Saturday, 28 February 2009

Fire and Brimstone

Gorgeous day today (following on from two more consecutive gorgeous days) – 16 degrees, sunny, calm and springlike. Time to get outside and start the spring tidy up we thought. So Ben continued to cut the grass (started yesterday) but the ride-on lawn mower decided to stop miles away from the barn and refused to start again. Ben swore. So we stopped for lunch.

Our lovely Jesse the Esse the woodburning cooker is doing a grand job with cooking and heating water for domestic use but we wanted to put in a slightly higher thermostat. A 10 minute job we’d been assured. The warning should have been in that sentence however….. Ben started the change over whilst I made lunch and lo and behold complications arose that ended with him setting off a big leak in another joint in the system and us not having the tools to fix it. So we had a flooded floor. Ben swore again – louder. Fortunately Francis (our knight is shining boilersuit) was working with us today but had gone off for the traditional 2 hour French lunch break (he’s not normally away for that long). However, on his return, it was all fixed and mopped up and life went on with Ben grumping that it was ‘one of those days’. Little did we know….

The garden tidy up continued and we made a big pile of fallen branches and debris ready for a bonfire, in one of our fields that was sporting large lumps of dead grass that never got cut last autumn. About 4pm I mentioned to Ben that if we were going to have a bonfire then we’d better do it then so we could keep an eye on it before it got dark (about 7.15pm). So off went the bonfire and up got the breeze – now only a slight breeze you understand but enough. Within 15 mins we were whacking the grass clumps with brooms trying to keep the fire under control. It was a losing battle so I ran to the house (as best you can when you’re 37 weeks pregnant) and called Francis and Pascal to help (you may well remember that my French words for emergency fire situations have been tried out before, so no problems there!). It had spread to the orchard and was heading rapidly towards the tree-lined hedge. Unfortunately the outdoor water supply had burst during the cold spell at New Year and was awaiting a fine spring day to be fixed – so no water outside other than all the water butts. Pascal attacked them, Francis whacked the fire with a spade, and Ben whacked it with a broom. I ran to collect all my millions of hosepipes from all over the garden and time ticked away oh so fast. Finally Francis managed to fashion a hosepipe connection to our house water supply and the dousing began in earnest – as well as the second flood in the house today (thanks goodness it’s all tiled). The boys stood by mesmerised but being very responsible. An hour later the fire was finally out having blackened about 2000m2 of our orchard. Ha-ha, next week we were going to hire a commercial lawn mower to get the orchard grass under control – no need now!!!!! Ben was clean out of energy for further swearing.

So here I sit wondering if these sort of things bring on a birth?

The picture above was taken the day after and no, that's not fog, it's the smoke still rising!

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