I have spent most of the Bank Holiday Monday carrying bits of muddle from one room to another and cleaning the kitchen. It needed doing, certainly before we go on holiday, and with no convenient wet day forecast I thought I'd better get on and start doing it. The most startling result of the tidying up phase was the discovery of a bird nest in the garage. Feeling inside a largish white ceramic cache pot that once held a pot plant to see if it had another smaller pot stuffed inside or if I could use it to store various spare hose fittings, my fingers recoiled at the touch of something rough and organic. Pulling the pot down from the shelf and peering in I was amazed to discover the base of it filled with moss and fine twigs, with a very neat circular depression in the centre barely two inches across. The pot was a good six or seven inches wide at the base, so whatever had made the nest had moved a phenomenal amount of material. There were no eggs or fragments of eggs, no feathers, no droppings and no indication that the nest had been used.
What made it? A wren? And if so how did it (or they) get in? There were days earlier in the summer when the door was open during the daytime, but I always shut it at night and didn't open up before nine or so in the morning. Wouldn't whatever bird was eyeing up that pot as a potential nesting site have worked out that it kept being blocked off before the nest was half finished? Or was there a tiny, bird sized gap somewhere we hadn't noticed? I peered at the sides of the up-and-over door, and couldn't see one.
Cleaning the kitchen isn't so bad in that I can listen to the iPod on speakers, so it's my chance to catch up with music the Systems Administrator is not keen on. Today it was Gibbons, Haydn's Nelson Mass, Tinariwen's Radio Tisdas Sessions, the Brandenburg concertos, Talking Heads' Fear of Music, Elvis Costello and Lloyd Cole. I started with the more ethereal and classical, and got louder and poppier as I began to flag. Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens, a very good motto to clean your kitchen to.
I have got a new pot of Aga cleaner. Exasperated by all branded Aga abrasives now being sold in tiny tubes which would never seal up properly after the first couple of times I used them, due to the nozzle blocking up, whereupon the rest of the contents of the tube dried up and became impossible to squeeze out, I grumbled to the SA who succeeded in finding an online vintage and homeware supplier who would sell me an enormous pot of goo suitable for cleaning the Aga for less than the price of the tiny tube, with the promise that if it began to dry out I could simply add water.
Problems with cleaning your Aga are about as first world as they come, but the trouble with an Aga is that it is hot all the time, and cooking splashes bake on ferociously hard. You need an abrasive paste, and a plastic scouring pad to apply it. I know, I've tried wiping the Aga with normal kitchen cleaner and a dishcloth, and felt like Lady Macbeth washing her hands. It was hopeless. But the abrasive paste must not be too harsh, or you'll scratch the lovely enamel. Hurrah for Betty Twyford's Aga Enamel Cleaning Paste.
The Systems Administrator, not to be outdone, spent part of the morning rodding some friends' drains. The SA has got a good, practical, engineering bent and understands drains. The engineering bent might be needed in the morning, as the serious kitten, who is normally so sensible, forgot himself after supper and bit right through the lead to a pair of quite good headphones belonging to the SA. The SA thought they could be microsoldered back together, but that probably depends on quite how many bits they are in.