An AGA in a flat in Peckham

I live in South East London, Peckham (the posh part) with my other half, Thomas a German Doctor and our 2 cats called Gloria and Gaynor.  We have a lovely flat, but for my job the kitchen is ridiculously small, to be honest, it’s the size of an en-suite.  However we now have an AGA City60 called Angus.  And he’s beautiful.

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I used to live in Clapham, opposite the Common in a rented room before falling for said German Dr.  As time progressed the decision was made to leave leafy SW4 and start a new life in SE15.  Peckham daunted me, however I have grown to love it, an eclectic melting pot known as the ‘new Shoreditch’, which by chance is less than 10 minutes away on the new London Overground.

Dr Thomas did not want an AGA.  He made this very clear.  When AGA told me a 60cm (size of a standard cooker) was coming out soon I was ecstatic.  Dr Thomas said “no”.

Doctor is not always right, especially when it comes to domestic matters and I did say that stranger things have happened in Peckham recently; there is a bar on-top of a multi-story carpark in the summer and Peckham has become posh.  Fact.  I’m not one for accepting the world ‘no’ easily, so  I invited our Psychologist Vegetarian Socalist friend over to help persuade Dr Thomas, the result was simple.  Socialist Vegetarian Psychologist took my side and poor Thomas gave in.  Thomas was only concerned about the electric bill.  AGA cookers have come along way since the days of oil tanks, flues through the ceiling and certainly have long said goodbye to solid fuel.

With Dr Thomas on the ward in Hospital doing his rounds and exactly 10 years to the day that I did my first ever AGA demonstration, (Christmas dinner on the AGA to be precise) our AGA arrived in our home.  I’ve wanted one for years – I’ve flown from London to Beijing to San Francisco up to Toronto and down to Virginia with AGA, not to mention across Europe too.  I’ve written 4 World award winning cookery books on how to use an AGA, presented countless AGA demonstrations to audiences and presented many videos on AGA.  Not to mention how I’ve run around London looking to see how the AGA can cook global food in the World in One City or the summer of 2011 when I had an AGA in a van and drove it the length and breath of the UK attending every food show I could find.  How I always wanted one, but our flat was too small.  I grew up with an AGA in my family farm house, but always cursed the Belling we had in Peckham every time I had to cook.  It was so slow compared to AGA, pans took forever took boil, food was too dry, and as for oven cleaning – just don’t go there.

Our AGA came from AGA London, right in the heart of the City, Spital Square to be exact. Made by hand in Shropshire, Ian and the team in the AGA Shop took our order of a black Traditional AGA City60 with timer.  In no time at all Angus the AGA was installed, up and running.  Simply, the Belling was pulled out, the new AGA City60 wheeled in (yes it has wheels), wired into the mains, given a polish and turned on.  There are wooden steps in our flat to get to the kitchen, the AGA installation team arrived with a ramp and carefully installed Angus with no issues. 2 Hours later he was up and running and the next morning waking up with Angus on felt like a completely different flat.  Our flat felt like a family home.  There is something about how cast iron heats with a moist radiant heat that a radiator can not produce.

In true “Only Fools and Horses” tradition, a branch of TIT (Trotters Independant Traders) must have nipped past as said Belling was taken out of the flat.  Del Boy was from Peckham and within seconds it had disappeared off the side of the street and I can only assume is now adoring a flat somewhere in Nelson Mandela Towers.  You think I’m joking?  There is a yellow Robin Reliant that does drive around Peckham saying Trotters Independant Traders on the side.  Recycling at it’s best. However AGA do like to take old cookers away and make them into new AGA cookers in their foundry in Shropshire.  The same foundry the Industrial Revolution started in.

So, keep reading, over the following episodes I will be telling you more about our life in Peckham with Angus our AGA (and the German Dr), how Gloria and Gaynor react to Angus as well as answering many questions such as is the flat too hot in summer? what the electricity bill is like, do I need new saucepans? why temperatures are not required and how everything (yes everything including German delacicies for Dr Tom) cook perfectly with Angus the AGA.

The Psychologist Vegetarian Socialist friend came to visit over New Year, Doctor Thomas admitted how Angus was “lovely” and how food tastes far better when Angus cooks it compared to the old fan oven.

Why Angus?  Why not?  He’s part of our gay family now, he’s the heart of our home, he has a personality and as every AGA owner I have ever met seems to call theirs either AGAtha or Aggie.  Our AGA is male, so Angus.

