming. I finished the job whilst she raked up the grass.

Geranium palmatumShe is delighted to see that we have numerous geranium palmatums in the garden. Many are clearly seedlings, and quite small, but some are huge shrub-like plants.

I t was quite beneficial that Jackie returned to cooking our dinner, for it was delicious.

Lemon chickenShe had taken chicken breasts marinaded in ginger, lemon and lime, added a Nando’s piri piri lemon marinade, topped the chicken with red and yellow peppers and baked the ensemble in olive oil for thirty minutes. This is her recipe for lemon and ginger chicken.

Mashed potato, crisp cauliflower and carrots, were accompanied by par-boiled parsnips stir fried with two sliced red onions and garlic. I call this a recipe for stir fried parsnips.

Jackie drank Hoegaarden with this, whilst I chose Marques de Montino rioja 2010. We finished our drinks on the garden bench.