All my remaining bits of English Rose Kitchen are now for sale

May 8th, 2011

Finally I feel able to admit that paying good money to store the last of the English Rose Kitchen bits and pieces that we didn’t use is just plain dumb!

For some reason they’d acquired a sentimental value to me. Not that I see them very often you understand. They’re half a mile away in our storage unit, but it gives me a warm sensation to see them staring winsomely back at me whenever I do need to visit to retrieve some other item whose rent I don’t really need to be paying either.

It’s been a long road and, but the kitchen is basically complete and, as predicted, there are quite a few bits left over. We have a baby due in 7 weeks1 and it’s time to let go of old habits and send them to a good home. I’ve posted them on eBay (link below) because it’s the easiest way so go bid there, but here are the details:

4 drawers (plus one without a front)
3 sets of draw runners
6 floor cabinet fronts and 7 doors
Counter edging bits and bobs
Floor corner piece
2 floor run ends. They are both right hand end, but one of them is rusted through in any case.
Aluminium counter piece 53cm wide
12 full size shelves (for floor units)
3 wall unit shelves – 2 of these are actually finished to fit our own kitchen
2 pieces of under-cabinet aluminium floor trim
Some other random bits that we can’t quite identify

Phew! I’m selling them as one lot on eBay, but between you and me if you only want some of it that’s fine too – contact me hee. I’m happy to deliver locally (as in – around W’s 10,11,12 etc), or we can come to an arrangement for delivery further afield, within reason. We can discuss “reason”.

I haven’t posted any pictures here because there are loads of pics on this blog already of that stuff and in any case I put a whole bunch of them on the auction. My only hope? That it all goes to an appreciative new home.

1Yes we do know what type, it’s a boy, and yes we do know the name, but we’re not telling you!

The Larder Has Gone ;-(

October 28th, 2010

The contents of the larder

Well it had to go somewhere I suppose


The larder is gone and it’s left a gaping hole in our lives, but it’s left us with so much more than that. A pile of junk, that’s now, yet again, preventing us from seeing the dining table.

For the last year it’s sat in the space previously occupied by our Smeg Fridge. I remember then that it was easier than I’d imagined parting with the fridge and frankly there are far more pressing uses for that patch of valuable floor real estate. My overriding feeling is that English Rose Kitchen items should definitely go to other enthusiastic owners.

And an enthusiast indeed this guy does sound to be. I delivered it to a friend of his who happens to live near me (we needed to get it out of here ASAP to make room for another project that Wifey has in hand – more in my next article). I asked how far the eventual recipient of the larder had got with his kitchen and was told that they last time it was seen it was a pile of bits and pieces – a year ago. That’s me boy!

The saddest thing is that I never got to meet and approve it’s new owner, but I have a good feeling that he’s going to give it a good home.

English Rose Kitchen Larder Unit For Sale

October 21st, 2010

The English Rose Kitchen larder

The Larder They Come

Ladies and gentlemen! At long last, we’re finally ready to sell something! Yes, the coveted English Rose Kitchen Larder unit (pictured) is officially up for sale.

It’s about 168cm tall, 50cm deep and 43cm wide, three of shelves inside and a couple of things for hanging things on, though we’ve never worked out what.

We’re gutted that we don’t have space for it ourselves, but it just doesn’t fit in in our new kitchen.

It’s in great condition aside from a couple of scratches on the front, but trust me, you’d want to change the paintwork anyway. That cream colour is hideous.

Yours for £40. If you’re not too far away from West London I can deliver it, otherwise let’s talk.

My Wife the Faux Finisher

February 23rd, 2010

Brian May's very clever Red Special

Brian May’s very clever Red Special

I previously mentioned that at the height of punk I went to my first major gig, a concert at Earls Court by rock dinosaurs giants Queen. Recently I took a trip down memory lane by watching a video of that very event on YouTube.

