The other worktops look like oak but in fact they're laminate. We chose them because we like the look of oak but thought laminate would be easier to look after. The side worktops worked out beautifully but the island one was a nightmare to fit. The strip of worktop that was supplied needed to be cut into two lengths of the right width. Then these lengths had to be joined together down the middle, the corners rounded off to match the shape of the cabinets underneath, and the edging strip fitted.
The struggle began when we asked the carpenter to cut the lengths of worktop for us. He made a great job of the side pieces, which fitted and joined together perfectly. When it came to the island piece he completely messed it up by cutting one of the lengths in the wrong place. This meant that we had two joins down the length of the worktop instead of one. I think the words he uttered in French would roughly translate in English as "oops"!
Making the two joins was a struggle. Without the help of our friend Tim B, we would not have managed it at all. Fitting the edging strip to make it look neat was another struggle. The result was ok but very much a "nobody will notice" effect that we were not thrilled about but were prepared to put up with.
Then, late last summer, on a hot and very humid evening, disaster struck. I had been very careful to wipe up any spillages on the island unit, and to clean it carefully, not leaving pools of liquid that might seep into the joins. On that evening, we had invited friends round for a bbq and they brought with them one if the truly delicious desserts from the boulangerie in the village. These arrive frozen and take about two hours to thaw for serving. The dessert was placed on a plate, under a mesh cover to keep insects (and Daisy) off it, on the worktop. As we partied outdoors, drops of condensation gathered on the plate due to the humidity in the air and slowly, relentlessly, dripped into the joins in the worktop, bubbling it in two places.
We anguished over how much this mattered. It looked horrible but could be ignored, especially if I left a large plate or chopping board over the damage to hide it from view. But, in the end, we couldn't live with a lovely new kitchen that was let down by what should have been the jewel in the crown, the island unit. So we bit the bullet, placed the order, attached the trailer to the car and set off back to the UK to fetch a new worktop.
Nick returned chez nous last weekend with the worktop, which just fitted in the floor of the trailer, along with a mountain of other stuff - stuff that has been kicking around since we downsized in the UK, waiting to be gradually transported to France. He retrieved Daisy from the cattery and got on with fitting the replacement worktop with Alex's help. Looking at the photos, it looks beautiful, exactly right and exactly what we should have got in the first place.
The blog will be on hold for a little while.