Idle Thoughts, a Saucepan Set and a Kettle

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A customer called Zoe wrote to me at the start of this week asking for some advice on cooking and also said how sorry she was to hear about Babette. She added that from the tone of my emails I appeared to be ok....? And I replied that that was the impression I generally mean to leave people with. Then I thought about it a bit more, which is what has provoked my thoughts this morning.

Because in fact I'm anything but alright.

Am I OK?

Things seemed to be pretty bearable up to the point of funeral. Then gradually my world seemed to implode rather. The finality of death is what is striking me most at the moment as I go through the various stages of grief which, when I Googled them just now are "Denial", "Anger", "Bargaining", "Depression" and then "Acceptance"! Well I'm a long way from acceptance and feel like I'm going through all the others, sometimes all at the same time, or at least within the same day. And it's exhausting, quite apart from having to face the fact that she's no longer around to talk to, to ring, to be rung by, to have long uninterrupted conversations in the car, to sleep with and to hug or be hugged, I can see that it is going to take quite a long time to get used to life without Babette. So why did I think it worth mentioning this....not really great sales patter is it?

No, but it's something that we will all go through at some stage in our lives and I'm of the opinion that, typically, we don't talk about death nearly enough (especially in western societies) and that often, when we do, it's too late, or after the event. One of the strengths of mine and Babette's relationship was the ability to be honest with each other. And this ability served us well over the years, I believe. So whilst there are things coming up, since she died, that I wish I'd said to her more often (simple one's like "I love you " for instance) for the most part we managed to be honest and congruent with each other throughout our time together. And that, I believe, paid dividends when she was alive, because we managed to say to each other (usually kindly) most of the unsayable things that we feared the other's reaction to. And this took courage, patience and love* to do, and could be very challenging. And it also means that since she died, I'm not left with too many "if only" thoughts, and this has to be a blessing.

The upsides

Looking further, in a positive vein, are there up sides to Babette not being here anymore? Yes, there are several and they're all around people. Friendships have come into existence, or been remarkably strengthened or rekindled as a result of her dying. Shirley and Andrew, Kate and Tom, Francis, Michelle, Jim and Babs, Simon, James and Julia, Vanessa, Chantal, Peter and Judy, Jeanne C, (this list is not exhaustive or in any particular order) have all played a significant part in supporting me, dare I say loving me and my children in ways that I didn't expect. This is in addition to the love I've had from my three children, from my people at work and Babette's brothers and sisters.

As Babette would say, "everything that happens to us in life, is good" and even in death she has showered me with gifts.

So, if there's a message here, it's don't leave it until it's too late to tell someone dear to you that you love them (that's easy) or that they are doing something that you really dislike (that's hard, but still an act of love). Maybe you could do both! Or just ignore me and read on...

Saucepans and a kettle on offer

Now, I'd no idea what I'd be trying to flog you today when I came in (it's Wednesday morning), but fortunately for me, and maybe you as well, Paul T came to my rescue when I asked him, and he came up with two suggestions.

We've just taken delivery of a couple of Kuhn Rikon 3 piece saucepan sets. One is an all Stainless Steel, pretty bullet proof set of three uncoated pans (16cm, 18cm & 20cm) with quite a decent thickness bottom disc of aluminium alloy, to spread the heat well. They come with glass lids, that won't allow you to see what's going on in the pan because, of course, it condenses over (it's a fallacy that glass allow a better view). Never mind, you've got all this quality for a mere £80, good value and affordable for your departing child off to Uni perhaps, if not for you?

Then there's the same set (size wise) made in aluminium with a non-stick coating. Only send son or daughter to Uni with this set at your peril or after exhaustive training on not overheating them. But anyway, this is not to say these sets are only good for beginners, because that would be to drastically undersell them. Both sets are, what I would term, good quality that will work well even if you're doing say a white sauce, and that's because the base on both types are thick enough the spread the heat evenly, so avoiding hot spots (which means burnt areas and undercooked areas) and thus lumpy sauces!

So yes very good value for saucepans that you can really go to town on!

The other thing Paul suggested was the Multi Temp Kettle from Cuisinart.

This is the kettle we use in the kitchen in the Reigate shop and there are a couple of reasons for this.

Firstly, as a jug kettle it's much better looking than most of the competition, as it's a clean uncluttered design executed in stainless steel.

Secondly I prefer my tea made from water a little below boiling and this kettle happily does 85°C, 90°C and 95°C as well of course as 100°C.

It's also pretty fast and quiet, I just boiled enough for a mug in about a minute.

So, for me, this is a good all-round kettle at £85. At present it's on an offer and is down to £65.

And, in fact, I've just remembered we put one in the kitchen in Banstead when we first opened and so far as I know, it's still going strong 9 years later!

That's it for this week, I hope you have a pleasant and peaceful weekend, and I shall try to do the same!

Kind regards,


* Babette said this about the phrase "I love you". She said that often when someone says "I love you", in fact what they mean is "I feel very loved by you". And that therefore the appropriate response is just that..."I feel very loved by you".... I thought that quite often she was right, and when she had done something particularly loving towards me, I would adjust my phraseology appropriately!


  • Heather

    I wanted to share this for you, your family and friends, anyone grieving for anyone they have lost…

    Grief From The Perspective of an Old ManBy Tim Ofield•07 Jul, 2017
    “Alright, here goes. I’m old. What that means is that I’ve survived (so far) and a lot of people I’ve known and loved did not. I’ve lost friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, mom, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbors, and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can’t imagine the pain it must be to lose a child. But here’s my two cents.
    I wish I could say you get used to people dying. I never did. I don’t want to. It tears a hole through me whenever somebody I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don’t want it to “not matter”. I don’t want it to be something that just passes.
    My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if the scar is deep, so was the love. So be it. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and continue to love. And the scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can’t see.
    As for grief, you’ll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it’s some physical thing. Maybe it’s a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive.
    In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything…and the wave comes crashing. But in between waves, there is life.
    Somewhere down the line, and it’s different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at O’Hare. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you’ll come out. Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you’ll survive them. And other waves will come. And you’ll survive them too. If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks.”

  • Lee

    Dear Andrew,I also read your blogs every week .You are such an articulate person and I would happily sit for hours reading your words .
    Losing my father a few years back I relate to so many of your comments .’Being hit with a sledge hammer ‘ ,denial ,anger and the’bargaining’ . Hoping to hear his voice one more time …
    Acceptance will come but as you said not for a while ,but with it you will find peace again .
    I’m not sure if you realise how helpful your blogs have been to so many people who haven’t been able to talk about grieving and have found comfort in your writing . Another positive upside ,so please continue to share as although I only speak for myself I think many would find your words thought provoking .
    Sending love to you and your family

  • Jane

    Hi Andrew
    Although we have never met and I’ve visited your Banstead shop often, I read your emails every week and it feels like i know you as you treat everyone like a friend. You are very honest and open and I really love the fact you can share your feelings with everybody. Not many men open up emotionally and just wanted to say you have lots of support from your friends and readers. I lost my parents within 12 weeks of each other 5 years ago and it seems like yesterday. My husband was my rock at the time and I know it’s not the same as losing the love of your life but in time it does get easier. I hope to meet up in your shop one day and just want to give you a hug. That’s me I’m afraid, just a hugger so when it happens please don’t think I’m mad. Stay strong Andrew and take every day as it comes x

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