We are all impressed by the superb transparent light in these parts. Driving up through the southern part of the county today we had the bright sun and blue skies behind us and in front of us a bank of dark snowy clouds. Between the two were the autumn colours of almost leafless trees including great drifts of scarlet-barked dogwoods. This was lit so brightly and clearly that Dad thought he must have super-cleaned his glasses and the car windscreen. We have heard about this special light in unpolluted areas but have never seen it with the naked eye. Spectacular.
We drive via a big Dunnes Stores in Roscommon for provisions - we have camping equipment on site but we needed coffee, bread, lunch, fire-lighters and peat briquettes (and Dad treated himself to a bag of real authentic dried out turf "sods". It's a genuine 2 hour drive from Silverwood's, more like 2hours 20 with the shopping. We arrive at almost midday and hop out of the car to start exploring. I love the place both inside and out, upstairs and downstairs, house, out buildings, garden and cattle fields (currently unoccupied). There are nooks and crannies, holes and old musty soft furnishings and it's all new and unexplored. I quickly reduce myself from the pristine white brushed show-dog that greeted Mum and Dad when they arrived here yesterday, to the soot and mud encrusted tramp they expected. Everyone's a winner!
Mum and Dad's main task today aside from exploring and a bit of tidying is to clear the three chimneys and light fires. All three are full of old jackdaw nests, probably 15-20 years worth in each, so there's a fair amount of shovelling debris from the grates into rubble sacks before Dad can even start rodding out the chimney. In one case the rodding hits a solid wad of nest and Dad has to take off the brush and just poke the set of rods about up there till the twigs start to fall down. It's a proud moment when they can finally light a small fire in the living room with an old, wood-wormy chair, and nip outside and see smoke coming from the pot - probably the first time in 15-20 years!
With a good draw established Dad lights a bigger fire and shoves on some of the briquettes and soon gets a lovely warm glow. It's a windy day with a hooley being blown up coming from the South (the front of the house) so it's nice to come in from the front garden and feel the warmth and to be out of the wind, bluster and noise from the pine trees.
Ther is a brief hiatus when Dad goes to light the range. He's swept out the chimney and has cleared out the range so he sets a small fire, but has not realised that the 'flue' for this runs across the top of the range under the hot plate and into a metal chimney at the back right. The hole here has a restriction (venturi?) only a couple of inches across and the metal flue has rusted over the 15 years with flakes of rust falling down and blocking it. The main chimney can therefore draw all it likes, but it can't take smoke from the range, and this starts pouring out of the front doors of the range like the house is on fire. We have to rush to open doors and windows to clear the smoke. However, further checks reveal that the rusted-in hot plate can be freed up and a small cover at the bottom of the chimney can also be bopped free with a rubber mallet, so that Dad can get his hand in and clear the rust flakes. Then we're away - proper draw, smoke clearing and a good fire got going in the range. Warm as toast.
I will tell you about the rest of the day and a secret garden in another post. This is enough for now. A dog is tired.