Saturday, 6 October 2012


is quite often oddly satisfying.

"Did you see what I did last week? Did you notice the sparkle?"

It was Kelly's morning for cleaning. As I was about to remove myself, out of her way, and disappear into the garden,  her question arrested my flight. Like many women, I feel guilty about employing another woman to clean up after me, and like to pretend it's not happening by being really busy with something else, but Kelly is totally matter-of-fact about it and cheerfully admits that she needs the money. I hovered, uncertain what it was I should have noticed. On her previous session I had had to take Beloved to the eye clinic for his sixth poke in the eye with a sharp object, and we'd not seen her at all. Kelly knows where the key is and we trust her to get on with the job while we're out.

"Didn't you notice that I cleaned the cooker surround? I took your pottery down and gave it a good scrub and I did the tiles too. It was really greasy everywhere."

"Oh, thank you, Kelly, of course I noticed it, you did a grand job. You made such a difference."

I took a closer look and the tiles really did seem clean. and the pots had lost the fuzziness that comes with sticky dust. A little ashamed that I hadn't even noticed before, I repeated my thanks. Every job well done deserves appreciation and all too often I forget how important this appreciation was to me during my own working life.

This time Kelly had to clean up after a pair of
plasterers. The builders finally arrived to attend to the
damp and mouldy patches which we had ignored
for far too long.

The damage under the eaves was due to
a leaking roof and has been steadily getting
worse over the past twelve months. We've had
enough rain for the house to float, like
Noah's Ark, down the hill and away with
the river and we were quite relieved to see that
there was no rot in the timbers.

It was Kelly who noticed that the
broom cupboard downstairs was peeling
off the wall. I tend to see such things with
only half a mind; I hate repairmen in the
house and any job like that will probably
cause upheaval, mess and great expenditure.

But when the leak seeped all the way into the
downstairs bathroom something had to be done.

Considering that it takes even the best regulated
firm of builders many months to turn up, it might
have been been more sensible to get on to
them a bit sooner; but now the job is done, there's
only the painting to come and the pressure is off.

We haven't had the bill yet.

I told the chap in the first photo that I was
taking his picture for my blog.

"What's a blog ", he asked.

"A kind of online diary. - ok, so mine isn't really,
but  it would have taken too long to explain the 
convoluted nature of this particular example of the
genre -. There'll be people on other continents reading
about you and they'll see your picture".

"Really", he said, "cool".

He might have been humouring me, the client; the 'cool'
made me stop and wonder. He was at least in his thirties
and nobody older than thirteen should use this expression, but he was a nice chap. They both were, and they managed to work all day without a radio blaring pop music. They also cleaned up after themselves, leaving plenty of surface dust but no real mess. If anybody round this end of Shropshire reads this and needs a building contractor, I can recommend them.

And finally, humdrum is as humdrum does; it is a quick walk I take on so many afternoons of my life here in the Marches, but no matter how often I retrace my steps around 'my' castle, the pleasure never wanes. But then, you've heard me brag about this many times before.


  1. What a pristine kitchen! I could do with a Kelly although I'd feel guilty if I made a mess and spoiled her hard work. Hope your house is dry and watertight now, we had to deal with a leaky roof earlier in the year - it's horrible how much damage a small amount of water can do when it gets in the wrong place.

  2. I cleaned out my pantry last week. I was exhausted and so proud. It might be worthy of a post? Nah! YOu are so correct in saying that praise is essential for a job well done. I wish I had a housekeeper, but have no excuse for not doing it myself, therefore it does not get done as well as you Kelly does it! That last photo is a book cover!

  3. Oh for someone to do for me what Kelly did for you - my surroundings could use a bit of sparkle. That's what I'll be trying to accomplish for part of the weekend.

  4. I have in the past had someone to do the cleaning. And I ran away from them each and every week. Shame? Probably. These days we do it ourselves and it takes days to achieve what the cleaner did in hours. Yes we do a more thorough job, but I am not certain it is worth the exertion spread over days.
    I love your final photo, and would brag about it often. Thank you.

  5. There's nothing so comfortable as the mundane. Excitement works best when you're young; by this age excitement usually means bad news, and we get enough of that.

