I like to think that that our home and garden are a long way from Cold Comfort Farm. However, I was reminded of it the other day when we went up to the woodstore to bring down some logs for the coming week. No, dear reader, we didn’t find rats in there – they seem to have vanished in recent weeks and the neighbour’s traps are empty, thank goodness. What we found was a soggy pile of wet logs. The roof had leaked on one side and soaked the wood underneath.
Now, in some ways, D and I have a traditional relationship. Although he is probably more domesticated than people may think (he was much better than me at washing up when the dishwasher broke over Christmas), if there is housework to be done, it will usually be me at least pushing us to do it and I am the first to admit that when my car needs attention, it will be D outside, lovingly feeding it with screenwash and checking the oil. On this occasion, our traditional roles lasted as long as it took for D to make an emergency dash to B&Q for wood and felt for a new roof, whilst I finished some ironing. Then it was all hands to the pump to replace the rotten woodstore roof before dark.
And rotten it was. Chunks of the old boards came away in our hands as we chiselled the old panels off the frame. It was a cold January afternoon and we soon struggled to feel our fingers as we worked. Once the old roof was off, we were reassured to see that the rest of the store looked solid enough and we found ourselves wondering if, perished as the felt had been, the roof would have leaked at all without the pressure of 2 fairly large grey and white cats who are given to leaping on to it to survey their kingdom and sun themselves during the good weather.
Once we started to put the new boards up, it became a race against the fading light to get the store watertight before it went dark. On we worked, battling against the cold, measuring the new felt on the grass in the orchard with a torch so that we could see the tape, then lifting it on to the boards and using the last of the winter light to check it was relatively straight. By the time we had the felt in place and held with a few tacks, it was totally dark and we were frozen. As we packed up for the night, we looked at each other. “You know what I’m thinking?” I asked. The response was instant – “Pub?” This is why we work so well together – two hearts (and minds) that beat (and think) as one. “Pub”, I agreed.
The next morning, fortified by our evening in the local pub in front of their roaring fire, good food and good beer, not to mention the usual friendly atmosphere and companionship, we were outside first thing, ready to finish the job. It was no warmer, but at least it was fine and light. The felt needed securing with more tacks to ensure that it was watertight. The neighbours were out working on their garden already – and it was perhaps as well. The peaceful Sunday morning was soon ringing with the chime of hammers upon metal as we drove the tacks through the felt and into the wood.
I am sure there were those who were less than impressed with our efforts as they attempted to enjoy their Sunday lie-in. It probably wasn’t up there in my top ten of how to spend a weekend either. But when it was done and the hammers fell silent, we were proud of what we had achieved. Not perfect, I am sure, but it will keep our wood dry and therefore our home warm for some years to come and that is worth a few hours work in the cold on a weekend, isn’t it?