Right – my sister says my blog posts are rather melancholy and nostalgic, so instead of the piece on retro sweets I had in mind to write, I thought I would try to show a more humorous and less wistful side to my nature. However, I have been hampered in my attempts at frivolity, as this weekend is the last before we swap houses with my brother-in-law Chris and his family for a two week holiday. Time has therefore been set aside to do some cleaning. The house is filthy. When Chris said ‘Don’t worry, we will take it as we find it’ we know he didn’t actually mean he was OK to turn up after a 6 hour drive from Suffolk and scrape the fat out of the bottom of the grill pan, or pull all Evie’s long brown hair out of the bath plughole. He probably wouldn’t want us to leave all those crumbs in the cutlery draw or be happy to solve one of those endless puzzles to untangle the jumble of saucepans in the big draw that never quite closes properly. Why does our kitchen get in such a mess, when what little housework done in our home revolves around cleaning it?
Examining the freezer I find it holds sufficient ice to maintain a whole family of polar bears, and there are bits of frozen stuff embedded in it. They may at one time have been blackberries, peas or oven chips, but now they more closely resemble frostbitten body parts. I know Chris’s children – all under ten – are fond of the occasional fish finger and I can hardly tape the door shut, so a full-scale defrost is called for. Get the sandbags out.
I have to admit my role so far has been restricted to 1) making sure my husband, who doesn’t know a lemon zester from an item of medieval torture, won’t throw any sure-to-be-useful-sometime implements, or sentimental clutter away (he has volunteered to do lots of the yucky bits and I would hate to fall out with him over a 20 year old champagne cork)and 2) emptying the store cupboards to make sure no small mammals are living in the ancient bags of nuts and flour. Sell by dates come round so quickly don’t they? For a woman who very rarely leaves anything resembling food uneaten for more than a day I am surprised and ashamed to say I did find:
- 1 box raspberry jelly dated Nov 2007
- 1 bottle HP sauce which looked suspiciously as if it had been produced pre the introduction of best before dates
- 1 glued up old tin of Golden Syrup cemented firmly to the shelf. As there were much more recent purchases of the same gloop in front of it, I had clearly been too lazy to try to chisel it off, possibly sometime in the last century. (That is a complete fabrication of course, simply for effect. We had a new kitchen two years ago, but you get my drift).
I also found I have two tins of chick peas that need eating by next week, an unlabelled jar of an unidentifiable cook-in sauce (it has green bits in it?) and enough mulled wine spices to last me for a decade. Roll on Christmas.
Now, I am sure our house is nothing like a holiday cottage, so it doesn’t get a weekly clean from top to toe. But there are things to compensate for that; it does at least feel like a home. We are a family of four but we have more than the bare necessities you get in a week long let, and apart from the odd bargain item from Lakeland that I have taken out of the packet and forgotten its purpose, most of the things are at least vaguely useful. There isn’t a toast rack or a novelty lemon squeezer in the place, and we have loads of teaspoons, plenty of (mismatching) crockery and more tea towels than you can mop the floor with. How often do you go on hols and find there is half a loo roll to last the whole family till the next big shop, or no washing powder, washing up liquid, tin foil or J cloths? We buy these every week – we use them so rarely (excluding the loo rolls I hasten to add) that we are never sure whether we have any to hand. The cupboard under the sink is like the Household Goods aisle in Sainsbury’s.
Anyway, as you can tell from the very fact that I am writing this blog, prevarication is once more the order of the day. I am now working on the basis that leaving the cleaning to the last-minute is MUCH the best idea. In six days who knows what horrors could take up residence? And besides, Peter has taken three days off work this week to help get the house ready. Think how much he, I mean we, can get done in that time?
Photo of J Cloth HoskingIndustries I am afraid the cutlery drawer is all my own..