Today has been the best day.
Sunny all day and warm in the sun, although the air’s still March-cold.
Boring things were ticked off my To Do list: boiler service and chimney survey.
I spent most of the day outside in the garden, waiting for Owen and Ben to arrive; doing a bit of weeding before the weeds get a chance to get too established, making a huge mess with bits of dead tree and then sweeping up loads of dry earth. I picked some narcissi from the garden for the living room, which doesn’t have a view of the garden, and cut a few branches from the little cherry tree, which I’ve ignored since I’ve been here. Annoyingly it now has two trunks, effectively, as it divides very low down. I’m not being nobbish, saying ‘narcissi'; it’s just that there are so many varieties out there, including double headed ones, and I just know that they’re not all DAFFODILS.
There was a fabulous moth thing – ok, ok, I’m going to look it up in a minute… (Actually, I didn’t have to look it up because a kind reader commented that this is an Orange Tip butterfly – and when I looked it up, it says it’s one of the sure signs of spring, as it’s one of the first species to emerge.)
Back to the mundane, the chimney needs quite a bit of work but the chimney man has various ideas about why it might be leaking water and is going to try the least major first. I like.
As always, I’d forgotten how nice Somerset people are. Just so, somehow, likeable. I had a long chat about buzzards with Owen, the boiler man. There were six of them wheeling above Higher Close, the bare earth no doubt a good background against which to spot their prey. We stood outside and watched them hunting and picking on one of their number. They always seem to be falling out. Not everyone’s work is the same, I thought, reminding myself that I was in the office until 7pm yesterday.
Ben, the chimney man, was very admiring of the bread oven, so I took advantage and asked him how it would have worked – although I sort-of knew. I really wanted to know if it was original, as someone had once said they thought it was fake. It’s real, he said. I was a victim of their bread oven envy.
As to how it worked – think pizza oven: in the evening, when your fire had burned down, you’d take the embers and put them into the oven at the side of the inglenook. Then, when the bricks were hot – not quite sure what o’clock that would be – you’d rake it all out and put in your bread dough, which the residual heat would bake, presumably in time for the morning. Sounds a very sensible use of energy but I’d rather be sleeping myself.
Ben, the chimney man, by the way, was really charming (I feel like my own grandmother to describe someone as such) and is the first buildery person I’ve ever come across to say things like: “Well, one might take out the liner and insert a new tray…” and then give you a big cheesey grin, while being covered with soot and bits of rubble. Yes, I like. I definitely like. Although, actually…come to think of it… there was once a chap called Colin, who did a nice line in marble tiles… but that’s another story.
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