Tuesday, 28 September 2021

Gentle? Not Round Here!


I read this book 12 years ago, it was lent to me by a friend. My comment at the time was that Jane B lived in a different world to me - having formerly worked for Sanderson, her quilts were made of fabulous fabrics [not thrifted pieces of family shirts and dresses] Reviews online seem to be either gushing [beautiful, lovely to read and dream about future projects, so many different ideas] or dismissive [not in the real world, no proper instructions or techniques, no cohesive structure]

I confess that all these years later I remember nothing but the title. It came back to me yesterday as I was pottering in the kitchen. I have decided my approach to domesticity is definitely not 'gentle'.

I had a sort of plan for my morning, which I knew would revolve around domestic chores...deal with the yogurt which had 'yogged' overnight, find the new packet of yeast, make a loaf, and make some soup. In the afternoon, some sewing, and work on the front path.

But the workmen arrived at 8.30 with the Lathe Palace, having just driven all the way from Kent. First task, then, make them hot drinks.

I dealt with the yogurt as planned. But I spotted some of the tomatoes on the windowsill had ripened well in the weekend sunshine, and some were starting to go soft. I thought I'd make a batch of tomato sauce to eat with pasta for our evening meal.

I went to get a favourite pan from the back of the cupboard, dropped the lid down into the almost inaccessible corner, and managed to dislodge the shelf. Much clattering of pans, as I pulled them all out onto the floor. Bob kindly came to assist. Pans replaced, I prepared the tomatoes, and left the sauce simmering on the stove.**

The yeast hunt involved checking my breadmaking supplies. I took all the contents out from the 'carbs cupboard' which contains flours, rice, pulses, and pastas. I found a part packet of rye flour I had forgotten about, and the top was ripped off - so I had no idea about use by dates. I decided to add some into the loaf I was going to make. I found the new yeast [both packets- oops!] I had packs of flour etc all over the worktops. And a 'dusting of snow' everywhere.
And in between I was making hot drinks for the workmen - it was raining heavily and at one point the wind blew the side panel over [fortunately not onto my raised bed!]
Food in packets is ok - but once it has been transferred to glass jars, I can easily get confused- semolina, ground almonds, and cornmeal can all look very similar. I realised that if I was in a hurry, my ingredients could get confused. I got rather carried away with the label-maker, putting names on the jars. Time was passing, and the breadmaker was still in the cupboard.
I had completely forgotten that a man was coming to change the fuse in the meter cupboard. Fortunately I' d just made a flask of coffee and we'd had elevenses when he switched off the power. 
I had to get out of the kitchen whilst the man was working in there, delaying my domestic plans still further. I was relieved I had not set the breadmaker running. But he was a really pleasant guy, and thanked us for being so helpful.
It was almost lunchtime when he left - so  I put the last two slices of bread in the toaster, and baked beans in the microwave. [At which point I realised just how many clocks need to be reset if the power has gone off! We enjoyed a small lunch. Bob ate one of the apples from the 'freebie' basket down the lane, I enjoyed some fresh figs from Liz - and then I returned to the kitchen tidying.
Monday's domesticity was in no way "gentle" - juggling teamaking, labelmaking, mealmaking and cupboard tidying, it was really quite manic. My Gran used to tell me this nursery rhyme

Curly Locks, Curly Locks, will you be mine?
You shall not wash dishes, nor feed the swine.
But sit on a cushion and sew a fine seam,
And feast upon strawberries, sugar and cream.

Chance'd be a fine thing, as they say! My plans to sit and sew in the afternoon went out the window. And I had no energy left for path digging. Meanwhile Bob had to collect garage lighting strips from Screwfix and buy petrol. He managed one out of two tasks!
This pub sign made me smile [I do hope we can get some fuel before Friday - I cannot cycle to Manchester]

**I did set a timer, I didn't want it to boil dry whilst I was busy multi-tasking.


  1. I did wonder about the tomatoes....till I reached the end!
    some days are like that and one is relieved when they are over.

    1. But a good night's sleep is a great restorative!

  2. Sounds like a day in which you had a good opportunity to practice resiliency. The last year and a half has truly been a test of resiliency for nearly all of us. Pat yourself on the back for many jobs well done.

  3. Domestic chores are more chaotic than gentle in this house. Crisis ironing (run out of clothes), crisis gardening (weeds taken over) and crisis dusting (SIL coming over!) being just a few of the regular tasks.
    I truly have no idea how we ever found the time to go to work!!

  4. I bought this book a couple of years ago and realised it was never going to fit with my domestic life (what does this leftover get turned in to? where is that drip coming from?) so passed it on to a more elegant, less chaotic friend.
    Thank you so much for your blog, always a joy.

  5. The best laid plans..... But you did well and coped, and even gave us a delightful blog to read! I hope you manage to get some petrol soon.

  6. Oh, my! You certainly had a busy day, yesterday! :D You had a case of what I call the "But, first" - need to make bread, but, first, must fine the yeast and label all the jars; need to make soup, but, first, have to make hot drinks for the workmen. Then, by the time I deal with all the "but, first"s, there is hardly any time or energy to do what I had wanted to do in the first place! :D Hope today will be a day of more gentle domesticity. :)

  7. All those appliances must complicate life. No bread maker, microwave or toaster here, not even an electric kettle! I like to keep life simple and then domesticity does become more of an art. It’s a state of mind.

    1. Sometimes I wonder if we have too many gadgets

  8. The best laid plans, as they say! Ladies like Mrs Brocket and her ilk could consider domesticity as a gentle art when they were surrounded by domestic servants who were all dealing with the hard graft it takes to run their employers' residences well hidden from view!

    1. Many families have "a little woman who does". This home often has "a little woman who doesn't"


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