  6. Sheer bliss to have someone to come in to do the rough...and some of the smooth if she has time.
    I don't feel at all guilty and I certainly don't go cleaning up before she mucks us out as do some women of my acquaintance.
    I do both praise and thank her, because she does a good job and I'm grateful.
    I loathe housework...she is willing to do it for me - and she has The Men cowed into obedience and short lived tidyness!

  7. I always wanted someone to help me clean the house, especially when my children were living at home and time was something I always ran out of. However, I knew I would have to clean before I would ever let anybody else do it. As a result, I never hired anyone.

  8. nice...i love your ruins there in the end....and pretty cool to have someone help out...and to notice the little things and take care of them as well...before they become big things....hey here is to humdrum...smiles.

  9. Not only sparkly shiny, but colorful!
    Sometimes you just have to deal with repairs and such. So glad they were good and fairly tidy. But don't pick on the man for saying "cool". I have been saying it since the 60s. ;)
    Enjoy your weekend in your clean kitchen and non-leaky house. :)

  10. I love the colors in you home - and never feel guilty for having cleaning help... we all have our talents and hers is obviously attention to detail. "nobody older than thirteen should use this expression" Ha!

  11. I would love to find out about your castle. Have you blogged about its history?

  12. REAL cool, Friko...lots of people need jobs, and the best work is for/with other people. As for your castle, that's even cooler!

  13. That kitchen of yours looks COOL :-) No, seriously, I love the cheerful colours of the tiles; it must be nice to see this first thing in the morning when you go to make your first cup of tea or coffee.
    As for tackling such problems v. leaving them for far too long - I have only yesterday called someone about the tap on my bathroom sink. It's been dripping for more than half a year now, and to avoid the dripping, I had to turn the hot water off. So, only cold water at the bathroom sink... But I could live with that as long as I was still able to have a nice hot shower every morning, and had hot water at the kitchen sink to do the dishes. Next week friday, someone will come and fix it. I hope it won't cost me an arm and a leg...

  14. Goodness Friko does Beloved still have an eye? Six pokes with a sharp object?? Poor fellow. I do hope he's doing well.

    Nice tiles..... and shiny - and good that the leak is fixed. Leaks can peck away at you and cause great worry.

  15. I own up to saying "cool" every so often, does that make me un-cool? Can I have a Kelly please? Do your contractors fix leaky boats? So many questions :-)

    1. No words strike such fear in the heart as "leaky boat". I once spent a full three months trying to run down a leak on a boat - the problem being, of course, that on a boat the water can come in "here" and reappear 40 feet down and six feet over "there". The worst one ever appeared only sporadically and dripped down on my nose as I slept - waking me, of course, and leaving me to spend the rest of the night trying to figure it out. ;)

  16. Love the sparkly tiles!! I have someone clean my house as well. I always look forward to her visits. It feels so good to have my house cleaned!! I used to feel a bit guilty...but no more. I just enjoy the process!!
    I would love to take a walk around your "castle". Beautiful

  17. I would so love a "Kelly"! And I would never feel guilty -- hate housework too much -- especially the 'nitty-gritty' housework -- cupboards and ovens and other icky stuff! I haven't even mentioned how much I hate cleaning bathrooms.

    Friko, your kitchen looks terrific and very cool -- but the coolest of the cool is that castle and the part of the world where you live. Best wishes to Beloved -- eye problems are not fun to have to deal with. My father suffered from macular (sp?) degeneration and had to have regular pokes in his eyes ...

  18. It would be so nice to have someone come clean but I am not sure if I would feel guilty or if I would feel glad that I am helping someone make some money. I hope I would be glad. But I also think I would love to have such a wonderful place to take a walk while the cleaning was being done. And the view of the worker is "cool". But that sparkling stove and tile is even cooler. Kelly does a great job.

    God bless.

  19. Your kitchen is happy and colorful. It's nice that you have Kelly working for you, she's doing a lovely job of caring for your home.

    That castle is 'cool'. ~ I still say that word and I'm in my 60's. :-)

    Have a lovely weekend ~ FlowerLady

  20. If I had the extra income on a regular basis I would happily employ someone to do my cleaning for me. and I probably shouldn't mention this but I use the word ;cool' all the time and I am far from 13.

  21. Friko, I send a round of applause to both Kelly and your dedicated builders. Kelly's initiative in taking extra care is a characteristic that I would love to see practiced more often around my workplace. Looking closer to home, she's now inspired me to do some additional house cleaning on ... well, maybe my next day off.

