Silence. Did I ever tell you how much I appreciate odd moments of silence? There is so much noise in our lives: radio, television, the neighbours, traffic, stuff on MP3 players. Sometimes, it is only when the noise stops that you can hear yourself think or listen to the wind in the trees or the birds in the garden.
Silence, is also relative. In the background, right now, I can hear our new washing machine whooshing away quietly. The last one shredded a bearing back in March and gradually got louder and louder on the spin cycle. When I called him out, our marvelous washing-machine-repair-man told me that it wasn't worth fixing because the parts would cost almost as much as a new machine, but that we could run it until it died, which might take several months and be a bit messy at the end. His solution to the noise was "Close the kitchen door". (For his honesty and that call out, I paid £15.)
A week ago, we decided that enough was enough. While it still worked, the old machine was deafeningly loud. A quick trawl on the internet and two shop visits later, we'd bought an almost-like-for-like new machine: 7kg capacity; separate temperature control (so that you can run every wash on cold water - as we do - if you want that facility); handwash woolens cycle; everything mechanical, with no mother-board to go expensively wrong.
It arrived on Friday and was immediately plumbed in and tested. It is so quiet. For the first time in months, I can be in the kitchen during a spin cycle without risking hearing damage. In fact, when a wash finished a few minutes ago, it took me a while to realise it had stopped! It is that quiet. Near silence is indeed appreciated.