Esther O'Moore Donohoe: My world had now expanded to a 5k wide oyster, but where to go?

Esther O'Moore Donohoe describes herself as a Podcaster, Writer and Rhythm Dancer. This week she tries cleaning the oven, and a new route around her 5km


My oven is so loud that when it’s going full pelt, it wouldn’t surprise me if it detached itself from the wall and drove off down the road. But until it finally drives off to the big kitchen in the sky, it is staying put, no matter how loud it gets. That said, even noisy ovens need pampering from time to time though, so in a moment of madness, I decided to *gasp* clean it.

The main motivation for pretending I was Mrs Hinch for an hour, was the discovery that I had a foam oven cleaner deep in the back of the press. My excitement threshold is so low currently that I thought ‘Ooh. An expandable foam! I wonder if it really works? Will I really be able to just wipe all the mess away in one go?’

I absolutely need to get out more.

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Cleaning an oven is the domestic equivalent of getting a root canal done. All that time and effort and no one even sees it.

It was, like most domestic chores, instantly regrettable. From the moment I began scrubbing away the charred remains of ancient cheeses, I wish I had never started. To carry me through, I summoned the strength of my heroine, Mary Poppins. It turned out she was right, once begun really is half done. Although, she could clean a room just by clicking her fingers so she doesn’t know the reality of attacking filthy metal grills covered in old Dr. Oetker pizza. Meanwhile, the magic foam was silently doing its thing.

Before I knew it, I was finished and my, my, my, it was utterly underwhelming. Cleaning an oven is the domestic equivalent of getting a root canal done. All that time and effort and no one even sees it. The only comfort I took was knowing that I was unlikely to ever do it again.

A 5k wide oyster

Because of all the gorgeous, 100%, non-eco-friendly chemicals in the foam, I had to leave the oven door open to air it for a bit. I took that as my cue to go for my daily constitutional. It was turning out to be quite the wild day for me.

My world had now expanded to a 5k wide oyster, but where to go? I stood at the end of my road and paused. I could go right, left or straight on. I ruled out straight on, straight away, owing to the group of Mad Lads gathered on their bikes at the nearest corner. Turning right meant following some of the route I normally take to work so I nixed it immediately. I wasn’t ready for any reminder of the real, real world quite yet. The only choice that remained, was to go left. This woman was ready to spread her wings ever so slightly, and in line with government guidelines to slow the spread of a highly infectious virus. I was off on a very gentle adventure.

On a cleaning high, or perhaps the chemicals had gotten to me, I decided to be brave and walk a route I’d never taken before. It was instantly gratifying. As I crossed the road to set out on my journey proper, I could hear a distant, gentle roar of ‘SEVEN AND TWO. SEVENTY TWO. TWO AND THREE, TWENTY THREE.’ Within a few hundred yards, I was walking by a real life outdoor bingo game in the flats. It was just like the ones I’d seen, and liked, on social media, only way, way, way, way, way, louder. I couldn’t believe my luck. Without even trying, I had ticked another experience off my lockdown checklist.

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Times are uncomfortable and uncertain of course, but in those moments, my heart was warmed.

I twisted left again and found myself along the canal. Well, it was like seeing the world anew. Ducklings, swans, plastic bags. I was taken in by how much beauty there was all around. I was living, laughing, and loving this walk. To turn my jaunt even more golden, I accidentally bumped into a friend. I was giddy with delight.

Conscious that I had to return to the festival of fun that is my oven, I decided to head home. On my way back, I see the Mad Lads again doing wheelies. Bless their rule flouting youth. I then smell someone having a BBQ in their garden. In some windows, children had drawn encouraging signs to walkers. Others had put out a selection of their best teddies and toys to cheer strangers as they walk by. It was all so nice. Times are uncomfortable and uncertain of course, but in those moments, my heart was warmed. And as I turned onto the home stretch, I saw skies of blue, clouds of white, illegal dumping, to my left and right and I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

Esther O'Moore Donohoe is a writer and broadcaster. On her podcast The 80%, she interviews guests whose success she is 80% happy for.

Read more: 'My foray into GIY has reminded me life carries on, regardless'

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