I don't cook. It's not that I can't cook - I'm quite able to do so if necessary - it's just that I don't. I don't enjoy cooking, although I do enjoy eating. Luckily, the Old Bat does enjoy cooking so it is no great hardship for her to take charge of the culinary aspects of our household. Which is probably just as well as I have never been taught to cook. My mother, bless her, was firmly of the Old School of Thought. As far as she was concerned, the woman's place was in the home - washing, cleaning, shopping, cooking - and a man was tolerated in the kitchen only to help with the washing up. The education system here in England in those days was of a like mind. There were no mixed-sex schools after the age of 7 or 8 - even university colleges were single-sex - and boys were taught woodwork or metalwork while girls were taught cookery and sewing.
I have a vague recollection of Fanny Craddock, probably England's first television cook. I don't recall ever seeing her programme when it was broadcast but I have seen clips - and it's probably on Youtube. Anyway, she had a cut-glass accent and used her husband as an assistant. Although skivvy probably describes his role more accurately. I seem to recollect that he was at least half cut all the time and that a glass of wine was always either in his hand or very near to it. Fanny treated him abominably. My role in the kitchen is fairly similar, although I must say I am not treated abominably. But it's washing up that I am used for, although I am occasionally allowed to stir the gravy. In all that washing up I have become intimately acquainted with a variety of labour-saving devices. Or so-called labour-saving devices. I'm almost certain that in the case of some of them the amount of energy used to clean them is considerably greater than has been saved by using them. However, since it is the Old Bat who uses them and I merely wash them... Need I say more?
There are quite a number of these devices that are in regular or even frequent use chez Brighton Pensioner. The bread-maker, the pressure cooker, the slow cooker, the electric whisk, the liquidiser, the Magimix all come into their own at least once a week or so. The sandwich toaster less frequently, and then only for making waffles for dessert. The ordinary toaster is used occasionally, and of course the coffee filter machine is used several times every day. All these I know, and know well. But there are a few others tucked away that rarely, if ever, see the light of day. We have thrown out the wok and the fizzy drinks maker, along with the fondue set. The salad dressing mixers that we bought cheaply in France proved to be too cheap and quickly broke so have been thrown away. Tucked away in a cupboard, though, is a salad dryer - a plastic basket with a lid and a handle that turns the basket so that centrifugal force ejects the water from the lettuce leaves. I can't remember the last time that was used. And then there is a potato masher, a plastic thingummyjig that will probably wave a white flag if ever it is faced with a real potato. I don't think that has ever been used.
But my favourite device of all is a mole wrench. When - as now seems to be pretty much always - my hands are unable to open a bottle of milk or a carton of orange juice or take off the screw-cap from a bottle of wine, the faithful mole wrench is brought forth and, hey presto, the job is done. What's more, the mole wrench doesn't have to be washed up!
The bluebells in Stanmer woods were just about at their best the other day. I took far too many photographs but not one is really what I was aiming for. This is probably the one that came closest.