I hope everyone has enjoyed a wonderful, restful, holiday season and that 2008 ain't looking too bad from this point-of-view, two days into it. I'm kicking off the year by not returning to work until 7 Jan (ahh, bliss - I do feel a bit smug about it), starting to think about my summer holidays, and reveling in my new kitchen extension.
The much-mentioned kitchen isn't *completely* finished yet, but due to some hard work from Mr A&N, his father, and a few builders and tradespeople, we were able to achieve the goal I set for us last winter: namely, to be able to cook our Christmas turkey within the comfort of the new kitchen. And oh, it is lovely. I am living in the lap of luxury, enjoying on a daily basis the following:
- Hot running water. Ooh, get me with my fancy ways. Yes, our previous kitchen had been without hot water since 3 days before our wedding...in May 2006. At the time, it was low on the list of things to get done (making sure the people who could perform the wedding was slightly more pressing, them having uncovered a double-booking that week we were due to marry; the words "Is it possible to re-arrange your ceremony?" were taken in the best humor possible - i.e., not very well). It was a year and a half of boiled kettles to wash any dishes, and the occasional moment of me begging Mr A&N to just buy any new faucet to save my freezing hands. We reached a compromise in which I saved my hands by simply leaving the dishes to Mr A&N; it struck me as quite fair, actually.
- Light, both natural and artificial. Ooh, get me with my fancy ways etc. Our old kitchen was a bit tomb-like, with there being little semblance of natural light and too small to be flooded with artificial lights. In the summer it was alright since everything is lighter anyway, but in the winter I could feel myself going a bit crazy whenever I was stuck in there doing the (cold) washing-up. Now, with lights galore and a wall of windows looking out at the garden I feel physically lighter. A dirty dish barely touches down on the counter before I whisk it away and wash it. Mr A&N just thought I was lazy, with my excuses of being trapped in a coffin and my hands freezing; he doesn't know what to do with this new dishwasher wife of his. Luckily, we also got an actually dishwasher for the new kitchen so I can keep up my lazy persona by running a load through there every so often.
- Countertop space. We effectively had 3 feet of countertop space on which to work in the old kitchen, since appliances and other natural clutter took up the rest of the space. Suffice it to say, two cooks could not work in that kitchen for long without there being friction. We were so wounded by that experience that we now have about 4 times that old countertop space, plus a kitchen island that doubles as a table and chopping station. Hooray!
- A cupboard for everything and everything in its place. No more vegetable rack in the front hallway, no more hand towels kept under the stairs or nice steak knives in the drinks cabinet. Every gadget, teaspoon, and roll of scotch tape is now hid comfortably within a drawer or cabinet. I even snagged us a pull-out food larder. OMG!
In with the new.
- Non-leaking pipes and no danger of an electrical fire. Mmm, this one was less funny. We knew our old pipe to the washing machine dripped a bit and caught it as best we could. It wasn't until pulling the kitchen apart that we discovered the dodgy electrics behind the scenes: a socket hanging off the wall, into which our oven and cooker were fed, having first been spliced onto another (wrong kind of) plug that would let them extend further to this hanging socket. All within the path of the dripping pipe. All a bit scary and v-e-r-y lucky to have avoided catasrophe.
- Between-unit gap of greater than 18 inches. In order to get through the rear door of the old kitchen and out into the garden, there was a very small gap of 18 inches. I can't tell you the number of times I tried to carry something large through that gap without lifting it high enough, and bounced back in a Looney Toons manner after hitting both sides with said items while at full speed. The new gap? Oh, about 4 feet. I will need to be carrying something pretty big to have any more cartoon moments (though I am a bit cartoon-ish by nature so maybe I shouldn't discount this just yet).
- Seats. I can now sit in my kitchen and enjoy a cup of tea, or, more crucially, have a meal somewhere away from the lure of the television. The seats were just bought and assembled today, and I don't plan on doing much else tomorrow other than sitting on one (or all?) of them, drinking tea and not watching TV.