Monthly Musing – February 2018 – Making the best of it

Our Aga turned itself off very suddenly last week.  It has been known to do this (although thankfully not often) and usually the only indication is a bad smell in the kitchen before a flurry of activity shutting down the fuel supply and opening the windows.  Aga owners will nod their heads wisely and agree that Agas can be temperamental and this kind of thing can happen, whilst those who don’t have them will shake their heads in disbelief and wonder how I can have given my heart to a lump of blue metal that causes chaos in our kitchen when something goes wrong.

I’m not going to get into that debate – I love my Aga despite it’s idiosyncrasies and nothing you can say will convince me that I
would rather return to the conventional oven I used to have – but what I have learnt this past week whilst my oven has been out of action is how resourceful we can be when we need to.  After a few days of soups and casseroles made in my emergency slow cooker and a takeaway, it was clear that something was Seriously Wrong with the Aga and it was going to be off for longer than I had expected.  Some Aga owners have a second oven for times like these but we don’t – they are so few and far between that we decided we would take our chances without one – so I needed a plan. Whilst small daughter was quite taken with the idea of eating out every night, there is a limit to how far your weekly budget stretches and in a flash of inspiration, out came the camping stove.  Our makeshift camp kitchen was set up and normal food service was resumed.  We’ve had pretty much our usual menu including a Sunday dinner (even I was impressed that I managed that, although it’s definitely easier with salmon rather than a roast and the “roast” potatoes were fried) and apart from the fact that our house is distinctly colder without the Aga and our menu is more limited, I think we’ve done pretty well.

We get so used to living in a particular way with our “mod cons” around us that we forget that there’s any other way to do things.  We watch “How We Used to Live” programmes on the TV and shudder at how people in the 1800s or the 1950s managed without everything that we have today, but we never really think about how we could manage until something goes wrong.  We were lucky that we had our camping stove in the garage (and that there was gas in the bottle) and that our Aga doesn’t heat our whole house or our hot water; yes, having no oven is an inconvenience but it’s not been the end of the world.  It has, however, made me very thankful that I don’t have to cook outside or huddle around that tiny gas flame for warmth.  It’s made me think more about what we can eat that can be cooked in one pan (my husband is veggie so it’s not quite as simple as it sounds sometimes!) and above all, it’s made me very grateful that we have an Aga engineer that will turn up at 7.30pm to do his
best to get it working again.  It’s good for me to have reminders like this from time to time of how lucky I am – although I am also thankful that, just like the Aga’s sudden shutdowns, they don’t happen too often either!

Wedgewood blue Aga with beige tiles behind

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30 Responses

  1. Julie says:

    I hope the gentleman can get your AGA up and running again so you can enjoy warming foods with the snow flurries the UK has been having.

    • Winwick Mum says:

      It's running again though I'm not convinced it's entirely well … luckily I think we should be able to keep going for a while until we can try to figure out what might have gone wrong xx

  2. Val says:

    I don't know what an Aga is? Some kind of gas oven?

    • Winwick Mum says:

      It's a fuel stove, Val, there's a link in the post to one I wrote earlier about it and how it works 🙂 xx

  3. selina says:

    it is quite easy to survive without an oven, it just takes a bit of getting used to(was without for a few months); i did pot roasts for awhile on the gas cook top; i have an electric oven & long for a wood stove for the lounge room (for cooking & warmth) though our winters of late have been very mild only down to 10-15`c which is quite warm to what you get lol. i do love roast vegies, can't quite get those in a fry pan or pot.
    good luck with getting your Aga fixed
    thanx for sharing

    • Winwick Mum says:

      Roast vegetables don't quite work the same without an oven, do they? My one attempt at not frying them ended up with a broken casserole dish and I decided not to try it again! xx

  4. My Creative Life says:

    I hope all is well with your Aga now. Take care, Cathy x

    • Winwick Mum says:

      It's back on again, thank goodness, although might need some more attention. It's obviously decided that now is the time for us to have to take more notice of it! 🙂 xx

  5. VeronicaOss says:

    I feel for you! A cold Aga is a truly a sad thing! Hope you get it up and going soon!!!

  6. Caroline says:

    I hope you are sorted Chtistine. Bottoms need Aga's to perch on in this weather! Not to mention somewhere to prop your feet.

  7. Unknown says:

    I had to look up Aga because here in the states I have never heard of it. But once I saw it I want one. And would you believe in the next town over there is a dealer. I wonder if they come in an electric form. They look awesome and offer a lot of cooking space.

    • Winwick Mum says:

      They do come in electric form and the newer ones can be controlled by your phone too! Mine isn't that fancy, once it's on it's on but I don't that at all and we can cope in the summer. If you've got a dealer that close, it's worth going to look at them just because you can. You do have to learn to cook a bit differently on them as the temperature can't be controlled like it can in a normal oven, but that's part of the fun! xx

  8. Sharon says:

    I am Canadian. What to heck is a Aga? Lol

    • Winwick Mum says:

      It's an oven, Sharon! There are Agas in Canada, you just have obviously not come across them! There's a link in the post above to one I wrote about mine 🙂 xx

  9. Unknown says:

    I live in Indianapolis here in the states and have two oven gas one, Wedgwood Blue. They do make electric ones. The new ones you can control with an ap but aren't on all the time. I found mine on craigslist. It was an older model that was a shop display so much as brand new really. I tell folks if I had to choose between an indoor toilet and my Aga, I'd be hard pressed to choose the toilet. I LOVE my Aga! My family likes it too!