The gig contained a defining moment in my life. After Brian May had completed a particularly impressive run during Brighton Rock, an impressionable 15 year old boy sitting in the front row who’d just been given a cheap acoustic guitar by a neighbour mouthed the word “WOW!!”. Bri spotted it and nodded at him. I went home determined to learn to play guitar like Brian1.

My first step was to replace the gut strings on my guitar with steel ones. I think you can see where this is going, but it took a few weeks till it folded in half under the strain, before which I managed to place magnets under each string, attach a wire to each end and plug the whole thing into my dad’s old reel-to-reel tape deck, where by recording on one head and playing back from another I could approximate the delay effect that Brian used on his solos.

An additional, though unintentional, effect was that the guitar now acted as a radio receiver, each fumbled riff being accompanied by (and I kid you not) the monotonous lectures that comprised the output of Radio Moscow in the 70s.

A bit like my first guitar, only mine wasn't meant to fold in half

A bit like my first guitar, only mine wasn’t meant to fold in half

Just days before it finally collapsed I’d added a sort of psychaledic multi coloured finish in the medium of felt tipped pen. The effect was hideous.

A couple of years later, still in awe of the fact that Mr May had made his own guitar2 and lucky enough to have gone to a school that encouraged that sort of thing, I constructed my own from a design published in Practical Electronics3. With a body made from chipboard and three of the cheapest pickups available, the guitar boasted the sustain of a toy banjo.

All of which is a roundabout way of explaining why I’m so happy I married someone who’s good with her hands. Wifey is a complete perfectionist and in addition to having added a harlequin design to the new floor, she’s recently given an old Ikea shelving unit a wonderful shabby chic makeover.

I’ll upload an image as soon as my bloody Windows powered phone deigns to talk to my PC.

1On reflection I actually wish I’d chosen Nile Rodgers as my guitar hero of the time, but it was a moot point because soon after that I switched to bass, which was better suited to my stubby fingers.
2Brian’s guitar was a work of genius, fashioned from the seasoned wood of an old fireplace and, if the PR at the time was to be believed, hand wound pickups. Mine was made from a brand new piece of chipboard, veneered to resembled an item of cheap 70s hi-fi. It sported a nut hewn from a piece of smelly cow horn that I’d found somewhere, and an array of switches so bewildering that I had to mount them in a 10″x10″ red, wooden box, that I wore on my hip. Every setting sounded the same and it rarely worked for an entire gig. Which was probably for the best.
3Practical Electronics was the leading magazine for amateur enthusiasts of individual transistors and smelly solder in the 70s. Its high points, as far as I was concerned, was when it published designs for an electric guitar and a synthesiser. Most of its output, however, comprised things like rain detectors. This always seemed to me to be superfluous, since simply looking out of the window could achieve the same result.

I Just Had My First Shower in Over a Year

January 10th, 2010

An \

An “I scream luxury” shower head

January 7, 2009 was the official start date of our renovation. We’d been planning it for a year or so before then, but Jan 7 was when the contractors moved in and started ripping out the kitchen cabinets without regard for the fact that I was still empting them.

This was immediately followed by the gutting of the shower/steam room. Our guys assured us that the whole job should take less than 2 months, hence my somewhat dubious hygiene of the past year. Luckily we have a second bathroom, but it is just that, a room with a toilet, sink and bath. I’m more of a shower man and while the bath has a shower attachment, squatting down, waving a shower head in and out of the important regions is neither as enticing nor as satisfactory as standing up in a proper shower. My apologies to all those whose path I have crossed on days where I couldn’t face it.

Two days ago the caulking man (a specialist in the field apparently) turned up to seal everything. He said it would be OK to use the shower by the morning, but in deference to the freezing weather I decided to wait and take my first proper shower in over a year today.

Oh the joy! First I switched on the steamer (takes a good 5 or 6 minutes to get up a fully choking head of steam) and stood there baking gently for 10 minutes. Then the shower. We have one of those new fangled big, flat shower heads that just screams “luxury”, as well as a handheld attachment in case I miss my bath squatting days.

