New Experiences & Cleaning Up
By Linda Parker
I love my job. It means I get invited to interesting events, and the last month saw me setting off on two expeditions. The first was to Welsh Oak Frame, where we were given a guided tour of the workshop, in Caersws, north Wales.
The countryside at the end of May was glorious, and visiting the recently built home of Welsh Oak Frame’s director, Paul Edmunds, I was filled with inspirational thoughts regarding self-build homes, oak frames and views of rolling Welsh hills. We also visited a garden room, built by sister company Arboreta. It was very uplifting to hear genuine enthusiasm from people who care deeply about the process and the product they’re providing. I’m not in the market for a new oak frame house, but I may be planning a conservatory or garden room in the distant future, so will definitely consider looking at designs by Arboreta.
My second trip was to Alnwick, to the Outlook HEC kitchen showroom, (they also make fitted bathrooms and bedrooms, both equally stunning). The visit was to show us the new Town & Country range of kitchens by Mereway. They’ve made the process of choosing a kitchen much easier and straightforward. There’s a theme of town and country running through the range, with options and ideas on giving your town kitchen a country theme, or making your slick city kitchen work with a country angle. The accessories, handles, work surfaces and trim options are brilliantly chosen, making it a simple process to go through the steps of adding the appropriate finishing touches to a new kitchen. The Town & Country range uses hinge, lift and drawer fittings by Blum, so it’s easy to specify clever additions such as a sink drawer pull out, pan drawer and storage jar inserts, pull-out waste bin and ORGA-LINE cutlery inserts for a perfectly organised kitchen.
Highlights of the event were a cooking session in the Outcook cookery school, led by Gareth Kyle. I managed to shuck my first oyster, without causing serious injury to myself or anyone else. Later in the evening, dinner was at the wondrous Treehouse Restaurant… Actually I’m fibbing. The highlight was being on the winning team of the 15-minute cook-off, with our asparagus sharing platter…
Which leads us straight into barbecue season …which I look forward to and dread at the same time. Barbecues are always far, far, messier than anticipated, there’s either not enough or far too much food cooked, and when it’s a group effort, there’s always someone who wants to get involved who should never be let near a tin-opener, let alone a barbecue. I’ve decided to add grilled, griddled or pan-fried asparagus to the barbecue repertoire. It can be done in a cast iron griddle pan if you have one (whilst everyone is fiddling around with the barbecue grill). Snap the ends of the asparagus stalks off, brush with olive oil (or garlic oil, chilli oil, or a mixture) and cook for a couple of minutes – timings depend on the size, of course. Add some slices of baguette, also splashed with olive oil and a touch of garlic, and grilled or fried for a couple of minutes. Serve with mozzarella garnished with basil, as an easy pairing with whatever meat, fish or chicken is being barbecued. For rather more creative barbecue suggestions, look online here, which, quite simply, is a roundup of the only 10 summer barbecue recipes you’ll ever need.
In my still-ongoing kitchen planning project, I’ve been trying to decide what to do with the razor sharp knives we’ve accumulated. I’m not over keen on having a knife block on display, so will go down the knife drawer option, using the Wusthof wooden organiser, £39, which will hold up to four small and three large knives. So I may need two or three, but at least know that sharp knives aren’t slipping around all over the place. The little sharpener, also by Wusthof, £5.50, a two-stage sharpener with tungsten carbide rods for the initial sharpening, and ceramic rods for regular honing after stage one. It’s also suited to serrated knives, which I rarely bother to sharpen – but won’t make that mistake again. Check them out here…
It’s always good to hear about technical features that have been incorporated into kitchen cabinetry, and one of the best is the Tech-Drawer from Mark Wilkinson Furniture, which can be used to store and charge internet-connected gadgets. The new design uses Blum drawer runners, and adds four or eight (for a double drawer) USB connection points to the interior of the drawer. Perfect for multi-phone-i-pad households! Only available from Mark Wilkinson Furniture
Finally, in the packing and house-moving chaos we’ve been racing though the cleaning products like they’re going out of fashion. We’ve discovered Greenscents products, which include Lavender Laundry Liquid, which is 86% organic; Citrus Washing Up Liquid, which is 83% organic, and Herbal multi-surface cleaner, which is 95% organic. From £3.50 for a 500ml washing up liquid, visit www.greenscents.co.uk to order online and for more info on the range, organic ingredients are ethically sourced, and there’s also a ‘nonscents’ pure and hypoallergenic option, all well worth a look and a welcome respite from breath-taking chemical products!