3 men and a lot of poo

No problems keeping warm on this winter's morning
No problems keeping warm on this winter’s morning

Beautiful crisp morning today and we found the perfect job to get stuck into: a manure run.

Four trailer loads getting on for a ton each, loaded and unloaded by hand ensured no one got cold.

We debated the relative benefits of one man and his tele handler vs three men and their forks. The three men won by virtue of the exercise, fresh air, community, tidiness and lower environmental impact.

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Granny says

I know we should never stop learning but there are some things, once learnt, we genuinely feel there can’t be much more to it than what we already know.

Take putting logs on the fire for example. Once the fire is going and needs an additional log presumably we all know the routine: take one log from the log basket, preferably well seasoned unless a suitable green burning wood like Ash, carefully (using a fireproof mit if required) lay log on top of existing flames and ensure resulting burning pile of wood is prevented from rolling apart. Job done.

So imagine my surprise when one day in my late thirties I was adding a couple of logs to the roaring fire to keep Granny warm, only to be challenged on how I was approaching this simple task.

Is there a correct way to load logs into the grate?
Is there a correct way to load logs into the grate?

“Jamie!” (only Granny calls me ‘Jamie’), “not like that, they need to go in upright.”

“Sorry Granny?”, thinking to myself she can’t mean that.

But sure enough, “You should put the logs in the grate vertically, my father always said the logs should be upright in the fire grate. He always did it that way”.

Slightly taken aback, a couple of thoughts flashed through my mind. ‘Quite touching that Granny, some ninety years on, still held so fondly the instructions and example of her father.’ But also, ‘I wonder what he must have been like to live with if he was giving instructions about these sort of details? Especially when opinions on the exact angle a log sat in the fire at were simply a matter of personal preference.’

I’m not sure what you would do in this situation? but I seem to remember I managed, “Oh really.”

I stopped, looked at the fire, thought some more, and looked at Granny. Somewhere in there, I thought a combination of ‘it can’t do too much harm to show willing’, ‘I like the idea of honouring Granny, even if I can’t attach any great reason to why she might be right’ and perhaps there was also a little bit of ‘Great Grandpa was supposed to be quite clever’ and ‘it might be worth a go in case we have possibly lost an ancient skill set with the advent of on tap central heating’.

I’ll save you from any more detail. In case I reveal too much about how my brain works!

But you have probably worked it out already: these days I always load and restock the logs vertically in the fire grate!

Do I understand why? Am I sure this is the better technique? To be honest yes and no.

From observation alone I think, it looks, it feels as if the logs burn cleaner, they burn slower and they give off more heat. In essence it appears the logs loaded into the grate vertically burn noticeably more efficiently.

Can I explain why? Not really. Longer flame possibly? Longer flame = more complete combustion. Maybe?

Will I be telling my grand children that the correct way to load the logs into the grate is vertically? Because my Grandmother had taught me this and her father had taught her? I’m afraid there is a very real risk this fate may not only fall upon my grandchildren!

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A glimpse of life at Sennicotts during WWII

Victor & Mary Willis celebrating their Golden Wedding Anniversary
Victor & Mary Willis celebrating their Golden Wedding Anniversary
Victor & Mary Willis on their wedding day in October 1943
Victor & Mary Willis on their wedding day in October 1943

In the early years of the Second World War a Norfolk girl from Upwell by the name of Kathleen Mary Chapman (W/10633) was posted with the ATS first to the Mitcham Road Barracks in Croydon (1939), before moving further South to Walberton House, West Sussex (1940), then briefly at Fifehead Manor in Hampshire before arriving at Sennicotts in 1941.

What was to happen to Mary at Sennicotts would be life changing.

For in the same year 1615739 Gnr Victor Willis was also stationed at Sennicotts. Home for Victor had been Deptford and Dulwich.

A romance started at Sennicotts that year between Mary and Victor which was to survive being separated by subsequent postings and in October 1943 they were married in Beddington, Croydon.

In 1949 they moved from London to Portsmouth where they were to live for the rest of their lives. They had two sons Doug and Mick and the marriage lasted 55 years. Victor died 12 Feb 1998 aged 81 and Mary died 15 Jan 2011 aged 97.

The photographs below give a flavour of those months Mary spent at Sennicotts.

Our thanks go to Doug and Mick Willis who both researched their parents’s experiences during the war, made contact with us to share their family’s story, and gave us permission to share with you this wonderful piece of Sennicotts’ history. Thank you both.

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Time capsule – sadly empty

a time capsule - if only he had left us the contents
a time capsule – if only he had left us the contents

The joy of undertaking any work at Sennicotts is you never know what you will find.

This week while decorating a bedroom we discovered a builder in the 1960’s had been fuelled by Crosse & Blackwell Meat Soup (Beef). Only he hadn’t just enjoyed the contents but had instead carefully placed the empty tin under an old light shade and built this little time capsule into the base of a cupboard.

Nice to think he thought his workmanship would last long enough for his capsule to be of interest. This one survived over 50 years. Something tells me today’s builders of new homes finished with acres of cheap plastics don’t have quite as much hope in the future of their creations.

A little marketing note aside: Even though I find myself staring at an empty and rusty tin the ‘Ten O’Clock Tested’ logo remains reassuring and inviting. This very successful marketing campaign of the 1950’s and 60’s gave the consumer the guarantee that the product lines they were enjoying had been extensively taste tested at 10 o’clock as part of a daily routine. I find this reassuring to know that Crosse & Blackwell called quite a large number of staff in each morning to join the daily taste test.

That the product was good enough for its staff to consume each morning is somehow a lot more convincing than the image I have of a food plant of today bringing me my tinned soup coldly stared at by a load of computer probes.

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New friends

Thank you Suzi Baldwin and Hollywater Hens for our 8 new friends:

  • 2 x Hybrid Blues
  • 2 x Hybrid Light Sussex
  • 2 x Hybrid Skylines
  • 1 x Pure Breed Wheaten Moran
  • 1 x Pure Breed Hollywater

Our Hollywater Hens getting settled in their Solway Hen Ark while being checked out by the Guinea Fowl

www.hollywaterhens.co.uk

www.solwayrecycling.co.uk

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New PM

There was sense, while listening to our new Prime Minister’s maiden speech outside 10 Downing St, that we were all looking to her and her new cabinet to sort out all our problems. 

The language is all about how ‘I will do…’ this and that. This is all good but somewhat at odds to leadership in the real world. 

Surely part of being a leader is letting us know what we all would be best spending our time doing. 

A general going into battle would sound very odd giving a speech about what he (or she) was about to go and do. Clearly those listening would be told about what ‘we’ are going to do and how ‘you’ are going to play your part. 

Interestingly, I can’t help thinking that Churchill’s best known speeches were about what ‘we will…’ do. 

Why can’t it be about ‘we’ in peacetime and surely now is as good a peacetime challenge as any to enlist the ‘we’. After all if we all take ownership of the future we have a chance of making this Brexit thing work. 

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More like it

After a wet start to our three days garden opening today the sun is shining. Remember everyone welcome and ALL proceeds go directly to charity.

We are open Tuesday 21st and Wednesday 22nd June 9:30-4:00. £4 entry. Real Coffee, Tea and homemade cakes also for sale.

 

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