A pastime for polishing your patience on an old copper pot

We all seem to be spending more time in the kitchen these days, confined to barracks really. I have a projects shelf in the pantry which is full of 'roundtoits', you know, the things that need a little repair on a wobbly leg, or a repaint to freshen them up, or grandma's bowl in four pieces that needs a bit of superglue. This lockdown is one more chance for them to stare at me reproachfully; and of course I'm opening the pantry door far too often.

I can lay the blame on this 'repair not replace' mentality on the fabulous TV show The Repair Shop. The presenter Jay Blades, along with expert craftsmen Will, Steve and Kirsten, on hand to help; just a few of the experts this BBC production has on tap.

If you haven't seen the show, it's where people bring their dilapidated treasured possessions to a working museum, where a group of experts gather to restore them. The owners wax lyrical about.the history and sentimental value of their ratty bits and pieces.

I'm an amateur repairer, but I do have a healthy respect for my screw driver, little electric sander and drill, and the commonsense to work out what goes where and what's missing or broken in the process.

I would never attempt a repair on a 19th century fold-up, wind-up gramophone, like one expert did. Copper pots, pans and kettles now, that's something else.

I have been watching the show long enough to have cleaning fluid envy, and every time they shake their spray bottle, I'm like a truffle dog, sniffing for a hint of what's in it.

Most of the time for metal, it's a combination of lemon juice, salt and vinegar.

On my project shelf is a copper urn of indeterminate age, with a dented bottom hindering its upright position, and enough patina on its outside to rival a mossy church fence.

The prize for me is that golden copper sheen waiting patiently under all that dross.

Saturday afternoon with the hubby watching reruns of the 1972 AFL grand final, I took the pot from the pantry shelf, assembled all the ingredients for Will's concoction and, after spreading the kitchen table with acres of newspaper, started the process.

Before long I abandoned the aluminium foil, the lemon juice and the salt. The mixture was too soft for my stubborn pot. I tried the drill with sandpaper-type scrubbing bits next.

The dust flew in the air and covered everything including the lampshade, so that method scored a minus 10.

Next I tried the jeweller's rouge. My plastic bottle of this super stuff was so old that it crumbled when I clutched it too tightly, so it had to be decanted into a glass bottle to continue working with it. Even that was unhelpful and no shine appeared on my pot to give me encouragement.

So I went for the radical solution; 'bring the heat' this method announced. In a saucepan large enough to fit my pot I mixed one cup of vinegar, one tablespoon salt, and three cups water.

I brought the mixture to a boil and laid my pot in its bath and waited. Refilled the bath and waited some more. Suddenly the tarnish began to fall away from the copper.

I had to wait until the pot cooled down and then gave it a light scrub with steel wool and a soft paste of flour, salt and vinegar.

While it is still a ways from that desirable copper colour gleam, we're on the way.

It may well take a couple more of those Grand Final reruns.