    Not only do I say "cool," but also save "far out" for very special occasions. Twenty-somethings I know seem to enjoy these vintage expressions!

    Oh, before I forget...I wish I could have a Central Park walk every day. However, my routines allow me to get over there about once a week.


  22. I sit on my rear end when my domestic help is in and don't feel guilty one bit because she feels very motherly and superior to me anyway. I'm supposed to be incapable of doing thejob of proper house cleaning myself. Act as incompetent as you possibly can and always remember to say a very hearty thank you for whatever may possibly have been done that day. xox

  23. Must be something in the air. Every other one of my blogger friends seems to be busy fixing and cleaning. I suppose it's that time of the year when the air is crisp and you can open all of the windows. But not here in the deep south USA. Hot and MUGGY. I remember the days before air conditioning with no fondness.

  24. Dear Friko, washing the backsplash on the kitchen walls! Ah, now that is something that needs to be done here, but it just never occurs to me. So much doesn't.

    I see that home remodeling or home repairs are the same everywhere. We want to avoid them but then something simply demands that we get to the phone, call someone, and pay for help. I'm glad this was all done in your home before the timber started to rot. Peace.

  25. Love the pictures.
    Your area is beautiful.
    I have help outside a few times a month
    and inside occasionally. Like last week
    when a number of heavy items needed to be
    put up for winter. First time I did not feel comfortable
    picking them up and putting in storage room.
    This young man even took the heavy bags of bird
    seed and dogfood out of my vehicle and put in garage.
    Time is changing how I handle many chores.
    My children and grandchildren all say "cool"
    guess it is a word I never used.
    The other day at the doctor's office I was
    sharing some of my life and the young nurse
    said "you rock."
    Wonder what that means :)

  26. Frico, you're lucky with the builders. They all cleaned up. Kelly did not have to take out the garbage. Now your kitchen looks wonderful!

  27. I love my cleaning lady. There are people, like your Kelly and my Tina, who see things that you and I don't see. God bless 'em!
    I always love to see photos of your castle ruins. I can hear the ghosts from here.

  28. You're just slightly ahead of me. The ceiling above my balcony has just detached a good bit of itself, all over my plants. No damage was done, but it needs tending el pronto, as one of my dockmates says. That means that as soon as I browse a bit more I'm going to have to go out there and do a bit of sweeping and rearranging and picking up, so the apartment crew doesn't look down their nose at me when they come to look over the damage and assess what has to be done.

    I love housecleaning, except in the summer, when I come home too tired from work to do anything. But there's a front on the way that may put us into the 50s tonight - open windows and a cheerful spirit tomorrow!

  29. I decided long ago not to feel guilty about my Kelly, aka "Allan and Sharon" -- they aren't the best cleaners in the world and definitely no Kelly. But they do the things I hate to do and I know that every two weeks, all the main stuff gets a good scrubbing. I figure I waited this long to be able to have help; they want the work and we both win! Nice kitchen -- I love your stove and the tiles!

  30. Laughed at this, particularly: "they managed to work all day without a radio blaring pop music." Mind sending them my way, please?

  31. my pleasure, too, does not wane. . . . lovely post of contentment

    Aloha from Waikiki,

    Comfort Spiral

    > < } } ( ° >

  32. Lovely post Friko.
    I like your tiles and have castle envy big time.......

  33. I would love a Kelly but would feel guilty about it too.

    My friend used to employ an 'ironing lady' but was so embarrased about it she did most of the ironing herself before her 'lady' came...

    And your castle is cool!

    Anna :o]

  34. That's why I live in filth. I hate to clean and am too embarrassed to have someone I pay to clean to see how bad it is. Plus I'm really cheap.

  35. I still say cool. Not as often as I used to, though. I drink my cup of coffee in Kelly's honor, this morning. Anyone who moves things to scrub until it sparkles is my kind of people.

  36. ein wirklich schönes post und wie eigenartig es doch ist, dass ich in dieser hinsicht genauso bin wie du. schliesslich, nach 3 sturmschäden, habe ich mein dach erneuern lassen. heute war ein freund meiner mutter hier, der mir, wenn er zeit hat, im hause helfen wird, aber was so besonders an dieser begegnung war, ist, dass er mir mut machte und sagte, es sei gemütlich bei mir und man könne hier wohnen und es sei ja alles in ordnung und "alles mit seiner zeit" hat er gesagt und wirklich, er hat ja so sehr recht :-)! uebrigens benutze ich das wort "cool" auch manchmal (!), weil ich finde, dass es dem gesprochenen in manchen situationen einen lustigen effekt verleiht.
    ich wünsche dir eine nicht zu teure rechnung und aber noch mehr, einen schönen abend und wunderschöne gute tage!

