Before I get my teeth into the main topic of this rant (that special circle of hell that is a house move), I want to touch on something else that has really REALLY annoyed me today. So, I don’t usually follow recipes, I’m much more of a ‘fling it all in and see what happens’ kind of cook. The results are mixed, but with the exception of that time that I decided to blend the lumps out of my mash (using a handheld blender, and resulting in a glossy substance reminiscent of magnolia paint), the results are usually pretty tasty. Today, however, I decided to follow a stupid recipe. This recipe, in case you’re interested:
As soon as lunchtime came around, off I marched to Waitrose to source my ingredients. As it was a Waitrose magazine recipe, I naively assumed that they’d be well stocked up on all the critical ingredients. Alas, it was not to be. I filled my basket and ended my circuit of the supermarket at the seafood section. To my immense dismay, there was not a crab to be seen. There was an abundance of prawn cocktail varieties and a shelf full of the truly vile-sounding product in the pic below, but no crab meat of any description.
How utterly tragic. I am well aware just how ridiculous and spoilt I sound as I witter on about my local supermarket’s lack of fresh crab. (atfirstworld problems – and just where is the hashtag key on an apple keyboard?!) in my defence, it is really the whole recipe-following obsession that I am bemoaning. I much rather just winging it – far less stressful! Incidentally, as I attempted to find the link to the recipe (frustration mounting, reading to throw the keyboard across the room in despair as the search terms ‘Waitrose’, ‘recipe’, ‘crab’ and ‘monk fish’ failed to result in any hits), realisation dawned and it would appear I didn’t actually buy the right stuff anyway. I happily purchased and cooked monk fish when the recipe actually features sea bass. But hey ho, an important lesson learned, and I think the moral of the story is that attempting to follow recipes to the letter is a futile endeavour.
If I have my heart set on a certain meal (whether that be in a restaurant or at home), it makes me exceedingly grumpy to then have to order/cook something entirely different (and most probably inferior). This is particularly the case when I have spent my entire lunch break hunting for specific, expensive, unlikely-to-be-used again, likely-to-fester-in-back-of-cupboard-forevermore ingredients.* In my new house there is a gas hob upon which I am very much looking forward to cooking my usual style of thrown-together meals (see how seamlessly I got back onto the topic of moving house?!). It’s been a long time since I experienced the joys of a gas hob. Easily pleased, me. There are other things, too, that I am looking forward to in my new house:
- Living in a different street from the weird neighbour who once came knocking on my door to accuse me of chucking empty Tia Maria bottles and bars of chocolate into his garden…
- No longer living next to the aforementioned neighbour’s twin babies and their associated screaming (and the massively irritating guessing game the BF insists on partaking in: “That’s the boy baby crying. Oh and that’s the girl baby. Oh no, actually, that’s the boy baby, too. That’s definitely the girl baby; it’s more high-pitched. Now they’re crying together. Are you sleeping?” Ad infinitum).
- Having a lean-to (not a ‘lean-too’ as per the house brochure) in which to store the bicycles. No more bikes in the dining room! Hopefully the bikes won’t get lonely and cold out there all by themselves…
- Buying household items that I like and that the BF would usually veto and then claiming that they were housewarming gifts and, therefore must be given pride of place. “No, you’re right the new rug is a bit bright, but it was a present so we really have to use it… I’m sure we’ll get used to it.”
- Disposing of certain items and subsequently explaining it away: “Your jeans with the rips? No, not seen those for ages, they must’ve got lost in the move… That horrible mug with the cats on it, I’m pretty sure that got broken in the move… All those old Vice magazines you never read but insist on keeping on the shelves where i could be storing more of my books? Oh dear, I think they must’ve got chucked out by mistake in the move. That cat picture painted by your ex girlfriend for you birthday? Now that was so gorgeous, I think someone must have stolen it out of one of the moving boxes.” (Said with accompanying Sad Face, of course). It’s okay, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t actually read this.
- Finding all the things that I have lost over the past 3 years (clearly they will all come to light in the move).
- Having a really good big clear out and sorting out all those drawers of junk (yeah, right).
