It’s been quite a week for me. I enjoy being busy but we do all have limits, and I think I may have come close to reaching my own. The first two days of last week were busy but manageable: you may have seen the announcement about The Household Academy? I spent my Monday and Tuesday orchestrating some PR for that, as well as liaising with logo designers and web developers. In the midst of all this, my iron decided to break! Last Sunday I was suddenly aware of a brown sappy liquid oozing out of the steam holes. I decided to de-scale the iron, but this did not fix the problem when I went to iron once more the day after. Thankfully, I had ironed pretty much everything that I needed to iron and so I wasn’t left with a huge pile of creased clothes, napkins and tea towels.
In preparation for guests on Wednesday I made a blackberry and almond tart on Tuesday afternoon. It’s one of my favourite puddings, and quite simple to make. You do a basic shortcrust pastry, then spread a layer of blackberry jam on top, then mix together ground almonds, eggs, sugar, butter and then pour on top of the jam layer/pastry; dot some whole blackberries on top and bake. The result is delicious – especially when served warm with ice cream. (Please note, I had a bit of an accident with the pastry, so that wasn’t as perfect as I’d like it – so this tart had a rustic feel.)
Because I had two sets of houseguests this week, the first set were staying on Wednesday night, the second were staying on Friday, this left a 24-hour period to turnaround the guest bedroom and bathroom. I only have one set of sheets for downstairs at the moment so after the first couple of guests departed on Thursday morning, I was washing and ironing the linen in readiness for the next set of guests. Of course, I realized early on Wednesday morning that I’d have to do this and didn’t have a working iron in the flat. I moved one or two appointments around and rushed off to John Lewis to buy a new one. This is where my week started to get frantic. Having bought the new iron I then went off to lunch with a friend (having made a bolognaise sauce for a lasagna), and then into a meeting about a potential project (don’t get too excited – it’ll be a long way off yet). I then collected one of the guests from the train station and we came back to the flat, where I finished off the lasagna ready to cook later.
My guests loved both the lasagna and the tart, which was good. We all enjoyed seeing each other – there’s nothing I love more than entertaining people… (and one day, who knows, I may meet some entertaining people… – old joke!). After the guests left on Thursday morning I then stripped the downstairs bedroom and started to wash the sheets. As these were in the machine I shot off to the BBC to speak to Radio Manchester about table manners and dining etiquette, and then came back to begin ironing the sheets to then pause to speak to a journalist for a website called ‘Working Mums’.
Having ironed the sheets, I then had to make the bed downstairs and then get ready for a photoshoot I was having at the flat. It was just as well the shoot was going to be focused around domesticity as I had the ironing board out, towels on airers, and all sorts going on in the flat.
By Thursday evening I had no energy at all. People always laugh when I say that photoshoots can be very tiring!
Friday morning I was up early to clean the guest bathroom. I love clean bathrooms – and I hate dirty ones. There’s nothing worse than a dirty bathroom, I feel. It’s so unpleasant to see grimy surfaces and scum that has built up behind taps, etc. I am shivering just thinking about it.
I then went to meet my second houseguests at their new house in south Manchester (they were moving some of their stuff in a few weeks early before they move-in properly). Well. I may not be visiting them much. We walked into the house before one friend screamed, “mouse!” and then we both ran out onto the street flapping and wailing. It caused the builders opposite much merriment. The house, which they are renting, is not in the best of conditions… I mean, there’s a mouse! That sums it up, really. But as Imogen and I walked around the house (having run up the stairs so that we weren’t on the same floor as the creature) she said, ‘Oh, William, I don’t think they’ve finished cleaning it’. To which I replied, tartly, ‘I don’t think they’ve started’.
We then returned to my rodent-free flat (if I ever did get a mouse I’d sell) for dinner – I cooked tuna and two-cheese pasta (the two cheeses being cottage cheese and cheddar), and then served up chocolate mousse. They left me on Saturday afternoon and I was very glad to have the flat back to myself. I love having guests and it’s a lovely feeling when they arrive… but it’s a nicer feeling when they all leave!!