Where have all our tradesmen gone? Long time passing.

Yes, I agree, it should be trades-people but it scanned better this way.   I was complaining about the demise of the long cherished cooker (now revitalised) but also the men and women who helped for decades are disappearing as they retire.

Martin the painter is on a ladder above my head as I write. He’s re-painted the whole house exterior (walls, doors, windows) every five years for ages. Not only a superb workman/person but also a delightful individual, full of interesting stories and experiences, a different approach to life and completely trustworthy. All those little extras like replacing glass putty, cleaning the scalloped edging on the awnings, painting the black flower pots and more. Over the years, he’s become more a friend than trades-person. Today I was showing him how to create hand-tied posies to decorate his daughter’s forthcoming wedding. If the idea gets the seal of approval, we’ll cut greenery for them. But he’s all set to retire at the end of this year and then I’ll need to find a replacement.

The same is happening with the plumber/heating engineer. Steve has been doing all the relevant jobs here for over ten years: total replacement heating system; fitting sink and radiators in an extension; fitting the walk-in shower; much more. At least he’s offering some continuity when he retires in a year or so, as his gas-boiler expert nephew arrived yesterday to do the annual service (and hopefully postpone the replacement for 12 months).

Rodney the builder is the star of over 20 years: extension-building; garden walls and fencing, tactile paving and so much more. But he’s due to hang-up his spirit level in just a few months. He’s also been a real friend: despatching emergency help when someone drove into the garden wall and made the paths inaccessible with debris; helping me open Christmas presents; the odd bits of shopping. No wonder we hosted his 60th birthday party here. Hopefully his sons, Wayne and Andrew, will take on some of the work in the future.

We used to think a sign of aging was when police officers look impossibly young.  A more important test is when so many who have played a vital part in your life retire. We have to start all over again finding people we trust and who do a good job. The real worry is that I’ll have to do it all over again in another 20 years!

Surprisingly-simple meringue roll is one of my favourite puddings for summer entertainment: always popular and you can make it ahead too if you add a little alcohol to the filling. Just remove from the freezer a few hours before serving and allow to defrost in the fridge. Co-cook Clare (now also retired!) and I took several attempts to perfect this recipe so it should work for you too. I’ve calculated versions ranging from 3 to 8 eggs (depending on the size of the party).   Click here for a link to the middle one and click here for a demonstration.

Please join me for another free cooking demo: Super-moist boiled fruit cake free demonstration 10:30 Monday 11 July.   Register at: https://fruit-cake-baking-blind.eventbrite.co.uk

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