Kitchen thoughts

I need to redo our kitchen. Later this year it will be thirty years since we put in our current kitchen (though we’ve had appliance changes), and it needs updating, even though my friends tell me it still looks good. (I’m pretty sure they would tell me if it didn’t!) Fortunately kitchen trends haven’t changed enormously in that time. But the resin benchtop is disintegrating, and some of the cupboard door edges are looking a bit knocked about. Aside from the issue of colour choices (so hard to make), I’m also thinking about how much space we actually need, and how to better utilise the space we have. The largest part of our bench space is unused – we have a large fruit platter on it, and tend to put our recycling there until we throw it away. Whereas the workspace I use most (between the sink and the stovetop) is smaller and often feels a little cramped. And there’s the added complication of symmetry – the sink sits perfectly under the window (it has a beautiful view of our deck, cabbage trees, and camellias), and it would seem wrong to move it!

I hate to throw things away, and the pandemic has accentuated my food hoarding tendencies, introduced them in the Husband, and created shortages of favourite items (so we bulk buy when we can). This means we have way too much packed into two large pantries, but won’t starve if we have to isolate! They’re squeezed into the laundry next door, that now doubles as a laundry/scullery. I’d like to see if I could integrate this room with the kitchen.

I want to have an appliance cupboard to tidy everything away off the bench. I still use the microwave (although we need a new one), and don’t mind that being public, but want to hide away the bread bin, toaster, and electric jug. Though we use these every day. If I could squeeze in the food processor, blender, handheld mixer and cake mixer it would be perfect, but I think that’s stretching the bounds of reality. Oh, for a Tardis kitchen!

I’d love a double wall oven, but I think that’s impossible given my space constraints. However, just writing this has got me thinking about the possibilities. However, it would mean I wouldn’t get to have my much-loved pull-out pantry, that has all my basics – the sauces, oils, flour, sugar/honey, couscous etc. And that’s one of the best things about my current kitchen. I don’t think I’m prepared to give it up. Unless I move the fridge. No, that would be impractical. You see the dilemma?

A few years ago my sister and her husband installed a new kitchen at their house. She – bravely, to my thinking – left it to her working-from-home husband when she was working full-time. Her kitchen looks fantastic, and there are parts of it she loves. But she lost storage space, and she didn’t have a huge amount before that. I could never relinquish kitchen-control like that! I recently looked (cursorily) online at prices for new kitchens, and I was truly horrified. Instantly, I calculate how many overseas trips (or months spent overseas) that would be. As always, I think compromise is going to have to be key. Sigh. Oh, for the lotto win!

What are your favourite kitchen features that you couldn’t possibly give up?


After the controversies of the men’s Football World Cup in Qatar, there is a Women’s Football World Cup in 2023 to try to restore their reputation, and promote their sport. So what did FIFA do? They bungled it.

1     It was reported they were about to make Visit Saudi a major sponsor for this tournament, which is to be held jointly in Australia and New Zealand later this year. What a tone deaf decision to make. Let’s promote Saudi Arabia in two progressive democracies, both of which question the state of human rights in Saudi Arabia, and in particular, women’s human rights. Not to mention that they chose to use a tournament celebrating women’s sports to promote a country which severely restricts their women’s human rights. Instead of using a Women’s World Cup to feature and empower women, they want to promote visiting a country where women have to cover their heads and bodies and faces in public, where adult women have to be chaperoned by minor brothers, where women’s very lives and movement are legally, compulsorily restricted and controlled by the men in their families, and by their government. Sounds like an ideal tourist destination for women interested in football, doesn’t it? And the crazy thing about this is that FIFA thought it was a good idea to do this here in NZ, the first country in the world to extend the vote to women 130 years ago! They chose to promote a repressive, non-democractic country in Australia and New Zealand, both countries which have had women prime ministers and heads of state. I could go on, but it seems so obvious, I’m amazed that this decision went through multiple people, through decisions, contract negotiations with Visit Saudi, and through public relations people, without any of them objecting, or pointing out how blatantly insulting this is to:

a) the countries hosting,
b) the spectators who will attend the games,
c) the sport itself, and in particular, to
d) ALL the players, both those at the tournament, and all those playing their sport around the world.

