Thanks to this book writing business I have just acquired the most expensive dishwasher in Spain.
It is my husband’s fault, of course.
After the release of my first book I received precise and very bossy instructions from my publisher to “get stuck straight into writing the sequel”.
The previous couple of months had been spent editing and proofing, and drawing silly illustrations for Into Africa, so I was somewhat out of the groove with the actual writing bit. I needed to concentrate, with no unnecessary distractions.
Washing dishes was a distraction.
That is not strictly true. It was the non-washing of dishes which was the distraction.
You see Ziggy – the husband – had said,
“Don’t you worry about the washing-up, dear author-wife of mine, I’ll make that my job.”
The trouble was there being only the two of us we didn’t dirty all that many dishes, especially in summer, so not much washing-up was needed.
“Easy for him then,” you would think. But then you wouldn’t be thinking like Ziggy.
He didn’t like to ‘waste water’, so he accumulated enough dirty dishes until it was ‘worth filling the bowl’ which, of course, took a few days. The fact that we had a 50 gallon tank of solar powered piping-hot water sitting unused on the roof seemed to have escaped his attention.
The sight of this molehill of crockery gradually growing into a mountain every time I ventured into the kitchen became such an irritation that I couldn’t concentrate on writing at all.
So I decided to buy a dishwasher.
First of all I had to figure out where I was going to put it, as our kitchen wasn’t exactly large.
After much mumbling and measuring I decided that between the cooker and the sink would be a good idea. Unfortunately that space housed a cupboard filled with our variety of saucepans and fry-pans. But I figured I could transfer those to the cupboard which, up until that point, stored the jugs, sieves, colanders and other culinary equipment. All I needed to do was find another place for those.
Simple. I would buy a new cupboard to mount on the wall, which could easily accommodate such lightweight items as sieves, etc. Then I thought if I purchased three units to fill the entire space available I would also be able to spread out the load of other kitchen essentials which was currently crammed into cupboards tighter than passengers in a Ryanair 737 jet.
Before the new cupboards could be installed, however, it would be necessary to remove some water pipes from the walls which had become superfluous to requirements when we had removed the inefficient back-up electric water heater (for when there was no solar heated water after a couple of cloudy days). I warned the plumber I would be requiring his services soon.
I measured the space which would be available after the removal of the saucepans cupboard and with my trusty tape-measure in hand, I trawled all the white-goods stores within a 20km radius of our casa to acquire the cheapest, half decent dishwasher I could find.
It transpired that the available space could only accommodate a slimline version, but that would be more than adequate for the amount of washing up we generated. I got a good price – after I haggled – and arranged for its (free) delivery the following week.
The plumber duly arrived and cleared away all the unsightly pipage and installed a connection for the dishwasher. I also managed to get Ziggy to contribute to the project by removing the hideous never-used-because-it-achieved-bugger-all cooker hood. I, in turn, climbed into the sink and removed the blind fitted above the window so that it could be washed.
I climbed down, stood back and surveyed the scene. What a bloody mess!
There were gaps in the wall tiling where the old water heater had been, as well as a row of tiles missing from where the cooker hood was removed. What tiles were left appeared to have been installed by a one-armed blind man.
“Ziggy,” I announced, “this wall needs to be re-tiled!” To which he agreed wholeheartedly.
So I contacted a friend, who had a friend who did building stuff and arranged for him to come and assess the job. He was a Spanish gentleman who came highly recommended by my friend who said he worked for €80 a day, which I thought was quite reasonable. He was free to commence the work, which he estimated would take him two days, so I hastened to buy wall tiles, adhesive and grouting mix.
We were quite impressed with the enthusiastic gusto with which he applied himself to the job, starting with removal of the old tiles using a pneumatic chisel. Wearing a face mask and steel toecap boots, he disappeared into a cloud of brick dust which eventually settled on every surface, flat or otherwise, in the entire house. At the end of the first day he left us with a partially tiled wall and without the use of the kitchen sink, which he’d had to remove to allow him access to the walls. Nor could we operate the cooker which he’d temporarily relocated to almost block access into the lounge because, although plugged in, it didn’t want to work. We assumed it had been switched off someplace we were unaware of.
Work continued fairly smoothly the following day.
He returned on the third day to finish off the grouting and I mentioned the inefficacy of the cooker. This baffled him somewhat but after much chiselling, fiddling with wires and swearing in Spanish, after several hours he eventually got the cooker working. As daylight began to fade he repositioned the sink and cupboards, some of which had been waiting patiently in the dining room, back to their designated spots. He also installed the dishwasher which had been delivered during his activities.
Payment for his work was then due and I was quite surprised to find that his charges had increased by 25% to €100 a day but I accepted this, given the unexpected call on his plumbing and electrical skills. Nonetheless, a jump from the estimated €160 to €300 did hit the wallet somewhat.
After he departed I turned to re-fill the saucepan cupboard, much of the contents of which he had stacked on the sink draining board and counter. I had noticed a rather strong smell of cooking oil was permeating the area and soon discovered why. I would appear that when he had moved the cupboard into the dining room he hadn’t emptied it, and on dragging it he must have caused the large chip pan, which had recently been filled with oil, to tip over. Virtually every item that had been in the cupboard was now smeared or swamped in cooking oil.
After cleaning all the pans and re-stacking them in the cupboard – quicker to write than to do – I surveyed the remaining scene. Despite having given him a number of old towels to protect the surfaces, he had managed to chip two holes in the counter top, but more worryingly he had irrepairably damaged two small areas where the counter met the wall when he had wrenched away an edging strip. The counter top was going to have to be replaced!
Fortunately the company who had fitted the more recent of my kitchen cupboards was able to supply and fit the wall units I required, together with a new counter.
The washed blind was returned to the window and my new kitchen makeover looked spot on. Furthermore, the dishwasher works like a dream. But at what cost?
After I had cleared up the kitchen I had asked Ziggy to take the old towels, now on the floor, and put them in the washing machine in the laundry. After they were washed I loaded the machine with some normal laundry. On going to peg out both loads of washing on the line to dry I noticed a distinct smell of oil. The towels all felt tacky and reeked of oil, as did one casual dress, three t-shirts, two pairs of shorts, a sweater and assorted underwear! Unbeknown to me, the bloody builder must have used the towels to wipe the floor of all evidence of his oil spillage.
I threw the towels away but a second washing made little difference to the clothes and I soon realised that the inside of our washing machine must be coated in a thick layer of oil. Running it three times on empty, with lots of soap on the hottest possible setting eventually cleared the oil slick. The clothes, alas, were a lost cause.
So let us now tally up the damage.
Plumber € 70.00
Materials for tiling €187.58
Labour for tiling €300.00
Cupboards and new counter €434.00
Wrecked clothes, approx €130.00
So the total cost of getting a dishwasher was – €1,356.58
I think I’d better get stuck into writing that sequel. PLEASE will you buy a copy – I need the money!