Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Charity shops and unfeasibly large quantities of firewood.

No, I have not just purchased a worm-eaten 1930's set of dining table and eight chairs from Emmaus.

Although the thought is not implausible..........

(Such things have been known to occur...)

I don't follow loads of blogs.

(I simply don't have time to give all the marvellous blogs out there the attention they deserve: I have a wife and two cats to make a fuss of and cater for as well, you know....)

The ones I do follow are either people I have met or people I feel I know quite well by dint of the quality of their writing ( Jaq Biggs this means you....!).

The Lucky Ducks, James and Amy, and Jaq and Les, on nb Valerie, who I do follow, have recently blogged about two subjects very close to my heart:

Charity shop finds. (James and Amy)

Logs (Jaq and Les)

I love The Duck's blog.

Not only are the two of them among the nicest people you could wish to meet on the waterways, but also, they have done a tremendous job in seeking to build up an amicable relationship between rowers and boaters on the Cam, and fought the corner hard for both user-groups in the face of The Cam Conservancy's treatment of both as cash cows to be milked until dry and dead.

I love charity shops.

There are few things in life that give me greater pleasure than a real bargain, especially if it's perceived as unwanted and is given a new lease of life and purpose by the purchaser.

(Jungian analysts make of the above what you will......)

So there can be sermons in stones, and joy in a well-made pair of second-hand shoes.

(Although I think the gritting lorries will be out in Hell before you see the likes of The Cam Conservancy's River Foreman attired with such economy......)

I will have to shamelessly plagiarise Amy and start to list a few of my favourite charity shop finds too.

So, to Jaq and Les.

If you haven't yet read their story in the 'So this is Love' blog by Jaq, then can you please get on with it?

It is a gem.

Their most recent post on the nb Valerie blog was all about chopping wood.

This is a favourite pastime aboard Pippin.....

Yes, this weekend just gone, I lured my chum Mark from his lair with the promise of a day of back-breaking work punctuated by a sausages and bubble-and-squeak lunch, lots of tea and a series of large gin-and-tonics finale......

Miraculously, he fell for it!


Mark is a Royal Engineer.

He, therefore, knows a lot of stuff about the sort of thing that boaters need to know....

Like how to operate a chainsaw without incurring a life-changing injury.....

We Pippins acquired one of these heathen, dangerous, body-part-spitting devices some months ago.

It has sat in the shed, largely ignored, but doubtless contemplating it's own evil agenda, since.

Frankly, the thing gave me the Screaming Ab-Dabs........

But now, thanks to Mark, the beast has been tamed!!

But not before a trip to Pecks in Ely relieved me of £150 quid in return for some serious PPE.

Thus armoured, Mark gave me a full course of instruction on how to start, operate and most importantly, stop the damned thing in safety.

We then went to town on two tonnes of logs from Ant and Tina's place which had been living an otherwise quiet, unobjectionable but unfeasibly large existence in the back of Pippin's 'Stealth Woodpile'.

Then we proceeded to bash the living daylights out of the resulting logs with felling axe, splitting maul, sledge-hammer and steel wedges.

Oooh! It was fun!

And t'was only after the tools were packed away, all the clearing up was done, (saw-dust duly bagged and saved for a colleague's pet rabbit - well, waste not, want not-!!), and all was safely gathered in that the gin was tonic'd and the lager was poured.

Only a fool mixes alcohol and chainsaws, and in this case, it would be a fool and his gizzard going separate ways........

So lots more logs, and more to come!

Hurrah for the first harbinger of Spring!!


  1. Thank you for all the mentions and the kudos John. Keep it up and I will have to hire you as my poublicist!
    I love your writing style too. Your wordsmithing so often brings a smile to my face and makes me belly laugh; and it always makes me think.
    We've been amazed as we traveled up the Coventry canal, at all the trees cut and wood left for the taking along the towpath.
    Now that we are on the Staff and Worcs we find BW have been very busy trimming all along this canal as well.
    Wood, wood everywhere...and our bloody chainsaw heaved its last breath two weeks ago.
    We will commit serious cash to a new one at Penkridge. A Husqvarna! (I love the word "HUSVARNA!" It sounds like a ancient Norse greeting, yeah? :)
    It is the brand the U.S. Forest Service uses so it should last longer than the candy *** green machine garden chain saw we were using.
    Vroom! Vroom!

    1. Jaq,

      'Husqvarna' is Swedish for "Serious ****-off and Don't Mess With Me" wood-butchering kit...

      Please please please don't forget to buy the special gloves and a pair of chaps as well.

      (The helmet/visor/ear-defender combo is desirable too, but protecting fingers, legs and knee caps are a priority!)

      But I forget, you are Alaskan born and bred, so probably know much more than I about the fine art of tree-felling!