Two and a half years ago we spruced up the kitchen by painting the varnished beech doors of the units and fitting new handles to them. Then last autumn we replaced the beech-effect plinths with gleaming white melamine-faced chipboard, leaving worktop replacement as the only major item on the kitchen to-do list. The coronavirus pandemic has delayed things somewhat – we had the new worksurfaces delivered just before the lockdown, but then we were unable to buy all the other bits and bobs we needed to do the job. Having two 3m lengths of heavy wooden worksurfaces laid out across the sitting room floor (the only downstairs room long enough) for several weeks wasn’t exactly convenient, but it did mean that we had plenty of time to give them repeated coats of linseed oil to protect them in use. They got 6 coats on both sides and all the edges before the bottle of oil we’ve had for donkey’s years ran out.
Unfortunately, I ricked my back early in the process, helping my dear husband to carry a worktop. He found a way to manhandle them without assistance after that, despite the fact they each weighed nearly 40kg. One corner of the kitchen has the built-in oven mounted at an angle on the worksurface, which means that whole oven unit had to be removed and replaced later, as did the cornice above it and a lot of ancillary stuff like the extract hood ductwork. And then holes had to be cut in each length of worktop for the hob and sink to slot in. All in all, a lot of work and I did almost none of it, being occupied with making visors and scrubs.
Now it’s all done and I’m very pleased with the result.
We just need to decide how to seal the new worktops to the tiled wall at the back. They are slightly thinner than the old chipboard worktops we bought from IKEA in 1995 – goodness knows how anyone could lift them if they were any thicker – which means we’ve had to put in extra grout beneath the bottom row of tiles, and that needs covering with something that will fill the small expansion gap at the back of the worksurface and hide the fact that the bottom grout line is thicker than the others. We’re testing a Polycell sealant strip to check it will stay stuck to oiled wood. So far, so good.
The old worktops are currently stacked in the garden, like a lot of other large rubbish items, because our local tip remains closed. Quite why is anyone’s guess, it’s not as if it’s busy except on sunny summer weekends when everyone is getting rid of gardening waste, and it should be easy to “socially distance” in a large outdoor space to which access can be controlled.
An unrepairable iron
All the scrubs sewing I’ve been doing has obviously overtaxed our iron because it failed the other day. I’m used to taking it apart whenever the flex wears through where it rubs on the edge of the ironing board, a few inches away from the iron. I buy a 3m length of heat-resistant flex of the appropriate rating and then just cut a few inches off it and re-make the connections every time it gets worn. By the time it becomes too short to use, it’s usually time for a new iron. But this time the flex was still plenty long enough, and sound. When I took the heel off the iron and checked the mains connections, they were too. I dismantled the whole thing, and found it was rather dusty inside, to put it mildly.
This iron didn’t, unfortunately, so I set about testing it more throughly. I soon found that it was the heating element itself that had failed, not just a loose connection or the thermostat or rotary switch. With modern irons that is a death sentence, the elements aren’t made to be replaced and, even if they were, buying one and getting it delivered would almost certainly cost more than the £8 I paid for a new iron. Tracking one down was a challenge, given that most shops other than food shops are shut and my scrubs schedule didn’t allow for an internet purchase, but thankfully I was able to buy one in a supermarket as part of my regular shop. Now I have an old iron cluttering up the place too, until such time as the Council pulls its finger out and reopens all the waste disposal and recycling facilities.