This week, I headed to the Ideal Home Show to watch a special B&Q Get The Look workshop hosted by the enviably handy Kirstie Allsopp. Afterwards, we chatted about her love of Agas and the surprising things she keeps in her antique drawers…
Girl About Tech: What’s the one power tool every girl should own?
Kirstie Allsopp: A decent drill-driver, because the best and easiest way to revamp your home is with shelves and pictures.
GAT: Does your tool kit at home go much further than that?
KA: We have two beautiful antique chests of drawers, and to look at them you’d think they contained something lovely, like fine linen, but you open them and they’re rammed with tools. We’ve also got a shed full of them – but you have to bear in mind that my husband Ben is a property developer.
GAT: Do you have separate tool kits, for him and for her?
KA: Well, I have nice, neat tools and they go astray. I’m currently trying to track down all my tools and put them away in my little upstairs office where Ben won’t find them.
GAT: Are you as big on cooking as you are on DIY?
KA: I don’t see myself as big in the kitchen, because Ben does a lot of cooking, but I’m happy in the kitchen. At the moment I’ve got this thing for avocado. I’ll take an avocado, half a spoonful of low-fat crème fraiche, lemon, salt, pepper and a couple of chilli flakes and have it all mashed up on toast for lunch. I’m completely addicted.
GAT: Do you have any favourite appliances?
KA: We have an Aga at our homes both in London and in Devon and I absolutely love Agas, partly because, when I’m cooking I can never remember to preheat the oven.
GAT: What about smaller kitchen gadgets?
KA: I have a pan I bought in Switzerland that cooks the most perfect, restaurant-quality omelette. Well, it’s actually two pans and you heat both of them, starting the omelette off in one and then flipping it into the other. I have a rice cooker, which is absolutely brilliant news because I can put it on and go away and get other things – and myself – ready. I long to buy a waffle maker but I haven’t been allowed because Ben says waffle makers are like sandwich makers – you never use them. I know the kids would love one though. Oh, and I get a lot of use out of my KitchenAids – I have a purple one and a pink one that I bought at a breast cancer charity auction.
GAT: What do you like to use them for?
KA: I’m quite one for sauces - when I first learned to make Hollandaise, I literally cooked nothing that wasn’t served with Hollandaise for about a year. I like my mashed potato to be French-style pomme puree, so I use them for that, too. I would have totally pureed food if I could! And baking cakes and bread is a big thing, particularly with the kids.
GAT: How techy are you in other areas of your life? How do you listen to music?
KA: A brilliant company makes a tiny little speaker shaped like a drum, and the sound that comes out of it is fantastic. I take that everywhere with me when I’m travelling – they sell them on BA I think (Girl About Tech later discovers that it’s the Lifetrons Drumbass Ii Extendable Speaker, £68, available at British Airways High Life shop). The same company also does a gadget that can charge your phone, iPod and all that stuff. It’s got enough charge in it for three goes, so it’s handy to have in the handbag.
GAT: What do you like to listen to?
KA: I’m not very good with music, but I love Radio 4, which I listen to through the TuneIn Radio app. I use iTunes a lot for downloading films and TV shows for the kids.
GAT: Do you have any other favourite apps?
KA: Well, I should mention our Phil and Kirsty app, of course. I love Flashlight and the children love Flashmath Derby. Kids’ learning apps are really handy for long train or plane or car journeys.
GAT: Would you say you’re very techy?
KA: I’m probably the most tech person in my house. I watch a lot on BBC iPlayer and 4OD and I tweet a lot and I can usually work out what’s going on with a computer without getting upset with it, but a lovely guy called the Mac Doctor comes round to the house every now and again when I get out of sync. And when I say out of sync I mean genuinely out of sync – sometimes I forget that one computer can have lots of iPads and iPhones but an iPhone can only have one computer. Just like a mother can have lots of children but a child can only have one mother.
And now for the quick-fire round…
Gas or induction? KA: Aga hotplates!
Microwave or steam? KA: I don’t have a microwave and I probably would get a steam oven, but I’d still use my Agas.
LPs or MP3s? KA: MP3s
Mac or PC? KA: Mac
Twitter or Facebook? KA: Twitter
Cloud or Zip Drive or no back up at all? KA: Both. I’m very cautious about that kind of thing.
Digital camera or phone? KA: I have a nice digital camera, but there are 1588 pictures on my iPhone and they’re not all of property, let’s put it that way!