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.