Everything but the kitchen sink!

Until the new year life rushed along in a frenetic whirl relentlesly moving us from one event to the next; and what a time with friends and far-distant family, good food, wine and merry-making! But December slid into January and for one small instant of time I sensed the “down” of that doldrum period that always comes just after Christmas. But it was one moment, a tiny glitch of time and then the building materials and tools called from where we had left them and we got stuck back in.

In a fit of whimsy months ago I had ordered a large cupboard and a new sink unit for my kitchen to replace the ones that have been serving us poorly since we bought the house. The ordering period was so long that by the time they arrived, only days before Christmas I had all but forgotten about them.

The night before they were due to be delivered the kitchen company rang apologetically – “ah, Madame, ..p’tit problème…” and went on to explain how they had written the wrong item number on the order sheet. The sink unit was very definitely not a sink unit but a bed!

Overnight we smashed out the existing corner cupboard (with handy mouse entry zone) and then of course once it was out, the kitchen was in a sorry state of decrepid walls and missing plaster – not to mention all the entire contents of my groceries spread on every available surface. “Lovely Daughter” and I spent many moments of hilarity reading the ‘best before dates’ on the backs of the backs of the packets and realising that I could practically match the can of chicken fillets relentlessly in my mother’s cupboard after 20 years (or so) before throwing a not inconsiderable amount out! Be warned everyone who has a triangular corner cupboard. That far corner of the shelf is the true location for all that disappears into the Bermuda Triangle.WP_20150103_007Of course when a new cupboard is about to arrive it’s always a good idea to paint the walls above where it will go, and then with paint still in the tray, before I knew it I had started on the ceiling, and then the rest of the walls and finally several hours later it was all, quite shockingly, complete, and I wondered why on earth I hadn’t removed the horrible orangey gloss wall paint months and months ago!WP_20160108_013

The old french chimney took the most amount of work. The old tiles were broken, and filthy when I first moved into the house, and in a fit of passion I had smashed half of them off the walls leaving a terrible mess in my wake just days after my arrival and then lived with it like that ever since. It’s amazing what a small amount of plasterboard, fibreboard and paint can do.


Our Christmas jaunt to get paint (at half the price of french) from an english DIY centre left us with empty hands. Only I can take months to reach a decision on paint colour only to arrive in the UK to find that isn’t in stock!

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But in the end I found myself relieved at the lack of new the kitchen sink unit, because now we get a pause to enjoy what we’ve accomplished so far before tackling the plumbing!


So far it’s been a piece of cake!



The Great French Hypothetical House Hunt – The perfect Kitchen.

Today I received a phone call from the French estate agent that thought that this would be my perfect house:

“Madame” he said, “If you are quick to put in an offer, you will be in a very strong position – no matter if your house in England has not yet sold”

“Yes” I mused, “I will be in a very strong position because no-one else wants this particular house – Its is very plain and very banal and not at all what I am looking for”

His call did however set me to reflecting about one of the most important rooms of a house. The kitchen.  With my new found passion for patisserie, I often dream of the large smooth granite slab atop my central island unit in my old kitchen and think how wonderful it would be with all its marvelous ‘coldness’ for creating chocolate curls, and preparing pâte feuilleté (puff pastry) and croissants.

And so my dreams started to formulate themselves into my new and perfect hypothetical kitchen. And at that moment I knew why, even with the smooth talking Monsieur’s …

“mais madame, on habite à l’interieur d’une maison, pas l’exterieur”

(but madam, one lives in the interior of a house, not the exterior)

..the house in question simply would never work, even if blindfolded on entry. The kitchen was simply too small and pokey for any kind of creative excess.

Firstly the ideal kitchen has to large, and how much more fantastic than to have an open fire and bold beautiful architectural features. Look at this vaulted ceiling!

Top of the wish list –  plenty of room for a huge table for family and friends to sit around.

and ideally doors leading out to the garden..

…and a view! I know of course that I’m getting carried away, but i’d like to be able to wander out and pick mint from the garden to put with the peas.

If I lower my expectations, this would do very nicely!

Did I mention how important it is to have a huge slab of polished stone for patisserie? I imagine I did!

Simplicity is key when choosing cupboards, and calm cool colours. All the ‘busy’ will come from the utensils.

Simple glassware and china..

..crocks and pots.

and a wonderful corner for friends to settle in and chat, or the kids to lounge about and talk about their day whilst I cook –

or dare I say it, for ‘husband à l’etranger’ and I to have ‘time-out’ with a glass of wine!

…leaning on some wonderful cushions made from old grain sacks like these from Atelier Be.

and an ‘aide memoire’ to remind me what I need to buy. I imagine blue means I need to order more and white, that I have enough. This cannot be my house, I have plenty of wine left and have not finished all the chocolate!

An old battered jug in which to put garden flowers would be lovely,

 and old French linen tablecloths,

and some old french plates found in a brocante.

and a wonderful old french clock to get us to school on time.

and perhaps some unframed portraits of odd ancestors!

and no matter what, with all those old brocante ‘finds’ , the old french windows and food from the market, the ideal kitchen is unmistakably French.

The perfect kitchen for lounging lazily at the table with a glass of wine and a delectable patisserie?

I’ll let you know once i’ve polished off these macarons!

All photos thanks to Google Images

The Kitchen as the heart of the home!

Slightly disappointingly I left a fabulous kitchen back in the UK. This is what I inherited instead….