It gets worse. Not only has home cooking gone out of fashion, the house designers have realised it. And therefore, very often, newly built houses don't even have a dining room. They have decent sized kitchens, where people can sit round a table and have breakfast, but no dining room.

I suppose this is because in the modern world, people just don't have dinner parties any more. Or even have friends round for a meal. If you want to eat with friends, it's going out to a restaurant. And it's a great shame. I'm a guy, and I have no shame in admitting I love cooking. OK, so I'm not exactly a cordon bleu. But I enjoy it, and can rustle up a pretty decent meal.

But what it all means is that if you like entertaining your friends by having them round for a meal (or if you're Jewish and have a smart Shabbat dinner or lunch every week, with friends or family as guests), it's very hard to get a house with a nice room set aside for "semi-formal" dining.