Each year in what passes these days for Autumnnumnum Mr Stove and I generally engage in a battle of wills. He takes about three weeks to light, when I really want him to light at the flick of a match, and to stay lit until asked to withdraw. The process is not much aided by Ing-ger-lund’s tendency towards now-you-see-it now-you-don’t weather and seasons, blowing hot, cold and sideways without warning or rhyme or reason.
How the ever…
This year I purchased from the Venetian Hire Boats & Chandlery chandlery a cunning device known as a “Fire Basket” by civilians, and as a “Coal Cage” by the maf-u-nacturers.
I build my fires, like a Greek or Roman god, in manifold ways, following variously or collectively the diktats of the Boy Scout Association (before it was forced to admit girls, while the Girl Guides has no such reciprocal legal stricture placed upon it), following my Caveman Instincts, and even occasionally resorting to my late mother’s techniques with Molotov Cocktail and/or Pocket Flame-Thrower (she brought several home from the war, as souvenirs and as gifts for me and my siblings).
With the Fire Basket or Coal Cage though – on the two occasions that I have, thus far, used it – I simply lace a couple of layers of kindling sticks through the lower bars, fill the rest with dinosaur-remains “briquettes”, excite a couple of standard fire-lighters in the stove and sit the flled basket on top. Far from protracted Stove-Human arguments, twice now I have instead just ended up – one match later – with the required controlled conflagration.
I suspect that the heat-th output of the stove in “Fire Basket Mode” is about half of that when successfully lit in full chat without basket – but that’s ideal for those ho-hum half and half season days and nights. In the full depths of winter I’ll experiment with starting the fire with the basket and then removing it and stoking up to the full 4Kw advertised by Arada (the stove mafunacturers).
Two out of two for two matches so far is pretty damned good for what can be the most argumentative stove on the planet. If nothing else, it’ll save me seven shillings and sixpence in the cost of matches each winter – plus about a further four hundred guineas saved in Spearmint Rennies hitherto used to combat the frustration. This can only be good. I suspect that by affording better control the basket/cage may also ecomonise on my throughput of coal-substitute. We shall see.
The beast clocked in retail at twenty of the quids. It is stainless in the steel, with each intersection individually welded, and seems to propose a decent life-span for itself. This also we shall see.
So, other than having lit Mr Stove twice before even the ides of September, what else has been going on?
Well, this ugly ugly ugly NON-intuitive “block editor” NONSENSE of WordPress has been imposed upon me. What fevered, diseased, ill-formed pre-teen brain came up with it, I have no idea. What fevered, diseased, ill-formed pre-teen management brain approved and imposed it is the larger question. The Chairman’s nephews, perhaps, working in their bedrooms for pocket money?
Her Majesty’s canals have been ridiculously busy with hodilay-makers absolutely desperate to do the boatering and middle-digits to everyone else nearby. There’s been weather and wind (still is, today) and for manifold other domestic reasons I’m not even going to attempt a cruise-ette until Monday at the earliest. The queues for the nearby lock, for example, have been ten deep on occasion – not at all my idea of fun and folic frolics. There have been less-than-friendly exercisings of the vocal chords, and fisticuffs, and mooring-pins at dawn, that sort of thing.
This being a Saturday and tomorrow, probably, being a Sunday, The Devil has sent forth her Anglers to litter the towpath with tents and trolley-loads of carbon-fibre carp-prodders and suchlike… and their own special brand of utter and contagious misery. There’s one setting up on the towpath by the bridge as I type. Three-room tent, bunk beds, field kitchen, therapy couch for when his tens of thousands of pounds’ worth of equipment yields him nought and/or a boat disturbs his rod – everything but, I notice, as always, a portaloo.
Word to the wise – on a stretch of towpath popular with these Angler Creatures never, never, never investigate the shrubbery or disturb what would, on first glance, appear to be an empty “Family Size” Doritos packet or any such. It won’t be empty and, yes, that will be used toilet roll you see and it wasn’t blown there by Maria, the Wind. Well, not that sort of wind, anyway.
The best thing that I can say about Anglers is that they disturb, interrupt and annoy the Cyclists, and vice versa. Would that both species did more to annoy the joggers.
The World is more insane than ever it was, and I am interacting with it less and less – which probably aligns perfectly with aims and wishes of those orchestrating the insanity. I haven’t suffiicent free energy to be bemused, bewildered or be-bothered by any of it anymore.
Mr Farmer G trimmed his hedgerows yesterday, and then decided to trim the edges of his field, right next to the Cardinal, spraying us with a delightful confection of twig, branch and shredded-sparrow detritus. Lovely. The solar panels took this cascade of countryside clobber on the chin, and in spite of it sounding appalling from inside the boat (as everything does), were undamaged, thank’ee kindly.
I have a couple of new-to-me pre-made curry sauces with which to experiment. Yum yum, pig’s bum.
We shall see. It’s possible yet that they will taste like a pig’s bum, but we never know these things until we try, do we? I shall be flaying and slaughtering vegetables later, and perhaps putting some poor innocent rice into boiling waters. What a total git I am.
I have had two avian-related frights this week.
The first was while emptying a gazunder at the outdoor El San point. Mid-shake of the cassette something flew into the flow and was engulfed… initially I thought that I had done for some sparrow or other small feathered hedgerow critter, in a most displeasant way, but once my eyes focussed properly through my varifocals, twas just a large leaf in the wind… phew.
The second was while eating my lunch yesterday. As is my wont I was streaming a really cheesey film of the sort that the colonies refer to as a “B movie” – ‘Reptisaurus’. Huge, flying reptilian-bat pteradactyls eating people, that sort of thing. The local heron – large, fully-grown, and not a little prehistoric in aspect himself – chose that moment to damned near collide with the window alongside me. Laundry Emergency Response in aisle three please.
As I type this he’s fishing from the offside opposite Cardinal W., the only sort of angler that I don’t mind. A huge swan has just swept past too, benefittinng from “ground effect” aerodynamics. No idea if it’s taking off or landing. Don’t care either, swans are horrid critters.
On that h.a.p.p.y. note, chin-chin, chaps. I’ll provide further updates on the Fire Basket thingy as and when. Fnigers corssed that it continues to work magic.
Ian H., and Cardinal W., &etc.