Friday, April 17, 2009

Ode To The Humble Bread Soda!

As this is the season of Spring and all thoughts are turning to household cleaning (mine haven't moved much beyond the thought stage yet) I wonder if I might share with you this tried and tested tip for both cleaning and deodorizing. It's cheap, non-toxic and kind to the environment - it's none other than simple baking soda or bread soda as I know it.

Although I'm sure it can have many different uses the main ones I use it for are cleaning my sinks and keeping my washing machine and the clothes I've washed in it smelling good. With the exception of when I use the 60 degree wash for towels and sheets I always put 3 - 4 teaspoons of bread soda in alongside the washing powder in my 30 degree washes. The clothes come out smelling like fresh air and the fragrance remains in the machine, particularly important especially when washing running gear!

Another area I find the old soda very good in is cleaning sinks and taps.

I rub a tablespoon of dry soda on the draining board and in the sink and a small amount around my kitchen and bathroom taps. After giving the surfaces a good rub I then wash it off well with warm water and dry to prevent any streaks and above all to promote a good shine!

While I think of it, instead of spraying my rooms with chemical air-fresheners I usually place a small container of soda in an inconspicuous area such as behind a couch or suchlike. The rooms smell slightly like you've just been baking. So, maybe the next time you need your house smelling wellcoming and you don't have time to bake, place a little bread soda in your hoover bag, get hoovering and your guests will truly enjoy that bakery aroma!

Above images via Wiki.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Good Office Job!

I was just under thirteen years old when I had my first typing lesson. I'd become a student for a year in the Holy Faith Convent School in Clarendon Street, Dublin and the reason I got to do typing was because shortly after I started the term I developed pneumonia and so missed out on a lot of class subjects particularly algebra. As I was hopeless at even basic arithmetic it was decided I should enter the typing class while my other classmates slogged at maths. I was thrilled!

To this day I remember the teacher drumming into us the "home" keys of the typewriter from which you moved onto every other letter. (See image below)

As I'd taken to the typing like a duck to water my parents were delighted as they always wanted me to have "a good office job" as they described it. I would be set up for life, I'd meet people from an educated background and hopefully one day marry one of them! After Clarendon Street I spent two years in the School of Commerce and Retail Distribution, Parnell Square which now houses the Dublin Writers Museum.

It was there I excelled at the old typing coming first in every exam much to the horror of my fellow classmates who felt I had an unfair advantage having already had one year's experience behind me. Maybe they were right!

In the summer of 1967 I began my working career firstly as a clerk typist using a typewriter that would now be considered by the young as an ancient relic. It was an old Remington similar to the image below.

Over the course of four years I belted out letters, statements of accounts, credit notes and receipts on that sturdy monster of a writing machine that sometimes left you with aching fingers as a result of the sheer physical effort required to hit each key. Other drawbacks were having to change the spool ribbon when it wore out and if you hit the wrong letter the only way to erase the mistake was by using a piece of Tippex paper inserted behind the thingy that the key struck against. Hitting the key against the paper removed the offending letter whereupon you then typed the correct letter. God, how time-consuming!

The following five years saw me working as a book-keeper (what was I thinking?) for various establishments but thankfully for the final seven years of my working life I was back at the old keyboards again. This time it was an up-to-date twentieth century machine, an IBM electric golf ball typewriter, later to be replaced by the IBM self-correcting (one letter at a time if I remember correctly).

Looking back now I often wonder how us office workers managed without our high powered computers. I suppose like everything else, what you didn't have you didn't miss. You just got on with it.

Above images sourced at: Wiki,, The Classic Typewriter Page and Typewriter Museum.