Monday, August 17, 2009

Outa space

My house (pictured here c.1940) was built around 1700, a time when life was simple and uncluttered. The farmer and his family lived in a room at one end of the cottage and his cattle lived at the other end in the linhay. The records show that the property remained reasonably untouched until 1948, when the thatched roof caught fire and the owner used the opportunity to modernise. If you know anything of the materials available, the standard of workmanship and the "modern taste" of post-war Britain, I need say no more about the changes he made.

I am grateful that he installed electricity and running water and I have added my own modern touches with central heating and carpets (those straw
-strewn floors were the devil to keep clean!) and I confess that I have a love of gadgets. The problem is finding space to store them. There is neither cellar nor utility room so everything has to be kept in the kitchen. This is the ledge where I keep my everyday gadgets:
While I was in Bristol last week a new toy arrived for me: a steam generator .

My sister-in-law has been singing the praises of hers for several years but I couldn't see the point of replacing my perfectly sound steam iron. Then perfectly sound turned to spitting and leaking and a frayed cord, so I drew in my breath and ignored the fact that there was an extra zero on the price tag and ordered this beautiful piece of space-age technology.

Yesterday, I carefully unpacked the box, read the
instructions, filled the water tank, set the temperature and waited for the green light. I was half way through the pile of shirts, marvelling at the light weight of the iron and the smoothness of the ceramic soleplate but wondering at the lack of the remarkable results that sister-in-law had promised. That extra zero on the price tag started to nag. Then I noticed a dial that I hadn't seen earlier - back to the instructions - I hadn't turned the steam on!
Seconds later I was whizzing through the ironing with the promised professional-looking finish I had been promised. It was worth every penny of that zero! BUT...... you see my problem - out goes the old steam iron but where does the new giant system go?Perhaps I should go back to using the old flatiron that came with the house?


  1. Oh, how well I know your problem. Our house is large - but we have neither attic nor basement and very few closets. And nobody in our family can resist a new gadget when we see it - although I have steered clear of steam generators, so far. Lack of money can sometimes be of help, when you have to choose between dinner and a new toy.

  2. Margaretha
    The cottage is quite large as cottages go but, like yours, has no useful closets or cellars. We moved here from a very large Edwardian house with 15 rooms, high ceilings and lots of interesting little storage places. I am still recovering from the culture shock twenty years on!

  3. e, I like cooking and ironing, the rest of household chores I detest!

  4. Ooooh, I like your new toy. I also like ironing and this looks like a must-have (at some unspecified point...). I know as well what you mean about kitchen storage.
    I had a Kitchen Aid mixer for Christmas and it takes up a large area of worktop, of which we have very little. I can't bring myself to hide it in the cellar, I love it so much...

  5. Rattling On, I'm afraid the steam generator is the same size as a Kitchen Aid mixer! I think you would enjoy using one, though.

  6. A steam generator is new to me; I don't do any ironing but it sounds like a grand contraption producing great results.
    I enjoyed the photo of your home and learning a bit about its history.

  7. Terra
    How do you get through life without ironing?
    Perhaps I will do a post all about my house and how it has changed since 1948. It doesn't look anything like that old photograph now.

  8. Ironing is rarely required because everything, even cotton, comes out of the dryer pretty much wrinkle free.

    We have a small house too, but we're saved by a garage accessed through the kitchen with floor to ceiling shelving around three walls, so there's room for the cooking gadgets my husband likes. Using them seems more trouble than they're worth, but I keep mum because I don't care how food it prepared as long as I don't have to do it.

  9. e, I am sure you will think me mad but I find ironing a good way to relax. I sort out worries, problems or anything I'm feeling angry about as I iron and then I have the satisfaction of a stack of sweet-smelling, crisp, neatly-folded laundry at the end of it!

  10. m. I don't think you mad at all. I actually liked ironing, especially complicated garments. It was like geometry which I also liked a lot. There is no reason to iron now and my back wouldn't allow for standing still for long periods of time. If I had to do it, it would have to be seated and I think that would be too awkward.

    In my defense, I'm a crisp and clean folder. My husband is impressed at how everything ends up so neat and uniform in size. It's quite amusing how domestic chores eluded his notice before retiring. Food appeared, laundry was done, his clothes and household goods were repaired or replaced as needed ...

  11. Which is your house? The white? Are there people in the adjoining ones or is the whole building yours? And Maureen, you are the third blogger this week who is talking about ironing! Is it making a comeback? Not in this house. :<)

    I'd love to know more about your banner picture. Is that a place for campers to park or to stay?

  12. Nan
    My house looks very different now, I'll dig out some pictures later in the week. The picture shows the rather grey-looking cottage with the white painted linhay. This was the orginal farmhouse. The linhay was turned into a shop with a flat (apartment) above it.

    My new banner picture shows Saunton Sands beach, just 3 miles from here, with a little bit of Braunton Burrows on the left. I took the picture from the terrace of my brother-in-law's holiday apartment. You can see a corner of the beach carpark and a play area for children staying in the apartments.

    I've been hearing from other people who don't iron. I must be old-fashioned!

  13. Ironing . . . I do manage to do it, somehow, just like other chores - although I agree that it can induce a certain and often welcome Zen-like state. Unlike vacuuming and dusting which are beyond tedious. (Cooking is - mostly - a pleasure though.)

    That's a very posh new toy, M, (so impressed) but am even more impressed by new photo of beloved Saunton Sands, which brings memories of many happy dog walks, followed by fish and chips. And, if it's a choice between walking dogs and ironing, there's no competition for your hopelessly undomesticated chum.

  14. D, I don't think there is much difference in our attitude towards domestic perfection!

    You and the Edinburgh Boy will find a welcome here any time and we can walk along Saunton Sands and eat fish and chips to your heart's content. (You'll be returness and not grockles!)

  15. erp
    I see that you missed out the operator. Please don't spoil your image by admitting it was you!

  16. I cannot tell a lie.
    Yes, it was I, erp.

    Blogger is driving me crazy and won't let me sign in as myself

  17. You see, e, even Blogger doesn't recognise you ironing a shirt!

    I've just changed to the updated version of Blogger, perhaps that is why you couldn't sign in when posting a comment. Did you sign in on your own account first?

  18. I think I figured it out now. Serves me right for having so many personas.

    Let me know how you like the updated Blogger.


I love to read your comments and promise that I will reply as soon as I can leave my garden, sewing room or kitchen!