Alexander Averin

Saturday, 2 February 2008


Dear Diary,

A Woman’s Work is Never Done

For a change I'll start with a couple of poems.


HERE lies a poor woman who was always tired,
She lived in a house where help wasn't hired:
Her last words on earth were: 'Dear friends, I am going
To where there's no cooking, or washing, or sewing,
For everything there is exact to my wishes,
For where they don't eat there's no washing of dishes.
I'll be where loud anthems will always be ringing,
But having no voice I'll be quit of the singing.
Don't mourn for me now, don't mourn for me never,
I am going to do nothing for ever and ever.'



Some women marry houses.
It's another kind of skin; it has a heart,
a mouth, a liver and bowel movements.
The walls are permanent and pink.
See how she sits on her knees all day,
faithfully washing herself down.
Men enter by force, drawn back like Jonah
into their fleshy mothers.
A woman is her mother.
That's the main thing.

Anne Sexton

I have been tagged by Bradan to write some Household Tips so here goes.

I will start with a few suggestions and they are but a few.

Vinegar has so many uses, just try it for everything. White vinegar is best as its scent is less like a fish and chip shop, but any vinegar will do. It is powerful stuff; you will be impressed and wonder why you ever bought anything else.

To neutralise smells in the loo, strike a match.

Baby wipes are a marvel. Use them to clean absolutely anything, from computer keyboards to spills on your clothes! The only worrying thing is that they are so powerful, it makes one wonder what is in them and should we be using them on out babies skin?

Sprinkle bi-carbonate of soda on your carpets, leave as long as you can and then hoover (gets rid of doggy smells etc).

Save orange and lemon rinds and burn in your fire, makes a nice smell. Or simmer in a saucepan with cloves or cinnamon to scent the whole house.

Use eco-friendly cleaning products, they are more expensive but smell divine and are safest for the environment. I use Ecover.

Don’t use aerosols. Or any chemicals. I am allergic to chemical air fresheners and many many other products. Even walking in the ‘cleaning’ aisles of supermarkets makes me feel their powerful effects.

I save my soap pieces in a soap jar. Add hot water and use for all sorts of things. Spraying on roses for example to kill nasty bugs. Any other suggestions?

This last one is nothing to do with housekeeping but I am quite taken with it.

If you make custard with custard powder, don’t add sugar, there is no need. Try it and see!


I have a teeny room in my teeny cottage that I call The Snug. On the wall is a framed picture of a quotation.

Dull Women have Immaculate Homes.

Where I live in Wales Dull means something different, it means someone who is a bit thick or a trifle ‘dim’. I understand the word dull to mean someone who is boring. Either way the quotation resonates with me and I love it.

Every woman loves it.

I don’t like mess and I love to be in a clean, tidy and shining environment but it is a constant struggle to keep one’s home in tip-top condition, would you not agree? Unless you have ‘hired help’ I suppose. Ha Ha.

Whenever my little cottage is clean, tidy, sweet smelling and shining immaculately no one turns up but whenever the place is looking like a tip, visitors will always appear unannounced. And the thing I hate about having invited guests is the urgency I am struck down with to clean and tidy up before they arrive or I feel guiltily sluttish. Am I alone in this?

I like and feel most comfortable in houses that look and feel lived-in, that are filled with all manner of wonderful things, all strewn around. I don’t like homes that feel like furniture showrooms or something out of a magazine, these so-called Ideal Homes in the Country for example, that resemble nothing like REAL homes lived in by REAL country living folk, none that I know anyway.

When I was a young wife I bought a book called Superwoman by Shirley Conran. It was filled with Household Hints and hints on life in general. Very good it was too, I still have it. I always remember a couple of Conran’s quotations

Life is too short to stuff a mushroom


I’d rather lie on a sofa with a book than sweep beneath it.

And I remember reading somewhere else that a woman’s gravestone would never have the inscription ‘Here lies So and So …….. SHE WAS TIDY‘. No I don’t think that anyone has ever been especially admired or rewarded for being so.

I will admit to one weakness in the housekeeping line and that is my passion for doing laundry. Iespecially love the act of hanging washing out on a line and I also love to see clean washing blowing in the wind. I also adore the smell of clean washing and even find ironing relaxing when I get around to doing it, when the mountain is so high or I have run out of clothes to wear!

My sweetest ally in the laundry stakes is my beloved, ancient Rayburn. It is so old, it is actually one of the original models, but is still going strong. It dries, airs and irons for me as well as warming the cottage, heating my water, simmering my pots, keeping my dogs and cats cosy and being the heart of my home.

But the main problem with Housekeeping - I love that word - I wonder why? is that it is still (nearly) always seen as a woman’s job and women still feel that they are somehow defined by the image of the home they present to the world.

I prefer to make my home as pleasant as I can just for myself (and my animals) to suit my needs and tastes, to make me feel cosy and comfortable as well as safe and secure……… rather than to impress.

I don’t want to be judged by it.

Home is where the heart is after all,

Here endeth the lesson,

I am tagging five more victims now

They are:

Camilla, Exmoor Jane, Frances, Irish Eyes and Faith.

(And like housework dear friends, only do it if you want to ).

Go mbeannai Dia duit,
God Bless,


Zoë said...

Love the tip for smelly loos that involves a match ...... that had me in fits of giggles imagining the possible consequences and explosions!

Lots of lovely poems and tips, thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Lots of great advice there, Cait. I can so relate to your thoughts of enjoying a house that is lived in more than one which resembles a Show Home. Unfotunately, my house is permanently untidy but so am I.

Crystal xx

lampworkbeader said...

Gosh Cait. I think after all that work it is time for a little lie down.

snailbeachshepherdess said...

Lovely tips Cait ...I do not use chemical air freshners etc ...a bit of lavender oil works wonders. I use baby wipes to clean leather upholstery ...wonderful finish.

DJ Kirkby said...

We use vinegar to clean windows and make them shine and I loved the old soap pieces tip, thanks.

CAMILLA said...

Dear Cait,

I too enjoy being in a house that is lived in, and not a show home, but that it should have wares pleasing to the eye.. be it a painting, a jug of flowers, shelves of books.

Thank you Cait, lots of wonderful tips there, did not know about Bicarbonate Soda for getting rid of doggie smells on carpet. Thank you for the Soap Tip also.

Love all your Poems, thank you for sharing with us Cait.


CAMILLA said...

P.S Thank you for the Tag Cait, I will hope to do this soon. xx

Kaycie said...

I love this post. You're a woman after my own heart.

bodran... said...

I forgot all about the matches we used to have a box especially in the bathroom when i was growing up! Well with 2 brothers you need it!My mum had a sign which read a creative mess is better than ???? tidiness can't remember...
I've one that reads "Cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tommorrow cos babies grow up as we've learned to our sorrow , so quiet down cobwebs dust go to sleep i'mm rocking my babies cos babies don't keep"" xx

Inthemud said...

Hi Cait,

I liked the poems, especially the first one, reminded me of my late great aunt who used to live next door, she was always cleaning, banging rugs, washing with mangle, she wore herself out!

Good tips, i will use some of them, Not hear5d the light a match one before. I too read Shirley Conran's book, I think we all did at the time, Great blog!

Faith said...

Grief Cait, if you saw my place you wouldnt tag me for household tips, but I will do my best!

Lovely warm cosy blog, all clean and nice!

Fennie said...

Some good ideas there Cait! I have just been tagged as well. So much has been said. I think I'm with you however in not having an overly clean house!

elizabethm said...

I think you hit the nail on the head in saying we should do what we do in the house for ourselves, because it pleases us, because we like to live there and for no other reason.