Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Boozy travels

Sunshine, at last. Everywhere, it seems. I know that, as I seem to have been ‘everywhere’ this month. When I last wrote, we were heading from Scotland to Croatia for some down-time, which was very relaxing, apart from my taking to the high seas in a speedboat. Well, I wasn’t to know how an anchor worked, was I? As we dropped it down in a secluded cove of impossibly blue water and dived in for a swim, one really assumed that the vessel would still be there when I returned, not half way round the coast. Maybe I should have read the manual? Well, we caught up with it eventually, after some frantic doggy-paddling, as it drifted merrily along on the current, dragging its somewhat ineffective piece of metal and rope along the sea bed.

Anyway, back home in France, the sheep are thriving, vegetables in the ground and surviving, lawns and hedges under control and pool almost warm enough for a morning dip. So after a couple of weeks, we took to the road in the camper, on a ‘dry run’ as it had been in mothballs all winter. In the main this was successful as we spent a night by a lake, our dogs disturbing the fishermen, near the town of (giggles) Condom. With a sirloin on the barbie, camp-fire to ward off the mozzies, yet more peace was had. Then, on the way home, we spent the night in the well-known wine region of Buzet (pronounced Boozy). And it was!
With the wheels barely stilled, a trip to the Midlands was next, to attend to urgent family matters. After a for-once on-time Flybe hop, we found ourselves in the lovely village of Henley-in-Arden, staying in a quaint pub for a couple of nights and what delight it was. Compared to the stark bars in Europe, and the lager culture in Scotland, a pint and a pie was very much a novelty I almost forgot existed. And one thing I had forgotten had ever been, was suddenly back and calling my thirst. Yes, of course, I am talking about Brew XI. Many of you won’t even remember this weak golden ale, and those that do may wrinkle up a top-lip, but it was the stuff I was weaned on, many years ago. Marketed as a beer for ‘The Men of the Midlands’, back then to a spotty 15 year-old, after a few pints I really believed I was one of them. Maybe I still am, in spirit anyway. Anyway, it’s back! Get some in yer!
I also encountered something else new – well new to me -  in this village: an ORGANIC hairdressers. What in hells name is one of those, you may ask? Unfortunately it was closed so I couldn’t go and get a reasonable explanation. Having considered a few theories, including one from the Italian barber across the road who suggested that maybe they just set fire to your dead hair instead of sending it to be re-cycled, I drew an absolute blank on this one. ‘Has the world gone mad?’ is a phrase I frequently use in this column. I fear this time I am surely right? 
And then it’s off to Spain for a weekend of rugby. It is a long time since I was in Bilbao but I am sure, back then, I never realised what a wonderful city it is. The narrow streets of the old town oozed with bars and the craic, as the Irish were in town to take on the French on neutral territory in the European finals. A few jars were had, as well as pickings of tapas, at prices that would embarrass even the poorest nation, let alone the extortions of the UK. After the Dublin team prevailed, securing their umpteenth title in the event, we revelled into the small hours on what felt like small change. Unlike France, who have lights-out at 10pm, the city stayed so vibrant it felt almost rude to go to bed before 2am. Needless to say, a shabby morning followed but eventually we wended our way back north, taking in a night in Biarritz, parking the camper by the Bay of Biscay during one of its frequent storms. As they say, ‘the caravan was a-rockin’ that night!
Sadly the weather back home had taken a downturn, just as the lawn had taken an upturn, but a mere 15 hours there saw me rush around doing my best to contain nature, including blight control, worm control (for the sheep), pruning, tying-up and sweeping down before the now familiar mobile home was once again loaded up with flagons, as we continued north back towards the channel and my mother beyond. With passports stamped, the dogs in the rather lush cabin (not allowed to stay in the vehicle on this boat), I can just about hear Louis barking as I end this story from the bar on a fairly meagre Brittany ferry.  I say all our passports stamped, but actually we are also harbouring a few stowaways who hitched a ride from somewhere in Spain, headed for the spoils of England. No, these are not of the human trafficking kind but a colony of 6-legged creatures who have built a nest somewhere in the overhead bed of our camper. One could possibly refer to them as illegal immigr-ANTS!
After requesting an extended deadline from the editor to add to this piece, I have to regretfully announce that my mother passed away, just hours before our arrival back in the midlands. Her end was peaceful and she appeared ready to go. Val brought a lot of fun to the village of Rock and far beyond during her 88 years, and I am sure she will be missed by many.