- Having a garden without the stress of a garden. (An outside space with room for a BBQ and some sun loungers, but no grass requiring mowing, or flower beds demanding weeding). Nothing like an overgrown garden to induce feelings of guilt and take away from one’s enjoyment of one’s al fresco G&T).
So yes, there are a few things that I am looking forward to, but they are a very small consolation when compared to the misery of the house-moving process in its entirety. We were lucky enough to find somewhere pretty quickly (and just round the corner, no less). If we actually had to, we could probably move everything by hand, student-stylee. My arms ache just thinking of the times that flatmates and myself would set off across the Meadows in Edinburgh, carrying carrier bags of kitchen stuff, or suitcases of clothes from one flat to another as we were too skint/stingy to pay for a taxi. The very best method was employed by my friend Jenny who, upon moving from one student abode to the next, commandeered the help of all the obliging young men in her phonebook. Little did they know that Jenny’s idea of a stress-free move was to pile every last one of her belongings into a single giant box (I like to think it originally housed a washing machine, or a fridge-freezer, or a Smart Car). I imagine it was rather stress free for her as she directed her male minions as they attempted to heave the box down the stairs in one tenement and up the stairs at the other end. Male pride has its uses in certain situations…
Thinking about it, very single flat I have ever lived in or visited in Edinburgh has been on the third floor or above. I think more so than milestone birthdays, wrinkles or grey hairs, the real sign that I am a proper grown-up will be when the day dawns that I start to visit Scottish friends in their ground-floor flats.
Finding a new dwelling is only the first painful step. We were lucky enough on this occasion to only have to look round three properties. I have become most adept at reading between the lines of house-marketing blurb…If described as ‘cosy’, the flat will be the size of your average cupboard. ‘Full of character’ translates as ‘a bit odd’, etc. Becoming fluent in Estate Agent speak helps to minimise the possibility of wasting endless evenings traipsing round unsuitable homes. This time we only had the misfortune of looking round one truly terrible place (think horrible slatty stairs slap-bang in the middle of the open-plan living area – a Saturday-night head-cracking accident just waiting to happen – and a kitchen with the sort of plastic transparent ceiling that looked like it had been cobbled together without resorting to something as tedious as planning permission, and a toilet in the living room. Not literally in the living room, but in a cupboard at the back. Still odd. The worst thing was the fact that the current renter was sitting right there on a couch under the slatty stairs and in front of the loo-cupboard, so I felt obliged to actually climb the precarious-looking staircase to look round the bedrooms, instead of running right out of there whilst simultaneously extracting hand-sanitiser from my bag). At first I was completely confused as to how we had actually arranged to look round such an abominable abode, and then it all fell into place… The BF had sneakily arranged to view places on the basis that they featured CAT FLAPS. I’m assuming he zoomed in on the online prospectuses. How very sneaky of him, although I am grudgingly impressed by his ingenuity. We eventually found a nice house and swiftly relieved ourselves of an eye-watering holding deposit. Clearly when we move in we are going to discover things that were cleverly concealed during our viewing – mouse-shaped holes in the skirting-boards, double prams outside the neighbours’ houses, etc – but for the next few weeks at least, I can look forward to my nice quiet new home.
I am putting this limbo period between finding the house and moving into it to good use. I am busy wearing all the clothes that have languished at the back of my drawers for the past three years (lest the BF suggests I don’t actually need them). Ditto shoes in the wardrobe and gadgets in the kitchen cupboards (getting used, not worn). Bread makers, smoothie makers, food processors and the like are all getting dusted off and set to work. “But we can’t possibly chuck out the electric vegetable steamer; I used that just last week! Don’t you remember, we had broccoli with that crab dish you had to stop me chucking across the kitchen? I was wearing that lovely mustard-coloured jumper at the time….”
I am also trying to get the BF to relinquish his version of this (thanks, Paula):
I hate to think what I will be like when I finally buy a house….
* In case you are at risk of losing valuable beauty sleep over the terrible situation I found myself in, you can rest easy, safe in the knowledge that I substituted the sadly unavailable crab for some brown shrimp. And I roasted some baby tomatoes and chorizo to have on the side, and served it with samphire. The resulting dish was most satisfactory.