Winter has arrived here in my corner of the world, although I still think I am the only place in the western hemisphere that has yet to see even the smallest flake of snow but the long, unseasonably warm December has given way to a cold January. This morning's walk was cold, misty, frosty and beautiful the field stretched out literally further than the eye could see and Defi and Iz both had grey whiskers on their chins as the frost in the air continued to chill everything it touched.
Like true Golden Retrievers though they still managed to find a patch of mud so it wasn't the clean walk I had imagined first thing!
|Down at the bank of the River Wye, Hereford.|
My bamboo in the garden an impressive waving focal point is all still and frosty.
The buddleia is frozen in space and time...
I was walking around the garden picking up the dog poo as you do after a good walk and saw my bird feeder hidden amongst the bamboo to protect the birds from the weather and also to stop Defi from trying to get to any tasty treats left out for the birds and it reminded me of C S Lewis, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, the scene in the book (and the film) when Lucy meets Mr Tumnus under the lamp. My bird feeder isn't quite a lamp but it just reminded me of that part in the story.
With the cold snap we are now having I have been lighting the fire in the kitchen. In the evening it throws out lots of lovely light with the smell of burning wood and hot coals that just make me happy and feel warm. I got given a truck load - I kid not I don't do anything by half! - of wood from our builder neighbour, back in October time, as he is renovating a large old pub and asked me if I wanted some logs for the fire, of course I said yes and so he got one of his chaps to drop off this load of wood, not so much logs as chunks that need to be chopped smaller and spit and hiss and fly out of the grate rather than the lovely old oak logs I was expecting. We have an entire garage filled with this wood and so I have to burn it somehow, thank goodness for the cold snap because hubby and son were starting to moan about my filling up the garage!
At least Gordy appreciates my efforts and he is now camped out on the hearth from the moment he can get into the kitchen until I remove him for bed at the end of the day. If the fire isn't lit he sits there looking all morose and sad, when it is lit he lies there flaked out and hot needing to be removed periodically to cool down.
With an open fire comes the job of cleaning it out, throwing ash and smoke into the air and covering every surface in the room. Of course that job is mine, so on bended knees I shovel ash into the bucket, try not to breathe at the same time, take the ash outside to the compost heap at the bottom of the garden where the slightest breeze whips the pile in the bucket into a frenzy and covers me in grey matter. This weekend gone I kept the fire in over night, the old trick of covering the coals with the ash from beneath the grate, I love coming down in the morning and having a warm kitchen in which to drink my first cup of tea. I didn't think too much about the fire when I went out with the dogs that morning for our walk, it had stayed warm and I assumed had gone out as there was no activity, no spitting of wood, no sparks or light just lovely warmth that flooded the room. When I got home I decided that before I got too warm and comfortable I would clean out the fire and get it ready for lighting later on in the afternoon. Good plan, I thought. Unfortunately I didn't think enough as I shovelled the ash into the plastic bucket that I use to bring the wood in from the garage. Ash out to compost, quick stop at garage, fill up with wood, back in house. Multi-tasking. I am woman!
So what does happen when you put hot ash into a plastic bucket? why it melts of course, all over your carpet around the fire leaving little blobs of black sludge when you try and lift the bucket that 'did' contain the ash - did, because now its all streaming out the bottom of said bucket and creating a sandstorm effect before your very eyes, the same eyes that are smarting from the ash and watering causing your nose to twitch and you start sneezing violently making any undisturbed ash fly through the air.... Iz and Defi at this point are at the furthest point of the kitchen (which is a big room!) with Gordy behind them trying to get away from the cloud of dust, the looks on their faces possibly showing their true feelings for my genius-ness but not being able to see through the tears, sneezes and ash I can only guess at their expressions.
The next, immediate, problem is how to get the holey bucket with leaking ash out of the kitchen, through the utility room and out the back door, down the garden to the compost heap without creating more mess? The answer is simple. You don't, just you make the mess and trail ash through the house and up the garden path, sneezing as you go. I did put a piece of newspaper under the bucket and try to keep it there whilst I moved but it was a fruitless fix to an absurdly stupid decision in the first place.
My son, as predicted, came in, rolled his eyes, left in the car and returned an hour later with a metal bucket.
Gordy has given up with fires and resorted to checking out if porridge is on the menu for breakfast....