Back to “Sharing” very soon.
Heavens! Has it been that long? I will be back to “Sharing” very soon, now that my Chemotherapy is over and done with (hopefully) and I will be able to taste food and drink as it really is, not as my weired-tasting mouth tries to con me into believing. What to do as a food blogger, when you can’t eat even your normally favourite foods and enjoy them? It is very scary, and had been gradually getting worse since early May this year as the Chemo drugs stacked up inside my body.
But the end is in sight! For the Chemo drugs that is. No, not me, Astrid. You can’t get rid of me that easily.
How I am looking forward to enjoying a cool glass of sparkling Prosecco! And a lovely cold glass of water – even that tastes slightly foul at the moment. And I long to be able to enjoy simple salads, creamy pasta, rare roast beef and crispy Yorkshire pudding with homemade gravy. Most of all, I long for the forbidden things when on Chemo, particularly my favourite big prawns, wrapped in thin bacon, marinaded in a mixture of sherry, shards of fresh ginger, pinch of chilli and runny honey then grilled on the barbie (or in the oven grill if raining) and eaten with fresh salad leaves dressed with raspberry vinegar and sprinkled with pink peppercorns. Ohhhh! The longing for shellfish again. Moules Marinere! Crab Salad! Prawn Cocktail!
In ‘Back to “Sharing” very soon’, I’m overflowing with news of our lives to bring you up to date with what has happened since March, this year. First, we had our fabulous new extension, built almost two years ago, to house our new kitchen, so big, so light and just what we have always wanted. Because I’ve had some slight ups and downs, and posted rarely in the last few months, I’ll try and bring you up to date with our lives. The best bits, of course.
This was the beginning of it all. We had to cope with losing our patio, and our garden being ruined, near to the house, but what is that saying? “You can’t make an omelet without cracking eggs?” Or wrecking a lawn and flower beds? Oh well, something had to go to enable us to get the space we needed.
The builders began in October 2015, and how quickly they worked. They promised that the extension would be finished before Christmas 2015, and worked so quickly that we had the utmost confidence in them. OK, the lawn was slightly trashed, to say the least, but it was worth it.
The picture above shows the big bay window with french windows in our lounge looking slightly incongruous, set inside more walls. The idea was to secure the extension, roof it and make it watertight then take the big bay window away. It worked a treat.
Our electrician was a genius, and worked early on putting in a myriad of wires for the lighting scheme he had helped us to get to grips with. It was a big room, over seven metres (about 24 foot) in length, and we were very particular in wanting to have lighting that went from super-bright to dim, and easily controllable. We learned about ‘task’ lighting, and more relaxed lighting to suit every occasion. I’ve never seen so many lights and cables! Cables for the electrics – the cooker, fridge, dishwasher etc.
Then the roof was up, the big bay window and french windows removed and, hey presto, we had a huge room to play around in. We had decided to leave our outside brick wall in situ, not plaster it at all, and put oak beams above the gap of the bay window and the gap of the original dining room window. Not liking or wanting creepy-crawlies in my kitchen-to-be, a good friend of ours tidied up the bricks and washed the wall with a special substance that would make it more hygienic. We just love the warmth of the original bricks, almost a hundred years old, and very mellow.
The plastering finished, Erik and myself painted the walls and ceiling in a gentle silver-grey, which enhanced the look of the old brick wall. It was quite a task for us both, because, as Erik calls us, we are “no spring chickens,” and therefore a big challenge, but we were so thrilled and proud when we had finished it. Then we set about moving bits of our old furniture in, as a dining and living area, until we knew that we could afford the new kitchen. Talk about ‘recycling’, we re-painted and cleaned and polished loads of our ‘stuff’ that had been sitting in our big garage since we moved here in January 2013. I could almost hear a sign of relief from certain items as they left our garage. They had become so filthy-dirty and so dusty in our garage for three years, and we used gallons of Dettox etc. to remove mouse droppings and tangled cobwebs from furniture, cookware, pottery etc. But everything was put to temporary good use.
Being mindful of the amount of money we had already spent, and aware that I wanted a fabulous new kitchen, the only thing we spent money on (after the extension was paid for) in Spring 2016 was for these Cult Furniture chairs and stools. We wanted the kitchen to be pale grey, but with the walls and ceiling painted in that same colour, we wanted to inject a bright blue in certain areas, what I like to call ‘Santorini Blue’. So I ordered a couple of iron chairs in that colour, then just for fun, a copper chair and high stool, and a silver chair. Why not? The look I was going towards was a sort of modern Scandinavian look, lots of stainless steel mixed with old pine furniture, my vast collection of cookware, old and modern and a few pieces of furry, comfy cushions. Maybe not everyone’s cup of tea, but even Erik approved, which was the most important thing.
So in early Summer 2016, I had managed to tidy up the lawn and made a nice new flowerbed on the left, near the new french windows, plus we made a temporary patio and space for the barbecue and wood-fired oven. All we needed was to save up a bit more for our new kitchen. The extension fitted almost seamlessly into the garden, and didn’t spoil the look of our house. We were almost there.
This next picture is one of my favourites. I’ve spent years missing my huge AGA that I had to leave in our Hessle home, and before we planned the kitchen out, the most important thing to decide on was the cooker. I knew where I wanted it in the scheme of things, but we had to decide on the exact model and measurements before we could plan the kitchen units. Here is a little taster of our new kitchen – the rest will follow in due course.
Yep. That’s me, and the new oven and, I think, the extractor fan. It arrived on 31st August, 2016, just before the kitchen fitter arrived, and within three weeks we had a new kitchen. Amazing.
So, back to “Sharing” very soon and I just want to say “Mea Culpa” for being away during my treatment. But I am thrilled that I’ve written a new post, and am already feeling renewed energy (well, just a little bit to begin with). I will continue with a post about the new kitchen (which I love), and why we chose this and that, and as my taste-buds return to normal, I will find us all lots of tasty recipes to while away this Autumn. Today, I have a huge load of ripe tomatoes to turn into my two favourite Tomato Soup recipes, to batch bake lots of soup for the freezer. So I will be chopping, slicing, stirring all in my huge stockpot, balanced on my fantastic new range cooker. I can smell it already. See you soon.