101 Dalmations

At last, my steel toe-caps have been hidden out of sight and mind, physically and metaphorically under the stairs, as we down tools and I take a well deserved holiday. It has been another tough month at the Fife coalface but I firmly believe we are winning the fight. Plans are passed, project number one done and dusted, hangover from housewarming party been and gone. Project number 2 is now in the hands of a few talented professionals - people capable of independent decision making, while I cool my hardened heels in the Dalmatian sea, obliviously out of contact with the real-world.  Actually, as I desperately try to make the editors deadline, I am once again writing in the skies, something that seems to have become a habit of late. Only this time it is with the comfort of British Airways, with my darling wife dozing by my side, happily reunited after 4 weeks apart. Although I have been there many years ago, I refresh my geography from the in-flight magazine to see exactly where our destination, the walled city of Dubrovnik, is, particularly in relation to Syria, a place that may or may not still exist by time this goes to print! Hopefully there is enough land and sea between us and it and, since Mr Macaroon has jumped on the anti-warfare jet-fighter, it may even be safer than being in France? Talking of which, Wendy reports that torrential rain has continued back home during my absence, bogging down the sheep, much the same as it has been in Scotland. I am not sure who the professionals blame for this diabolical spring but surely it will let up soon, and resume the status quo.
Last time I was there, Croatia had only just settled from its own conflicts and the break-up of Yugoslavia, when corruption was rife and your pound went a very long way. I would like to hope it has moved on somewhat since then, albeit more expensive. Dubrovnik certainly boasts seems to boast some fine places to dine these days. Once I can clear my mind of business, I am quite looking forward to studying the history of this place, which has suffered under invasion by everyone from the Romans, French, British, German and more recently Russian influences. Not being exactly a city-centre person, we are staying out on a peninsula to the south of the town - hopefully the peaceful end - with just a cool beer, an octopus and the setting sun for company.
One could be forgiven in thinking that the neck tie, or cravat, was invented by the French? But, in fact, it comes from the word ‘hrvat’, meaning Croat, which was adopted by the Napoleonic army who just happened to be in the market for more stylish neck-wear to go with their boring uniforms at the time of their occupation. Apart from former Wimbledon winner, Goran Inyourfaceabit, a few footballers, and Cruella Deville, the Dalmatians haven't really made it to the realms of fame. Although Marco Polo, discoverer of all things including the mint with a hole in it, claims to have been born here. Aside from exports of virgin olive oil, seafood and the odd spotted dog, tourism is the main breadwinner of the Croatian economy.
However, there is another lesser known output from this wee corner of Europe: wine. For those of you not in the know, the quality of Croatian wine is a well kept secret, particularly Traminac, which is set to be served at the up-coming wedding of Prince Harold the younger and Angela Merkel. Is Harry really marrying the German Prime Minister, or did I get slightly mixed up there? Current affairs never was my interest.
Anyway, guess what? Our visit just happens to coincide with the Dubrovnik wine festival. Trust my wife to seek out the perfect holiday. 
See you on the other side. Hic.

