After a week away, with no broadband access and days spent birding rather than scanning my Netvibes page, I am having some trouble getting back into blogging. While we were away, the builders have been hard at work, first taking up the dining room floor, then removing it all together, plus plaster, joists, ten tons of soil and rubble: we not only have the full set of deathwatch, wet and dry rot, but (at least for the moment) our very own Time Team experience. I also now know why we have no cellar: the house is built on sugar granite. But back to the dining room (or lack of it): according to Sophie Borland in the Daily Telegraph last week, Open-plan living leads to death of dining room. We will not be going that way, and I expect (and am paying for) our dining room to be back from the dead sometime soon. Her article suggests that dining rooms are disappearing because we want bigger living areas and because ‘lifestyle changes mean that fewer families sit down and eat a meal compared to 30 years ago, when it was common for households to sit round a table several times a day’. There is certainly some truth in this, but perhaps the real reason is that in the old fashioned kitchen there was a cooker, a sink and draining board and cupboards. Not much space was needed. There was usually a larder for food; and a wash room for the mangle and twin tub. Today most kitchens have dishwashers, microwave ovens, conventional ovens, hobs, a wide range of kitchen appliances, double sinks, food preparation islands etc. etc. Try getting all of that into the old sized kitchen. Plus for convenience most people like to eat close to the microwave, so people eat at the kitchen table. As the dining room was invariably next to the kitchen, what is more natural than knocking through to provide the space a modern kitchen needs. As for us? We have a hatch linking the two.