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…and finally…

We were out late tonight, so I shall fob you off with one last picture of our inglenook: the old bread oven.

It’s in the upper right corner of the inglenook. One of these days, I’ll have to put a camera on a pole and get some proper pics of the interior. You can’t quite make it out, but it’s a sort of beehive shape on the inside.

The way it worked, you’d shovel hot coals in to warm it up, then brush them to the sides and put your loaves in middle and shut the door until they baked. I see no evidence of hinges, so the door was probably just a wooden shutter sort of thing.

Note the bottom right bricks have crumbled away, we suspect where the wooden paddle (called a peel) was inserted to move the loaves.

Thus ends a week of sperging about my inglenook. Good weekend, all!

September 28, 2018 — 9:33 pm
Comments: 12

Chimbleys

Uncle B is right — the previous post didn’t really do justice to the coolness of our inglenook. By Tudor standards, it isn’t huge — this was a farm cottage, not a great house — but it’s the most important characteristic of the house.

I tried to find a house plan that shows what I mean. I found the two above, that are kinda similar. The fireplace would have been the first thing built, then one gigantic main house timber (not present in the houses above) would be run through the middle of the chimney. Then everything else hung off of the main house timber.

Not only does that make the chimneystack the main structural (and physically central) member of the house, but it also serves as a sort of storage heater, absorbing the heat of the fire and then slowly releasing it. This is a huge innovation over the cottages (essentially miniature Medieval halls) of previous centuries, that had a central fire that burned in a firepit and just vented under the roof.

You’ll note the evolution of the fireplace is not complete, however. The great beam that goes crossways above the inglenook (see photo from yesterday) doesn’t stick out.

They had yet to invent the mantlepiece. They were waiting for Hallmark to invent the Christmas card.

September 19, 2018 — 8:37 pm
Comments: 8

Turn, turn, turn

The chimney sweep, part of the regular end-of-Summer ritual. Completely necessary, as we depend on fire for most of our heat.

And this year, we had the added joy of an inglenook dripping honey. We have bees in the attic — we’ve had bees in the attic for years and years — but this year they gave us a gift. A gooey, black, soot-coated sticky, pooling gift. We had to ask the sweep if there was anything especially flammable about it (there’s not).

Our guy is modern and up to date. We get a text message when it’s time to get swept. Sadly, though, he doesn’t look a bit like Dick van Dyke.

Let the evening fires commence!

September 18, 2018 — 6:22 pm
Comments: 16

What herbs you growing?

Uncle B bought my Summer herbs today. He keeps asking if I want anything else and I can’t think of anything.

I have oregano, thyme, sage, rosemary, several kinds of mint, borage, hyssop, fennel, dill, something called winter savory, chamomile. Catnip. Growing randomly around the garden: chives, lemon balm, lemon verbena, several varieties of lavender, ground elder. Erm, nettles. Elderflowers. I’m sure I’m forgetting something.

Oh, the thing in the picture, which is called cotton lavender or lavender cotton and is related to neither cotton nor lavender. You can eat it.

What’s missing?

June 5, 2018 — 8:53 pm
Comments: 16

Yes, that’s a Chinese diagram of a heating pump

pump

Meh. I flipped on the water heater in anticipation of a long, hot bath tonight and…the central heating pump died.

Yes, you heard that right: we don’t heat water all the time. Once every couple of days will do it. We’re reflexively cheap, the both of us.

I’m’a go sulk. And drink. But mostly sulk.

No, wait…mostly drink.

Also smell, because I need a bath.

September 19, 2017 — 9:24 pm
Comments: 12

Be vewy, vewy quiet…

woodpile

There’s a weasel in this woodpile. A camera-shy weasel.

Uncle B spotted it first and hammered on the front door, calling my name. This made me slam my hands on the desk in alarm, which flipped my fork clear across the room into a pile of books. But that’s not important now.

I dashed out without my glasses and saw an indistinct brownish blob dart under a piece of wood. We went for cameras and chairs (and my glasses) and sat and stared at the woodpile for twenty minutes. Nada.

Eventually, Uncle B lumbered back inside and Jack and I stayed glowering at the hole weez popped out of. Finally, a teeny, tiny slinky beast crept out from under a log, had a look around, didn’t like what he saw (mostly the cat, I assume) and slunk back in again.

A reminder that what Brits call a weasel, we call a “least weasel” — they really are not much bigger than an improbably long mouse.

Weasels don’t appear to like cat food.

Unfortunately for Mr (or Mz) Weasel, that there is not a permanent woodpile. It’s a pile of wood, just where the log man dropped it in the drive three weeks ago, and it all gets moved eventually. I hope there’s not a whole damn weasel fambly in there.

