Posts Tagged ‘wood’

Some of the things that I’ve come across or heard in the last few days:

  • A granny was robbed of gold necklace after she collected her grandchild from our school nursery. Lunchtime yesterday.
  • A friend’s business was burgled a few days ago. When police came round to look at the break-in they smelt something suspicious. They raided the unit next door and found a cannabis factory.
  • 2 men (dad and an uncle?) were taking a young lad, maybe six years old, to the ice-cream van, just as school was out and streams of kids were passing and queuing. They were dressed in t-shirts bearing what I have found are sometimes called ‘comedy‘ phrases. I wasn’t very amused myself. I don’t shop at Blue Inc, or I’d be boycotting their business.
  • A kid who thought that ‘the taxpayer’ would pay for our broken windows, so it wasn’t such a big issue after all.

And these are just the stories that I can tell in public. The evil and brokenness around us here can sometimes be heartbreaking. Despite that, we are encouraged regularly. This week some kind builders have been supplying us with wooden pallets (for burning and for storing logs on) and some tree surgeons gave us a tree that they’d been chopping down. Vicarage warmth is assured for next winter.

Like every week at the Vicarage, it’s been a fair old mix, but perhaps more of a mix than most people enjoy. It makes me remember that old hymn and resolve to employ my heart and tongue as I should.

Through all the changing scenes of life,
in trouble and in joy,
the praises of my God shall still
my heart and tongue employ.

Nahum Tate and Nicholas Brady

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I’ve just been enjoying some early Spring views from my kitchen window as the sun sets on a surprisingly balmy February day. First there was the cheering sight of the robin hopping about around the bird table that the Vicar was given for Christmas. He doesn’t seem to mind all the clutter out there in the yard.

The yard is also where the Vicar was then chopping logs in a manly way to prepare the wood for our fires for next winter. We’ve had a good haul of wood over the last few weeks, mainly due to some serious redevelopment going on in our town centre. They’ve been chopping a good few trees down and have left the wood out for the hunter-gatherer tribe, of which the Vicar is an enthusiastic member.

Watching the Vicar chop logs reminds me of Almost, who we’ve not seen for a few weeks now. Almost is from Kosovo and is once again trying to get leave to remain in the UK. Almost tells us that his 3 brothers got permission some years ago but he had to return to Kosovo with his wife and family. His wife was taken ill  (with a stroke) on the way back and died recently. So he is back here trying again. He is living in cramped conditions and occasionally comes to ask if we’ll pay him for some work or for help with his gas or electric.

When Almost was last here, the Vicar was log-chopping and was then clearing up the prepared wood before he was able to take Almost to the Post Office to top up his gas card. As he does with most visiting able-bodied men, the Vicar offered Almost a go of the axe. And although Almost is much slighter than the Vicar, his axe skills were far more impressive. We asked him if he’d chopped wood before, back in Kosovo.

Ah. Too many, too many.

I wonder if our boys will grow up with great axe skills but sighing about having to chop too many, too many.

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We are very stingy ecofriendly here in the Vicarage don’cha know. We use our paper shreddings as firelighters. In fact we shred every piece of A4 paper we can, because we’ve found that strip shredded paper is a brilliant base layer for getting the logburners roaring quickly. It burns easily and creates lots of air space to encourage the fire.

Recently I’ve been trying to get on top of some paperwork which hasn’t exactly been properly filed. Piled up in the utility room would be a better description. And I was getting rather fed up of interrupting the Vicar in his study in order to shred.

But happily all has now been solved by the purchase of this excellent shredder from our local Lidl for a mere £8.99. Not only was it cheaper than nearly every one we’d looked at online, but it also sits neatly on top of the shredding basket next to the woodburning stove, thanks to its cunning telescopic arm.

Just wanted to share the joy. You know. They might even have one left at your local Lidl. If you’re lucky.

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More Shed

The Vicar pointed me to a better picture of his glorious shed, this time taken from the garage door end.

The Vicar is very proud of his handiwork

The Vicar is very proud of his handiwork

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Now I know that normal men like to retreat to their shed for a bit of peace and quiet out of the house. The Vicar, however, has filled his shed so that retreating to it to sit down or smoke a pipe or something manly like that would be totally impossible. Actually it’s strictly the garage, but it is the largest outbuilding we have. And our car wouldn’t fit in it. Or it would but we couldn’t open a door to get out of the vehicle. The garage is Austin Seven size I’d say.

The good news is that instead the shed is filled with logs for our beloved wood burning stoves. As you can see, I’ve had plenty of opportunities to watch the Vicar chopping wood outside my kitchen window. Not in the last couple of weeks, though – it’s been a bit busy here. Thankfully I think we probably have enough wood to last a few more days.

It's hard to see the scale, but you can just see the top of the garage door at the back

It's hard to see the scale, but you can just see the top of the garage door at the back

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You’ve probably gathered from previous posts that I think the best way to keep warm in a Victorian vicarage is to install wood burning stoves. These were definitely the top investment that we made on moving into our arctic home. When we visited soon after the Vicar was appointed to the job, we realised just how cold the house was. We could see damp creeping up the fireplace walls, and parishioners talked about shivering their socks off when they visited.

The Vicar’s mum and my parents had both had stoves installed in the past few years, and we enjoyed their warmth very much. The eco-friendly nature also appealed. As did the prospect of possibly heating ourselves for free by scavenging the wood.

We don't want to shiver in the Vicarage

We don

God willing, we would like to stay here for a good few years, so we’ve spent a lump of savings on buying and installing two Neria Bohemia 60 stoves. The selection of the stoves was not that difficult. When we went to the shop, this was the only one of the right size that they had two of! We also like their rather modern looking design and so far they have been wonderful – practical and attractive.

Yesterday we had both of them fired up – the one in the red room, our tidy public room, because the Vicar had a bereaved lady who came over to plan her father’s funeral, and the green family room one cos that’s how we keep the family warm. The Vicar lays the fires at lunchtime so they are ready to go whenever we need them.

So far we’ve only had to pay for matches. We’ve been using packing paper from our move and shreddings from the study at the base of the fire, chopped up pallets and twigs from the garden and churchyard for kindling and then heavier logs once the heart of the fire is going. The logs have been sourced from all over: local people we know who have been chopping trees down (sometimes with the Vicar’s help), building sites (with permission of course) and the Vicar’s golf course. The Vicar tells me that this justifies the cost of his club membership.

A hidden benefit of using wood as a fuel is the view I get from my kitchen window when the Vicar is chopping the logs. Very hunter gatherer. Getting them installed was a bit of a palaver. I’ll blog on that another time, but for now I’ll show you what they look like in my two downstairs rooms (unlit, cos I took the photos this morning) and you can enjoy the toastiness.

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