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At risk of being accused of gross over-generalisation and upsetting all domestically-oriented gentlemen, I do find that most 'blokes' are not fond of dishwashers. Some probably have a PhD in 'effective stacking techniques' by my hubby - despite the training of 10 years of marriage - has a pathological inability to stack a dishwasher. Perhaps it's a chromosome thing - just as men think they can fold maps (not that they need them because they NEVER get lost) and women can multi-task, the gene for a nice neat bit of dishwasher stacking seems to be missing on the Y chromosome. I suspect the gap it leaves has been filled by the 'If I stick one of my black socks in the washing machine along with her good underwear, I'll never have to do the laundry again' gene. So it was quite a surprise when Mr K fell in love with a dish rack.
**Love at first wash - How hubby fell **
A couple of weeks ago we went to Holland to visit some friends who are utterly obsessed by cooking and all things kitchen-ish. They've recently bought a house, had a fab kitchen installed and done loads of great stuff. But whilst all of that was very impressive and we're very happy for them with their lovely new home, the thing that stuck in my husband's mind was their dish rack. The price of being well fed all weekend was that we had to volunteer to do all the dishes and we soon realised that the gulf between the dish rack our friends had and our pitiful 'couple of quid from the pound shop' dish rack was wider than the gulf between a Mercedes and a push-bike. When we got home hubby asked me to give them a call and find out where they'd got it from because he wanted one for our house.
We are trying to sell our house and will probably be trying for a long time to come. We have a solid wood kitchen that's basically too good and too sturdy to rip out and replace (and I'm too mean to spend the money) but it has some drawbacks. One of these is the solid wood work surfaces. Whoever thought that was a clever idea was sadly mistaken. Wood makes good cupboards, good floors, good trees, but it doesn't make good work surfaces. And most of all, it doesn't make a good surface next to the sink. We have a wooden 'drainer' - slightly sloping towards the Belfast sink but none-the-less, it's still wood and it really isn't designed for sitting around being wet. The dish rack our friends had comes with a tray that sits underneath and directs all the run-off water back into the sink. If we had one of these, we could both cover up our drainer and at the same time, stop it getting even worse.
**Finding the Simplehuman with the Superhuman powers**
Following orders, I emailed my friends a couple of days later and learned that the dish rack was made by a company called Simplehuman. I told my colleague who looked at me like some kind of lower life-form and told me her house was 'full of Simplehuman' stuff and how could I not have heard of it before? I felt like I'd just discovered the iPod only to learn that everyone else had been using them for years. So I googled the company and tracked down the dish rack hubby wanted. Luckily I was sitting down but even so, the £39.99 price tag on a Simplehuman System Dishrack was at the upper end of my expectations. Actually to be honest it was way beyond the upper end - off the radar screen and off in another time-zone.
It turned out they have a range of four different dish racks, ranging in size from a mini version at £19.99 for teensy kitchens owned by single people who live off Pot Noodles and take-aways, a compact version for small kitchens owned by people who don't cook much at £29.99, the one we wanted (i.e. for people with lots of dishes who are trying to cover up their dodgy drainer) at £39.99, and finally one more expensive double stacking version at £45.99, probably designed for people who like to have the most show-off things in life. They also have a range of rather snazzy looking bins and utensil organisers and clever things to store your carrier bags in - but I was a girl on a mission and wasn't about to be diverted by such fripperies.
**The Simple Task of Spending Money**
After calling home and getting the go-ahead (the 'Are you sure you really want a forty-quid dish rack?' call) I tried to order one from the Simplehuman website but it wasn't playing along - although I could see a logo for an online shopping basket, there didn't seem to be any way to put something in it. The aforementioned colleague suggested checking the John Lewis website and sure enough, they had them listed at a whole 99p discount on the Simplehuman website prices. As I work just a few miles form the John Lewis superstore in Cheadle, I gave them a call to check the product was in stock, and arranged to go and pick one up that evening.
And so with my wallet £39 the lighter, hubby got his dish rack. I took it home with a growing sense of excitement, something not previously engendered by any non-electrical kitchen gear. I took the system out of its box and took great delight in 'building' my Simplehuman superhuman dish rack.
**Building the Beast**
Firstly I assembled the run-off tray which is oblong in shape. You have a choice of where to put the spout - on the long side or the short side - and I chose the short side and duly attached the spout where I wanted it before plugging the holes on the long side with a small patch of transparent silicone bung that was provided. I placed this on the drainer and 'hey presto' - the yucky old manky wood beneath was suddenly hidden from view. Next I took the tray and clipped on its various accessories, putting all of them on the outside of the tray to increase the overall drying space. Firstly, there's a utensil box in which to put your cutlery and small bits and bobs. This sits next to a clip on a 'knife holder' box with varying sized slots to put your sharp knives in so they don't knock together and lose their sharpness and you don't accidentally grab them and lose your fingers. Final gizmos were two cup holders to hang over the sides, each designed to hold two cups. These work best if you put them on the right way up - thus proving once again that I never did get the hang of reading instructions.
And that was all there was too it - one extra Simplehuman in the house, so hubby should be glad of the company.
**The Beast makes itself at home**
Actually using the dish rack is so much pleasure that our dishwasher has been given a bit of a break whilst we enjoy the novelty of a dish rack that's designed to work the way real human beings need it to. The dishes really do seem to be getting washed more regularly although the proof of that will come once the novelty wears off. I typically head north on a Monday or Tuesday and come home again on Thursday or Friday night to find the same dishes I left on Monday waiting to greet me on my return. Let's see if his new buddy will keep hubby on the domestic straight and narrow.
I'm expecting that our dishwasher usage will go down a lot because I'm usually so frustrated at finding a mountain of dirty dishes that I chuck them straight in the washer - if this dish rack encourages hubby to keep on top of the washing up, we should save on electricity, water and expensive dish-wash tablets too. Mind you, it could take decades to pay for itself at this price.
Other advantages above and beyond having a husband who wants to wash-up include less of that annoying 'pile it all up and hope nothing falls off' behaviour - you know how things always will fall off, if not when you originally pile them, then when you start to pull out what you want and try, Kerplunk-style, not to pull out one knife and send a leaning tower of dishes onto the floor. I also really like that I can easily rinse the dishes in the rack - just poor a few jugs of clean water over the lot and know it'll all get channelled straight back into the sink and not onto the surface or onto the floor.
My parents have been visiting for a few days and they've also fallen for our new Simplefriend and are thinking of getting one for themselves. And if I tell you my step-father is so tight he squeaks, you'll understand that it must be a good product to disturb the moths in his wallet.
The parts are all - rather ironically perhaps - dishwasher proof but I don't think it's going to be difficult to keep clean. This really does seem to be a dish rack designed first and foremost to improve your life and not to just look pretty - although I have to say, I could sit and gaze at it for its simple lines and design simplicity. It's likely to be a modern classic - a bit like hubby, the other Simplehuman in my life.