A Shaolin monk, presumably being taught to do what it took me about 5 seconds to learn

A Shaolin monk, presumably being taught to do what it took me about 5 seconds to learn

Then I remembered that despite the new radiator being attached to the wall, it’s not actually hooked up to the plumbing yet and the temperature in that room is about the same as outside, currently sub zero.

I stepped out of the pizza over like confines of the shower/steamer into the (excuse the colourful turn of phrase) nut-crunching cold, enhanced by the fact that we’ve had a lovely new Jerusalem stone floor laid. In under 5 seconds I believe I achieved a retracting manoeuvre ordinarily the provenance of Shaolin monks after many years of study and dedication.

Nine Months and Counting

September 22nd, 2009

Like an ageing locomotive long past its usefulness being kept on the rails by a band of well meaning enthusiasts, our renovation grinds and wheezes its way towards the buffers at an ever decreasing speed.

As I sit and write this I’m quaffing my third glass of red wine, the result of a meeting we had with our long suffering contractor this evening to try to work out why it’s all taking so god dammed long (and also so that he could ask for half of the outstanding bill. Hence the wine intake).

My personal answer is that when tradesmen turn up every other day to fill one hole, or just to “collect my tools”, you pretty much know their heart has gone out of the project. Two months ago C announced that he was placing a time limit of two weeks to completion and just today, why! He announced that we were “About two weeks from completion”.

We know the guys are as fed up with it as we are because, shortly after managing to smash the outer layer glass on our new oven door, our chippie stormed out, exclaiming “I’m sick of this %$*#ing job!”.

One thing we do know though, is that the water in the shower works. Wifey found that out as she was telling me that it wasn’t really plumbed in yet, while standing, fully clothed, under the shower head and playing with the tap.

Our neighbour over the road started building his extension about three weeks ago and it seriously looks as if he’ll be finishing before we do.

An Angry Resident Writes

August 30th, 2009

A unicycle

A unicycle

Wonderful. I feel like a particularly old codger today.

As I was wobbling along outside the house on my unicycle, a car containing a man, his wife (I’m guessing) and their young daughter (I’m also guessing) in the back pulled up. There’s a drain at the end of our driveway and he opened the door and tried to stuff a slightly rotten banana into it. Then he shut the door and was about to drive off.

At that moment I wobbled up along side him and shouted, through his open window, “Oi mate, I think you dropped something.” “Oh yeah”, he rejoindered, “what have I dropped?”. “A banana”, I replied. “Someone ought to pick it up”. Clearly embarrassed, his wife, who until that point didn’t seem to care, said “He is picking it up”, which he did.

A banana

A banana

I felt terrible about embarrassing him in front of his kid and I was slightly worried that it could have gone either way, but I reasoned that since I was on my unicycle if he did try to start something I could always put my foot down and … well, pick it up and hit him with it I suppose.

Jeez I feel old!

Summer Holiday in English Rose Kitchen Land

August 23rd, 2009

Krysten makes up for us not being able to go on holiday by performing crab like movements for our benefit

Krysten makes up for us not being able to go on holiday by performing crab like movements for our benefit

The Sun is bright, hot and relentless, the cocktails smooth and exotic, the sea laps around feet dangling into the clear waters of the Mediterranean. Yes, our contractors are enjoying their annual summer holidays.

Unfortunately however, we are not. The renovation grinds on and we decided months ago that we didn’t want to go away and come back to a building site so, with the ever increasing delays, we find ourselves without a summer holiday this year.

On the face of it there’s only a little more to do. 5 weeks ago they gave us an estimate that it would all be finished 3 weeks ago. There’s now no chance whatsoever that it will be complete by Carnival, so sadly no chance of putting any friends up that weekend.

