Doing the simple things really well can pose the most difficult of tasks. Anyone can make an ordinary cup of tea, slap paint on to a wall or make a sandwich, but it's how well they're prepared that differentiates between the excellent and the ordinary.
Take the cousin, for example. He has made me a special cup of tea every time I've visited. He goes to the trouble of letting it gain a certain strength and, critically, adds a few drops of cold water so I can drink it without milk. It's just a cup of tea, but it is invariably excellent.
Sometimes the attempt to achieve the apparently simple can end up blurring the outcome. This week's review car, the new Golf, is an example of the simple being done well and not so well. Its design is minimalist; clear-cut lines, indisputably Golf looks. The interior is classic Volkswagen too. Simple, maybe - even to the point of boring in some eyes.
Everything is as it should be: excellent seats, decent room, good-sized boot and a straightforward, if slightly dull, dashboard. Then there is the interactive touchscreen with slide buttons and another spray of small ones on the steering wheel - and suddenly it all can become a bit of a jumble.
I am no tecchie. Maybe slim buttons that slide for ventilation, for example, appear smart and modern, but I would much rather a couple of proper knobs to perform the simple task of upping the temperature or the fan speed. I'm saying this after working my way through the system several times. I've come to the conclusion that attempting to simplify can mean digitally embedding unnecessary complications. I want to be able to do basic things quickly and easily.
Am I being overly picky? Maybe. Stupid? Maybe. That is for you to judge. I am just giving my basic opinion, mindful that sometimes all that's needed is the motoring equivalent of a few drops of cold water in the tea.
Overall, this 'most connected' Golf in the model's history reflects moderate progress in some areas, and more in others. The emphasis is on the digital technology, which works extremely well - in so far as it was designed to. The car itself is evolutionary as it has been for generations. The grey colour of my test model did not do much for the stylistic lines that differentiate it from its predecessor. You know you are working within fine margins when the front bonnet's creases are among the major claimants of attention.
For all that, I am ever-mindful that the Golf is a hugely popular car and has been for decades. I think the looks have changed incrementally on the basis of reassuring familiarity in a motoring world of flux. I have no doubt that justification for such a policy applies now more than ever as buyers of the traditional family car are exposed to the charms of myriad manifestations of curvaceous crossovers, many of them rivals within the Volkswagen group.
Regardless of everything, the engineering is first-class. I might quibble with pulling power in fifth/sixth gear but I loved the 1.5-litre petrol engine, and it has as slick a six-speed manual gearbox as you'll find anywhere today.
I trialled this new Golf extensively for more than 550km and enjoyed every minute of the drives, especially in a late-night pelting-rain return from the midlands. Here was a car begetting confidence and meeting prime drive and comfort orientations. Here was an engine sweet as a nut and never once breaking the lowest of sound barriers.
Here was a car secure in its ability to reflect its blend of technical innovation (the chassis is excellent) with a smooth and simple target in mind: that sense of dynamism within the confines of a taut structure. This enhances and advances its credentials of it being a rock-solid buy both new and second-hand.
Would I buy it? Allowing for the likelihood that I would get better with the sliding buttons and overcome some frustrations with the voice control and the dull dash, I would have to consider it despite the price premium it commands over the Seat Leon, a much better-looking VW Group stablemate.
But it would be a decision I'd make with my head not my heart. There are far better-looking cars out there, maybe even a few better drivers, but I'd be thinking three years down the road too: will there be a better car to be trading in? Simple answer: I doubt it.
Volkswagen Golf 5dr hatchback:
1,498cc petrol, €190 tax. 124g/km. From €23,950, Style spec on test from €30,750. Standard Style trim includes 17in alloys, front sports seats, rear-view camera, 'Travel Assist', three-zone air con, 10in 'Discover Pro' radio nav with t/screen, slim spare wheel, adaptive cruise control, smartphone inductive charging, park-distance control front/rear.