21 thoughts on “An AGA in a flat in Peckham

  1. Pingback: Getting to know Angus the AGA City60 | James McIntosh's Blog

  2. I look forward to hearing how it goes. We installed a two oven electric AGA in 2011. I don’t think we make the most of it. Have been to one of your demos. And it really helped. Intend to go to another demo this year and take my husband who now does most of the cooking since I have been ill.

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  4. Great read on your blog ! Looking forward to receiving your books soon. Just bought 2 oven oil Aga in December 14 –Pistachio colour and I love it … so far !

  5. James delighted to read your lovely piece and about your new Aga. Wonderful.
    We are planning renovations of our house including the Seaweed Kitchen and plan to change our very old blue Aga to something modern and more environmentally friendly. How efficient is the wind powered model in Shropshire HQ on 5kW? Would love to try something like that. My grandmother got one of the first Agas ever available in Ireland so we go back a long way. You told me the name of the blue Aga we have- is it cloud blue.Anyway ideas welcome and Happy New Year. Prannie

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  9. Congratulations on the new addition to your family! We bought an aga over 30 years ago when we moved to our cottage and it has remained our constant friend through harsh winters, boiling summers bringing up three lovely daughters and now teaching grandsons to cook as well as keeping a string of family pets warm! Looking forward to keeping up with your expoits with Angus on your blog. Granwend

  10. I am really interested about the AGA and any useful advice or tips on how to cook really nice meals and receipts to cook b

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  18. Hello, James,
    I have been reading your blog about Angus the Aga, with interest and amusement.

    Having lived in a large, coolish Scottish country house for 40 years, where a daffodil yellow – yes, REALLY yellow – temperamental, oil-fired Aga was an essential member of the household, we have retired to a town house (in Dundee, the posh part, near Magdalen Green) with a dreary, cheerless and cramped kitchen – and how I miss my old Aga friend!

    I have looked at the City 60 in the local Aga showroom & even attended a cooking demonstration. Its neat size and ease of putting it to sleep appeals and I’m sure I could get used to the different hotplate technique. But there are a couple of things that I can’t quite get my head around.

    Now in Angus (the county, not your companion) there is no such concept as a kitchen being too hot in the summer, so my old Aga belched away grumpily all year round – except when it went out of its own accord, of course. However, Peckham (including the posh part) is substantially nearer the equator than Dundee, so I wonder what you do with Angus (the Aga) in the summer. Are you, in fact, two-timing Angus – and us – by having a swanky gas or electric cooker with lots of bling-ey knobs tucked away in an island unit somewhere, which can flash into action at a moment’s notice to pander to your needs while poor old Angus is asleep? But if Angus does rule in solitary splendour, do you come back on a summer afternoon to find him expiring in a fug of his own making? Or if you have him turned off, do you have to sit staring at the Peckham skyline (the less posh part) while downing the best part of a bottle of wine for ¾ hour while Angus gives himself a shake and gets himself going? Or do you now have him on a timer? (I understand that at present you can’t have a high-tech timer that you can control by mobile phone.)

    I suppose the hotplate, although taking longer to heat up than, say, a ceramic hob, is not too long to wait for on a regular basis. Presumably you get into the habit of switching it on first when you come into the kitchen and then get on with peeling the veg.

    We don’t really have room for 2 cookers in our proposed kitchen refurbishment and I need to convince myself (and my husband!) that the inconveniences of the City 60 don’t outweigh its comforting Aga properties.

    I apologise for lobbing all these questions at you but I hope, as an Aga ambassador, you won’t mind too much. Although it has been on the market now for a couple of years, there still seems to be virtually no independent feedback or information on the City 60. Our 2 nearest Aga showrooms are in Perth and Edinburgh and I had hoped they might put me in touch with a happy customer who had bought one and might be agreeable to telling me about their experience with it. It then emerged that each of the showrooms has sold fewer than 6 and that the only person that they could put me in touch with was the manager of the Edinburgh shop – not exactly an impartial opinion. So I really would be most grateful for any comments.

    I am originally from Ulster too and one of my memories of childhood was an annual drive with my parents to Loughgall in late autumn to buy a couple of cases of apples from McClellands’ fruit farm. Laxton’s Superb usually – I’m sure none of your Braeburns or Galas around today taste as good!

    With thanks and kind regards,

    PS While trying to work out how to get in touch with you, I googled ‘Angus the Aga’ and was brought face to face with a yellow Highland cow!! Goodness me, that isn’t how I envisage Angus at all – I had him down as a sleek black Aberdeen-Angus beast! 🙂

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