Finishing Touches

On another gloomy wet morning Jackie photographed a selection of our current garden blooms, some decorated with pearls of rainwater.

Here we have sarcocca Hoskeriana, cyclamen, daffodil, iris reticulata Katharine Hodgkin, snowdrops, hellebore, camellia, daphne odorata marginata, and crocus.

Barry, of New Forest Chimney Sweeping & Repairs, then visited to extend the

downpipe across the kitchen extension roof to the guttering.

With our friend reflected in the Velux window he and I enjoyed a very pleasant conversation.

Five chapters further on in ‘Little Dorrit’ prompts a scan of five more of Charles Keeping’s illustrations to this novel of Charles Dickens.

‘Mr Pancks requested Mr Rugg to take a good strong turn at the handle’ of the street pump, which were common sources of water for residents in the mid-nineteenth century. https://johnsnow.matrix.msu.edu/work.php?id=15-78-80 carries a long entry on “The Broad Street Pump: An episode in the cholera epidemic of 1854”.

in ‘My dear soul, you are my only comfort’, we recognise the earlier profile of the magnificent Mrs Merdle.

‘The three expensive Miss Tite Barnacles’ are somewhat less than delightful.

The jubilation of ‘The Collegians cheered him very heartily’ has the artist throwing his hats through the text.

‘The little procession moved slowly through the gate’ demanded the span of a two page spread. No doubt readers will recognise earlier acquaintances.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s savoury pilau rice topped with a five egg omelette served with both tempura and hot and spicy prawns with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Réserve de Bonpas.

‘Lor!’, Chuckled Maggy

Barry of New Forest Chimney Sweeping & Repairs finished most of his work on our kitchen extension roof today. While he was doing so, I made him a set of A4 prints from my pictures of him from the last two days.

He sent me his own images of the new lead flashings and my mug. One of our problems has been the down pipe running rainwater directly onto the tiles. Barry will extend that on Monday.

Later, I read four more chapters of ‘Little Dorrit’, and scanned four more of Charles Keeping’s expressive illustrations.

Keeping has captured the rapt expression of this child-woman being read a story in ‘ ‘Lor!’, said Maggy, giving her knees a hug.’ Despite Maggy’s previous portrait having been full face, the artist has retained an instantly recognised likeness.

‘The private residence of Mr Pancks was in Pentonville’ where the artist could well have modelled these buildings on those still extant today.

‘Mr Henry Gowan seemed to have a malicious pleasure in playing off the three talkers against each other.’ The boy peeping over the group has been cleverly included in this picture – such is the artist’s attention to detail.

‘Parasite little tenements, with the cramp in their whole frame.’

This evening we dined on Jackie’s classic cottage pie; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; tender cabbage and runner beans, with tasty gravy. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden while I drank Chevalier de Fauvert Comté Tolosan Rouge 2019, a remarkably smooth low-priced Lidl find.

A Greasy Spoon

Barry, of New Forest Chimney Sweeping and Repairs continued today with his work on our kitchen extension roof.

Painstakingly he removed the spent lead flashing and prepared the surfaces for the replacement material.

Only when he was satisfied that he had firm bases did he begin to lay the new lead. This is tough work for one man. The care he takes is patent.

This evening Barry sent me his own photographs of his work, including his earlier project on the Velux window.

Just after lunch, Ronan from Tom Sutton Heating visited to fix a minor central heating problem.

Four chapters further into ‘Little Dorrit’ I have scanned four more of Charles Keeping’s exemplary illustrations.

Unusually, the text of the page containing ‘A dirty shop-window in a dirty street’, describes a different building, the home of the character in the next illustration. Here we have a poor man’s eating house, the Victorian equivalent of a greasy spoon, namely ‘a small, cheap eatery – either an American diner or coffee shop, or a British or Irish cafe – typically specialising in fried foods and/or home-cooked meals.’ (Wikipedia). During my running days I was a connoisseur of London’s wide-spread finest, such as The Martin Café

“Mrs Merdle was magnificent’ – and proud of it.

Tobacconists, such as ‘It was a very small establishment’ have all but disappeared from London’s streets except for the West End.

With ‘He was surprised to see a bonnet labouring up the step-ladder’, the artist has split his drawing, and consequently the text, into a diagonal across the spread. It is a measure of Keeping’s consistency that these three characters are each recognisable from their earlier appearances.

This evening we dined on breaded cod and oven chips; cod, asparagus, and pea fishcakes; petits pois; pickled onions and wallies; with which we both drank Western Cape Sauvignon Blanc 2020

THANK YOU NHS

Despite the dismally wet day Barry of New Forest Chimney Sweeping & Repairs made a good start on repairing another section of our kitchen extension roof.

