Much as I love my new slate kitchen floor, it took me well over an hour to vacuum and then steam mop it yesterday, and I had to admit that my new steam vacuum cleaner probably isn’t up to the task in its vastness. Best keep that for the bathroom floors then.

Long story short, I now find myself the proud owner of a George, the big brother of the famous Henry. Searching the Numatic website yesterday, I was somewhat dismayed to find a whole vacuum cleaner family: James, Charles, Henry, George and Hettie, who is, of course, pink. Here I shall pause for a massive eyeroll and link to the Pink Stinks website.

Here is George, a bells and whistles wet and dry machine.


One reviewer related how he just sloshed a bucket of water over his floor and mopped it all up with his George but I think we shall be more refined than that and actually use the brush/squeegee attachment. With any luck we’ll finally remove the lingering paint dust from our grout inside and outside.

I’m not really looking forward to explaining to my cleaning lady exactly how it all works: there are so many bits and pieces and it all looks very complicated. Luckily I found a very good video on You Tube although I do wonder about what motivates someone to spend the best part of an hour demonstrating a vacuum cleaner and filming it. I’m glad he did though: the Numatic instructions are rudimentary.

Now, I have always enjoyed spending Sunday afternoons baking. My post last week seems to have prompted an epidemic of cookie baking so these are for you @Annette1Hardy and @LesleyJ28.

The chocolate chip cookies follow the recipe I used before and I cooked them for 17 minutes but the puritanical, at times orthorexic OH is ostentatiously dismissive of anything as self-indulgent as chocolate, so I tried to make apple and ginger cookies for him.

Unfortunately the extra water in the apple made the cookie dough mixture a little too wet and loose so next time I’d probably add more flour and bake them for a couple of minutes longer. I used crystallised ginger, too, which seems to have stuck to the baking sheet a bit, so I’m glad that I used silicone Magic Liner on my baking sheets. Incidentally I’m finding my new double-handled baking sheets very much more user friendly than the ones that have handles on only on side.

I have never baked cookies before this week. Part of it is because I still have that quote from Hillary Clinton in the back of my mind, when she, rather dismissively, said that she was not the type of woman to stay at home and bake cookies. In my mind I’ve always been rather more Hillary than me, so not baking cookies was an outward expression of my thwarted ambition. Thank heavens, then, for Nigella and her ironically-titled Domestic Goddess book which still invites comment when I tell people how it is my favourite cookery book. Even having heard of it seems to be a cause for raised eyebrows from men who think they’re being funny.

The point of the title, of the book, is that no-one has to make a pudding, a cake, cookies but the sheer satisfaction of having produced something so luscious and homemade far outweighs the skill and effort required. Plus you have the whole warm, fragrant kitchen on a Sunday afternoon thing, which I love so much.

Another huge plus of baking one’s own cakes and biscuits, in my view, is that I know exactly what’s going into them. I have pursued my one-woman boycott of orang-utan-murdering, rainforest-destroying palm oil for years. It’s not easy to avoid because palm oil is an ingredient in so many things. It does seem to add taste and texture to biscuits and cakes, and it’s cheap, which is why it’s so widely used. But to establish palm oil plantations in South East Asia, they are cutting down huge areas of rainforest, the habitat for all sorts of endangered species.

I tried to explain my reasons to someone in a shop recently and she looked at me through dead eyes. It was much the same story as when I used to explain to greengrocers the reasons why I refused to buy South African fruit. First they laugh at you…  Let us, for the time being, draw a discreet veil over the provenance of industrially-produced butter and the dairy industry. I’ll no doubt get to that another day.