Tidiness breaks out


British houses and gardens have never, I suspect, been tidier. The lockdown removes all the excuses about not having enough time to go round making rooms neater. We have embarked on a busy programme of dusting, stowing things away (that cushion that lost its cover a year or more ago) and are working on having parsley, chives, thyme and other herbs for the food we’ll eventually be able to buy. We have reorganised a long bookcase so that all my excess cookery books are together (and given unwanted ones to Daisy, Hew’s 12-year old great niece, who sells them for charity). There is another shelf for books about décor and architecture, mostly written by friends and me. The rest of the space is filled by Hew with heavy tomes, mostly about Aberdeen (some of his family lived there).

The fridge is immaculate now I’ve thrown out the ricotta-filled red peppers and elderly mango chunks and Hew has catalogued everything in our freezer as we gradually eat our way through. The dogs had a special treat of venison which was too old for us to contemplate. The breadmaker has been consigned to the floor of the larder (no yeast) and the larder itself has been organised so I can find the toasted sesame seed oil and mango vinegar among other abstruse ingredients and spices. I have even discovered a dozen bottles of white wine vinegar I didn’t know I had.

I expect everyone is doing the same and getting the same satisfaction that I have from, finally, having a tidy house. It won’t last, of course, but the vinegar will.