Saturday, June 26, 2010

Not cleaning the oven or defrosting the freezer

This is a picture turned sideways by my camera or possibly Picasa. Tilt your head to the left and admire it.

I hit a low – or possibly high – spot on my rather blank decadence record yesterday when a chap came and cleaned my oven. While not appallingly filthy, it was definitely on my mind as needing attention the other day and then I came home to find a leaflet on the doormat offering this service. Reader, I was tempted and reader, I succumbed.

It felt horribly bloated-plutocrat-like, but this cheerful oldish chap with a Lancashire accent turned up at the appointed time and spent an hour and a half making it gleam. He was happy to tell me how he did it – basically hard work, not chemicals. And certainly it’s a long time since I spent an hour and a half on this task – well, in fact, let’s be honest, it’s never happened. (The hour and a half, not the cleaning. I have cleaned it. Occasionally.) I felt slightly less guilty when he told me that on the scale of dirtiness, mine was quite unmucky. Sometimes he has to spend three hours on the job.

Which made me glad that I’d resisted – with some difficulty – the urge to give it a quick scrub before he arrived just to spare my embarrassment.

I don’t think I was born to be a lady but actually I think I could get used to it. I found myself wondering if I could kidnap him and force him to defrost my freezer.

The oven-cleaning cost £55. It's more than I get for an hour and a half but I don't think I'll swap jobs with him.

This morning I put off defrosting the freezer by taking pictures of flowers and the fluffy garden inspector, Cassie. Clematis above.


More paeonies.

Petunias, begonias and lobelia.

Cassie inspects the undergrowth of geraniums.


Back again.

Why is her dish of clean water only the last resort, after the birdbath and the kitchen tap?

I'm not really a fan of purple but I like it in flowers.

Pretty yellow daisy things whose name I'm not going to look up because I have Better Things to Do.

Enough of this footering. To the ice, ho!


  1. I always forget to plant paeonies. Every year I say - next year. Procrastination and all that. I love your garden, Isabelle - and so help me, if that man travels, send him down my way. I was not born to do ovens. I can think of a million things I would rather do than clean mine. Groan.

  2. Anonymous2:27 pm

    Your garden is beautiful. As for the oven cleaning - money well spent.

  3. Does he do overseas house calls? It's a good thing my mother-in-law is no longer with us, because if she could see my oven she'd probably encourage her son to file for divorce! But he probably wouldn't listen since he gets fed very well, in spite of the lack of a gleam in the oven. It's really not so terrible; just by her standards. Same as a tidy desk being a sign of a sick mind!.....well, kind of!

  4. Life for busy people is just too short to clean an oven - or, as in my case, a car - I paid £35 last week for a nice tattooed chap to revive my grubby dusty vehicle, and didn't begrudge a penny of it.

    "It is the duty of the wealthy man
    To give employment to the artisan"..... scale that down a bit, and we have just done a bit of our duty to the hard-working self-employed......

  5. What a great idea! I would love to have someone else come scrub out the oven-without chemicals, no less! :) Today I must tackle the lazy susan and cupboards under the sink... Is this summer "vacation"? :) I shouldn't complain; while I'm in here commenting on blog friends' adventures, my husband is out spreading mulch... ;)

  6. 55 pounds ... and worth every bit of it.

    Glad I read your post. I'm furious with my husband just now, and need something to do with the energy. (He ripped out some of my plants out front.) Maybe scrubbing the oven is the ticket.

  7. Decadent? - maybe but I'd join you revelling in it anyday - have never heard of that service here in Australia - gee I can't even find a window cleaner. The garden is looking magnificent. Zxx

  8. I will come and defrost your freezer. To you, madam, only £150.

  9. Ah Fran, if I'd just read your offer before I'd done it myself - who knows to what levels of decadence I might have plummeted? But what with that and your train fare from Warwickshire... I am Scottish, after all, and there are limits to my extravagance.

  10. I haven't yet succumbed to the oven cleaning service but I'm very tempted!
    Everyone knows, by the way, that clean water in a cat/dog's bowl has to be left to mature and then only drunk as a last resort, being so much less healthy than a dirty puddle or water collected in an outside dish..

  11. So someone to come and clean..but just like you I would be tempted to pre-clean...mmm...maybe not. Your flowers look beautiful....and why do cats like to drink from the tap??

  12. Wow -- what a wonderful thing to do -- oven cleaning is no fun, so it sounds like money well spent! Your flowers are beautiful -- I love purple flowers too!

  13. Getting someone to clean your oven is decadent at all. You're giving someone who needs it a job, and keeping him off welfare. Good for you.

    The garden is magnificent. Now what I need is a gardener, I've got a black cat, just like yours.

  14. I spent half of this post giggling about the "a" you guys insert into the word "peonies", making it look like the name of an ancient goddess.

    Spent forty-nine percent enjoying your story and your pictures.

    Spent one percent trying to figure out why my peonies spring up full of luscious leaves, but never bloom.

    Maybe it's the missing "a"!

  15. Ahem. We don't insert the "a". You remove it.

  16. Send me that man's name and phone number. At once. (I suspect my oven would be a three hour job at least, but it would be worth every penny. Or indeed paeony.)

  17. Worth every penny I would say. Many years ago we had a man who 'did' drains - 50p per grid and a bowl of Savloned water afterwards. (Hands and arms went into unmentionalble places...urgh) I never knew if I was buying an essential service or helping someone out. We did have particularly squeaky-clean drains though and there was no way I would ever have done them myself.

  18. Speaking as someone who recently and happily welcomed a fortnightly cleaning lady into her life, I applaud your outsourcing of the oven-cleaning. I've cleaned this house's oven exactly once, when it broke and the landlord was coming over to confirm it's broken status before authorising repairs.

  19. I love your garden ! It rocks !
    What lovely flowers... I never tire of seeing it.....

    As for the cleaning, I am glad you hired some one for oven. There is a particular saying in India, which when translated sounds like "Let the specialized work be done by experts as if you do it yourself, you may mess it up further and will in turn earn a lot of wrath" :)
    I guess, simply put, that is my excuse of not doing such hardwork oriented tasks ;)

  20. I feel like putting an ad in our paper tomorrow - Oven Cleaned for $94 (equivalent of 55 English Pounds). I would be an instant millionaire, going by the response to your post, Isabelle! The secret to a clean oven does not entail chemicals or scrubbing. All you do is make up a stiff paste of water and bicarbonate of soda. Spread it around the interior of your oven, and heat for 30 minutes. When the oven has cooled, brush the bicarb of soda off - it will remove all traces of burnt fat and grease.
    I cleaned all my homecare clients' ovens this way when I was a Carer, and they were so pleased that there were no awful chemical smells in the process.

  21. Vivien9:49 pm

    I used to have a "self-cleaning" oven - it had a second casing fitted on the inside made of some material, God knows what, or where the grease went. But it worked! I never had to clean it! Probably you can still have this done. Amazing the amount of lovely time you have when you don't have to do housework, e.g. on holiday. Housework isn't really work, it's just basic existence. Would be good to be well-off and delegate the whole lot. But rather difficult in the old days, I should think, if you were reasonably well off with maids and cooks living in - they were always around and had tempers and heartbreaks etc. We're so lucky with gas-stoves, hoovers and washing machines.

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  23. Magnificent flowers and magnificent cooker too! Well done :)

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