Leave me a message

So, here we go again, once more traversing the continent, this time not so much jet-setting, more chugging along to the monotonous drone of propellers, a stone’s throw above the clouds. At least we are airborne now, having had the usual 2-hour delay that gets Fly-Maybe its’ well-appointed nickname. A drop into Southampton and a rearranged transfer flight won’t quite see me into Fife by nightfall. And there it was, that month of sleepless nights all done and dusted in the name of lambing. 18 new lives later, the poor creatures must wonder why they are born into a swamp, such has been the endurance of daily downpours. Maybe, were they blessed with enough intelligence, they would pin it on global warming, taking up their placards and following one another angrily in single-file towards the powers-that-be in their floral wellingtons. Thankfully sheep don’t all have a university education to bias their outlook on life into a blame and claim culture, unlike their human counterparts who are stealthily conditioned into the sheep-like mentality of complaint. They don’t have wellingtons either, sadly.
Anyway, it’s goodbye mud and wool, hello to brick-dust and the woolly-minded. It seems that our little project in East Fife has put an unwanted expandable ski-pole into the spokes of regression in these parts. Not content with having a superb and well equipped museum telling us all about the hey-days of the defunct fishing industry which was so prevalent in East Scotland, East Fife, and Cellardyke in particular, now wishes to revert the whole town back into the 19th century. Despite my reminders to faceless objectors that ‘nostalgia really is a thing of the past’, I anticipate my arrival back to the seaside will be met with pitchforks and banners demanding my head on a spike, because I dare to use modern materials in my renovation project instead of wattle-and-daub and barrel-tar. Honestly, I even have to keep the fire-place a certain size so a small child can be sent up it in case of an emergency blockage. Meanwhile, once the locals have swept down the cart-tracks, lit up the gas-lamps, retired to their plague-ridden hovels and donned their nightgowns, the irony of their hanging out flags of independence in a hope to become part of a progressive Europe passes comically over their historically blinkered heads. But I love them all the same - it is this very quaintness that attracts the likes of us bombastic outsiders, bringing with us our filthy lucre to dilute their wanton poverty.
Arrgh, I’m in Manchester. How did that happen? And, more importantly, how do I get out? Seemingly Flybe are sky-diving to new lows, diverting us weary travellers to nightmare destinations, and then leaving us there. As I write, after 3 delayed/cancelled flights, the smug departures board suggests that I will still make it to Edinburgh before eleven, but its recent track record isn’t great, so its booking-dot-com at the ready. Were I not so tired I would gracefully accept my defeat on this trip and make the most of it, perhaps fitting in a trip to the Trocadero for some late night dancing - is it still open, or was it burned down decades ago? I have to admit, this is a city I have deliberately avoided for 30 years, so I am not au fait with its recent geography nor its customs – but I believe it may be a hot contender for ‘tattoo central’ of UK. Eventually I reach Edinburgh at 30 minutes past midnight and check into a hotel, after an 11 hour journey. Not exactly the leisurely sort of Sunday I was looking for, and certainly not a scheduled overnight stop I had planned for in the underwear department!
And so, on my last leg of this epic adventure, I am now crossing the iconic Forth Bridge and entering the Kingdom by rail, backwards. A brief bit of business sorted out and a few moments to ponder, and I might still be on site by lunchtime, only a day late. And here’s what I am pondering. Why don’t people change their mobile phone messages from the generic, to a simple, ‘Hi, this is me, leave a message.’ Instead we get a patronising voice saying: ‘Welcome to Blahblah network mobile phone messaging service. The person you have called is not available to take your call at the moment (you don’t say?). Please leave a message and don’t forget to hang up afterwards as you obviously are a technically challenged numpty who hasn’t quite grasped the concept of mobile technology, despite it being around since the eighties.’ And then we get: ‘Or press hash for more options.’ More options? What other bl**dy options are there? I just phoned someone up to speak to them! Has anyone ever pressed hash for more options? Does option one send a fax, per chance, or order a pizza or dial the fire-brigade? Please folks, this is a plea, if you can’t be bothered to answer your phone, at least let people hear your voice so they know that it is really you that is ignoring them!


Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Your Mum is the tooth fairy

     Welcome to the nursery. Yes, it’s that time again when I roll up my sleeves to bring some newborns into the world. And a cold world it is, too, here in South West France. With a sharp frost and an even sharper east wind this morning, the ewes will be glad of their new house which I laboured for a few months to build last autumn. Except that, true to form, they are all lying around outside shivering! I’m not complaining: it’s their choice. My father was always a great one for shutting animals inside during the winter months but that isn’t my way. I would much rather see them out in the fresh air, if that’s what they prefer. To be fair, we actually don’t have any lambs yet but they are due this week. Sod’s law we hot-wheeled it down from Scotland to be here for the due date when, quick as a flash, nothing happened. Of course, were we delayed, which we nearly were when the turbos exploded on the car, then they would have all lambed in a puddle and given me the blame. So it’s over to middle-night excursions around the field in dressing-gown and wellies for a few weeks, until we reach the required number of deposits, before I head back north for some more graft. Call it a ‘Shepherd’s holiday’ – a bit like a bus-man’s holiday, only without the timetable delays and disgruntled passengers!
      Did I mention turbos? Ouch, sore point. I never knew we even had 2 turbos on one car but seemingly we did until they both seized and ceased in an unassuming bang. Thankfully we now have two more and all is well, except for the bank account, as those things cost the price of a small house. That wasn’t the only trauma on our journey down here either. After we traversed the Scottish borders on well gritted roads, admiring picturesque snow covered fields, we assumed we had said goodbye to the white stuff. How wrong we were. Following a few stop-offs to see family our ferry docked in Calais and we continued on the last 10 hour leg of the journey with intentions of being home by closing time. What we hadn’t reckoned on was yet more bad weather, this time of the blizzard variety, somewhere north of Le Mans. No problem, we have a four wheel drive with two recently discovered turbos, so we should get through. However, there is one fundamental difference in winter-driving between these two countries, in that the French do not have– or cannot afford - any salt to put on the roads. Not only that but, maybe because they don’t see much of the stuff, they haven’t a clue what to do when they encounter it. Well, they have a theory and that is to drive as fast as you can and hope to stay in a straight line. Beside the change of underpants, this inevitably this leads to multiple crashes and, presumably, premature death; hence the motorway gets closed, so we get diverted through deep forests in near-blind conditions. With the aid of a sketchy satnav and some googling, thankfully we happened across a local chateau displaying a welcoming sign, where we pitched up for the night on cotton sheets. Yes, an expensive trip was had by all.
     Anyway, here we are awaiting multiple births with log-burner ablaze. The winter house-sitters will be eternally on our Christmas card list since they must have spent the whole 3 months cleaning the place while we were away. Honestly, I have never seen the house so clean - they have left it like a show-home. Not to worry, a few days with the dogs moulting everywhere and some sheep-poo on the doormat and it will soon be back to normal.  Besides filing accounts, ordering materials, arguing with utility suppliers and pestering my toiling workers by phone, this does give me a bit more time to relax and take in a little of what’s happening on TV and in the news while my blood pressure recovers to something approaching normal.  Well, you would think so, wouldn’t you? For anyone else it would – but for some reason I seem to see through the transparency of mundane, straight into the world of bizarreness. More often than not this is to do with everyone and their dog trying to save the world. To start with, where did all these bloody vegans come from? I only heard of the word about 10 years ago, and now they have taken over our government, TV, newspapers, schools and social media. It’s a common fact that you are now never more than 10 feet away from a vegan, and they’re closing in. Even the rats are running from them in case they bore them to death about health food.  Did anyone pick up on the fact that the latest Peppa Pig stage theatre production has been banned from selling sausages in its canteen in case children realise that sausages come from pigs! Yes kids, you heard it here first, Santa is your Dad, your Mum is the tooth fairy, Boris Johnson is an ambassador for Britain and, ever since time began, we humans eat other animals - because we are born carnivores! Not only that, but every third person seems to have developed an intolerance to something, be it gluten, wheat, lactose, sodium, fructose, Jeremy Vine or the Bible. It’s true – every restaurant you go into, someone is always demanding special treatment, perhaps so they can sit there being piously smug while others dine on mere ordinary meals that actually taste of something. Where did all this come from? Call me mister picky but, 40 odd years ago, if I didn’t eat my school dinners – or my mother’s ghastly cooking for that matter – I was made to stand in a corridor with a kitchen fork sticking out of my ear. My parents and grandparents would eat anything and everything, such was the hunger of their era. And I am pretty sure those meals contained enough wheat and milk to feed a sty full of sows, but we didn’t have to take 2 days off work with stomach upsets if we so much as glimpsed a carton of yogurt.  So how did we evolve into a race of finicky whiners during just one generation? Have we really been brainwashed by the trash we see on our screens and papers, or hear on BBC phone-ins? Or have a third of the nation just developed enough bravery to step out of the closet after all these years and admit that they never actually enjoyed boiled brawn and rice pudding in the first place?  

