With three Holland boys away, our house has never been bigger and I suppose this is a good thing. People often cite space as a life goal. There are other upsides too… like chargers being more available. Less likely to go missing for one reason because it is easier to finger the culprit. This makes for less rows and a quieter life, not to mention more time to waste our lives away on-line.
Less laundry which is always welcome. In Chez Holland, there is now a far higher probability of wearing, laundering and wearing again socks that match. Never under-estimate the feeling of awe that comes with being able match up socks. It might be a frivolous accomplishment but no matter, it’s always a huge win and the victories we need to get through life.
We have more milk too, so no more black tea. No more impromptu walks (in slippers because its dark already) to our local corner shop. Here in the UK, our corner shops are almost exclusively Asian. Within a ten minute walk of us, we have eight such shops to choose from. Always open, always without heating on and always I appreciate their service. I admire their fortitude and their determination and it makes me count my good fortune as I scurry back to my warm house.
But what of the downsides of a half empty nest, besides missing the boys of course, which Nikki does more than me. Or at least she vocalises this and I think my boys must sense this and why they step-up accordingly and call often. They call their mum more than they call me. And this is a good thing and I certainly don’t feel slighted. So long as they are well and I’m content with getting news second hand.
Continuing on with the downsides, it is in the kitchen where the real problems occur. The kitchen is the hub of any house. The engine room and it needs to function for the home to be a happy one. And at present, our kitchen has thrown up some inadvertent issues…
The amount of food we now require is a case in point. Less, obviously. And although we now buy less food, it seems we still cook for six. A chicken is a chicken, I guess.
This week, Nikki pulled out a magnificent pie from the oven and my first thoughts were – blimey, whose coming over to eat?
No one in fact, as it’s illegal at present with our new lockdown.
And so this means is that our meals are lasting for days. Paddy’s first question on returning home from school is now largely redundant for at least half the week.
“Mum, what’s for dinner tonight?”
What you had last night.
Mum made enough on the off chance that Harry and Tom would pop back from America – and Sam saunters down from Scotland to surprise us.
And this brings me to an area of kitchen life which is now under some considerable scrutiny. An area on which Nikki and I have clashed in the past and now more so than ever…
I refer of course to the dishwasher.
She might not thank we for this, but Nikki loves her dishwasher. Her favourite appliance in the house – after her hair straighteners, obviously. Nikki loves her hair straighteners above all else. Apart from that moment in the car and on our way to somewhere special when she panics that she’s left them on.
To the dishwasher then…
An easy appliance to justify for six people and the dirty crockery that they create. Less easy though with only three people in residence. But the alternative to using it is too grim to countenance.
Our dishwasher is modern. It has a half-load setting. But it is not so new that this half-load setting on the control is still discernible – and so stuck with a full load only, Nikki’s response is to fill it up with whatever she can…
Things that can be so easily rinsed clean like egg cups.
Things not designed for the machine like wooden spoons and sharp knives.
Things that the dishwasher has no chance of cleaning, like pots and pans. Even Tessa’s bowls are finding their way in.
Tupperware, microwave dish, even the hob irons muck in. Just fill the machine up, turn it on and forget about it.
Until an unfortunate soul has to open it up post-cycle and survey the damage. See what food remains and note it is now baked on. The heartening victory of matched socks is too easily undone by a dish washer which has become a kiln.
Another play here is to use the dishwasher less frequently. Perhaps employing it every other day to allow the dirty stock to accumulate. Sensible until the overnight drying of dirty plates is factored in and the running low on clean and preferred mugs to drink tea from.
Issues easily resolved by resorting to the old fashioned method of washing up. You know the form…
You wash. I’ll dry. Job done.
Not an option in my house anyway. Far too sensible. We have a machine and we will use a machine.
Sir, yes sir.
And this makes sense. After all, we both have things to do. Or Nikki does anyway. She has incoming phone-calls from the Holland boys who are in the field and in-work…
I will hear the news later and meanwhile I am busy also…
Doing the washing up…
If you enjoy this blog, then you might like to know that my new book – Takes on Life is being published on 23rd November.
31 essays on the peculiarities of my life and yours. Will make good Christmas presents is my thinking. Books that recipients might actually read and thank you for later…
Available on amazon as a paperback and via this site as a hardback