  37. Yes you and your Kelly and me and my Emma and I chuckle to see that you also miss the little extras they do. It is rarely I notice a cobweb or plaster falling, I am so much of what in the old days would be called the "absent-minded professor."

    Everywhere I visit is safe from any notation of dust on my part. I would never see it.

    And Oh I do love your stove....want.


  38. I'm only teaching part-time now and loving the chance to be humdrum some of the time. Yay!

  39. How lovely your kitchen is! (I refrained from using “cool”.) The tiles are pleasantly colorful. I wish I could give the original sparkles again to my kitchen and utensils. They are not dirty but have stains due to long-term neglect. My husband is kind of a gardener, so helpful in the garden, but not in the kitchen. He seems to think kitchen is my territory.

    I have nice autumn weather, so would be in your place I wish. Enjoy your walk and have happy days ahead.


  40. Never mind about the castle ( which , lets face it , looks a bit leaky ) , what I really envy are the kitchen tiles . We inherited Avocado Green from the last owner .... though we did get rid of the shag pile carpet . Way too cool !

  41. i really like your castle - would love to come and see it and take some pictures, maybe do a painting one of these days

  42. I love the "color" in your kitchen. Now days so many of the same drab kitchens are everywhere. Beige homes that are so boring. Give me color.

  43. I have someone who cleans here too.

    Your castle shot is wonderful!

  44. This was siiiiiiick. You should check out the song "Box of Wine" by my band Terminally Ill on my blog about them. You will love it I swear!

  45. What a cool and awesome last picture. Me like foreboding skies. We've started fixing niggly things around the house too, nothing as dramatic as yours. We do it ourselves being stingy folk which means it's going to take forever. Sigh.

  46. But you deserve to brag a bit. Those clouds give an air of October!
    Nice to have help that enjoys doing a bit more rather than less:)

  47. This was an interesting chatty blog Friko - Dave

  48. It's never-ending, isn't it, whether it's buffing up the kitchen tiles* or fixing leaks and damp patches? Thank goodness I live in a modern flat now, with a professional management company for the big structural issues. Before, I'd always been in Victorian houses: investigating a ceiling damp patch, I poked my head into the loft, only to see the sky where a couple of roof tiles had shifted, and pigeons making themselves at home!

    *I swear by the occasional going over with distilled vinegar, "occasional" being the operative word.

  49. I could do with a Kelly but the rule in this house is that we only employ people to do the jobs we can't which is fine in theory . . . but the windows go uncleaned, the house undecorated, the cooker a disaster . . . and so it goes on, or doesn't!

  50. Sounds like the story of my life, Friko, though minus the cleaner as yet. Life is mostly made up of a multitude of these tiny, mundane events, and none the worse for it in my book.

  51. House-helps are saviors!
    Love the last shot very much.

  52. Everyday occurrences and sights sometimes go unnoticed but tend to be what fill our reservoirs of stamina and hope. However, water damage (which I also have) isn't my favorite. I, too, tend to ignore, if possible. I need Kelly here in CO.

  53. Hi Friko - had to come back and look ... great autumnal cheerful colours - just right! Glad the job is done - mess cleared up, and all spick and span for another day ... my mother used to love hearing that people around the world sent her best wishes and hugs via my blog .... I just love the support I get, and have had during her illness. Seems like I'm on a travel journey .. it's fun, stimulating .. but explaining what blogging does - is, I agree, somewhat difficult .... not for us though!

    Cheers Hilary

  54. Friko, I was looking at all your wonderful pictures and came inadvertantly came across your AGA. We read so many blogs these days that I couldn't remember where you lived, but seeing your AGA, I thought it probably was England (and it was). We have an AGA here in Texas, but few even know 'what it is' here. We love it! And fell in love with it years ago after seeing it on another online friend's blog (who also lives in England). I don't usually comment on your site as you get so many comments, I can't imagine that you have time to read them all. But I just had to today.


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