Last Tuesday Royal Mail presented us with a large cardboard box.I knew immediately it wasn't a regular trade delivery as the box was clearly unprofessionally wrapped,the label handwritten and uneven,the contents carefully encased within a used Jacobs Creek wine box.
Mindful of Chefs' recent sortie to the photographers in order to obtain a suitable replacement driving license photo and the resultant less than flattering photo in which he(by his own admission)'looked like a terrorist',we opened the mystery package with trepidation.
A chamber pot.
The newspaper piece had happened to briefly mention that the pub housed a collection of chamber pots.Our mysterious benefactor having read said article,was spurred to donate her fathers treasured 'Gazunder' which she had inherited many years previously and had long been searching for the right person with whom to entrust its care and whom she could be sure would love it as much as she had.
All the way from Cheshire.
I was touched.I may even had to brush a tear from my eye..
'I told you its better to keep a low profile' said Chef 'who knows how many more of these there are up and down the country...'
I had to agree, whilst one can never have too many fairy lights,there is a limit to the number of piss pots one can comfortably house.
Though they do come in handy at Christmas time...
|Handy Decoration Holders|
Next day,as we were getting ready for evening service,we noticed there was definitely a chillier nip in the air.
The one which we haven't bothered to light yet this year, having enjoyed a particularly mild winter.
Minutes later, it was drawn to my attention that something had caught light in the ash tray under the stove.
I cautiously peered around the corner of the dining room at the just lit fire, as the awful dawn of realisation struck.
It was a towering inferno.
I was immediately aware of what had happened.You see, in the absence of any real flames,and in the interests of creating the required ambience,we had been burning church candles in the empty grate since last winter.
Over a years worth of melted wax, three inches thick, encasing the whole of the metre wide ash tray had ignited.You will probably know that candles make excellent fire lighters these days due to their high paraffin/low wax content.
Initially,I tried to play things down,pleading ignorance,pretending everything was OK.
That it would burn out shortly.
No one was convinced,me included.
Presently,Chef appeared wearing his Davy Crockett style frontier hat(its cold in the kitchen this time of year) to investigate the commotion..then rapidly exited to view the chimney from outside.
Seemingly, the chimney pot was 'spouting flames and spewing sparks like a six foot Roman Candle' illuminating the countryside for miles around.
'Bloody hell' said Chef 'you'd better dial 999 STRAIGHT AWAY'
We were advised to place a fire-guard in front of the fire and evacuate the building.
No encouragement was needed.By this time the flames were licking out vertically from under the grate,then swirling furiously upwards.
Reader,the roar was like jet engine.Punctuated by the pistol shot cracks of metal expanding in the intense heat.
I thought the whole thing was going to explode.
The Apprentice,Wheels and The Chap were evacuated to the comfort of the pick up to watch proceedings from a safe distance,late afternoon Facebook sessions inconveniently interrupted.
Chef,myself and the one member of staff present, sheltered under the Well Known Cider Brand parasol in the garden, to await the Fire Brigade.
Two engines with blue flashing lights arrived, half a dozen fire-fighters rushing down the steps to the pub,hoses in hand.Chef tentatively peered inside.
Would you believe there was only one embarrassingly tiny flame flicking pathetically slowly in the grate...
'I told you it would burn out..'I said.
'Better safe than sorry' said the poor fire-fighter who crawled around our attic in the dust with the heat seeking camera,just to make sure nothing had ignited..
You may be wondering what valuables we managed to rescue in the dash to safety,as we faced the very real prospect of all of our worldly possessions and indeed our livelihood being burned to the ground?
Some treasured family snaps? Jewellery? or perhaps even the cash drawers from the tills?
In the melee the one item I chose to save and in fact still clutched in my grubby little hands was the recently gifted:
'Patent Non Splash Thunderbowl'.
'Unbelievable' said Chef.
Half an hour later as we sat around the *other* fire(the safe one)sipping sweet tea to combat the effects of the aftershock and pondering the events of the evening,Chef broke the silence:
'Can you believe none of the locals came out to see what was happening??'
As if by magic,the Nokia tones heralded the arrival of a text message to Chefs' Builders brick.
From one of his Friday night buddies.
'Are you on fire?'
'Not any more' replied Chef.
Beam me up Scottie there is no intelligent life down here...