Youth is wasted on the young

     Smokies for lunch and dinner? Ah yes, we are in Arbroath, their ancestral home, and very nice they are too. It seems quite strange that this small unassuming coastal town could produce such a world famous delicious product, hailed globally by chefs as one of life’s real treats. Apart from fish merchants on every corner around the harbour area, Arbroth doesn’t really have a lot going for it, but we happened upon a charming cosy little pub which serves excellent meals – and is dog friendly. Travelling with two pooches sometimes poses its problems, especially as Louis is prone to rolling in rancid dead animals on the beach, surrounding himself in an unbearable odour – well unbearable to everyone else but him, that is. This weekend is a special treat for me, after 7 weeks of heavy graft, which have included demolition, erecting walls, stairs, kitchens and bathrooms, and then days on my knees putting up tiles. All that while enduring a vicious bout of the Aussie flu, which has certainly taken the stuffing out of me. However, the project in Cellardyke is still on track and will be more or less finished by the time we head home for France in a few weeks, to coincide with the beginning of lambing. After 4 weeks of that, I will travel back over again, to start on project number 2, the beach-side end of the cottages. I must say I am relishing the idea of opening up the whole gable-end of the house, replacing it with curtain-glass and a sheltered balcony where we can sit and breathe in the stunning view out to the Isle of May from a first floor elevation, should the planners and local objecters allow. It will be a huge job, but one that hopefully will be fruitful in the long run, as we intend to spend much more time in this cosy friendly village, despite the close proximity of those who publicly label me as a money grabbing, unsympathetic amateur. 
    Anyway, enough of work, this is my weekend off. Soon we will be heading into the restaurant. Except we won’t for a while, as it has just been taken over by no less than 60 young farmers. Yes, the Angus chapter of the YFC have invaded the town to hold their annual Cabaret competition, and need a pre-match drink or two to warm the vocal chords. Just how they all intend to fit into a small public house is as yet unknown but this is an organisation not without skills when it comes to drinking in confined spaces. I should know, as I was once in the Cleobury Mortimer club and boy did we do some crazy things back then. Things, I hasten to add, not to be tried by kids at home, which included regularly getting nine of us (3 in the front, 4 in the back, 2 in the boot) in my Mums mini, and then donutting it around the Clee Hill car park. As well as stock judging and building carnival floats, we also used to make annual excursions to Blackpool and other exotic places, to mingle with other like-minded idiots in the name of junior agricultural solidarity. I recall one time, myself, Bernie Birch and a few Notts and Whitemans spending a barmy weekend on the Isle of Man, when the 3,000 strong cargo on the old ‘Steam Packet’ managed to drink the boat dry, before it even left the docks. I also think our same crew may still hold the record, of getting 22 lads into the back of a Blackpool taxi, much to the cabby’s distain. Of course, the straining machine was forced to stop at every pub on the ‘strip’, just to top-up the thirst en-route to the Winter Garden dance! Sadly now, when I do step into the bar to join these youngsters, I will probably know all their fathers – or even grandparents! Meanwhile, I will just let them think they invented ‘blind-man’s spoof’ or ‘sell-the-donkey-a-snotball’! Head-ache tablets, anyone?

Thermal lobster

     A very happy New Year everyone, which it should be by the time this gets to print. Currently I am still in the old one, chasing my tail to clear up stuff before taking a winter break. It certainly has been a hectic year, from what I can remember of it. After just over a month of heavy work, the new house is taking shape, with walls, ceilings and floors reinstalled above a few thousand pounds worth of insulation.  Although most of the innards of the house was carted away on half a dozen skips, we did hang on to some of the dry timber, having a bonfire on the beach on a couple of colder mornings to warm the hands. However, every small community has its busy-bodies - I know Rock hosts its share – and one particular lady decided that burning wood in a secluded spot was not eco-friendly enough, and hence reported us to the authorities. Regular readers of this column will know my views on eco-mentalism, and I have already had a heated argument with the man at our local tip this month, who is convinced I am dealing in nuclear waste every time we rock-up with a few rubbish bags. But does having a bonfire on the beach really contravene any eco-laws? Will some light wood-smoke poison local wildlife? Or maybe a small fish might burn its nose? The upshot of this is that we were sternly requested to down-tools until the problem had been investigated by some very important men from the council in hi-viz clothing. Thankfully I talked the way clear so we could resume construction but I am now convinced we are constantly being watched through field-glasses in case we pollute the entire North Sea fish stocks.
     Meanwhile, it is also the council that we are battling against to gain simple planning permission to replace a couple of doors with windows. Firstly, we find that as the some of the house has ancient sash and case windows which we need to replace like for like, getting them hand-made to Victorian spec at a squillion quid each. But for the new door-replacement ones, we can get away with sash and case lookalikes, saving a fair sum, and getting better heat-retention in the process. Except we can’t, because we have to have fire exit windows. Okay, no problem? Yes, problem. Because a fire exit window has to open outwards, and these are on the ground floor, and a footpath to the beach goes right by the door. Can’t open a window outwards in case a blind person walks past and – well, car-crash, basically.  OK, we’ll just brick up the window. Can’t do that, as there is a bedroom on the ground floor, so has to have an emergency exit. Um, are we heading up a blind alley here – pardon the pun – just to appease some lunatic rule-maker? Here’s a compromise, says I. We put up a sign saying – and here’s the simple bit – ‘In case of fire, leave by the kitchen door, its five blo0dy yards away, dipsh1t!’..  ‘and then walk calmly to the beach and get a bucket of sea water to put the fire out?’ And don’t worry, that nosey bitch neighbour will have already reported it to the council!
     One thing about living near the sea is that we get plenty of fresh fish. No less than 80 vans leave the neighbouring village of Pittenweem’s famous fish market every morning, delivering freshly caught sea life all the way to the west coast, over a hundred miles away. Funny though, watching out of the window, I don’t see many fishing vessels. Well, as I have just discovered, Fife used to have a vibrant fishing industry but now it all arrives from Aberdeenshire, 80 miles away, by truck! But, what we do have here in East Fife is that king of beasts, the Lobster – they love it here. In fact, one young lad I have on our team used to put his creel (a small netted box, to those uninitiated in the ways of the crustacean catchment) just outside our back door and catch a couple per week. Bingo. So, Christmas dinner this year will begin, and maybe end, with home caught lobo! As a backstop, as apparently they aren’t too keen at getting snared during the festive season, I asked my fish-guy to drop me one in next week. But, sadly, he cannot as he had his stolen.  Yes, stolen. Apparently he keeps a ‘pen’ of them under lock and key somewhere out past the harbour and some local yardies broke the lock and had them away in the dead of night, scooping a fair haul. So, if anyone offers you a hot lobster in the next few weeks, call Mev-the-axe, he would be highly interested in the lobster source.
Ah yes, Lobster sauce. Must get back in the kitchen to get the lunch on. Toodle pip.