Which is probably for the best actually. It’s going to be a pretty busy one for us, not least because on the Monday (Aug 31) Rotten Hill Gang are playing on Gaz’s Rockin’ Blues stage on Talbot Road outside The Globe and then one of our singers, Krysten Cummings, has to dash straight off to Leicester Square for the première of a movie she’s in, “The Descent 2″.

Sorry just rambling because there’s currently nowhere else to sit around here but in front of the computer!

Kitchen has that sort-of-coming-together feel

August 14th, 2009

It may not seem like much, but when you’ve been kitchenless for as long as us, seeing the worktop appearing in place above our run of units feels like magic.

Despite the fact that it is clearly now closer to a room for cooking than relaxing in and that we relinquished its former use nearly 7 months ago, we’re having trouble not calling the new kitchen the living room.

What was our kitchen is now to be the exercise area, the old dining area is soon to be the living room and the previous living room is nearly the kitchen. I’m very much looking forward to being able to say, Big Brother (UK) style, “Ehht Thir’y ehh ehm. Rehh is in the eehxcerise eehria”1,2,3.

Sort of starting to look like a kitchen

Sort of starting to look like a kitchen

1For non-UK citizens and those simply bemused, the voiceover man on BB here is from a city in the north east called Newcastle. People from Newcastle are nicknamed Geordies and they speak a dialect that’s impossible for the rest of us to imitate, comprising as it does a series of vowels so flat you could serve drinks on them and a succession of glottal stops the likes of which us Londoners can only dream of.

2Actually I chose the time 8:30am for the way it sounds when a Geordie says it. In fact there’s very little likelihood of “Rehh” being anywhere but in bed at that time.

3… with sincere apologies to Newcastle, whose people, accent and city I love dearly.

Keeping the romance going through a renovation

August 12th, 2009

Wifey chews the cud

Wifey chews the cud

You know – many people have asked me “What is the secret behind keeping the romance of a marriage going throughout an unexpectedly extended renovation of some sort?”1 and today I can reveal just one of the techniques we have employed.

As far as British summers go (and not including the summers of ’75 and especially ’76) this one ain’t ‘alf been bad. Occasionally. Whatever, one on of those occasions we elected to eat, as Lilly Allen would have it, “Al fresco”. In this instance at the end of our driveway.

The most romantic date I’ve ever had with Wifey was when she returned to her family’s home in

The evening is hotting up

The evening is hotting up

Maryland while I remained at home in West London. We set up our web cams in our respective kitchens and cooked the same meal at each end. Later, as we sat down to eat, we placed our respective laptops across our respective dining tables and, having dressed appropriately, lit or respective candles.

We even went as far as to buy the same bottle of wine and if I passed mine out of shot just as she grabbed hers it had the effect of appearing as if we sharing the same bottle of wine2. After only a short time we completely forgot that we were separated by 3,000 odd miles and an ocean. The only awkward moment came when it was time to say goodbye and we couldn’t decide whether the phrase “Your place or mine” was appropriate.

But I digress3. In what may seem like a fairly mundane event, Wifey and I decided to enjoy one of our recent long-ish summer’s evening’s by dragging out the picnic table that is mysteriously built in to our car and hosting our very own romantic dinner for two.

During one especially poignant moment I wandered off to purchase another bottle of wine, while our cat Smirkle occupied my seat. Some passers-by, noting that Wifey was sharing a “special moment” with her cat were moved it ask if she needed company. I suspect that I will be required to edit this last paragraph in the morning.

1For the avoidance of doubt, that is a complete lie. It is nothing but a literary technique designed to embew an otherwise pedestrian article with a sense of gravitas

2This is not entirely true either. The fact is that neither of us could help noticing that due to the fact that we weren’t really sharing the same bottle of wine we both got twice as drunk as normal.

3For non British readers or British readers under the age of about 40, this is reference to the humour of Ronnie Corbett, who, as part of The Two Ronnies used to entertain the nation once a week with a particularly rambling shaggy dog’s tail during which he would make several – er – digressions. Watching reruns on the show recently it really hasn’t stood the test of time.