Home alone, (almost)

With three Holland boys away, our house has never been bigger and I suppose this is a good thing. People often cite space as a life goal. There are other upsides too… like chargers being more available. Less likely to go missing for one reason because it is easier to finger the culprit. This makes for less rows and a quieter life, not to mention more time to waste our lives away on-line.

Less laundry which is always welcome. In Chez Holland, there is now a far higher probability of wearing, laundering and wearing again socks that match. Never under-estimate the feeling of awe that comes with being able match up socks. It might be a frivolous accomplishment but no matter, it’s always a huge win and the victories we need to get through life.

We have more milk too, so no more black tea. No more impromptu walks (in slippers because its dark already) to our local corner shop. Here in the UK, our corner shops are almost exclusively Asian. Within a ten minute walk of us, we have eight such shops to choose from. Always open, always without heating on and always I appreciate their service.  I admire their fortitude and their determination and it makes me count my good fortune as I scurry back to my warm house.

But what of the downsides of a half empty nest, besides missing the boys of course, which Nikki does more than me. Or at least she vocalises this and I think my boys must sense this and why they step-up accordingly and call often. They call their mum more than they call me. And this is a good thing and I certainly don’t feel slighted. So long as they are well and I’m content with getting news second hand.

Continuing on with the downsides, it is in the kitchen where the real problems occur. The kitchen is the hub of any house. The engine room and it needs to function for the home to be a happy one. And at present, our kitchen has thrown up some inadvertent issues…

The amount of food we now require is a case in point. Less, obviously. And although we now buy less food, it seems we still cook for six. A chicken is a chicken, I guess.

This week, Nikki pulled out a magnificent pie from the oven and my first thoughts were – blimey, whose coming over to eat?

No one in fact, as it’s illegal at present with our new lockdown.

And so this means is that our meals are lasting for days. Paddy’s first question on returning home from school is now largely redundant for at least half the week.

“Mum, what’s for dinner tonight?”


What you had last night.

Mum made enough on the off chance that Harry and Tom would pop back from America – and Sam saunters down from Scotland to surprise us.

And this brings me to an area of kitchen life which is now under some considerable scrutiny. An area on which Nikki and I have clashed in the past and now more so than ever…

I refer of course to the dishwasher.

She might not thank we for this, but Nikki loves her dishwasher. Her favourite appliance in the house – after her hair straighteners, obviously. Nikki loves her hair straighteners above all else. Apart from that moment in the car and on our way to somewhere special when she panics that she’s left them on.

To the dishwasher then…

An easy appliance to justify for six people and the dirty crockery that they create. Less easy though with only three people in residence. But the alternative to using it is too grim to countenance.

Our dishwasher is modern. It has a half-load setting. But it is not so new that this half-load setting on the control is still discernible – and so stuck with a full load only, Nikki’s response is to fill it up with whatever she can…

Things that can be so easily rinsed clean like egg cups.

Things not designed for the machine like wooden spoons and sharp knives.

Things that the dishwasher has no chance of cleaning, like pots and pans. Even Tessa’s bowls are finding their way in.

Tupperware, microwave dish, even the hob irons muck in.  Just fill the machine up, turn it on and forget about it.

Until an unfortunate soul has to open it up post-cycle and survey the damage. See what food remains and note it is now baked on. The heartening victory of matched socks is too easily undone by a dish washer which has become a kiln.

Another play here is to use the dishwasher less frequently. Perhaps employing it every other day to allow the dirty stock to accumulate. Sensible until the overnight drying of dirty plates is factored in and the running low on clean and preferred mugs to drink tea from.

Issues easily resolved by resorting to the old fashioned method of washing up. You know the form…

You wash. I’ll dry. Job done.

Not an option in my house anyway. Far too sensible. We have a machine and we will use a machine.

Sir, yes sir.

And this makes sense. After all, we both have things to do. Or Nikki does anyway. She has incoming phone-calls from the Holland boys who are in the field and in-work…

I will hear the news later and meanwhile I am busy also…

Doing the washing up…


If you enjoy this blog, then you might like to know that my new book – Takes on Life is being published on 23rd November.

31 essays on the peculiarities of my life and yours. Will make good Christmas presents is my thinking. Books that recipients might actually read and thank you for later…

Available on amazon as a paperback and via this site as a hardback




23 thoughts on “Home alone, (almost)

  1. Sanj says:

    Always a good read your blogs are. And so true and so many levels! I actually like washing the dishes. I’ll be ordering the new book.