Smuggling up

     And we’re off. A quick 3 day transition and it’s goodbye sunshine hello – err – snow? Who ordered that in November? Well it’s not exactly snow here on the East Fife coast but it is a bit white up on the nearby mountains. Anyway, the last few weeks have been no less eventful, as we tidied up and packed away our stuff for winter in France, rugging up the vehicles and putting the final touches to my last building project. A last minute trip to the local tip was once again steeped in ridicule as we discover we now have to apply to the council before we can be admitted through their sacred gates. Yes, in the space of a decade the French government has evolved its encouragement from stockpiling rubbish until bonfire night to become card-carrying recyclists. Although not quite yet on an equal with UK on the environmentalist stakes, the smug grin of self importance is certainly starting to show beneath the whiskers of the French bearded classes as they deliver a couple of empty jam jars or a bag of leylandi cuttings to its eco resting place, in an effort to grant them a good night’s sleep. Of course, as with most other countries, as soon as their backs are turned, all the rubbish gets lumped back together again and hoyed into a massive hole in the ground, but they aren’t to know that, are they, bless them. I suppose it is what you believe that makes you a model citizen, not what you achieve?
    Anyway, after our exit, the responsibility of our sheep and cats is now charged to the capable hands of a hairdresser and her husband from Yorkshire, who fancied a winter in the cold climate of South West France. This is something we take an annual chance on, trusting our house to strangers. My wife takes great pride in making sure the place is spick and span before their arrival. They even receive preferential treatment, with her purchasing items of bedroom furniture especially for them, despite the fact I have hung my clothes up on the floor for the last 10 years. They both seem fun and vibrant but for all I know they could already have Skippy the sheep in a pot ready for Christmas!
     So, after a brief stopover in Rock to see my mother and a few other familiar faces, we have now settled into our newly refurbished house in Cellardyke, which we have recently put on the market. Living in a house that is for sale actually makes for quite good discipline, as one is obliged to keep it tidy at all times in case a prospector knocks on the door for a look-see. As we also have the dogs with us, keeping it perennially clean is something of a challenge but, to pre-empt this, I have shaven the dog’s legs and undercarriages to prevent them dragging half of the beach with them back on to the carpets. I have to admit they do look a bit silly so it’s no wonder Pooper takes to snarling at any dog that so much as gives her sideways glance.
      This morning we have all the tools and labour lined up ready for our next adventure. Soon hammers and crowbars will be whirring as we set about gutting two cottages, fetching it all back to the original stonework. Demolition can be quite a therapeutic exercise, despite its messiness. However, as so often with these old houses, it is the excitement of what you might discover that gives me the thrill. Will there be hidden Roman coins, Victorian trinkets or bars of gold stuffed behind the chimney breast? Who knows? But I highly doubt it. This place was an old fishing town, and these two cottages were actually four, so it’s highly unlikely they had anything more than a pot to p*ss in, let alone a Ming vase for orchids. But then again, it is right on the beach so maybe the odd smuggler might have hauled some booty up through a trapdoor into the kitchen many years ago. A glass of 200 year old rum, anyone?