Decline of the machines

In the first of a series of chuckle-inducing scribblings on the trials and tribulations of everyday life, Hornblotton's Andrew Warren discovers his inner eco-warrior

Since moving to Hornblotton, I have had to manage without some of my favourite kitchen appliances: the dishwasher stayed in Scotland; the microwave is also absent, currently languishing in a cupboard because there are insufficient electrical sockets in our somewhat outdated kitchen; and the Gaggia died when asked to produce coffee in an area where the water is basically made of limestone.As my household chores revolve around making coffee and providing clean crockery to drink it from, I have had to seek manual alternatives. My morning routine used to involve coming downstairs and pressing a button on the Gaggia. Once I had consumed my espresso, I simply placed my cup into the dishwasher and went about my business, secure in the knowledge that my chores were complete until elevenses. Now I must come down in the half-light of day that is 7am in autumnal Somerset, locate the coffee percolator and empty yesterday’s coffee grounds. Next, I need to scoop the grounds off the floor with my hand, and place them in the bin. Then I fill the percolator with hot water, add fresh coffee and place it on the Aga. Finally, I need to wipe the coffee grounds from the kettle handle, the Aga door and anything else I’ve recently touched.

I have unintentionally become an eco-warriorNext, the hunt for a cup commences. I usually find them in my study, lined up like a row of Babushka dolls from the ridiculously large 7am cup to the tiny it’s-my-fifth-of-the-day-and-my-hands-are-shaking cup. They all need to be washed up, so I wait while the water trickles into the bowl through the tap that is so blocked with limescale it is almost a stalactite; perhaps in time my sink might become a must-see extension to the Wookey Hole Experience. Then that zingy-lemon-freshness as I add bubbles. A few moments of splashing the cups around and, as I hear the percolator bubbling, we’re ready. All this without any electricity and no harmful chemicals such as you might find in a dishwasher tab (I am not counting the tank of oil the Aga uses each month); I have unintentionally become an eco-warrior. I also start to wonder how much money I have saved since we moved south and I started doing things manually. I don’t really miss the appliances; I used to hate unloading the dishwasher anyway, and I quite enjoy making the coffee from scratch. Recently, I have been looking at the other appliances, and considering the manual alternatives. I have bought a scythe and have invited my neighbour to let his sheep tend my lawn whilst I sell the mower, for example. One morning last week when I was chatting to my wife about the pleasure I got from doing things by hand, I suggested she might like to consider abandoning her washing machine and her noisy vacuum cleaner. I passed her the Western Gazette, open at the free ads, where I had already circled a washboard and a broom. There was an awkward silence. Apparently, she is not keen to join my appliance-free revolution.

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