We left him to it while Jackie drove me to The Grove Pharmacy, Christchurch Hospital for the first of my Astra-Zeneca Covid-19 vaccinations. The whole operation was smooth and painless.

A cold breeze ruffled my feathers as I took my place in the orderly queue.

The hospital is on a new estate off Fairmile Road. Jackie also photographed the Thank You sign painted on the comparatively new tarmac.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spice-hot chicken Jalfrezi; aromatic pilau rice; vegetable samosas; and fluffy parathas, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Macon.

Khaleesi And Karen’s Hair Dryer

On this bright, sunny, day Barry of

was able to complete the work on the Velux window roof.

He tapped down the lead using a tool that had once belonged to Owen’s great grandfather;

tested the result for smoothness in his usual careful manner;

and employed Karen’s hair dryer to avoid the possibility of his normal heater cracking the glass.

This afforded him time for contemplation.

A walk round the garden revealed a somewhat nibbled mushroom sprouting in the stumpery.

Muggle was at home in his larch.

Nugget still looked him up now and then. Otherwise he foraged for himself.

“Where’s Nugget” (46).

Barry sent me the first two pictures on this post, with a set

depicting the completed project.

Note the spirit levels in this one.

Keeping her very discreetly out of our way, Barry brought his delightful spaniel Khaleesi with him, and included some pictures of her.

Apart from a spell on the Westbrook Arbour bench,

she remained in the van.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy sausages in red wine; roast potatoes; crunchy carrots and firm broccoli, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Patrick Chodot Fleuri 2018.

 

 

A Craftsman At Work

We already knew that Barry Chislett-Bruce of New Forest Chimney Sweeping & Repairs is a first class, painstaking, craftsman. In the link above Barry and his son, Owen, are shown sweeping the chimney behind the fireplace they installed for us.

The Velux kitchen window has leaked ever since we moved in five and a half years ago. Three other tradesmen have failed to fix the problem. Had I known that this was an issue with which Barry was familiar and experienced I would have asked him first. Today he began working on the job in bright sunshine and continued as the skies darkened in preparation for more heavy rains.

I photographed the man at work today. Rain or shine he will return tomorrow to complete the task.

After his return home our friend sent me bird’s eye view  images of his work. Having removed studs that no-one else had ever looked at, he lifted a section of the frame and used a thick fabric to draw out a significant pocket of water. He brought down this swab and wrung it out over the kitchen sink. This was not merely resulting from recent rain.

Other photographs show the careful lead work at various stages, both while the sun still shone, and later, by which time light rain had begun to speckle the glass.

Barry also sent signs that he had probably enjoyed his mugs of tea, although he had had the temerity to opine that Jackie’s brew was better than mine.

This evening we dined on minted lamb burgers; sautéed new potatoes; and vibrantly hued orange carrots. green beans and sprouting broccoli, with which I finished the Cotes du Bourg. Jackie had finished her Hoegaarden beforehand.

Unquenchable Polish Spirit

This morning Nick from Peacock Computers visited to instal a new router and to repair the interface between our TV and the You View box.

After lunch Barry from New Forest Chimney Sweeping And Repairs came to inspect our leaking Velux window. He asked me to send him two photographs, which I did.

Nugget overtook me on the Brick Path while I photographed white Japanese anemones and red pelargoniums.

Here are more of these anemones, between fading lilies and honesty seed pods.

These fuchsias, lobelia, and petunias suspended from the eucalyptus have recovered by virtue of the Head Gardener’s nurturing;

as has this unquenchable, aptly named, Polish Spirit which has twice survived the still visible windburn of the summer’s storms.

To the delight of foraging bees, new buds continue to burgeon on cosmoses.

A favourite perch for little robin Nugget stands in the Weeping Birch Bed. “Where’s Nugget?” (8)

This afternoon Jackie collected Elizabeth from her home in Pilley and drove her to collect her repaired car from a garage near us. My sister came back with the Culinary Queen and stayed for dinner, which consisted of luscious lamb’s liver (sorry, Yvonne), bacon and onions; creamy mashed potato; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; and tender green beans with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Tesco’s Chilean Malbec 2018. Elizabeth had consumed her quota of Hophead Pale Ale on the patio beforehand. One of the advantages of a flavoursome casserole is that you can have bread and gravy if there is enough liquid left over. I did this tonight.

