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Now, there's only the two of us here, and you would think that we wouldn't need a lot of room. But think on this. Our kitchen floor measures four foot six and a half inches by eight foot two and a half inches. More than half of the width is taken up with a set of drawers with a microwave cooker on top, a sink unit/drainer, and a fridge with a four-ring hob over it. The length is cut short by about eight inches because the kettle and toaster needed a shelf to sit on. That leaves about seven foot six by two foot six to walk around in!
There's no denying that our kitchen is convenient. Nothing is more than a couple of strides away from anything else. The three rows of shelves above head height along one long wall and one short wall are ample for all the tins, boxes and bottles we need for everyday culinary purposes, the fridge holds the fresh stuff and the leftovers, and the cupboard under the drainer is where we keep the crockery.
If you are one of those interesting people who enjoy cooking, you will probably be having problems visualizing how on earth we cope. You will probably be asking yourself questions such as, "Where are the work surfaces, the cutlery, the kitchen utensils?". Well, I'll tell you.
You see, we have had to be inventive. When we first moved into the house, there used to be an old floor-to-ceiling cupboard where the microwave is now, the sink/drainer was the other way around, there was a cooker in the corner where the fridge is now, and the fridge was on the far wall. Yes, we have actually made more space than there was before!
Pulling out the cupboard was no loss as its doors took up more space than there was on the shelves behind them. The microwave now sits where the cupboard was, on the top of the set of shelves where we keep spare towels, etc. Replacing the cooker with a hob made space for the fridge, and turning the sink unit round made a decent space for a cupboard for cleaning materials in one side and crockery in the other. Using the old, boarded up hatchway for an ingeniously designed (by me) miniature set of shelves for spices and herbs, there was also room for a cutlery stand. This I made out of the cardboard tubes inside paper towels and kitchen foil, glued together and covered with string, the whole thing sitting on a cork tile base. The utensils, very boringly, stand on the window sill in a pot marked "Kitchen Utensils".
If you are with me so far, you may still be asking " . . . and the work surfaces?". Well, truthfully, there aren't any. Not unless you count having to clear the washed dishes to use the draining board, or the large cutting board which fits very neatly over the sink but sometimes falls in if we are not very careful, or the wooden cover we made to go over the hob so that there is somewhere to put the dishes before we wash them, which can cause a problem if we want to cook while still preparing food.
OK. So now we come to those other things which never really fit anywhere, even in the best designed kitchen. And here is where we got inventive. There is only so much room forwards and backwards, and side to side, so the only other way was into the third dimension - up!
The answer was cuphooks. Cuphooks over the hob, cuphooks under and along the length of every shelf, cuphooks behind the door. Cuphooks for sieves, for colanders, for the two dozen or so coffee mugs we seem to get through between the two of us every day, for the onion bag, the egg bag, the vegetable bag, the saucepan lids. Even the curtain rail is a length of dowel supported by two large cuphooks!
If it weren't for cuphooks, just imagine the mess we would be in. In our house it is not only a matter of too many cooks, but not enough hooks! You know how it is - there's always some new gadget on the market we just can't do without in the kitchen. The trouble is that the only room left now is the ceiling, and I'm not sure how much weight it would hold. Still, I could start with the wok and see what happens.