Yes, it’s a fair distance from the chicken house. And yes, I’ve locked the flock up as tight as I can tonight. Cross your fingers.


HOLY SHIT I JUST REALIZED: The Fritz had Jerry Lewis in the DeadPool. That means new one tomorrow. The Fritz, honey, you didn’t say anything….

August 24, 2017 — 9:43 pm
Comments: 23

The Ghost of Weasel Hall

mist

Infrared does some very strange things. We figured that out early on. One of the first nights we switched the outside cameras on, two of them showed the most amazing howling blizzard for half an hour. It was an IR gross exaggeration of a light mist. I guess. It was hard even to see the mist with the naked eye and t hasn’t happened since.

Something similar happens at work, where dust or moisture speckles swirl around in a seemingly purposeful way. One of my colleagues watching the recording firmly believes they’re orbs — you know, spirit doo-dahs.

I definitely think it’s just weird IR artifacts. I’m as psychic as a potato, me.

Picture above shows the camera in the garden that has its back to the chicken house. I hope you can make out the swirling mist. I see this many nights on this one camera. It’s a sort of twisty thing, like smoke, seemingly close to the camera. Very spooky looking.

My best guess is, it’s some kind of spider gossamer. Spiders love the cameras and crawl all over them (with B horror movie results). I guess the red lights either attract them, or attract bugs that attract them. They often leave cloudy, milky artifacts when they spin web up close to the lens.

OR maybe it’s some particular kind of mist coming up from the grass, bearing in mind how weirdly IR can exaggerate moisture.

Any other guesses?

August 7, 2017 — 10:28 pm
Comments: 24

SQUEEEEEE!

squee

Baby hedgehog. BABY HEDGEHOG!

For once, not from my kitchen. I saw it bumbling past in the drive and realized it was a little ‘un. And so, of course, I had to run out there and pick it up and scare it out of a year’s growth.

I tried to pick it up without gloves at first — holy cow, those spines are really sharp! It’s a little hard to tell scale here, but this one is about half the size of the adult we’ve been seeing — assuming it’s just the one adult.

Wikipedia tells me pregnancies peak between May and July and gestation is 31 to 35 days. So about right.

Ohmygod LOOK AT THAT LITTLE NOSE!

July 18, 2017 — 10:11 pm
Comments: 15

The monster that eats cats

prettygirl

This story has a happy ending, I’ll let you know right now. I wouldn’t tell it to you otherwise.

A few weeks ago, our neighbor came flying over to tell us she’d spotted Charlotte, our dear old kitty, in the bottom of her garden in a very bad way.

Dear god, was she ever. So much blood and fur. Her head was so messed up and bloody I thought she’d lost part of it. I was pretty sure I saw an ear in the grass. She was alive, though — panting hard and shocky.

It was a Sunday (of course). I scooped her up in a towel and Uncle B called around until we found a vet on duty.

She’s fifteen. Learning that visibly changed the vet’s attitude but, do him credit, he gave her a thorough exam (including the usual few expensive tests) and hooked her up to an IV overnight. No broken bones, no internal bleeding, no apparent brain damage (still has both ears, thank goodness). But she wouldn’t stand or respond, except to scream when moved. She tore a bloody strip off a careless veterinary assistant.

The only injuries he could find were two deep, horrible holes with long gouges in the top of her skull, like something with big canines clamped her whole head in its mouth and tried to pull her down into the ditch we found her by. I believe now that our neighbor startled whatever it was – which was more than lucky. No-one goes down that end of the garden much.

She began to purr the moment she knew she was home, but that’s all I could get out of her. For almost a week, she wouldn’t move or eat or focus. I forced water on her with a pipette several times a day (she could swallow okay) but otherwise let her be. I was sure she was starving herself on purpose, the way animals will when they’ve had enough.

But after four or five days, she would lick food off my fingers if I offered it. A couple of days later, she used the litterbox (I was never so thrilled to see a cat turd in my life). A few days after that, she staggered out of the back room and refused to return to her sick bed. She’s unsteady and a little loopy, but she’s positively back and absolutely her old self.

The pic is old. I took some new ones this afternoon, but you have to get close to see the scars, and why would you want to? She looks just the same otherwise. A little skinnier.

We’re so very grateful to have our old girl back. And with that happy thought, we wish you all the best of weekends!

July 14, 2017 — 9:34 pm
Comments: 32

Say, this glove smells like…hmfff…mff

yetmorehedgie

Yeah, sure, y’all laugh, but Onkle B looked down yesterday and realized he’d tracked hedgehog poo from one end of the house to the other.

Yes, we’re keeping the kitchen door closed now.

July 12, 2017 — 9:52 pm
Comments: 17