  2. Lorraine says:

    Love this blog Dom. Apart from the dishwasher and vacuuming, I hate trying to match socks in my house. It’s such a thankless job, trying to match sets of socks for four adults. Trainer socks x4 trainer liners ??trouser socks etc. I carried out a mutiny today and have declared that they can all sort and match their own socks – let the games begin I hope all of the Holland’s have a good week.

  3. Tammy says:

    Good morning, Dom. Well, it’s morning here in California. Just wanted to let you know I look forward to your blogs every Sunday. They are always entertaining and I thank you for that.

  4. Kate says:

    Ouch… Hopefully doing the washing up it’s not too tedious, Dom! Maybe it can be time for coming up with some new book ideas? 😉
    I guess that mums always get more phone calls somehow. They are seen as more worried ones. Especially with sons 😉
    I hope that you all will have some quality family time soon and that poor machine will be more useful! 🙂
    Wish you a great Sunday and lovely week ahead!
    Kind regards,

  5. Paul O says:

    superb blog! even reading it a second time. Speaking from a household of 1, I can say I rarely hand wash/dry anything outside the delicate items (knives, pots, stemware, etc.). I fill the dishwasher, from back to front, then hit start. Looking forward to the new toilet book.

  6. Natasha says:

    I really enjoyed reading this blog today after a long day at work. The only time I do washing up is at a cafe in which I work at. At the moment there isn’t much washing up because of this lockdown which I am happy about.
    Even though I don’t do the washing at home I sometimes pair the socks up. I always find several socks that are odd. Mainly mine. Don’t know if anyone else has this in their home but we have an odd sock bag. There’s loads of socks in there. One specific sock has been in this bag for many years. It’s was one of my favourite pairs of socks – Harry Potter to be precise. We haven’t got a clue where the other one has gone yet it still sits there years later. Maybe one day we will find it. Can’t wait for next weeks blog I always look forward to reading them after work.

  7. Marisa says:

    This is written in Spanish and translated by Google: I love your blogs (which I also read thanks to Google translator). A type of humor that totally identifies me. Too bad your book has not been translated into Spanish. Good week!

  8. Sydnee Coleman says:

    Lovely blog Mr. H, as for my family which was a seven, now a four, at the start we had a dishwasher key word there “had”, it broke and with us all having busy lives, sadly the sink piles until the weekend and two of us were free to as you said “I’ll wash, You dry but lately we have a great dishwasher, the washing gets done everyday, never the worry about no silverware in the drawer or no bowls clean (we are a cereal, soup, ravioli in a can household; so many bowls) and the dishwasher even has a name, it’s called Sydnee. Yeah, just like you doing the washing, so do I because it(the old dishwasher) is still broken. So I get it, pruny fingers, wet mid t shirt and all

    • Vanessa says:

      This blog has made me laugh so much to imagine the whole situation in the house, but I have also really cried when I realized how quickly time passes and how Tom, Harry and Sam are already adults.
      Now there are only you Dom, Nikki And Paddy’s teenager

      As always enjoy the blog, delighted to read it

  9. Ben says:

    Great blog yet again Dom! Oh the dishwasher… what a marvellous invention. I always have to point out to my mum that yes, we can fill it up with five people’s worth of used dishes and not waste any water. Sock matching is another story. I think my record was two hours just matching up socks that has ended up in other people’s laundry!

  10. Márcia Malaquias says:

    Is a dishwasher reliable, does it clean well? Books + flowers + Chocolate + Rosé wine are the best gifts. Is it wrong to hope and pray that the Holland boys will come home for Christmas? I love the Christmas season and family reunion is all good … I still hope that they will come back for Christmas ♥️

  11. Morghan says:

    Dom your blogs are very fun and interesting to read. I look forward each Sunday to reading them. I can relate to the sock issue, in my household with ten people matching socks is almost impossible. Same with washing dishes me and my siblings figure out each night whose washing, whose drying, and who’s putting away. It’s sometimes a real hassle. : ) I hope you have a good week and stay safe from the virus. I am praying for your family that you guys will stay safe and healthy.

  12. Beth says:

    Fortunately in our house of 8, we have a dishwasher… which unfortunately has broken countless times in the 4yrs we’ve had it- first the motor removed itself from the machine (or it wasn’t attached properly to begin with), then food got stuck throughout, then there were technical faults, plus we supposedly have the wrong type of water.
    To conclude I guess we officially have 9 dishwashers: one which is actually broken and 7 that refuse to work.

  13. Victoria says:

    I kind of feel your pain. In my family, there is only three of us (me, my mom, and my dad), and we always have leftovers like we’re feeding for more than us three. We do have a dishwasher but only use that for plants, cups, and silverware. My parents normally hand wash and dry pots and pans, too.

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