    • Winwick Mum says:

      Mine is Wedgwood Blue, and it's a two oven one as well! My husband tells people that the choice is between him and the Aga, never mind a toilet, but I'm hoping I never have to choose! 😉 xx

  10. Lilly's Mom says:

    I hope by the time you read this, your beloved Aga will have been repaired. It's really fascinating reading your post you highlighted above as to how this range works. If it's on all the time, it would seem that it can keep the house warm, too. It's really a beautiful design and I can see how you can enjoy cooking with it. Hopefully, you are safe and warm with the winter storm that hit England. Sending you my best wishes, Pat xx

    • Winwick Mum says:

      It's back up and running again now, Pat, thank you! The house was so much colder without it on even though we don't use it specifically for heating – I'm very glad that it's back on again now! xx

  11. Jen says:

    I grew up with a solid fuel Aga, then moved out of my parent's house and didn't have one for many years. When I was 34 and pregnant with my second child, we finally found a second hand oil-fired Aga we could afford! Oh the utter joy….. Then, a few years later, we moved house and couldn't take it with us. So, now, no Aga and I miss it SO much. I know, first world problems and all that, but truly, an Aga becomes part of your whole existence – my children were devastated at leaving Agatha behind (the Aga dragon who lived inside the Aga and keeps it warm). Many hours of my life when my kids were small were spent sitting in front of its oven doors, playing with lego, reading, feeding babies, sick children curled up on bean bags, wet clothes drying from snowman building, flapjacks cooking… You have my sympathy! Hope it gets better soon…. x

    • Winwick Mum says:

      Oh, I LOVE the idea of a dragon inside the Aga (although clearly I've got the learner variety that seems to be doing it's own thing at the moment! 🙂 ). I would hate to think that I would have to live without one at any point – you never know, you may get another one in the future. (Our engineer is based at AVEC cookers and they sell reconditioned ones … just saying 😉 ) xx

  12. Nicky Slade says:

    We moved to a cottage with an Aga nearly four years ago and I thought we'd never use it – I even tried to sell it! When that was unsuccessful we decided to turn it on for the first time a few days before Christmas in our first year here, ended up cooking our Christmas dinner in it and are now total Aga converts! So I feel your pain, especially while it is so cold outside, and hope it makes a speedy recovery.

  13. luluknitts says:

    This made me laugh Christine as I've always loved the idea of an Aga but never managed to bring myself to own one! I think I'd definitely need an alternative as well… I hope you're back up and running now with all this delightful weather we're having (we're currently on 12 inches of snow at the last measure!). Stay warm! Much love xxx

    • Winwick Mum says:

      You had so much snow where you are – we hardly had any in comparison and I can't blame the Aga for heating up the atmosphere! 🙂 xx

  14. Susan Rayner says:

    I hope the Aga is back in action! You are lucky that you just use it for cooking – a friend in a remote cottage has it for cooking, heating and hot water and has been without all three for weeks in the winter when it has broken down! No fun now that we are all getting older! Just driven back from Cornwall on the edge of the blizzard and made it back to Surrey OK but shaken by how nasty the drive was – and I have only gone and forgotten my knitting at my mother's as we left in a bit of a panic and five inches of snow!! Not just the current project, but all my stitch markers, needles and sewing stuff too!! I can improvise some things but in this weather I really needed my lovely jumper project!!

    • Winwick Mum says:

      I think that an Aga that did all of that and wasn't working would be no fun whatever age you are. We always forget how integral ours is to our home until it's turned off. Glad you got home safely although what a nuisance to forget your knitting. Still, better to be home in one piece ready to pick it up another day … xx

  15. Unknown says:

    Oh, I do love AGAs, although I will never have one myself. It's too exotic and too big for conventional kitchens over here. Still, I wish you luck with the repair.
    The gratitude you describe and the reminder what it feels like when the so-called 'normal life' is out of order, is something my family and I are going through presently. My children (teens) decided to try to live waste-free and asked me to join. What an adventure shopping has become … All of a sudden, the easiest things are no longer possible: Quickly buy a packet of crisps, shampoo, wine gums, anything 'convenience' really.

    But we are doing fine, surprisingly. And every time one of us feels frustrated, we look into our trash bin, which cheers us up, it really does !! :))) (Not even half a bag in 3 weeks, what before were 3 bags in 1 week).
    So, it feels odd to not have the 'normal', convenient routine but we are getting more and more used to it. The real good thing at the bottom of it is, though, that we learn to appreciate again the ordinary. 🙂

    Sorry for the lengthy comment, Christine,

    • Winwick Mum says:

      It's fascinating to hear about your waste-free experiment, Ingeborg, and I am not surprised that it is not as easy as you might immediately think. There's more to it than buying loose fruit and veg! I wish you lots of luck with it! xx

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