“Look. That Man’s Taking Photographs”

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE. REPEAT IF REQUIRED

Barry & Owen Van

Leaving their van in our front drive

Shoes

and their slip-on shoes outside the door,

Barry and Owen, who are New Forest Chimney Sweeping & Repairs, having first serviced Mistletoe Cottage next door, provided us with their trademark clean and efficient job.

Barry 1

A dust sheet is laid down;

Barry and Owen 1

face-masks making father, Barry, and son, Owen, sound like Star Wars stormtroopers are applied;

Barry and Owen 2Barry and Owen 3Barry 2Barry 3

a shield is fitted into place, and the soot vacuumed out, leaving the room spotless. As you can see, there was no need to cover furniture. The job was completed and the equipment cleared away in about an hour. If you need a chimney sweep look no further than http://www.findachimneysweep.co.uk/sweeps/new-forest-1-cg-7641-qualified/?area=&service=

This afternoon we met Elizabeth at Lavender Farm at Landford, where we wandered around, enjoyed refreshments, and purchased a few plants.

Trails on glass 3Trails on glass 1Trails on glass 2

Beside the car park lies a very long greenhouse on the inside of the glass windows of which tiny trail-blazing cartographers have etched uncharted territory.

Lavender Farm 1

Apart from the many plants laid out for sale, there are a number of more formal herbaceous borders;

Climbing rose

various climbing roses;

SalviasSalvias and Elizabeth 1

splendid displays such as these salvias placed in a bed in the midst of a brick path. Jackie, in red, investigates plants for sale in the background of the first view, while Elizabeth approaches in the second.

Gladiolus and metal sculpture

Glorious gladioli abound. This example is embraced by one of the many metal sculptures.

Banana leaf

Potted banana trees have been reduced in price.

Gaura

Unusually this elderly gaura stands guardsman erect.

Lavender Farm 4Lavender Farm 3Lavender Farm 5

There is a large freely planted area through which it is possible to wander,

Lavender Farm 6

take photographs,

Children at Lavender Farm 1Children at Lavender Farm 2

or run around among the lavender.

Lavender Farm 2

Many visitors come to spend a pleasant time seated at table with friends, tea, coffee, and cakes.

Coleus

A spectacularly colourful coleus

Coleus and sparrow

sat in a shiny bright blue pot close to our table. A sparrow walked around it. The background blackboard already advertised Christmas lunch.

Sparrow

Elizabeth couldn’t eat all her scone, which was broken up and tossed on the decking for the little bird and its companions.

Mother and child

Some of the dining areas were under cover, such as one sheltered by a thick transparent plastic material. As I passed this, a mother, exclaiming “Look. That man’s taking photographs”, brought her daughter to peer through it. She was amused at the result.

Before Elizabeth returned home, the three of us dined on Jackie’s superb spicy lamb jalfrezi with fried onion rice, followed by chocolate eclairs and vanilla ice cream. Jackie drank Hoegaarden; Elizabeth, alcohol free Becks; and I finished the Fleurie.

Father And Son

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Today work began on our fireplace. First Baz and Owen inspected the prospective purchase at Gordleton Barn, pronounced it suitable, and set about making ready for it.

This is the doubtful D.I.Y. effort that started the day in our living room.

Barry and Owen Chislett-Bruce are New Forest Chimney Sweeping & Repairs. This father and son team are personable, thorough, efficient, and work quickly, cleanly, and tidily.

Here they are at work removing the orange shelf and the bodged tiling.

They were pleased not to have damaged any of the tiles, which Owen stacked up neatly.

They then carried out the task of clearing the raised rock-hard concrete from the open space,

hoovering as they went along.

Baz and Owen contemplating fireplace 1

Baz and Owen then collected the Victorian replacement from the barn, and contemplated it for a while.

Baz and Owen contemplating fireplace 2

This involved Baz sticking his head up the chimney.

There were several possible options for ensuring a tight fit, the preferred one being removing a row of the original hearth floor tiles, and removing more of the concrete. This required considerable effort.

Fireplace 3

The cast iron tiled fireplace was firmly fixed, ready for the next stage.

A final vacuuming was carried out,

Fireplace 4

and this is how they left us until further elements are obtained and fitted.

Observant readers will have noticed that the men, while working their socks off, do so in their socks. This, the groundsheets, the hoovering,

Rubble bags

and bagging up the rubble as they go along, demonstrates their careful attention to the homes in which they work.

Whilst at the barn, I took a few more pictures of the interior.

It is now soon after 3.00 p.m. We will be driving over to Elizabeth’s for the three of us to attend Margery’s exhibition at Southampton Art Gallery, after which we will have a meal together. I will then have no time (or energy) to post this, so I will do so know and report the evening tomorrow.