2     Even more unbelievably, FIFA followed that fiasco with another one. They announced that they had appointed a “fan ambassador” for the women’s world cup tournament. No, it wasn’t someone who had made strides in the women’s football game, or in promoting football, or even women’s sport. There are great examples of popular female athletes in New Zealand and Australia who could have stepped in. But no, they made a former Victoria Secrets model, Brazilian “supermodel” Adriana Lima, their “ambassador.” (You can search for an image showing how she has promoted football in the past.) So, FIFA are saying, loudly and it seems even proudly, that although women are playing sport at the highest level, let’s forget that and promote the event by focusing on how a woman looks. Because that must surely be more important than the players, their talent and skills, the supporters of each country, and why they love the game. By ignoring all that, what are FIFA actually saying about football?  Good grief! This is an enormous insult to the players, the spectators, the women in the hosting countries, and those who support women’s sport around the world. It is particularly ignorant given the evidence of last year, when NZ hosted the Women’s Rugby World Cup, receiving great attention and positive critiques of the exciting games and players, excellent viewership figures of the games, with record crowds of people wanting to see women actually play sport. These crowds were noticeably different from the crowds for men’s games – they were better behaved (surprise surprise!) and included a lot more women, whole families, and a lot of young people, which will only help with the sport’s growth. We (and our sisters and brothers in Australia) have high levels of participation in women’s sport, and are the last people who would be impressed by a supermodel promoting a women’s sports tournament.

So FIFA missed an opportunity – AGAIN. And alienated a lot of people at the same time. At the request of the Australian and New Zealand associations, FIFA are reportedly revisiting the issue of sponsorship for Visit Saudi (but no doubt it will be complicated by all the bribes incentives (?) that (may) have already been offered to the decision-makers). I hope so. But it is staggering that they have to do this at all. I hope they are also revisiting the “fan ambassador” position, and that Adriana Lima doesn’t dare set foot in NZ or Australia.

Reportedly, in the news last week, FIFA were “surprised” at the reactions to the appointment of their “ambassador.” That alone says it all.

Note: The use of lower case, and quotation marks, for the so-called “ambassador” are both deliberate.

Update: It was recently reported that FIFA are not going to give Visit Saudi a sponsorship for the women’s tournament, following the outcry at their original (reported) decision. It still flabbergasts me that they thought it was reasonable in the first place.

This question, asked innocently by an 11-year-old in the heart-rendingly beautiful movie, After Sun, can so easily cut to the quick. It got me thinking about when I was 11, and what I wanted in my life at the time.

At 11, I had never been out of the South Island of New Zealand. I’d hardly met any foreigners (an American exchange student friend of my sister, and a French family at a camping site), and of my extended family and acquaintances, only my aunt, uncle and cousin had been overseas, when they lived in the Solomon Islands. I was not unusual at the time. None of my peers had more extensive experience. However, at 11 I had already fallen in love with the idea of travel, and my favourite books had been travel books, or English boarding school novels (I loved the Chalet School books set in Switzerland), or Nancy Drew. In fact, at 11, I probably had never read a New Zealand-authored book (or didn’t know that I had), or seen a New Zealand television programme. Life, it seemed to me, was something that was lived elsewhere. So it wasn’t so much a question of where I thought I’d be. It was a question of where I wouldn’t be. And that was at home on the farm.

In terms of my life and work, I also didn’t know what I would be doing. At 11, I had little experience of any other lifestyles than those around me. Except for my aunt, who lived and worked in our capital city, Wellington, and was sometimes heard on the radio. But that lifestyle seemed a world away. I guess I knew what I didn’t want. I didn’t want to be a mother and housewife on the farm or in my town, because my mother’s life (and that of my aunts) did not seem very appealing. In the 1970s, the daily slog of cooking and cleaning, looking after children and a hard-working farmer husband, with no luxuries, in relative isolation with few daily interactions with anyone outside our family, did not seem very exciting to me, and was not something I personally wanted to recreate. At 11, as in After Sun, we don’t know the inside lives of the adults who care for us, and it was hard for us to see the joys and pride or struggles of life.

I suppose I had dreams – of fortune, of doing something or being someone more important, and of course of being somewhere else. But I knew the first two were unrealistic dreams, and still only 11, attending a small two-room rural primary school, at that age I could not comprehend a pathway to achieving them. I didn’t know what I wanted to be when “I grew up,” because I’d only really seen women working (apart from my city aunt) in education, health (as nurses or assistants, not doctors), serving in shops, or the nuns who taught me music. I didn’t yet know my strengths, or my weaknesses, not really. The world itself was yet to open up to me back then. I wonder what I would have aimed at if I’d known what potential it offered?